Ship It: A Guide To Packaging Records For Shipping

by Diognes_The_Fox

New Order! So reads the email subject. You’ve landed your first order and now comes the real work of selling records: securely packaging it and mailing.

Until there’s a magical hole in which buyers can reach through the internet and grab their records from your crates, you’ll need to entrust the postal service when shipping records. Things get broken, bent in half and stuck in machines. So how do you protect your record from the abuse it’s about to take on its mystical journey? This is why packaging records for shipping is equal parts science and art. With a little effort, your customers will thank you and come back time and time again.

Here’s your guide to packaging records for shipping:

Packaging records for shipping: preparation is key

So suppose this fine fine record is sold to a very lucky buyer. The first thing you’re going to want to do is prep the record for shipping.

First, remove the record from it’s jacket:

Packaging records for shipping: remove the LP from the outer sleeve

That crumpled old sleeve might have been fine until it sold, but your customer will appreciate receiving their new record with a fresh, crisp sleeve. If the inner-sleeve is a custom printed inner-sleeve or original company inner-sleeve, consider keeping them inside the jacket with other fragile paper inserts, like lyrics sheets, while the disc is outside the jacket in a new sleeve.

Protective plastic sleeves are also a great finishing touch that will show your customer that you appreciate their purchase.

Packaging records for shipping: remove record from its sleeve

Pack the disc outside the jacket in the plastic sleeve. This will prevent seam-splits and help prevent the disc from getting scuffs by moving around during shipment.

Packaging records for shipping: pack record outside sleeve to prevent seam splits and scuffs

At this point, I recommend purchasing new folding-type cardboard mailers for packaging records for shipping. If you are considering using the UK style white envelope types, don’t. Even with stiffeners, in my experience they are frequently responsible for dinged corners and are generally too fragile for shipping records. The amount of headaches saved in the long term will be worth the extra investment.

Folding type cardboard mailers are perfect for packaging records for shipping

Generally, once a mailer is used it shouldn’t be re-used again. They are designed to withstand one mailing and may no longer be structurally sound enough to withstand the hardship of shipping another record. Recycling mailers not only makes you look cheap as a seller, but may expose the address of the last person to someone who shouldn’t need to know. Improvising mailers from recycled cardboard is generally frowned upon as well. We will not remove negative feedback if you ship a record in a used pizza box. I cannot stress this enough.

Don't use pizza boxes for packaging records for shipping. Just don't.

Avoid using recycled cardboard mailers when packaging records for shipping

Now that you’re ready to package your record, let’s take a look at stiffeners:

Cardboard and bubblewrap are great for packaging records for shipping

I have used both types in the past: Cardboard and bubblewrap with equal success. Whichever type you use, sandwich your record between two pieces. The goal is to immobilize your record in the center of the package to prevent it from rattling around in the box and possibly get damaged. I have also used dollar bin freebies to service as stiffeners with great success in the past, though this may not be economical for international orders.

Add a cardboard stiffener when packaging records for shipping

When using cardboard for packaging records for shipping, you can add added sturdiness by placing the stiffener against the grain of the cardboard mailer. Every bit counts.

shipping records: packaging of LP

Fold your box up and tape it shut. I recommend making multiple passes around the center and sealing up the sides as well.

Write Fragile on boxes when packaging records for shipping

Finally, write FRAGILE – VINYL RECORD – DO NOT BEND on both sides of the box. Have better handwriting than I do. After that all you have to do is slap an address on it and bring it to the post office. If it’s expensive, take a gamble and throw insurance on it. It’s generally less than $2 and will really save your hide in a jam.

You’re ready to ship records! Start buying and selling vinyl records in the Discogs Marketplace!

33 comments about “Ship It: A Guide To Packaging Records For Shipping
  • Rolskidrakeski 5 years ago
    GREAT!!
  • THEOLDSCHOOLVINYL 5 years ago
    That should be sent to all users as some of the deliveries i received over the years have been either badly packaged or cheaply done,maybe it may educate some for future sales
  • reddye6 5 years ago
    I completely agree on those envelope-type mailers; they are horrible. However, I do think that some of the mailers can be reused. There just needs to be some common sense. There are some places from which I get vinyl that have fantastic boxes and packaging jobs, and their mailers are easy to reuse and are still strong. Others use junk, and these go in the recycling bin.
  • RichardGreenhalgh 5 years ago
    All very sound advice. I am pleased to say that almost all sellers that I deal with have already taken it on board. Ru-using parts of outer packaging as stiffners, against the grain of the outer is very feasible and I see no problem with that. You can remove any labels that identify its previous use.
    The single most importsnt thing, however, is to remove the LP from its outer cover and place it outside and alongside in a suitable sleeve.
  • reverberationmusic 5 years ago
    yes, replacement innersleeves & outer plastic sleeves, instead of bubble wrap & use double plastic grocery bags (works great, breakage rate is one in about 3000!)keeps it under a pound also.
  • teip-dopa 5 years ago
    New records are sealed so shipping the record outside the sleeve does not make any sence... If i order a sealed copy, i want to receive a sealed copy..... Good boxes (like the ones HHV uses) can perfectly be re-used.. Recycling is better for environment..
  • rickreaction 5 years ago
    If using stiffeners within the package re-using mailers is almost common sense and certainly responsible in all regards.
  • Mongus 5 years ago
    Good advice!
    First bubble-wrap around the vinyl itself and then stiffener cardboard, and remember to make the stiffener a bit larger than the bubble wrap. And if you tape the "inner package" together makes it pretty safe to ship.

