Letterbox Packaging – How to Make Sure Your Delivery Fits

Letterbox Packaging

As we find ourselves making our way to recycling centres, with boot loads of cardboard from our Christmas Deliveries, you may well be wondering how to cut down the sheer volume of packaging that your organisation is shipping.  Could your packaging be reduced to something that fits through a letterbox? And why would you consider going for the more compact option? There are plenty of good reasons to do so, as we shall now explore. 

Letterbox Packaging is More Sustainable

From an environmental point of view, the marked increase in online shopping since the pandemic, brings with it concern both about the amount of material used to ship products, and the carbon involved in driving so many, sometimes almost empty, boxes around. To add to the reduction in packaging volume, being able to slip the package through the letterbox, means that if the customer is not home, the courier does not need to make more than one attempt to deliver, reducing carbon emissions even further. Letterbox deliveries can make for a far more sustainable delivery option.   

Letterbox Packaging is More Convenient

As more people have gone back to work in offices, it has also become harder to make sure deliveries are left safely. Whilst it might be OK for packages to pile up in a porch in a remote, rural environment, these deliveries may be at risk in a busier street with people walking past.  With letterbox packaging, customers do not need to be at home to receive the delivery, the parcel can safely be pushed through your door. Given that most consumers say that convenience is the main reason they shop online, avoiding any delivery issues by making sure your package fits easily through their door, is a powerful reason to opt for letterbox packaging if you can.


Global Data’s ‘Foresights: Letterbox Packaging’ report, reveals that the sustainability and convenience of packaging is more important to consumers than appearance. Over three quarters of consumers want their packaging to be easy to recycle, 74% want it to avoid wastage and 73% want it to be easy to use.

Global Data’s ‘Foresights: Letterbox Packaging

What Kind of Products Can Fit Through a Letterbox?

Realising the benefits of compact packaging, many companies have already made the switch, including some with products you really would be surprised to discover can fit!  Letterbox Flowers are now available from many florists, including Bloom and Wild.  Laundry detergent can arrive through your letterbox as capsules from SMOL or eco sheets from Earth Breeze as a subscription item, so you never need to carry heavy bottles home from the supermarket again. Treatbox offer a selection of gifts in a letterbox friendly package, guaranteed to cheer anyone up. Perhaps more surprisingly, even bottles of wine are now being delivered through letterboxes!

Postal Boxes 2

Which Packaging from Forms Plus is Letterbox Friendly?

In the UK, the standard size of a letterbox is usually around 254mm x 38mm, so your box must be smaller than these dimensions.  At Forms Plus, we stock a range of Postal Boxes that will fit through easily.  These include our Postal Boxes – Small, Postal Boxes – C6, Postal Boxes – DL, Postal Boxes – C5 and Postal Boxes – Mini. Alternatively, you could go for a Padded Envelope within those size limits, or a Kraft Mailing Bag.

If you would like to discuss the best packaging option to choose, to help you make your deliveries letterbox friendly, do get in touch and our experienced team will be happy to help.

Is It Time To Update Your Packaging to  Flexi-Hex®?

Flexi-Hex Eco Friendly Bottle Packaging

As Christmas approaches and thoughts move to stocking up with packaging for the busy weeks ahead, we thought we would take a look at why now might be a great time to upgrade to eco-friendly options, and introduce you to the latest products in our Flexi-Hex® range. With 8 out of 10 UK consumers surveyed saying they prefer to receive goods in environmentally friendly packaging materials (Statista 2022), now might be the time to make the switch.  

The Christmas season is a pivotal time to make a lasting impression on your customers. People who come to you for gifts this year could either just buy from you once, or if they are impressed, come back time-after-time with a significant lifetime value to your company.  Online shoppers will be bombarded with parcels between now and December. Your choice of packaging is no longer just about protecting the products you are sending out. It is the first interaction many customers have with your brand. This is your chance to stand out from the masses and be remembered next time they are looking to place an order.

Flexi-Hex Eco Friendly Bottle Packaging

At Forms Plus, we stock a wide range of eco-friendly packaging including lightweight, paper-based, honeycomb protective packaging options from Flexi-Hex®.  With a beautiful, visually striking design, the sleeves, wraps and boxes can even be customised with your own logo or message.

Not just a pretty face, Flexi-Hex® is renowned for its strength and offers exceptional protection for bottles, glass jars, cosmetics or other fragile gifts.  Sleeves are available in four sizes and can be used either with Flexi-Hex® pinch top boxes, caps and wraps or other packaging of your choice. Bottle Kits are also available to carry single bottles, or packs of up to 6 bottles at a time. These are perfect for shipping wine or spirits.   

Flexi-Hex Eco Friendly Bottle Packaging

Flexi-Hex® packaging has impeccable environmental credentials.  It is entirely plastic free, made from sustainable recycled paper, recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. The sleeves and kits arrive with you packed flat, are easy to assemble and efficient to ship, saving you storage and shipping costs.

In summary, sending your customers their order packed in Flexi-Hex® ensures the goods arrive in once piece, look stunning, create a memorable unboxing experience for their recipient and show that your company cares about your impact on the environment. Is it time for you to make the switch?  If you are thinking about it and we can help, do get in touch.  

Are You Ready for the Festive Shopping Season?

It’s that time of year again. As the leaves change colour, the beaches here in Cornwall get quieter and knitwear catalogues come through our letterboxes, we thought it was a good time to look ahead at what retailers can expect for the 2023 festive season and remind you how Forms Plus can help you prepare. 

