If you want to add a personal touch to engage with your customers on a higher level, ecommerce packaging is one of the few ways you can do it. Unboxing hype is real, a quick search on YouTube will show you how much customers value the unboxing experience. The best eCommerce packaging to give your customers a great unboxing experience involves a mix of the right box and the right infill. These small details take packaging your product from an everyday delivery to a truly custom package.
There’s also a big movement that has gained popularity in the ecommerce industry, this is greening packaging and fulfillment. Many ecommerce brands and companies around the world have shown a lot of interest in eco-friendly materials. Whether you’re looking for an angle to advertise on Earth Day or have made a more significant commitment to being eco-friendly, the packaging is a straightforward way to demonstrate these values.
What is eCommerce packaging?
Ecommerce packaging is going to refer to the packaging that is used to ship your products directly to your customers. Your packaging is how you keep your product secure and protected. Your packaging is how you can establish your brand identity and deliver on a great unboxing experience. Ecommerce packaging is also a way you can control shipping costs. It can both enhance your customer’s experience and improve your profitability. In other words, it’s IMPORTANT!
Packaging is going to include the box, infill you use, plus tape, inserts, cards, promotional materials, coupons. If your product ships inside of its standard retail packaging, which is typical for products like furniture, then you should think of it as your eCommerce packaging as well.
How should I package my products?
We get that question a lot, “how should I package my products?” The eCommerce packaging you choose to go with is going to affect your production and shipping costs. We talk about this all the time: weight equals costs. You always have to keep weight and costs in mind when you’re thinking about packaging, these are important because they can increase a product’s shipping expense as boxes get larger or infill gets heavier.
While weight is the big obstacle you face with packaging, there’s a few more you need to pay close attention to. We’re referring to returns. A well-packed order will arrive in perfect condition. ECommerce packaging that can’t survive the delivery process will lead to damaged goods and disappointed customers.
Your package design may improve your customers’ experience and increase profits. It’s critical to comprehend your alternatives so you can choose the best option for your company. Below, we’ll dive deep into eCommerce packaging, infills, tape, and everything else you need to know.
Do we use a box or not?
The first item on your checklist is a question: do we use a box for packing or do we use a bag? First impressions matter – they matter a lot. It will be the very first thing your customers see when they open up their mailbox. Branded packaging is likely going to cost more, but if it leaves a lasting impression, it can be well worth the investment. Boxes have a benefit many people don’t talk about, people like to reuse boxes, especially if it’s a cool box. As the number and types of products shipped via eCommerce have grown, so have packaging choices.
So many packaging choices
As the popularity of ecommerce continues to grow, you’re going to find out you have a lot of different packaging options to choose from. The specific type of eCommerce packaging that best suits your products depends on several factors.
- Weight: That first factor is weight. If you’re shipping out heavy products, you’re going to need a strong box that will protect your product during shipping.
- Fragility: If you’re shipping out products that are fragile, it needs to be protected during shipping.
- Value: Another important factor is the value of the product – if you’re shipping out high-value products, protective packaging may be well worth the investment.
The cost of packing materials can vary greatly, depending on type and quantity. If you outsource your shipping, you’ll pay for your eCommerce packaging through your 3PL services provider. Your fulfillment warehouse is a volume purchaser of cardboard boxes. Even with a markup, you’ll probably pay less for packing supplies through your fulfillment center.
Why environmental packaging matters for impact and branding
Today, eCommerce businesses have a plethora of packaging choices to pick from, and we’ll go over several of them in detail. One thing to consider now is the direct link between your packaging and your brand’s identity.
As we touched on above, while many companies are more focused on the environment, consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious too. In fact, they’re now making purchase decisions based on a company being eco-friendly. Choosing such options for your packaging may have a significant influence on that first sale. They might also play a part in subsequent purchases, whether it’s consumers enjoying your eco-friendly packaging or things like Styrofoam that irritate customers and cause them to look elsewhere.
The modern consumer has endless options and possibilities for their eCommerce. They want to buy from someone who has the same values as they do. In many cases, eco-friendly packaging can help you demonstrate that shared value and culture with your customers.
We also recommend that you include clear recycling instructions for any packaging or infill based on our own consumer experiences. Not everyone will understand what materials may be recycled. If you utilize compostable infill or components, such as bags produced from vegetable starches, add a note to your label or provide a website link that explains how to properly dispose of the materials.
(1) Cardboard boxes (Still most popular)
Corrugated cardboard boxes are still the most popular eCommerce packaging. Cardboard is durable, weighs very little, and is recyclable.
For those of you that will be shipping heavy or super fragile products, double-walled cardboard provides an extra layer of protection and strength. A product may come in its own box, which is ideal for shipping. In certain situations, it makes sense to put a simple brown cardboard box on top. An outer box that hides what’s inside is an excellent security precaution if you’re shipping a high-value item or a highly desired item like a flat-screen TV, tablets, computers or Playstation 5.
One of the biggest mistakes we see among our clients prior to working with us was that they were using boxes that were too big for the products they were shipping. Customers don’t mind a big box if the product needs a big box. However, if the box is much bigger than the product, they won’t like that. Even worse, that big box is increasing your shipping costs. The DIM weight pricing models that large carriers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS use will penalize shippers for sending products in oversized boxes. You don’t want that. With DIM weight, the shipping charge is calculated using the greater of the package’s weight or a formula based on the dimensions of the box.
