Ecommerce Packaging: A Beginner’s Guide

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When you spent hours dreaming up your business idea, sourcing the very best products to sell, and setting up your ecommerce store, you might not have given much thought to the packaging you would use to ship your products. 

Finding the right ecommerce packaging, however, is important. It’s a key touchpoint between you and your customers and gives you a unique chance to nurture your relationship. 

Of course, it’s also pretty important to make sure your products arrive safely and in one piece.

If you’re not sure where to start with choosing the right packaging solution for your ecommerce store (there are a lot of options available to you after all) then you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve put together this beginner’s guide that will take you through everything there is to know about ecommerce packaging to help you make an informed and practical decision. 

Why Is Packaging Important For Your Online Store?

Your ecommerce packaging is the container in which you will ship your products. It can be anything from a cardboard box to a plastic bag or a paper envelope. 

It’s not just the container itself you’ll need to think carefully about. You’ll also need to determine if you need extras such as infills, protectors (e.g. paper or bubble wrap), and tape to secure the package. 

Some ecommerce brands also choose to add additional extras to their packages, too.  This could include notes to the customers, vouchers or money-off coupons, or even free samples of other products. 

Of course, the main reason why your packaging is so important for the success of your online store is that it ensures your items get to your buyers in one piece. 

Imagine their dismay if they received a packaged item that has been broken or damaged in the mail? They certainly wouldn’t be leaving you a positive review and would probably be unlikely to return to your store. 

The type of packaging you choose depends on the products you are shipping. Smaller items will require smaller containers whilst delicate and fragile pieces will need to be packaged with more thought and care than those that are more robust. 

Packaging isn’t just a practical solution. You should view your packaging as an extension of your brand, choosing colors and containers that reflect the brand vibe that you have created across your online platforms. 

A great example of a brand that uses its packaging as an extension of its brand is Apple. This tech giant is known for its slick, modern tech products and the packaging that the items come in reflects this. 

The sleek white boxes are minimal and the items are all neatly organized inside. Apple uses its packaging as part of its overall customer experience. 

Great packaging allows the process of buying and receiving an item from your online store to be a full experience for customers. We all know how exciting it is when you’ve made one (or many!) online orders and you’re waiting for the mail to arrive. 

An engaging and interesting packaging design simply adds to the experience of receiving and unboxing your new item. If your packaging is really good, customers will often keep and re-use it, helping to further boost your brand awareness. 

Ecommerce Packaging Solutions

There are multiple ecommerce packaging solutions for you to choose from, meaning you’re bound to find the perfect option for your products. We’ve listed some of the most popular packaging solutions below to help you out when shipping your products.  

Corrugated Cardboard Boxes

Cardboard boxes
Cardboard boxes come in all shapes and sizes and are one of the most popular ways of packing your items.

Corrugated cardboard boxes are the most popular packaging solution used by ecommerce brands of all shapes and sizes. 

We’ve all received items in the post packaged in a cardboard box before and they have various benefits including being recyclable, lightweight, and sturdy. 

You can also opt for double-walled cardboard boxes if you need something that can provide extra strength and durability. 

Cardboard boxes are a good option for obscurely shaped items that can make packaging difficult, as well as high-value items like TVs or smartphones. A plain cardboard box will hide what’s inside the package and add another level of security to your shipping. 

They’re also good value for money, too. Cardboard boxes tend to be a cheap packaging solution, especially if you’re willing to buy in bulk. The price can start to rise however if you need custom shapes and sizes or want your logo printed on the box. 

If you decide to opt for cardboard boxes make sure you select ones that are the right size for your items. If you select boxes that are too big you may need to add more infill to protect the items, increasing the weight and therefore the cost of the shipment. 

Padded Mailers

Padded bubble mailers
Padded bubble mailers are available in a wide range of colors to suit your brand.

Padded mailers are envelopes that have an additional layer of protection inside, often bubble wrap or something similar, to make them more secure and robust. 

They’re the perfect solution for smaller, delicate items such as jewelry, books, and other flat items. Hand-made items are also often shipped in padded mailers. 

There are multiple options you can choose from when it comes to the added protection layer. Whilst bubble wrap is popular, it’s a less eco-friendly option than shredded paper which ensures that your packaging is fully recyclable. 

Padded mailers are super lightweight which means your packaging won’t be adding extensive weight to your items and making shipping more expensive. 

You can also now purchase padded mailers in multiple sizes and colors allowing you to find the perfect option to reflect your brand. 

Depending on the material used to create the padded mailer, it’s worth bearing in mind that they’re not always weather-proof. Paper padded mailers may fall foul of a downpour and tear before they have reached their destination. 

Bags and Envelopes

Plastic bags
Plastic bags are the perfect packaging choice for clothes and accessories.

If your items are small and not classed as fragile then envelopes, bags, and poly mailers are all good packaging options.

Plastic mailing bags and envelopes are super lightweight and come in a variety of sizes, however, they work best for smaller items. 

Despite appearing like a flimsy option, they are often super-strong, meaning you don’t need to worry about them ripping in transit. You can even get resealable options, meaning your customers can reuse the packaging, too. 

Plastic mailing bags in particular are one of the easiest packing options to add your branding to, and there are endless options for colors and designs. 

Plastic bags and envelopes are also waterproof, so the items inside will stay dry no matter what the weather. Because of this, they’re a great option for mailing clothing and accessories. 

