One of the challenges that most online brands face is constantly sourcing and funding packaging materials. However, these e-commerce businesses are unaware that several shipping companies offer free shipping supplies.
Shipping Companies That Offers Free Supplies in U.K.
Some major courier brands in U.K. that provide this includes Royal Mail, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. They take advantage of the large shipment volume to offer their customers free supplies. The most common free shipping supplies they offer are shipping labels, cardboard boxes, and mailing bags, among others.
How Much Are The Typical Shipping Costs in British Pounds
Here's an estimated breakdown of some typical packaging, excluding all the fancy add-ons such as tissue paper, stickers, stamps, etc.:
- Small box (4" x 4" x 4"): the box (£0.4) + tape (£0.16) + shipping label (£0.024) = £0.584
- Medium box (12" x 6" x 4"): box (£0.48) + tape (£0.16) + shipping label (£0.016) =£0.656
Typical Packaging Cost to Ship Out Orders
|1 order per day||£17.52 in basic packaging supplies|
|10 orders per day||£175.20 in basic packaging supplies|
|50 orders per day||£876 in basic packaging supplies|
The computation above do not include the shipping fees yet
- If you ship out 1 order per day, 30 orders times £0.584 = £17.52 in basic packing supplies.
- If you ship out ten orders per day, that would be ten × 30 × 0.584 = £175.2/month in basic packing supplies.
- If you ship out 50 orders per day, that would be £876/month in basic packing supplies that could be saved using one of the methods below.
If you can get your shipping supplies for free, it will cut your overhead costs considerably. Plowing these funds back into the business can help increase your production output and settle other inevitable bills.
Free Shipping Supplies from Major Shipping Service Providers
|Available Free Supplies||
The Royal Mail
Established in 1516, this is one of the oldest parcel delivery companies globally and the most popular in the U.K. It has an extensive reach, delivering to over 25 million addresses in the U.K. The company has offices in London and Sheffield and has numerous shipping centers across the country.
Some of the free shipping supplies by the Royal Mail include:
- Tracked 24/48 bag labels
- Barcode labels
- Customer collection receipts
- Plastic mail bag ties
Royal Mail supports small shops in the U.K. | 📷 by @saltybottomswim
There are no hidden costs for the delivery of these shipping supplies. Everything is free. Depending on the location and quantity, they will be delivered between 1-5 business days. However, the supplies are only delivered to addresses within the U.K.
Unfortunately, The Royal Mail doesn’t offer general packaging items such as corrugated boxes as freely. These materials have to be bought from the Royal Mail Online Shop.
Requirements for Opening a Royal Mail Business Account
Only business customers can receive free supplies. This means you need a Royal Mail Online Business Account, a Franking/Metering Account, or paying for regular business collection. Here’s how you can register as a Royal Business Customer.
After registration, Royal Mail will ask you to apply for access. First orders from new clients are usually subject to additional security checks. If your application is successful, you will receive a confirmation email within 48 hours.
Royal Mail also supports artists and designers | 📷 by @rememberwhengb
Ensure the email account you used to create and log into royalmail.com is registered as a business user. You may fail to receive the supplies if you change the email.
The 2-day wait for the account verification has somehow made it unpopular with new users. Most couriers usually have their business accounts verified within a few hours.
Get your free shipping supplies with Royal Mail here.
UPS in U.K.
UPS is the largest courier service in the world in terms of revenue. This advantage has allowed UPS to offer free shipping supplies to business entities.
UPS offers four (4) different kinds of free supplies:
- Envelopes – Express and Express Reusable
- Packaging –Paks, Boxes, and Tubes
- Labels and Stickers – Marking packages
- Pouches – Holding shipping labels
These shipping supplies can be ordered online, and you select where they should be dropped off. UPS has an excess of 3,200 UPS Access PointTM locations where you can conveniently collect your shipping supplies. Use the UPS Access Point Locator to find one near your vicinity.
UPS support women entrepreneurs by designing special boxes | 📷 by UPS
Shipping supplies typically arrive within 1-3 working days. You can track multiple shipping supplies ordered online in real-time. UPS will send you a prompt alert in case of re-routing or delivery rescheduling.
Requirements for Opening a UPS Business Account
FedEx in U.K.
FedEx has a vast presence in the U.K. courier market thanks to its fast delivery systems. It currently owns and runs TNT Express, covering a broader market. They provide services and packages that can cater to different business needs.
The free packaging supplies it offers are categorized as follows:
- Paks – Reusable, Padded, and Clinical
- Boxes – Small, Medium, Large, A4, 10 kg, and 25 kg
- Pouches – Air Waybill
You can use FedEx packaging materials freely, except for the International Economy Services® within Europe.
