For e-commerce entrepreneurs and online retail managers, packaging is an important business processes that they need to pay close attention to. Quite a few customers will form opinions about the e-commerce companies they acquire goods from based on the way their purchases are packaged. As can be expected, the packing materials chosen to deliver e-commerce products will also play a major part with regard to customer satisfaction.
Whether you operate an e-commerce shop or a physical store, you need to have an adequate and consistent packaging strategy. Let’s say you have the most attractive package design complete with colorful labels that adhere to your branding guidelines; while this strategy can go a long way in terms of promoting your business, it can be rendered moot if the packing materials you choose are not up to par.
Choosing Shrink Wrap for Your Packaging Strategy
Shrink wrap is an advanced polymer material that can be defined as a plastic film, although it should not be confused with stretch film, which is a related material with different properties. We will mention stretch film a couple of times in this article for the sole purpose of making the difference clear. With very few exceptions, you will prefer to use shrink wrap plastic, which is sometimes called shrink film.
Let’s start by describing the major types of packaging materials on the market today:
- Rigid packaging such as glass containers and the jewel cases that DVDs used to be packaged in.
- Flexible packaging such as paper bags and plastic film.
- Specialty packaging such as banana leaves for tropical foodstuffs.
- Organic packaging such as biodegradable hemp materials.
Shrink wrap can be classified within the flexible packaging category; in fact, it could even be described as ultra-flexible packaging because it can be used to pack just about any object. Shrink wrap is designed to be dynamic and multipurpose, and this is the main reason it is often chosen by retailers across all segments.
History of Shrink Wrap
It should not be surprising to learn that the original patent for shrink wrap was filed and granted in the United States, which happens to be the leading nation as it pertains to packaging material innovation. Equally unsurprising is the origin of shrink wrap at Dow Chemical, an American giant of industrial innovation.
What chemical engineers at Dow were researching in 1933 was a kind of material that could be placed inside a spray bottle for instant packaging; this idea probably inspired spray foam down the line. Dow engineer Ralph Wiley developed polyvinylidene chloride almost by mistake, but the material was quickly marketed for household use as Saran Wrap, which has been a solid staple of kitchen products used around the world since the 1950s. Saran Wrap is a brand we know to be:
- Perfect for wrapping food products.
- Able to cling not only to itself but also many other surfaces.
- Able to form seals to prevent odors from escaping.
The properties above form the basis for shrink wrap, which became a favorite packaging material shortly after Saran Wrap made a splash on supermarket shelves seven decades ago. It should be noted that the kind of shrink film plastic used for packaging is not exactly the same as Saran Wrap; it is a more advanced material.
How Shrink Wrap Works
As previously mentioned, shrink wrap is a plastic film with advanced properties that are highly ideal to use across many industries. It is similar to stretch film, which is what Saran Wrap actually is. The difference between the two is that shrink wrap will reduce its molecular structure when it is subjected to heat; moreover, it will create a bonding effect that is perfect for packaging. There are practical purposes for stretch film, but most businesses prefer the advanced properties and convenience of shrink wrap.
The magic of shrink wrap happens when you apply heat from sources such as heat guns. The flexible and clingy aspects of shrink film allow you to wrap it around anything; once you are ready to seal the object, you can apply heat in a spot where it makes sense to place a seal. The size of the objects that can be wrapped in shrink film can be as large as buildings; in fact, shrink wrap is often used by construction workers who need to isolate sections of the structures they are working on.
Advantages of Using Shrink Wrap for Packaging
Some of our customers use nothing but shrink wrap to package their products; these tend to be retailers who deal in foodstuffs. Many other customers choose shrink wrap as a primary packing material that can be combined with others to provide ultimate protection. Let’s review some of the advantages you can derive from this material:
Once you apply heat to form a shrink wrap seal, you will not have to doubt the integrity of the packaging. Even the lowest grade of shrink film will provide excellent protection against pesky elements such as dust and moisture; you can increase the level of protection by wrapping more layers of shrink films or selecting a heavier grade. In some cases, you might be able to find shrink wrap rolls that offer a certain grade of ultraviolet protection, tamper-proof features, or even resistance to puncturing.
In terms of preservation, shrink wrap has been a preferred packing material for decades. If you need to extend the shelf-life of food or natural products, your best course of action would be to pack them with shrink wrap formulated for this use. You can safely wrap hardware pieces, automotive parts, candy, and many other goods with shrink film; just be sure to ask for the proper grade.
When you compare shrink wrap to other packaging materials, you will notice that it can be quite affordable, particularly when you purchase the right quantity of rolls. Shrink wrap may cost more than other materials such as stretch film, but the high level of protection and convenience more than justifies the price.
If you are in need of a packaging solution that highlights branding, this can be done through special orders of printed shrink wrap rolls. You can include logos, colors, and lettering in order to make a greater impact. All the same, you can simply opt to affix a label to clear shrink wrap.
As long as you have the right grade of shrink wrap and a heat source, you will be able to enjoy the durability, protection, reliability, and convenience in packaging. Ultimately, shrink wrap is a very dynamic material that can make your packing process easier.
Disadvantages of Using Shrink Wrap for Packaging
As with anything else, there are pros and cons to using shrink wrap, but you can rest assured that the advantages greatly outweigh the issues we will discuss below.
Once you start customizing your shrink wrap rolls in great detail, they may start getting expensive; we are talking about high-grade rolls with UV protection, colors, lettering, graphics, and widths that are outside normal dimensions. You do not have to incur into these expenses if you have non-perishable and sturdy items to pack, and you can always take care of your own branding with adhesive labels.
We can now talk about the carbon footprint of shrink wrap and how much of it can be recycled. If we compare shrink film to biodegradable materials made of hemp or bamboo, for example, it will definitely be less sustainable, but this will have a lot to do with how it is handled once it is used and discarded.
First of all, let’s keep in mind that flexible plastics can be recycled a lot easier than their hard counterparts. For some reason, we are more inclined to collect plastic water bottles for recycling than discarded shrink wrap packaging. It may seem easier to crumple up pieces of shrink film and throw them away, but we should not be doing so. Shrink wrap in landfills is problematic, but it should not be there in the first place. If you can remind shoppers that shrink wrap packaging should be recycled along with other plastics, please do so; some of our customers accomplish by including a label within the goods they sell.
Ready to Order Shrink Wrap Rolls?
Please feel free to browse through our online catalog of shrink wrapping materials, tools, and accessories. We started doing business about three decades after shrink wrap was initially formulated by Dow Chemical; in that time, we have grown our portfolio of clients across the Americas and Europe. We can also tell you that shrink wrap is one of our most popular packaging solutions. Should you have any questions about our products or the ordering process, please feel free to contact our office.