What Trends are Predicted for E-Commerce in Autumn 2023?

Our research shows three major trends are predicted for the “Golden Quarter” this year. Shoppers will be looking for good deals after another difficult financial year.  They will be shopping early, to make sure they find the best gift options at the best prices. As part of seeking out good value, they will be looking for sustainable products, that they feel good about offering as gifts.

Value for Money

In a survey researching Christmas Trends for 2023 for Retail Week, major retailers including Boots, Pandora UK and John Lewis all confirm that customers are taking time to make sure they get the very best value on their purchases this year.  Consumers are cautious and the market is highly competitive, not just on price but on customer services like free delivery and returns, and other added value. Shoppers are spending more time comparing prices and offers across multiple marketplaces and retailers than they have in previous years.

Christmas Countdown Timer

Shopping Early

Customers are expected to shop much earlier this year. In a bid to get the best deals and spread costs, many have already started. According to a survey by Google, in 2022 “as of mid-October, holiday shoppers globally had on average 21% of their holiday shopping complete”.

Sustainability

Christmas can be quite a low point for sustainability, with unwanted gifts and items that have little use once we go back to work in January. Studies show that as awareness around environmental impact increases, customers expect brands to be making far more effort on sustainability. This applies both to products and their packaging.  According to Retail Week, major retailers are removing plastic and glitter from gifts, cards and wrapping paper, and customers are considering quality and longevity far more then they used to when making their selection.

At Forms Plus we now stock a wide range of fully sustainable packaging materials, including eco-friendly padded envelopes and Flexi-Hex® protective packaging that is ideal for bottles, cosmetics or fragile gifts.

How Can Online Retailers Prepare for Peak Season This Year?

Stock and Service Levels

If you haven’t already done so, September is a really good time to get your warehouse in order before the season really gets underway.  Managing stock levels and offering exceptional customer service through the next few months will be crucial to meeting demand and retaining those customers into next year.

Along with great value on prices, customers will be looking for quick, inexpensive delivery and easy returns.  Whilst these may be expensive and challenging to manage, hassle-free returns and convenient shipping options show your customers you care about them.  Someone who first comes to you for a Christmas present and has a great experience, even if they return something, is far more likely to become a loyal, regular customer.  A recent Survey from Fedex found that 96% of customers would return to a business that offered an easy returns policy. 

We say it every year, but part of making sure your deliveries and returns processes are reliable and efficient, is managing your stock of packaging and despatch forms.  Get your orders in early for Thermal Labels, Integrated Labels and for all your Packaging needs and avoid any hiccups in your shipping process this year.   

Black Friday 2023 is 24th November

Festive Season Marketing Plans

Have you planned your promotions yet? In 2023, Black Friday falls on 24th November with Cyber Monday on the 27th.  Cyber Weekend spending was disappointing for many retailers in 2022, but this was thought to be partly to do with the timing of World Cup matches, as well as the difficult economic climate. With tighter household budgets in place, shoppers will be looking for discounts this season.  Categories that are expected to do well across Black Friday in 2023 include mobile phones and tech, toys, and cosmetics.  Experts are predicting a bigger push to online sales and a sales period that starts earlier into November. They also expect to see “Green Friday” initiatives that promote eco-friendly offers and a greater emphasis on personalised deals, via targeted ads and emails, based on an individual’s shopping or browsing history. 

According to Retail Week, Social Media continues to have a significant influence on buying behaviour, especially for anyone younger than 40 years old. These shoppers may be more affluent and less concerned by the increased cost of living, making them an ideal audience this season. Creative online content, influencer marketing activity, reviews and quick responses to customer service queries are crucial with this group. Plan to make the most of your Socials this autumn, especially if you are in the fashion, beauty, tech, or travel sectors.

Build Your Customer Base

With privacy laws changing how we advertise to customers online, the quality of your customer data is more important than ever. Using the busy shopping period to add to your customer data, email lists, loyalty schemes and Social Media followers gives you the opportunity to remarket to those groups in future.  This is a good time to make sure all your Social Media links are up-to-date, that you have systems in place to grow your mailing lists from the people who buy from you over the festive season, and that you are capturing their data correctly and efficiently so you can access and use it legitimately next year.

How Can Forms Plus Help You Get Ready for the Busy Season Ahead?

At Forms Plus we have been helping retail clients trade through the hectic festive season for over 40 years.  We stock a wide range of packaging supplies and labels to meet the needs of all kinds of retailers, and a team of experienced, friendly staff who are always happy to advise on the best choices for your business. 

If you want to take advantage of our bulk discounts but don’t have room to store it, our print management service will make sure you benefit from the best prices whilst we manage your stock levels and make sure you receive your print items and packaging as you require them. 

Do have a browse of our products today and get in touch if there is anything we can do to help you prepare for what we hope will be a busy and profitable season ahead.

Envelopes and Postal Boxes – What Sizes Are Available and How To Choose

Postal Boxes 2

Forms Plus stock a wide range of packaging materials suitable for e-commerce business.  We get asked a lot about how to choose the right kind of packaging, and particularly, how to choose the size. Paying attention to the type and size of the box or envelopes you use to despatch your products can help you save money on shipping costs and reduce your company’s impact on the environment. In this blog, we’ll explain why, and help you choose the right packaging for your e-commerce business. 