Custom Packaging 

Custom packaging
Custom packaging gives you the freedom to choose everything from the shape and size to colors and even how your packages are opened.

Custom packaging options are a great option for ecommerce sites that want every single customer touchpoint to be a reflection of their brand. 

With custom packaging, you can create a truly unique unboxing experience and choose everything from the type of container, to the design, and the functionality for yourself. 

Custom boxes or bags are a great way to boost social media shares too. If an item arrives in a cool or memorable package then customers will be more likely to snap a photo and upload it to Instagram. Everyone loves an insta-worthy delivery!

This kind of ecommerce packaging also allows you to ensure your items are as safe as possible during transit because you can select the exact shape and size that your products need. 

The only downside to custom packaging is the cost. It’s without a doubt the most expensive packaging option. However, if you have the budget, it can act as a great boost to your brand marketing strategy. 

How to Create the Best Ecommerce Packaging Experience

When it comes to creating the best ecommerce packaging experience for your customers, it’s not a one size fits all. You’ll need to find the right options for your store and items. 

There are also various elements that can work in combination to help create the best packaging experience possible. You don’t have to include everything, but we’ve listed below all the elements that you could think about when making decisions about your ecommerce packaging:

  • Selecting the right container for your products. Make sure that your chosen packaging solution can deliver your items safely. Sometimes our favorite packaging option isn’t necessarily the right one to choose.
  • If and how you would like to wrap your product. Options for this include bubble wrap and branded tissue paper.
  • If you need to add a filler to your packaging and if so, which one you would like to use. You can choose between everything from kraft paper and bubble wrap to shredded paper, air pillows, or foam. 
  • Whether you want to include branded stickers and colored tape. This can make your packaging look unique.
  • Are you going to include a business card, note, or other promotional materials? This can help to boost your brand awareness. 
  • Will you put receipts in your packaging? Most brands do, but some are paperless. Just make sure your customer knows what to expect here!
  • Can you add a free sample or discount on future orders? This will depend on your budget, but going the extra mile will help to ensure your packaging solutions are memorable. 

If you’re still in need of some inspiration when it comes to your ecommerce packaging then here are two of our favorite examples:

Glossier

Beauty brand Glossier has become famous online for the pink pouches that their items are packaged in. 

Every time a customer makes a Glossier order, no matter how big or small, their items will be delivered in a pink bubble wrap pouch. 

The pink pouches reflect the pink branding that runs throughout Glossier’s online channels and can be reused by customers in a variety of ways. 

The pink packaging has become synonymous with Glossier and beauty addicts across the globe will often share their pink pouches on Instagram. 

Glossier packaging
Glossier has become famous for its pink pouches.

Hims

Hims is a doctor-backed wellness brand that sells various products aimed at male health issues such as hair loss and adult acne. 

The whole brand ethos of Hims is about helping discreetly, and this is mirrored in their minimalist and sleek packaging. 

Not only does their packaging reflect the brand they have created online, but it also ensures that the customer experience of buying a Hims product is a positive one. The brand uses its packaging to ensure customers are not embarrassed or awkward when shopping on the website.

The cardboard packaging is also fully recyclable too which is a nice bonus!

Hims packaging
Hims packaging is minimal and discrete to reflect their products.

Ecommerce Packaging and Environmental Impact

In today’s world, we are all hyper-conscious of our impact on the environment. Many people actively try to find ways they can reduce our carbon footprint. 

Your brand should be no different, and it’s important that you can prove to your customers that your brand is sustainable and eco-friendly. 

One of the key ways you can do this is through your packaging. Try to avoid packaging solutions that use a large amount of plastic, and keep your packaging as minimal as possible. That means ensuring that you aren’t sending small items in extra-large boxes. 

Customers want to buy from brands that share the same ethos as they do, and a clear way to communicate those shared values is through your packaging. 

Also, make sure to include any recycling information within your packaging to make disposal as green and easy for your customers as possible. 

Eco-friendly packaging can play a large part in whether or not your customers decide to return to your website for repeat purchases. 

Ecommerce Packaging: Summary

Creating a memorable packaging experience can be the thing that makes your brand stand out from the crowd as well as helping to encourage customers to become repeat visitors to your ecommerce store. 

Getting your ecommerce packaging just right, however, involves a lot of different elements including finding the right solution, ensuring it’s as eco-friendly as possible, and deciding on customization and additional extras. 

Not only is the right ecommerce packaging crucial if you want your items to arrive in one piece (and we’re guessing you do), but it’s also a great way of helping to further build your online brand. 

Now that you’ve finished this article, we’re confident that you’ll be able to make an informed decision on what ecommerce packaging is right for you. Make sure to let us know in the comments which option you choose!

Frequently Asked Questions

There are various types of ecommerce packaging but which one is right for you depends on the needs of your business and products. The most popular options are:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Padded mailers/envelopes
  • Plastic bags
  • Envelopes
  • Plastic boxes
  • Custom boxes and bags

Put simply you need ecommerce packaging to make sure that your items aren’t damaged in transit. The fragility and size of your items will determine what kind of packaging you need and how robust it should be. 

Ecommerce packing is also a great way to further your brand awareness and is a key touchpoint between you and your customers. 

Other than the item itself, you can include fillers to keep the products safe (such as shredded paper or air pillows) as well as the receipt for your customer’s records. You can also create a truly exciting customer experience and add samples, notecards or vouchers too. 

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