Shipping vinyl records safely, and why you're probably doing it wrong.
Do you want to know how to ship vinyl records safely, securely and still give your customer the best unboxing experience?
Shipping vinyl records through the mail sounds like a harrowing experience. With increasing pressure on parcel companies to increase how many parcels they pile in each van per trip, it's no surprise that vinyl packaging issues are a hot topic on the net.
Let's get to the point.
There are many Blog articles (usually surrounded by ads for cheap packaging), as well as forum posts that proclaim to show you how to ship vinyl records - you need to wrap your vinyl in bubblewrap, tape, non-stick packing paper, doubly reinforced and stiffened board parcels, and then apparently you need to deploy a high-tech futuristic stasis device that negates the laws of physics, time, and delivery drivers steel-toe boots. I may have made the part about the stasis device up. But the other recommendations are also time-worn examples of taking things a little too far... (I especially love the recommendation to use a pizza box!) Let me explain...
Examples of over-enthusiastic vinyl packaging advice:
Vinyl Packaging Advice 1 (Good advice, but better options are available!)
Vinyl Packaging Advice 2 (Bubble-wrap armageddon)
Vinyl Packaging Advice 3 (Good advice, but OTT on the bubble wrap!)
Vinyl Packaging Advice 4 (Time consuming method)
Vinyl Packaging Advice 5 (Better package options available, inefficient method.)
Vinyl Packaging Advice 6 (Eek! Knives! Package chopping!)
Vinyl Packaging Advice 7 (Complex method, time consuming)
Vinyl Packaging Advice 8 (Old-school packaging!)
The examples above seem to miss out on these things:
- Over-Packaging: Is all of that bubble-wrap necessary? Do you REALLY need stiffeners? How much tape are you going to go through using these options? Your customer is going to have to dig through all of this, potentially damaging the vinyl and sleeves inside.
- Time: Apparently, everyone shipping vinyl records seems to have LOTS of time to package vinyl. Or do you? You need quick, and efficient options for sending out vinyl in the mail.
- Impact Protection: Impact protection is a key issue in the packaging world. Especially so with vinyls, and their often valuable-but-fragile inner and outer sleeves. So why use self-constructed packages that are not specifically designed to cater for impact protection and motion-restraint?
- Postal Costs: Post and Mailing costs are usually based around size tarriffs, or volume / weight calculations. Basically, the bigger and heavier your package, the more you'll pay in transit costs to get the parcel to your customer. Extra packaging weighs more, and takes up more space - especially if you're using a box. Cut down on your packaging, cut down on your postal costs - especially if you can take advantage of 'small parcel' price breaks etc.
- Packaging Costs: Packaging costs money and can be a frustrating, but highly sensitive part of your e-commerce or postal business process. It's a key part of satisfying your customers. But if you want to cut down on the costs of packaging and shipping vinyl records, you need to be savvy about it. Don't compromise on secure and safe delivery, but do package smartly. Use specially designed all-in-one mailers, rather than DIY 'bodge-jobs' with cheap materials.
The good advice seen in articles demonstrating how to ship vinyl records generally follows these trends:
- Sleeve Removal and 'Sandwiching': At least half of the advice out there centres around removing vinyl records from sleeves before packaging and posting. Why? Because impacts can often cause the vinyl to knock, burst-through and generally degrade those all-important sleeves. Don't get caught out if this is a concern to you, or your vinyl sleeves are weak or old. You need a 'snug-fit' mailer, that reduces movement inside, but by 'sandwiching' your vinyl OUTSIDE of the sleeves, between the inner and outer sleeves inside the package to maintain the vinyl surface, you can limit any damage done to the sleeves. Important Note: Lil Packaging FLP's and F-EP's are designed so that you shouldn't really have to do this, but it's your call!
- Reinforced Corners: Reinforced package 'corners' are a must. If your vinyl sleeve corner gets damaged in transit, the value of the sleeve drops, and your customer will probably want a refund. Do not compromise, use-corner reinforced packaging when shipping vinyl records at all times! (Lil Packaging vinyl mailers are designed to have reinforced corners.)
- Securely Sealed: Shipping 'antique' or rare vinyl? If a potential thief knows what to look for, your vinyls could become easy targets for pilfering in the mail. Worse still, if your package isn't securely sealed, the content could spill out, get damaged, or simply get lost or seperated. All are negative 'fun-sponge' options. However, none of the examples shown above provide mailers with 'built-in' sealing systems like "peel'n'seal", like our Lil Packaging options have.
Whilst not exhaustive or guaranteed, following the below guidelines will mean that when you are shipping vinyl records, you should be just fine:
- Remove vinyl sleeves, and 'sandwich' them as described above.
- Only use packaging with reinforced corners, and rigid, strong, e-flute or b-flute corrugated board.
- Use all-in-one stiffened mailers, that feature hot melt peel'n'seal glue, built-in tear-open strips, and that require assembly from only one piece of packaging.
- Pack it 'snugly', to restrict internal package movement, and limit the risk of internal movement damage. (Remember customers need to be able to get them out!)
- If your vinyl is valuable, always insure it in the mail.
- Your packaging must be marked as 'FRAGILE - DO NOT BEND ME', or you'll have big problems!
If you are shipping vinyl records in the mail, you need a reliable, mass-produced, cost-effective, readily available, easy and quick to use, attractive packaging option. Options like these:
For 12-Inch Vinyl LP's: the heavy-duty option, trusted by international vinyl distributors around the world - good for up to 7 vinyls with variable height, buffer edge protection and tough corrugated exterior CLP.
For 12-Inch Vinyl LP's: reinforced kraft corrugated wallets, no need for stiffeners like those cheap options found on eBay - FLP.
For 7-Inch Vinyl EP's: The sturdy F-EP.
If you would like to talk to us about shipping vinyl records by mail, or any other packaging related challenges, don't hesitate to contact us here, or via our phone number located at the bottom of the page.
Are you interested in custom printing your vinyl record mailers?
If you'd like to talk to us about custom printing one of our stock items or producing something bespoke, feel free to get in touch.
Check out the custom printed FLP and Bukwrap mailers we made for Rough Trade and read our case studies.