Environmental Envelope and Box Considerations

Let’s look first at environmental impact. When sending out e-commerce products, there are two main areas to consider to make sure your packaging is eco-friendly.  First, you will want to look at the packaging itself. Is it fully biodegradable? Plastic free? Recycled? Recyclable?  We offer a few options.

Our Eco Postal Boxes are biodegradable, recyclable with normal household recycling and made from sustainable material that does not deplete or degrade the environment.  The cardboard used in them is sourced with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification.

Enviroflute Padded Envelopes are a more environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional Jiffy Bag. Recognised as the world’s most eco-friendly padded envelope, they are fully biodegradable, plastic free, recyclable, and made from FSC accredited paper.  

Traditional, bubble-lined Padded Envelopes are another option for various items. They come in traditional gold or white, can be separated for recycling and are made using FSC accredited paper.

Secondly, choosing the right size of packaging will also help reduce your impact on the environment. Over-packaging, where a tiny item like a lipstick is either rattling around in a big cardboard box or packed in with bubble wrap or reams of paper, not only results in more waste, but burns more carbon to produce, recycle and transport. Choose the box or envelope that is the smallest size you can, and not only do you reduce wastage of packaging materials, the carbon footprint of your delivery will come down. If everyone were to do this, it would eventually result in fewer delivery vehicles on the road. 

Royal Mail Letter and Parcel Sizing

Whilst making sure your packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible, you will also want to make sure you are being efficient and saving where you can on shipping costs.

Royal Mail charges for letters and parcels according to its PiP system. This stands for Pricing in Proportion. We stock envelopes and boxes to fit four levels of PiP pricing – Letter, Large Letter, Small Parcel, and Medium Parcel.  The tables below show the internal dimensions of all our envelopes and boxes, and which Royal Mail pricing bracket they fall into.  Simply measure the product you want to ship, check its weight and order the smallest packaging option that offers the level of protection you need.

Royal Mail Large Letter packaging is ideal for sending something like a book, small fashion accessories, jewellery, flyers, or documents.  The package can be up to 2.5cm thick, so you could use a postal box or one of the larger envelopes.

Royal Mail Small Parcels are a bit bigger. These are suitable for sending clothes, shoes, or similar products. This is the preferred size for many e-commerce retailers. For bulkier items, you may need to go up to Medium Parcel. 

By using packaging that meets Royal Mail’s standard sizes, you can keep shipping costs down. If you are shipping out similar-sized items regularly, keeping to the smallest Royal Mail option will help you make substantial savings over the year. 

Other Sizing Considerations

Whilst the environment, and cost efficiency are highly significant when choosing the right packaging, protecting your product will be your ultimate goal.  The packaging should be snug, so your items do not move around inside and get damaged. It will also need to offer an appropriate level of padding and protection for your goods. You may want it to be easy to open and reseal for potential returns.

A further consideration could be how you expect your packages to ultimately be delivered. For smaller goods, many customers will prefer a letterbox sized parcel that can fit through their door, so they do not have to be home to take delivery.  UK letterboxes come in varying sizes, but the most common size is 254mm x 38mm. Anything up to a Size G in our envelope range should fit through a letterbox. E-commerce companies are now offering “letterbox flowers”, “letterbox hampers” and even, ingeniously, “letterbox wine” to ensure their clients do not miss out on deliveries!

Why is it important to choose the right size of packaging?

We have identified several good reasons for making sure you choose exactly the right size envelope or postal box. Your products will be better protected on their journey to the customer. You will save money on shipping costs. The impact of your shipping on the environment will be reduced – and you might even want to make sure you fit through their letterbox.

Use the tables below to see the full range of envelope and box sizes available from Forms Plus, and the type of packaging we have in those size.

Do get in touch if we can help you further. 

Envelope Sizes

Approx Internal SizeForms Plus Size NameSize also known asOptionsCreative UsesRoyal Mail size / weight limit
110 x 165mmSize AC6Padded White or GoldGift Cards / Place Mats / Cosmetics / JewelleryLetter
(up to 100g)
120 x 215mmSize BDLPadded White or GoldMobile Case / Cards / Cosmetics / Jewellery / BatteriesLetter
(up to 100g)
150 x 215mmSize CC5Padded White or GoldA5 Documents / Cosmetics / Cards / Photos / Purse / Wallet / StationeryLetter
(up to 100g)
180 x 265mmSize DPadded White or GoldCosmetics / Cards / Books / Stationery / Purse / WalletLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
220 x 265mmSize EPadded White or GoldCandle / Photos / Cards / Book / Craft Supplies / Chocolate / Perfume / AftershaveLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
230 x 335mmSize FC4Padded White or GoldA4 Pads / Magazines / A4 Documents / Clothing / Toiletries / Craft Supplies / BookLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
240 x 335mmSize GPadded White or GoldClothing / Craft Supplies / Toiletries / Book / Photo FrameLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
270 x 360mmSize HPadded White or GoldClothing / Craft Supplies / Toiletries / Photo Frame / MagazinesSmall Parcel
(up to 2kg)
300 x 445mmSize JPadded White or GoldCalendar / Craft Supplies / ClothingSmall Parcel
(up to 2kg)
350 x 470mmSize KC3Padded White or GoldA3 Documents / ClothingMedium Parcel
(up to 20kg)
324 x 229mmC4C4All Board or Board BackedA4 Documents / Greetings CardsLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
229 x 162mmC5C5All Board or Board BackedA5 Documents / Greetings CardsLetter
(up to 100g)
240 x 165mmC5+C5Board BackedA5 Documents / Greeting CardsLetter
(up to 100g)

