Overwrap vs. Shrink Wrap: How to Decide Which Is Right for You

Do you want to stock the local retail stores with your products?

Well, you have to figure out how to wrap them first — and overwrap and shrink wrap are your two best options. We’ve put together this quick guide to help you figure out which choice will better benefit your business.

Let’s get started!

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Most retail stores require any product they sell to be covered in some type of plastic wrap.

This lets customers know the product is new and hasn’t been touched yet.

So if you want to sell your products in retail stores, you need to wrap them.

You can do this by using one of two things: overwrap or shrink wrap. While the two are somewhat similar, it’s important to understand how they’re different before you pick one.

Here’s a closer look at each option.


Overwrap is made of a polyethylene film.

Depending on what type of product you sell, this film is pre-cut to the right width of that product. The machine then pulls and cuts a piece that fits the length.

After that, the machine tucks and folds the edges and seals them with heat. This gives your product a neat, perfect fit.

Shrink Wrap

Shrink wrap is also made of a polyethylene film, but the rest of the process is much different.

Your product first gets loosely wrapped with the film. The machine then crimp-seals the edges together and cuts off the extra film.

After that, the machine runs the product through a heat tunnel, which shrinks the film down to the exact shape of the product.

Understanding the Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons that come with both overwrap and shrink wrap.

So before you decide which one is right for your business, you have to decide which benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Here’s what you need to know.

Shrink Wrap Is More Expensive

Shrink wrap tends to be more expensive than overwrap.

It might not seem that way at first, but you’ll pay more for shrink wrap per pound than overwrap.

So if you have a tight budget, it might be worth investing in overwrap instead.

Shrink Wrap Looks Messier

When shrink wrap tightens around your product, the edges curl into a rough seem.

It can even spike out in places, which gives a less-polished appearance.

This can give people the impression that the product is low-quality (even if it’s not). Remember, nice, clean packaging can increase your sales, and messy packaging can turn people away.

Because of this, shrink wrap might not be the best fit for your brand.

Overwrap Wastes Less Film

After the shrink wrap machine crimp-seals the edges of the polyethylene film, it has to cut off the excess film.

While this might not seem like a big deal, the small pieces of film you have to cut off can add up fast — and you can’t do anything with them.

In other words, shrink wrap wastes more film than overwrap. While you might be able to recycle the extra film, most of it will end up in the trash.

Overwrap Looks More Professional

Overwrap has a more professional appearance than shrink wrap.

Since the edges of overwrap are tucked and folded around the product, you won’t have to deal with messy or rough seems.

This can attract more customers and improve your sales.

Shrink Wrap Works for Any Product

The biggest problem with overwrap is it doesn’t work for every type of product — you have to find an overwrap machine that’s suited for your exact product, such as DVDs or CD cases.

If your product has an unusual shape, tucking and folding the edges of the film around it won’t do you much good. Because of this, shrink wrap is a good option for many products you simply can’t overwrap.

You can even find shrink wrap machines in all different sizes, so you don’t have to worry if your products are large.

How to Choose the Right One for Your Needs

Now that you know the pros and cons of both options, you have to choose which one fits your business better.

If you aren’t sure how to narrow down your choice, start by considering the following factors.

Your Budget

The first thing you have to think about is your budget.

Shrink wrap costs more than overwrap, so if you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in your budget, you might want to overwrap as many things as possible.

What You’re Wrapping

You might not be able to overwrap your products depending on their size and shape. In this case, you’re better off using shrink wrap instead — even though it’s a little more expensive.

Trying to make overwrap look nice on a product it doesn’t fit won’t have good results.

The Final Look

Overwrap can give your products a more professional look most of the time. This can be better for business.

But that doesn’t mean you should pick overwrap for products it doesn’t fit. Again, you might make the packaging look worse if you try this.

Shrink wrap may have rough seems, but it will work much better for a lot of products.

Now You Know How to Pick Between Overwrap and Shrink Wrap

To choose between overwrap and shrink wrap, you have to think about what type of products you have.

While overwrap works well for standard shapes, such as DVDs, shrink wrap works well for uncommon designs and sizes.

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