    As a side-note: I have ordered stuff from record companies and it's really great to get an album wrapped with the cardbord that they got from the pressing plant, you know, stickers with matrix numbers and so on!
    It's a really nice bonus that I cut out and put inside the cover with the corresponding records!
  • Pointdexter 5 years ago
    Thank you! A must-read for sellers...
    I don't mind recycling mailers, but it has to be done consciously, reinforcing sides and corners.
  • 6catsforme 5 years ago
    I use the album mailers from Bags Unlimited . They are very sturdy & i have never had any complaints about them. Insurance is a must just in case somebody swipes your stuff from your front porch. Very informative.
  • LilWang 5 years ago
    I always include a return address label on the package just incase the postal service is unable to deliver it, I've had a fair few packages returned to me over the years, that otherwise would have been lost for good.
  • boogie666 5 years ago
    I strongly advise against the use of bubble wrap. Only use cardboard as protective layers. Bubble is not friendly to your record under pressure. Recycling mailers is fine as long as they're still sturdy. It's extremely unresponsible to to use a mailer only once unless it got wet or badly torn.
  • JT_X 5 years ago
    I ask sellers to minimize the mention that there are vinyl records inside the package, and to use excessive amounts of tape to secure the box. I’ve had the contents of a package stolen, receiving only an empty envelope. The USPS said it was my tough luck. I also now pay for insurance on all orders.
  • djprojexion 5 years ago
    +1 on using plastic grocery bags. Cheaper than bubble wrap, great way to recycle!
  • dreadmeat 5 years ago
    I've wanted to try two pieces of 3mm MDF and duct tape for a while just to see what it would be like, super rigid.
    Perhaps even ply wood...
  • joescrase 5 years ago
    It's worrying that sellers even consider using packaging that clearly isn't adequate, I've just received a first pressing of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club from an eBay seller, arrived wrapped in a pieced of newspaper and then some brown packing paper. Arrived ruined! Brilliant album ruined by a stupid seller. Totally agree that all members should be sent this after recieving there first order.
  • consort 5 years ago
    Very good, except the bit about reusing a proper cruciform box--rubbish. They're good for more than 1 go.
  • VINYL_BIZZLE_RECORDS 5 years ago
    I disagree with Discogs on this - The cruciform mailers are not very good. Too many people use them for 1 or 2 records without using any stiffeners which can warp the vinyl as the flaps folded over on the outside of the cruciform are not 100% flat. I've always used hard card mailers with 2 hard stiffeners, the best I could find & sent vinyl all over the world & quite often I get commended on good packaging.
  • pleh 5 years ago
    I absolutely hate the record sized mailers- seems like every time I get one there is a crushed corner. 2 flat pieces of cardboard, at least 13" both ways, protects a lot better. I did get a box I haven't seen before from Whiplash Merchandising Logistics WHP-LP-01, that is fantastic. It has a 1" folded protector on 2 sides to completely protect from corner damage.
  • G.Monk_Collection 5 years ago
    Good advice, but I wonder how many sellers will go down the complete "checklist" above. Only a few in my own experience. Sometimes I use a second hand box when receiving large orders. But I only use the ones which still look good. Sometimes I use some extra tape around the sides.

    By the way: you can buy stickers which say "fragile" and I wrap the sleeves/records in newspaper to give them a little bit of extra protection in the box instead of using plastic protection sleeves.