Postal Box Sizes

SizeForms Plus Size NameSize also known asOptionsCreative UsesRoyal Mail size / weight limit
101 x 101mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 1SmallEco Postal BoxesGift Cards / Cosmetics / Jewellery / Place MatsLarge Letter (up to 750g)
163 x 112mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 2C6Eco Postal BoxesMobile Case / Cosmetics / Jewellery / Cards / Books / Photos / Stationery / Purse / Wallet / BatteriesLarge Letter (up to 750g)
218 x 108mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 3DLEco Postal BoxesCosmetics / Jewellery / Cards / Books / Photos Stationery / Purse / WalletLarge Letter (up to 750g)
225 x 160mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 4C5Eco Postal BoxesCosmetics / Jewellery / Cards / Books / Photos Stationery / Purse / Wallet / Gloves / HatLarge Letter (up to 750g)
202 x 143mm x 66mmPostal Boxes Size 5MiniEco Postal BoxesCandles / Photos / Cards / Books / Cosmetics / Mens Grooming / Toiletries / Stationery / Craft Supplies / Chocolates / PerfumeSmall Parcel (up to 2kg)
334 x 202 x 66mmPostal Boxes Size 7MidiEco Postal BoxesCosmetic sets / Books / Photo Frames / Hair Products / Stationery / T-ShirtsSmall Parcel (up to 2kg)
325 x 225mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 8C4Eco Postal BoxesT-Shirts / Magazines / CardsLarge Letter (up to 750g)
430 x 340mm x 73mmPostal Boxes Size 9MaxiEco Postal BoxesClothing / Books / Photo Frames / GamesSmall Parcel (up to 2kg)

Padded Envelopes Sizing Comparision Chart

Product CodeAroFOLFeatherpostJiffyBubble Lined BagsMail Lite
FPPE-A/FPPEGOLD-A1
(100 x 165mm)
A (C6)
110 x 165mm
JL000
(90 x 145mm)
BLB 000
(100 x 165mm)
A/000
(110 x 160mm)
FPPE-B/ FPPEGOLD-B2B
120 x 215mm
JL00B/00
FPPE-C/FPPEGOLD-C3
(150 x 215mm)
C (C5)
150 x 215mm
JL0
(140 x 195mm)
BLB 00
(150 x 215mm)
C/0
(150 x 210mm)
FPPE-D/FPPEGOLD-D4D
180 x 265mm
JL1D/1
FPPE-E/FPPEGOLD-E5E
220 x 265mm
JL2E/2
FPPE-F/FPPEGOLD-F6
(220 x 340mm)
F (C4)
230 x 335mm
JL3
(220 x 320mm)
BLB 3
(220 x 340mm)
F/3
(220 x 330mm)
FPPE-G/FPPEGOLD-G7G
240 x 335mm
JL4G/4
FPPE-H/FPPEGOLD-H8H
270 x 360mm
JL5H/5
FPPE-J/FPPEGOLD-J9J
300 x 445mm
JL6J/6
FPPE-K/FPPEGOLD-K10K
350 x 470mm
JL7K/7

A Few Of Our Favourite Things – Introducing the Forms Plus Team

Kynance Cove - one of our favourite beaches near Forms Plus

As summer gets underway, we have a few new faces at Forms Plus and realise it has been a while since we shared any team news with you.  Our latest blog introduces the team, and gives you an idea of how they love to make the most of the good weather down here in Cornwall…

In alphabetical order…

Alison Hulley has been with Forms Plus for over 6 years. As our Sales Representative, you may well have spoken to Alison about your labels and packaging needs.

Outside of work, Alison’s summer consists of beaches, gigs and events. She loves the Let’s Rock Festival, time on the beach at Pedn Vounder and barbecues, especially if there is Belly Pork on the menu. 

Our Administrative Co-ordinator, who joined last autumn, Donna Wyeth helps across the whole business, supporting the team as we need her. 

Like many locals, Donna is a bit secretive about her favourite beach (and we don’t blame her!), but she loves walking along the coastal path and enjoying time with friends.  Her favourite summer event in Cornwall is the St Ives Food and Drink Festival where she’ll seek out the barbecued halloumi.

Ian Foster is the Warehouse Manager for Forms Plus. Ian has been with us for about 4 years and his job is to make sure the warehouse operations run smoothly. 

Ian’s summer hobbies include fishing, perhaps around Perranporth or St Agnes, or joining in the summer festivals, such as Mazey Day or Golowan in Penzance.  We think there may be a touch of the Pirate about him, as his Guilty Pleasure is a rum or two in the sun.

Jayne Wood is our Despatch Co-ordinator.  If you have ever called us, you have probably spoken to Jayne. She has been with Forms Plus for 6 years and her role includes processing orders, collecting payments, arranging couriers, answering the phone and helping with administration. If our alarm goes off, as Fire Marshall, Jayne dons the hi viz and makes sure we get out of the building safely. 

In the summertime, Jayne loves the colour of the sea in Cornwall.  On warmer days off, she’ll be found sitting on Praa Sands, where you could easily be somewhere tropical.  If it’s a bit cooler, she enjoys walking her dog Monty on the beach.  And if it’s raining, her Guilty Pleasure is watching Love Island. We wonder if that’s the island she’s thinking of when she is at Praa Sands? 

Jo Carter is our Finance Director. Jo keeps all our finances in order and has been with Forms Plus for an amazing 27 years.

