How to Ship Apparel Properly

Learn everything there is to know about shipping clothing properly.

Shipping clothes is easy. But shipping them at low costs while making sure they arrive in mint condition can be a challenge for most online retailers.

With the right planning, however, you can ship shirts, socks, pants, dresses, or any other apparel without breaking the bank. Getting familiar with all shipping and product packaging options will bring down expenses for you and your customers.

In this guide, you’re going to learn everything there is to know about shipping clothing properly.

How to Package Clothes for Shipping

Apparel Mailer Boxes
Apparel Mailer Boxes

Let’s start with the basics.

Everyone in the clothing business knows that there is a right way of packing clothes. And if you want to be more efficient, this is something you’ll have to learn.

Folding vs Rolling

Creating space is one of the secrets to apparel packaging. You want to fit items neatly into the smallest package possible to reduce shipping costs. 

That’s the reason why some have resorted to rolling clothes instead of folding. The idea is that rolling will leave merchants more room to stuff other items their customers ordered. 

The problem is that this packing method can leave shirts or pants with creases. Customers won’t be happy about that. 

The ideal way to ship products is still folding clothes. There are items you can roll like socks, scarves, and similar items. Folded clothes just look more presentable when unboxed.

Single vs Multiple Items

The number of items you have to send will affect what packaging you use.

If you’re only going to ship a single piece of clothing, you might want to consider using poly mailers. These are self-sealing, plastic pouches that are ideal for mailing lightweight items like t-shirts, shorts, swimwear, and activewear.

Apparel Poly Mailers
Apparel Poly Mailers

They’re waterproof so products won’t get ruined during transport. And they’re considerably cheaper than boxes. You can save even more by switching to 1-color poly mailers

But if you’re going to ship multiple items, boxes are the way to go. 

Boxes come in different styles and sizes. You’ll want to pick something just big enough to contain everything your customer ordered. Using a slightly larger box could mean paying more for shipping.

You’ll find a list of box types that work great for apparel shipping in a later section.

Cushion vs No Cushion

Some sellers like adding cushioning to their packaging using fillers. But those can slightly increase the weight of your boxes. 

Also, there’s no reason to add more cushioning to clothing items like hoodies, sweatpants, and sweaters since they’re already able to absorb any impact should the box or poly mailer they’re in get dropped.

If you want to protect your products from dust and prints, you can wrap them in custom tissue paper. Not only are they lightweight, but they’re great for advertising too. You can add your business logo or company name to improve brand recall.

Apparel Packaging
Apparel Packaging

Tissues are essential for shipping delicate clothing like silk blouses or lace dresses.

Weigh Before Shipping

Before mailing out your orders, you’ll want to weigh them so you can calculate shipping costs. To do that, you’ll need to have an accurate and reliable scale. You can also measure the dimensions of the box the clothes are in for good measure.

While you’re at it, make sure that the box doesn’t have any damage. Test its integrity by lifting it a couple of times. You’ll want to check if the bottom isn’t giving out.

If you feel that it’s not going to hold, it might be better to transfer everything to a new box or pick a more appropriate packaging solution.

Shipping Information

There are several key pieces of information you need to learn and keep track of when shipping goods to customers. 

Where Is the Product Headed?

Shipping costs vary depending on where you’re shipping your products to. If it’s a local transaction, it would cost less. But if the order comes from someone overseas, that’s when things get expensive.

How Much Do Your Products Weigh?

You’ll have an easier time estimating how much shipping will cost if you know how much your products weigh. The answer will vary as no two articles of clothing will weigh the same. But this would at least give you an idea of what you’re working with.

How Fast Do You Need to Deliver?

You can save some money by offering customers standard shipping. If they’re in a rush to receive their clothes—which is usually the case when they’re wearing them for an event—then that’s going to cost extra.

How Will You Track Orders?

If the courier offers it, make sure you maximize the use of its order tracking system. It’s to protect you and your customers. Should something happen to your poly mailer or box along the way, you can at least show proof that you had nothing to do with it.

Who Pays for Shipping?

Regardless of how you ship your items and what packaging you use to do it, someone will have to shoulder the cost.

It would have to be you or the customer.

Customer Pays for Shipping

You have two options. You can have the customer pay what the courier charges for shipping. Some customers are okay with this setup but their wallets will certainly feel it once they order larger quantities.

The other option is to have customers pay a flat rate. That means they pay the same rate regardless of how many products they order. This is more appealing to shoppers but that means you’ll have to partially pay for shipping if it exceeds what it usually costs.

Online Seller Pays for Shipping

You can offer free shipping to incentivize customers to buy products from you. Some businesses will compensate by adjusting the prices of their clothes. But others just choose to take the costs out of their margins. 

To help manage costs, you can set a minimum order value for customers to qualify for free shipping. 

Who Can Ship Your Clothing Products?

You can have the US Postal Service (USPS) deliver products for you or you have a third-party courier do it.

If the poly mailer or box isn’t that big or heavy, it’s much better to use the US postal service. USPS offers different services that could help businesses fulfill their orders.

Here’s a list of USPS services and their rates (lifted from the USPS website).

USPS rates
USPS Rates

USPS Ground Advantage appears to be the least expensive option for shipping products. Customers can expect products to arrive in 2 to 5 business days.

If customers want faster delivery and they ordered a lot, couriers might be the better choice. Companies like FedEx and UPS are the most popular ones though other options exist. 

FedEx has a shipping calculator that you can use to see how much it might cost you to ship clothes to customers.

Clothing Company Packaging Solutions

Apparel Shipping Box
Apparel Shipping Box

Aside from those already mentioned earlier, there are other types of packaging solutions that you can use when shipping products to customers. And some can help you raise your packaging game to the next level.

  • Shipping Boxes — Great for clothing businesses that sell in bulk.
  • Shoe Boxes — These can easily fit several articles of clothing.
  • Labels — Seal your packages in style.
  • Thank You Cards — Show your gratitude by leaving a note.
  • Hang Tags — Attach washing instructions and other important information.

If you’re looking for design inspiration, you can check the PackM Design Hub. It’s got a lot of packaging designs from real-life customers.


To ship apparel properly, you need to understand how to pack and store clothing correctly. You need to be aware of how shipping logistics work. And you want to make your packaging as light as you possibly can.

To pay for shipping, you’ll have to decide whether it’s you or your customers who’d have to shoulder the costs. You can make customers pay for the entire shipping or have a flat fee. Or you can offer free shipping and just raise the prices of your products to cover the fees.

There are different shipping solutions that you can use to deliver products. Poly mailers are ideal if you’re just going to ship a shirt or a couple of socks. But for larger quantities, it’s best to use boxes. 

Would you like more information about packaging clothes? We have a blog post called What Is Clothing Packaging that covers it extensively. You should give that one a read.

If you’d like to make custom packaging for your clothing store, PackM can print them for you. Just upload your design or make one using our free-to-use Design Tool.

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