    [quote]" It's generally less than $2 and will really save your hide in a jam."[/quote]

    Maybe it's a good idea to delete this last part of the text. Some buyers otherwise might think that sellers charge to many shippingfees. Yes, they are out there that don't get it that each country has its own shippingprices. ;)
  • CirclepitVinyl 5 years ago
    Thanks for info! Especially when sending just one item, I usually wrap the vinyl into some pasteboard for more protection.
  • JeffSKennedy 4 years ago
    Great post. Do you have any suggestions on a reasonably-priced supplier for the mailers and other materials (inner sleeves, etc)?
  • Born_Free_Partners 4 years ago
    concerning your suggestion to "Pack the disc outside the jacket in the plastic sleeve"

    what are the real merits of this again?

    I have never received an LP like this, and not sure if I should send records that way.

    Can you make a better argument for the practice? do you have any evidence or examples? willing to try it if it does actually work. :)

    Thank you.
  • Born_Free_Partners 4 years ago
    FYI for all:

    These are the supplies I use consistently after a lot of trial and error over the years:

    Mailers: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0034PU6Y8

    Plastic Outer Sleeves :http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RA7IZS

    Inner sleeves: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001E8D2MU

    all good prices if you are on amazon prime.

  • lawnman93722 4 years ago
    Thanks for this information. It is very useful. lawnman
  • Madvinylbringer 4 years ago
    This is the most PATHETIC, AVERAGE & COMMON way of packaging our precious vinyl today.

    This method here works about 50% or less.

    and I tell you why: the mailer is of same size format as the records are & this means heavy (or at least notable) dings to the corners in 90% of the cases.

    the portion of the dings to the corners depending of the weight of the package (how many vinyls you pack inside).

    and do you think writing "Do Not Bend" gives you any guarantee????

    THIS IS PATHETIC!!!!!

    Sorry, but this is BELOW standard for any serious vinyl-worshipper, who loves to worship his perfect record sleeves.

    Wait, is this way of packaging promoted by the Discogs site themselves????

    oh boy...
  • dwayne.comstock 2 years ago
    And last time I checked these cannot be shipped via media mail. I keep getting people who think I can ship them an LP for $3.
  • biker-betty 2 years ago
    What is the best mailing service and insurance method for EP's?
  • dead-end 2 years ago
    "So suppose this fine fine record has sold to a very lucky buyer." ...

    Chromalox has the answer! Love that you used this gem as the example. The packaging tips are great too.... but Chromalox... Yeah!
  • VoodooElectronics 12 months ago
    I came with the same question voiced by Born_Free_Partners above --- what is the logic behind packing the disc outside its own sleeve?

    I just had a buyer, first one in well over 100 shipments, complain about my packaging (apparently USPS had its way with the box somewhere enroute), claiming this is "standard practice" and referring me to this blog. I'm not sure I follow the thinking. He seemed to think it prevents the cover edges from being rammed by a shifting disc when the box is in motion. Doesn't the fact that the mailer box is just barely bigger than the cover (as is the cover itself) prevent such motion from gathering inertia? Where would it get the space to move? What if you squeezed some foam in between the edges of the disc and the walls of the box --- if there's even room to do that (which I doubt)?

    Just seems to me that a disc left outside its cover is MORE vulnerable, not less, to outside shifting movements.
  • spinmarket 11 months ago
    I have been reinforcing the corners lately. Doesn't cost anything and only takes about 5 minutes. I cut 4 cardboard strips about 3 inches long and the height of the mailer, usually less than an inch. Then I just tape them at the edges. To prevent crushing, I reuse air filled pouches that come from Amazon, particularly common in Prime Pantry. That makes the box crush proof. Only problem is they are a little too filled and have to be relieved of some air and resealed with tape to fit. Once you get a rhythm going it isn't too bad.
  • ijustspeak 11 months ago
    On rare records I use aluminum plates for stiffeners.. 1.5 to 2.mm.. need a sledgehammer to bend them :)
  • jaycain 2 months ago
    As of this post, you can ship album mailers up to 2lbs for $3.12, 3lbs for $3.89 - via media mail, with an online Stamps account.

    For the 2lbs you get this guys way of packaging !!PLUS!! a 18x16 cardboard sleeve. This extends the corners out 3 to 4 inches, 2 inches on the sides. With 12x12 cardboard platens you end up with triple boxing.

    Ideally you get Stamps.com account, comes with a free digital scale. If you don't sell enough to have the $10 a month fee make sense, just get a scale, with the digital scale you can maximize the weight and get the most out of your postage.

    FREE - you can grab as much Priority postage packaging as you want, obviously you have to make the cardboard shell I mentioned above to hide the fact. The large boxes can be made into sleeves, and the Tyvek mailers are great for sleeving the album inside the record mailer box. These can be made tight to the jacket, and are ideal for sealed records, limiting record movement and reinforcing the spine and seams.

    I'll have to look into creating an updated blog with images. It's not rocket science, it's consideration and common sense.