Jo’s favourite beaches are the secluded ones you can only get to by boat. She loves nothing more than tripping around the coastline with her family.  In the evening, Jo loves teriyaki chicken skewers on the barbecue with a glass of red and perhaps some chocolate to follow. Perhaps the highlight of her summer though is dressing up for her favourite event, Falmouth’s famous Pink Wig Party, which raises funds for Breast Cancer Research every summer. 

Karen Melbourne joined Forms Plus this year as an Administrator, processing orders and supporting with other admin tasks. 

In the summertime, Karen loves the beautiful beaches here in Cornwall, especially at Hayle or anywhere with some live music.  She loves Porthleven Food Festival but isn’t fussy at a barbecue and recommends keeping it simple with burgers and hot dogs! 

Nicola Burgess is our Print Co-ordinator. She has been with us for almost 3 years and works on the bespoke printing side of the business, processing customer orders and helping on new projects with customers and manufacturers.

Nicola’s summer adventures include exploring the coves around Rinsey on her paddleboard or enjoying a few beers in the sunshine, perhaps at one of the Sundowner music events that have popped up around the coast. 

Rafe Webb joined Forms Plus earlier this year as a Customer Service Advisor. You may have spoken to him on the phone with your order. He also helps with data processing and can sometimes be found keeping on top of things in the warehouse.

Rafe’s summer passions seem to involve a lot of cheese. His favourite annual event is Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire, and his Guilty Pleasure is a baked Brie with bread to dip. Luckily, he also enjoys going for a run in the sun, mowing the lawn and working out!

Sharon Ramos is a Company Director and a woman of many talents, who has been with us for 8 years, having relocated for the North East.  She works on everything from IT support, to HR, Orders, Sales and is also a forklift driver. 

In the summer, Sharon loves an ice-cold Rattler (local cider) with friends on Porthcurno Beach or singing along at the Falmouth Sea Shanty Festival.  Sharon enjoys following Newcastle United football team and her Guilty Pleasure is watching ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’!

Sharon Worden, our Accounts Administrator has been with us for a few weeks now, with the important task of making sure everything runs to plan in the Accounts Department. 

This week, Sharon is excited about attending the Royal Cornwall Show.  For the rest of the summer, she loves coastal walks or runs, or spending time on the stunning beaches near us at Gunwalloe. In the evening, a gin and lemonade takes the pain of the numbers away.

Last, but not least, our MD, Victoria Andrews has been with Forms Plus for 33 years. A very hands-on leader, Victoria has a go at everything and anything the company needs.

When she does get some downtime, Victoria is a big fan of the stunning walk down to the crystal-clear water of Kynance Cove.  She enjoys long lunches in the sun, with friends and family, king prawns on the barbecue and a nice bottle of wine. Or, occasionally, a trip up to Hyde Park for Party in the Park.

Whatever you are up to this summer, we hope that business is going well, and you are getting plenty of time to relax too.  Now you have met us all a little, do get in touch if we can help with anything. 

Getting Started in E-Commerce – What Labels and Packaging Will I Need? 

Getting Started - New E-Commerce Store

When you start running your own e-commerce store, you are faced with lots of important decisions.  You have to decide what to stock, who to sell it to, which e-commerce platform to use, how to brand your store and how to market your goods.  Once you start selling, you also need to think about shipping and fulfilment, and that is where Forms Plus come in. We specialise in packaging and labels for e-commerce businesses.  Here is a quick beginners’ guide to help you choose from the wide range of packaging and labelling products we stock.    

Getting Started - New E-Commerce Store

How To Choose E-Commerce Packaging?

In many cases, the packaging you choose to ship your products in, will be your first chance to really make an impression on your customer.  Of course, your shipping materials need to protect your products on their journey, but they also tell your customer something more about your professionalism and what your brand might stand for. Your main considerations as you choose your packaging are likely to include protection, environmental impact, and cost. 

Mailing Bags

Every item you ship will need a level of protection.  Lighter, more robust products could be shipped in a simple Mailing Bag. Forms Plus stock both recycled polythene mailing bags or 100% sustainable and biodegradable Kraft paper mailing bags.

Mailing Envelopes

If your goods need more protection, you could choose a padded or Jiffy bag style mailing envelope. These are available in white or gold in a range of sizes.  We have fully environmentally friendly Enviroflute padded envelopes, as well as traditional bubble-lined mailers.   

Protective Packaging

For larger or more fragile items such as bottles, you may need additional protection before you ship.  Your options here include bubble wrap, postal boxes and tubes, or the innovative, 100% plastic free and eco-friendly, protective packaging from Flexi-Hex®.

When researching packaging options, you will need to consider your budget, the size of your items and how your company and customers feel about protecting the environment. You may also be influenced by the look and feel of the packaging and how much storage space it will take up. We have products available to meet all of those needs and are always happy to offer advice. Do get in touch if you need any help selecting the best packaging choice for your business.  

Packing Tape

Depending on how you plan to wrap your products, you may also need to use packing tape. We offer clear or brown packing tape, including eco-friendly options that are made from 100% recycled polypropylene. If you order 5 boxes of tape, we’ll include a free dispenser. Just enter P219 as a promo code at the checkout

Shipping Labels

Shipping labels are an essential part of your e-commerce process. You will want to address your packages quickly and ship them as smoothly as possible.  Your label needs to be read by humans and machines, surviving the weather on its journey, so it has to be clear and easy to read.  You have several choices when it comes to labelling – Laser Labels, Integrated Labels and Thermal Labels.

