Packaging for the world's largest bookseller!

Packaging for the world's largest bookseller!

The switch in 2008 to Lil envelopes instead of bubble mailers was for most booksellers: “the single best cost-saving strategy ever implemented”

At that time, our company was known as Mainline Flatpacks Ltd, but the brand name Lil was suggested by Fred’s wife Deborah Lill to signify the family name and also the product’s compact & efficient design.

The idea for the Lil envelope was born for the fast-growing demands of online booksellers as a means to package their orders. The primary objective was to create a new item of packaging which would save booksellers a great deal of money in comparison to their most common packaging method – the bubble mailer.

The 5 main aspects of doing so included :

  1. reduced postal costs
  2. faster packing speed
  3. reduced postage returns
  4. lower unit price
  5. pallet space optimisation ;

Lil Packaging had a vision to provide savings in all 5 aspects whilst maintaining their ethos of creating environmentally friendly solutions.

Fred Lill our Sales Director worked tirelessly with the world’s largest online retailers and several major book distributors to develop a new and innovative product to fulfill the many requirements. The dream was always to make a range of branded envelopes that Lil Packaging owned and produced. After 6 months of development, 5 very carefully chosen sizes were developed and put into production

From the date of launch, our company rapidly gained market share and became primary packaging suppliers for the mailing of books to more than 500 booksellers/publishers who were previously using plastic lined bubble mailers (eg. jiffy bags) to ship their individual book orders.

The key to the success of the Lil envelope for booksellers was that at 1.8mm total thickness, it offered greater protection for books than the industry standard bubble mailer at 8mm total thickness. This meant that books of 17-23mm thick, could for the first time be mailed through the much lower Royal Mail LARGE LETTER maximum 25mm thickness tariff instead of PACKET. Putting this into perspective, this meant that approximately 20% of books would be mailed at a price of under £1 instead of a £3 parcel fee.

The reason why the Lil envelope provided greater protection from damage was that we had identified that the 2 most common causes of book damage in transit were 1) dented corners 2) torn dust-jackets.

Cause #1 was satisfied due to the rigid nature of the kraft material of the Lil envelope and cause #2 was eliminated simply by the Lil envelope opening on the long dimension – something that is not possible with bubble mailers.

The results shown by our customers prove how successfully it has met the objective:

1) Savings in fitting more products through Royal Mail LARGE LETTER instead of the PACKET tariff.

2) 15% faster to pack than a bubble mailer

  • Easier to stack piles due to non-slip cardboard material
  • Long edge opening is faster to pack than the short edge opening (Bubble envs only made short edge)
  • Faster to pack because Release Paper overhangs flap
  • Faster to pack because contents do not snag upon insertion
  • Minimises any need for label-reprinting because label can be peeled-off & re-applied.
  • Easier to stack & carry piles of fulfilled packs
  • More fulfilled packs per Mailsort cage.

3) Reduced postage returns by up to 63%

  • Greatly reduces damage in transit/lost packages due to corner stiffness
  • Minimised contents damage from internal rattling (snug fit)
  • Reduced risk of refused delivery due to letterbox compliance (Easier for postman to get through letterbox)

4) Halving the unit costs of many book packaging methods.

5) 3x quantity per pallet

All this while explaining to customers that production was maintained in-house at our manufacturing headquarters in Huntingdon, Cambridge. Lil envelopes are produced from 100% recycled paper/board and are recycled to make yet more Lil envelopes.

The Lil range has revolutionized the way online book sales are dispatched and the product was hailed by the press as the 21st century equivalent of the Jiffy bag. Lil envelopes are now being produced & stored in their millions to keep up with demand for next-day delivery worldwide with a strong presence in America and Australia.

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