The different shipping supplies available at FedEx | 📷 by @meshka_design
Supplies can be ordered online or picked up from a nearby FedEx Centre. Placing orders online is fluid, with the website customized for both P.C. and mobile users. The website provides practical guides on packing anything from boxes, computers, and automotive and mechanical parts.
Requirements for Opening a FedEx Business Account
You need to open a FedEx account and your login to receive free shipping supplies. Besides, you also benefit from personalized discount rates, account management, and comprehensive custom tools. Shop for your free FedEx shipping supplies here.
DHL in U.K.
DHL has over 3,500 Parcel ServicePoints across the U.K. The ServicePoint Finder identifies all the nearby drop-off points by using your postcode or your current location. However, you can only order supplies online. They will be delivered to your location in 2-3 working days.
📷 by @palmeramia | DHL supports small shops with their free mailer bags
Requirements for Opening a DHL Business Account
A DHL Express Account offers preferential billing and international assistance if you regularly ship. Open an account online or call 01332-828-402 to set up your account and be eligible for free shipping supplies.
While they are free, there is a limit on the number of times you can order supplies during a specific period. DHL also has the right to refuse to fulfill your order if it is satisfied that you have violated the terms of the notice.
Click here to find out how to order DHL free shipping supplies.
Frequently asked questions about free shipping supplies in U.K.
1. What should I do if free shipping supplies don’t arrive?
Double-check the details you provided on your delivery, or perhaps your order was incomplete. If your delivery details are incorrect, the supplies will head to the wrong location.
Also, check with the policies/terms of the courier concerning free supplies. For example, for Royal Mail, if your email address is unregistered as a business user, you will be unable to access free shipping supplies.
If all your delivery details are correct and comply with the courier's terms and policies, contact them. Occasionally, the supplies are out of stock, and the company will send an apology or compensation.
2. What to do when free shipping supplies take a long time to arrive?
Contact the shipping company. We recommend making phone calls. The feedback is usually faster than writing emails. The companies have also integrated interactive chat bubbles on their websites. You can inquire about the delays from their customer service representatives in real-time.
Our mailers have low MOQ, no need to stock up | 📷 by @madebylera
3. Are the shipping labels also free?
Yes. All the shipping companies featured in this article provide free shipping labels to businesses. However, not all couriers are this generous, and you might be charged an extra fee for the labels.
4. Can you walk in, order, and get these free shipping materials?
No. Most courier companies require that you place an order in advance. Generally, only a few supplies are available at pick-up centers. These sizes and quantities may be insufficient if you’re shipping in bulk.
Do not wait for your supplies to run out before placing an order. Have a buffer stock in case there are delays in the delivery of your new supplies.
5. Can I reuse Amazon boxes to ship items through the post office?
📷 by @loganmoreyy | Amazon boxes are reusable, but labels should be removed
Yes, you can reuse Amazon boxes for shipping new products. However, remove the previous shipping labels and addresses from the boxes to prevent the packages from being sent to the wrong destinations. Courier companies charge a fee for rectifying labeling errors, increasing your shipping costs. Besides, unfilled deliveries often result in customer cancellations.
Finding Alternative Free Shipping Supplies
Some of the service centers of major couriers might be too far away from your location. Therefore, you need to find convenient places to find these supplies within your locality. Some suitable alternatives include:
Freecycle is a non-profit organization where people give and receive items around their community/towns. You can use the website to look for packaging materials in good condition. The best part is joining as a member and asking for specific items. People give them away free with an emphasis on environmental conservation.
📷 by @freecycle | The org provides access to reusable cardboard boxes
Local stores receive tons of packages regularly. Most of these packaging materials are usually thrown out to clear the clutter. Visit and request these supplies from the store’s personnel. Office supply stores, departmental stores, and book stores have generally strong and clean boxes and bubble wraps you could use.
Facebook groups are easy to find cheap products around your community. One of such establishments is the Marketplace. Under the Free Stuff category, you can find tons of free giveaways, including shipping supplies.
Reusing Old Boxes
Shoe boxes, moving boxes, and furniture wraps are great ways to ship products rather than dispose of them. You can easily find them in apartments and yard sales around your neighborhood.
Reuse old boxes, especially big ones for multiple orders
Sustainability is a Collective Responsibility
Extreme and erratic weather patterns have compelled individuals, corporations, and governments to take sustainability seriously. Courier service providers have doubled their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.
All FedEx Paks listed on FedEx U.K. are now recyclable and reusable, while UPS has the Express Reusable Envelope. DHL has reduced shipping rates to encourage customers to reuse and recycle packing.
There is a deliberate push to make biodegradable items such as mailers and labels more affordable. Companies are now offering these products to customers as free shipping supplies.