Laser Labels

If you are looking for simple Shipping Labels, and do not need too many per week, you might choose to print them out on your own laser printer and could start with our Laser Labels. These come as butt cut (cut up against each other with no wastage) or die cut (cut to shape so they peel out leaving a frame).  We also offer Bespoke Laser Labels that can be pre-printed with information such as company branding, product barcodes, returns addresses or anything else that would make it easier for you to run your business.

Bespoke Integrated Despatch Label

Integrated Labels

As your business grows and the pack and despatch process gets more complicated, you might choose to switch to Integrated Labels. Integrated Labels are sticky labels that form part of an A4 sheet.  They often include the invoice or picking list, as well as the customer’s address. The address part can be peeled off and put on the package. You could also choose to incorporate a Returns label on your integrated form, to make life easier for customers.  You can print out Integrated Labels on your normal printer. They save you time matching packing lists with address labels, making sure the correct items always go to the right customer. 

Thermal Labels

Larger e-commerce businesses who print out a significant amount of labels, may choose to invest in a thermal transfer label printer and use Thermal Labels. These do not need ink, toner or ribbon and the print is more durable and easier to scan.  Ongoing printing costs are therefore lower than for Laser or Integrated Labels, aside from the initial cost of the printer.

Pick, Pack and Despatch Area

Once you have your labels and packaging sorted, plan out your pick, pack and despatch area to match. To keep the process as slick as possible, give yourself as much space as you can to work in. Store your labels and packaging within easy reach and keep the most popular products close to your packing zone.  Make sure you can easily see your supplies of packaging and labels, so you can monitor stock levels, or let us take care of that with our Print Management service, where we store your stock for you and send it out when you need it.

If you need any help choosing the best options for your business, do get in touch.  Our dedicated and knowledgeable team will be more than happy to have a chat with you.  Best of luck with your new store!

One Year On – How has COVID Changed E-Commerce?

E Commerce Delivery During COVID

This time last year, the UK was still getting used to lockdown. Our retail experience had disappeared down into the once-a-week trip to the supermarket, queuing to get in, shopping alone and fearful of infection.  One year on and things are looking more positive. As retail opens back up, Forms Plus have had a look back over a year that has changed e-commerce for ever. 

For many shoppers, just a few days into lockdown, the realisation that online shopping was an option had not quite kicked in. It took a while to understand that we may choose to shop online for things such as toilet paper, plants or paint – as well as the small part of our shopping we were used to doing via the internet.  March and April 2020 saw growth in online sales of food and drink, health and beauty, clothing and accessories.  Later on sales of fitness gear soared, home office equipment saw a big boost and parents stocked up on toys and games to entertain and educate their children.  As the year went on, DIY supplies, kitchenware and electronics also boomed. 

E Commerce Delivery During COVID

From the start, for retailers, the challenge was how to turn customer footfall into online growth. Whilst major online retailers such as Amazon and ASOS had the infrastructure in place for the sudden surge in e-commerce, for smaller retailers, both the technology and the logistics of coping with much greater volumes of online sales posed a challenge. Bricks and mortar sellers needed to get online fast, and Shopify was a key platform (and beneficiary) for that sudden growth.  New online tools popped up all over, including Click and Collect options for stores and restaurants, and totally new websites appeared such as Bookshop, which helps independent booksellers sell online.

E-commerce sellers also faced difficulties with warehousing, stock availability and meeting delivery promises.  As online shopping grew more competitive, benefits such as free delivery and no quibble returns became increasingly important to shoppers.  Handling returns, with enhanced hygiene protocols to protect those handling items coming back, was an additional challenge for sellers.

For companies who were able to meet customer needs, the efforts paid off.  Customer loyalty faltered, with shoppers happy to try out any brand that had stock availability and could provide fast, free shipping.  Traditionally, the growth of an e-commerce brand could be expected to be around 15% year on year.  Looking at February 2021 compared to 2020, according to the Drum many online sellers grew 40-50%.

The COVID E-Commerce Boom in Statistics

  • Feb 2020 – Internet Sales made up 19% of Total Retail Sales.  By Feb 2021 that figure was 34.5% (ONS)
  • Shopify’s Q4 revenue in 2020 was 94% up year-on-year!
  • Furlough in the retail and wholesale sector peaked with 1.85 million employees furloughed in April 2020, and by the end of January 2021 was at around 935,500 employees furloughed. (HMRC)
  • In the US, e-commerce penetration grew by 10 years in a 90-day period in 2020 according to data from McKinsey
  • UK Online Sales grew 74% year-on-year from January 2020 to 2021 (IMRG CapGemini)
  • 32% of customers plan to stick to their new online shopping habits -(Retail Economics and NatWest)
  • The giants of retail were the biggest winners and losers.  Amazon reported a 51% increase in UK Sales in 2020 and Primark lost around £650m by not being online.
Retail Opening Up

All the signs show that post lockdown, e-commerce is still predicted to grow.  Retail Economics analysts predict that 53% of UK Retail will be online by 2028.  Part of this growth is simply because so many people have discovered the time-saving convenience of online shopping and are likely to continue with their lockdown habits.  Others remain fearful of infection in crowded streets or are uncomfortable with queues and social distancing protocols. 

Social Distancing

Research shows that older, more affluent customers are particularly sure that they will continue to stick with online shopping.  If you have the right items in stock, and offer free, fast shipping and easy returns, customers are happy to continue shopping online and to branch out and discover new brands – so the market is there for the taking.

Many of course will continue to enjoy the benefits of both online and in-store retail. We have all missed touching and seeing products and the joy of browsing in person. The queues as stores opened up make it clear that the High Street is far from over.

If you need any help with forms, labels or packaging for your e-commerce business, do get in touch.  We look forward to helping you navigate this next phase.

Looking Back on 40 Years of Forms Plus

Floppy Disc - one of Forms Plus first products

What were you doing in 1981?  Bucks Fizz were winning the Eurovision with Making Your Mind Up in their Velcro skirts. Prince Charles married Lady Diana and we all had street parties.

Back in Cornwall meanwhile, a new business was getting started. Initially known as Kerrier Computer Services (after the local county area), later shortened to KCS, it’s first premises was a farm outbuilding and supplied payslips, listing paper, printer ribbons and floppy discs. 

Founded in 1981 - like Charles and Diana
Also established in 1981!

40 years on and KCS is now Forms Plus Ltd. We no longer sell floppy discs, but we do have a wide range of packaging products. Who knows what else will be included by the time we hit 80?

The company itself is not the only part of Forms Plus that is long established.  Our loyal workforce has always been at the heart of our business’s success and we have some serious long service to celebrate!  Victoria Andrews, our MD, joined the business as an Office Administrator back in 1990 and became a Director and Shareholder in 2002.  Jo Carter, our Finance Director was not far behind, joining as an Accounts Assistant in 1996. Jo became a Director in 2012, when she and Victoria completed a management buyout and took over the company.

Working in a technology-led field, we have always needed to be ready to flex and innovate.  Our initial product range changed radically when dot matrix printers were phased out and replaced by laser and thermal printing. Later on, as the dot com boom kicked in, we changed again to support the needs of e-commerce.  With the massive growth in online shopping over the past 12 months, we have quickly evolved even further, refining our offer and developing a more eco-friendly range to meet the growing demand for sustainable print and packaging products. 

Looking back over 40 years in business, there is a lot to be proud of.  For our customers, we continue our mission to be a trusted, knowledgeable and efficient supplier that you can always rely on.  With 40 years’ experience behind us, we are confident we know what we are doing.  We have won multiple large, national corporate contracts and kept them for many years. 

From a business-point of view, it has been hard work, as it is for anyone operating independently in a changing market.  Victoria and Jo were delighted to be able to take on the company through the management buyout. Since then, the business has really thrived, with turnover doubling in the first 5 years under their management. 

Most importantly perhaps, we are proud to be able to offer an excellent workplace for local people.  Our staff are valued and treated well, with many staying with us for years and years. Victoria remembers at least 5 staff weddings and 14 babies to celebrate! We strive to provide an excellent working environment, this is reflected in our Workplace Health achievement of moving up from a Bronze to Gold award over the past 5 years. 

Our logos through the ages!

Looking forward, we would love to continue to grow and empower our staff.  We also aim to expand our share of the markets we operate in.  As part of that, we will be developing and launching an even more defined eco-packaging range – so watch this space for updates.

In the 40 years since we were established, we have come a long way from that farmhouse building.  After moving offices and stores 3 times, we are now in our own 8,000 square feet purpose-built premises, with brand new offices and warehouse space.  Who knows what the business, or the world, will look like in 40 years’ time? We would love to be around in some form or other, continuing to employ local people and provide superb service to our customers – although we suspect Victoria and Jo would love to be comfortably retired quite a while before then!

Thank you for your custom and support as the business has changed and grown, especially to those of you who have been with us for such a long time and through many of those changes.  If we can do anything to help, or you have any questions, do get in touch

10 Facts You May Not Know About the Humble Cardboard Box

Cat in a Cardboard Box

How has your recycling pile been this past 12 months? Yes, the wine bottle collection might be larger than usual, but we’d also predict you’ve been drowning in cardboard packaging!

Online shopping and home deliveries have led to unprecedented demand for cardboard boxes.  As reported by the BBC, e-commerce companies, including Forms Plus, have worked hard to source sufficient quality packaging to meet this demand.  Whilst we have always managed to supply what our customers need, it led us to pay closer attention to the humble cardboard box. Here are a few facts you may not know…

10 Facts you may not have known about cardboard boxes:

  1. Whilst paper has been around since around 2AD, cardboard as a packaging material was not really used industrially until 1817 when Sir Malcolm Thornhill made the first single skin cardboard boxes. 
    
  2. Corrugated cardboard was first developed as a way to make tall hats stand up straight, with a British Patent issued in 1856. About 15 years later, we start to see corrugated cardboard being used to make boxes stronger. It is made up of paper, fluting (the wavy bit!) and lining layers.  Different fluting levels are available, which determine how thick the box walls will be. 
    
  3. One reason for the current shortage of cardboard boxes, is that during lockdowns, people are tending to store packaging in their homes or garages, rather than take it to the recycling centre. As many of the packaging items we sell are made from recycled cardboard, this has led to shortages as the raw materials have been less available.
Postal Boxes 3
We stock a wide range of postal boxes and cardboard packaging
  1. Most cardboard boxes are made from softwood trees that have long fibres, such as pine, spruce and fir trees.  The type of tree used can impact the eventual colour of the box with trees from Scandinavia often producing darker brown cardboard than those from Brazil, which are light brown, or China, which are more yellow.  The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) helps take care of these forests and their stamp of approval indicates that the cardboard is from a well-managed forest.  Many of our products are FSC-certified. 
  2. “If it fits, I sits” – we all know cats love cardboard boxes, but why? Ethologist Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University has actually run some research with cats in an animal shelter. The findings suggested that cats stress levels were considerably reduced by providing them with a box to hide in, whatever size it was.     
If it fits, I sits
  1. Unlikely to go as viral as a cat meme, but a question we get asked all the time, Royal Mail PIP (Pricing in Proportion) box sizes may well be important to you when deciding on postal boxes, so here they are:

Royal Mail Box Sizes

Box SizeWeightLengthWidthDepth
Large Letter750g35.3cm25cm2.5cm
Small Parcel2kg45cm35cm16cm
Medium Parcel20kg61cm46cm
Large Parcel30kg1.5m
Royal Mail PiP Box Sizes – for more info visit the Royal Mail Website
For large parcels, length and depth combined must not exceed 3m

We stock a full range of PiP Royal Mail postal boxes.

  1. Cardboard packaging is currently the most environmentally friendly protective packaging solution on the market. It is biodegradable, non-toxic, recycled, recyclable and can be cut to the correct shape and size for your parcels to take up less space during shipping, saving on carbon emissions. 
    
  2. The UK has amongst the world’s highest recycling rates for packaging.  The latest figures available from DEFRA indicate that in 2017, 70% of UK packaging waste was either recycled or recovered, including 4.7 million tonnes of paper and cardboard.
  1. There are a few things to consider when choosing the right cardboard carton.  Apart from choosing the best size for your packages, you will also need to think about thickness.  Boxes are available in single or double wall. Double wall boxes add an extra layer of protection around your products, are more likely to stack without crushing and are better suited to fragile, heavy or valuable shipments.  They don’t weigh much more than single wall boxes, so are unlikely to add to postage costs. 
    
  2. The Kellogg brothers invented the first cardboard cereal box in the early 1900s, but originally the cereal was loose in the box and a heat-sealed wax bag was wrapped around the outside. These boxes are now collectors’ items and can sell for thousands of pounds

If you’d like to find out even more about cardboard boxes, visit our Cardboard Packaging pages or get in touch – or once we can travel again, you might want to visit the Cardboard and Printing Museum in Valreas in France (yes it exists!).

Has COVID Cancelled Christmas? Not if you work in eCommerce…

Christmas eCommerce 2020

With gatherings of more than 6 people looking unlikely and many Christmas events cancelled, it would be easy to think Christmas might be cancelled this year.  To the contrary, a recent survey from Yieldify showed that 34% of us plan to increase our spending year on year, across Black Friday (27th November), Cyber Monday and Christmas itself.  Despite fears of unstable household income and lockdown restrictions, we are clearly still very keen to celebrate. Sending gifts to loved ones who we cannot meet up with in the usual way, will play a major role in that celebration.  

With COVID-19 serving as a catalyst for rapid growth across many eCommerce sectors, delivery companies have been building their teams to cope with a permanent increase in demand. In September, Royal Mail announced that parcel volumes are up 34%, with 117 million more parcels sent in 2020 than last year. DPD, Hermes, Amazon and DHL have all hired thousands of new delivery workers to cope with what DPD’s CEO described as a “tsunami of parcels”. 

Christmas Delivery 2020

On the flipside, high street retail has been hit hard, with 125,000 jobs lost in the UK as retailers closed stores and, in some cases, went into administration. Whilst the high street has started opening up again, with local lockdowns, long queues and unease around travelling to shop in closed-in spaces, it seems that Christmas is not cancelled. It has just moved online.

Research from eCommerce platform, Magento shows what online shoppers are looking for this season. Their main concerns are:

  • Ethical eCommerce and philanthropy
  • Safe shopping
  • Ways to re-create the “in store” experience
  • A joyful online shopping experience
  • Great mobile eCommerce experiences

Magento “Unwrapping the Gift of Christmas” guide for 2020

The Yieldify report also looked into how retailers are approaching their marketing.  Despite the consumer growth predictions, only 45% of marketers feel positive about the season ahead.  Decisions are being made much later than normal and around one third have decided not to participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  This could mean great opportunities for those that do step forward confidently.  If you are planning to go ahead with discounting, shipping offers, free gifts or other promotions, now is the time to get organised. 

Christmas eCommerce 2020

Our recommendations for preparing for peak season 2020 under these unique conditions are:

  • Use your existing email lists to keep in good contact with your customers, letting them know about upcoming offers and holiday promotions. Keep these going throughout the seasonal period.
  • Highlight any ethical or sustainability messages you can. For example if you are using our eco-friendly packaging, make that information clear on your site.
  • Get going now with any last-minute work you can, to make shopping on your website easier and more enjoyable. If you also sell in-store, is there anything from that experience you could add? Is your site easy to use on mobile?
  • Check you have optimised the way you capture leads, so you can continue to market to any new customers you gain over the holiday period. Email sign-ups with a discount for the first order are a popular and effective way to do this. Plan now what you will do with those addresses once you’re through the festive season.   
  • Contact your suppliers to make sure your inventory will be available and ready for shipping around the peak holiday dates. You may well sell more than you expect.  While you’re doing that, check you have enough forms and packaging too.

In conclusion, whilst the pandemic has posed huge challenges for all types of retail this year, the peak season ahead clearly offers an opportunity for eCommerce.  We wish you all luck embracing that opportunity and will be here to help along the way. 

Do get in touch if you need any help with your packaging and print needs or have any questions along the way.