The cost of cardboard boxes is determined on a number of factors. If you can get by with a normal size and purchase in bulk, the price will go down. If you want your logo on the box or require a special size, that will be an extra expense. Double-walled cardboard costs more than conventional corrugated boxes.
(2) Bags and envelopes
If you’re selling products that are light weight but not fragile, a plastic mailing bag, a poly mailer, or Tyvek envelope can be a smart choice. There’s a number of benefits for using bags and envelopes: they’re lightweight, surprisingly strong, easy to store, and self-sealing. We usually use these for our clothing clients as they work great for shipping clothing orders. Also, if you ever need to, you can use small boxed items inside an envelope or bag versus having to use another box. Lastly, some of these are also waterproof, at least giving you another security feature.
The big downside, the majority of plastic bags and Tyvek envelopes can’t be recycled. We are aware of some that are, but these are weaker and could be an issue for many products.
(3) Padded mailers
For those that ship small or flat items that need additional protection, a padded envelope is a solid option to start with. This is one of the most common manners to ship jewelry or other flat but delicate items. Some mailers include shredded paper as the padding material inside, these can be recycled. Padded envelopes that are filled with bubble wrap can be a solid choice for protection, but if you’re trying to focus on just environmental friendly materials, this may not be a good choice.
If you’re looking for green options, there is options out there. You’ll find several padded mailers that are made from recycled materials.
(4) Custom boxes
Having a custom box has a wide variety of benefits that can take your brand experience to the next level. We’ve touched on it over and over again, if you can create an amazing unboxing experience with your customers, there’s a lot of value in that. Customers are always sharing unboxing videos on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. This can lead to a lot of new business.
It’s important to remember that a custom box goes well beyond just graphics, a logo or design. There are experts who can help your business achieve a one-of-a-kind experience for your customer. We’ve been helping our clients with custom boxes and packages for decades. If you want to learn more, be sure to reach out here.
A lot of companies are under the impression that custom packaging is going to costs their company millions. That can’t be further from the truth, investing in custom packaging doesn’t have to break the bank. You can give your customers a high-end experience without a high-end cost.
Custom packages and boxes are very important for subscription box businesses. Platforms like Cratejoy are an excellent place for packaging for subscription box-based businesses. A custom package may be even more important if you’re selling a monthly subscription box.
How do I choose the best eCommerce packaging
You won’t hear a lot of people talking about packing tape, but it’s likely way more important than you realize. Tape is a big key to packaging success. If you ship your orders in boxes, packing tape is what holds everything together – it’s a foundational pillar to your packaging.
Basic clear acrylic tape is fine for boxes holding up to about 15 pounds. It’s inexpensive and, with a good tape dispenser, easy to use.
For a more professional look, water-activated tape is a better option. Reinforced, water-activated kraft tape provides a strong seal that will hold together packages of 25 pounds or more. You’ll need a dispenser to wet the tape if you want to go with this option.
Infill for eCommerce packaging
If you’re shipping products in a box, you’ll likely need infill to keep them secured during shipping. Infill gives you extra padding, protection, and stability to ensure your orders arrive as intended.
When it comes to infill, you’re going to find an endless array of options. There are many types of infill to choose from. If you want to go along with the biggest retailer in the world, just copy the Amazon strategy. Amazon uses a combination of air-filled pillows and brown paper for infilling shipments.
Look, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to infill. You’ll need to think about your specific product and shipping. You may decide, like Amazon, that you want to use more than one type of infill to protect your products during shipping. Again, the many infill options ensure you’ll be able to find a broad range of eco-friendly fillers on the market. Be sure to test any option in real-world scenarios to ensure that it protects goods adequately. It is typically less environmentally friendly for you to have to ship multiple products to a customer — with all the driving, packaging, and more — because you’re using more gas, materials, and space.
- Kraft paper: Brown kraft paper is a highly adaptable and flexible infill material. It can be torn or crumpled to meet any package requirement. Kraft paper also has the advantage of being fully recyclable. To create kraft paper, less chemical input is required than with bleached white paper products.
- Bubble wrap: Bubble wrap is great for wrapping delicate items. It’s also fun to pop the bubbles. Your customers may consider bubble wrap infill a bonus treat and not just packaging. Since just a few years ago, more local recycling efforts have started to include support for recycling bubble wrap. It may be worth telling your customers that many collection points for recycling plastic bags will now also take bubble wrap, giving the customer a chance to enjoy the pop and then toss it in a safe, eco-friendly way.
- Air pillows: Air pillows are one of the most popular types of infill today, and they’re made out of lightweight plastic. They’re one of the lightest ways to fill eCommerce packaging. If you want to reduce the weight of your package while still getting a lot of infill, air pillows are a good alternative. They can be recycled in
- Packing peanuts: Peanuts are the most common infill, but they are messy and time-consuming to prepare or obtain. The original Styrofoam peanuts were feather light – but that’s part of the problem. They have a propensity to flutter out of the box and float away. This can lead to issues on both ends of the supply chain. Make sure your careful as some states have outlawed it. Packing peanuts made of cornstarch are considerably more ecologically responsible and disposal friendly. They may also be composted or dissolvable in water. The individual nuts, on the other hand, tend to float around. Most consumers find either variety of packing peanuts annoying. Consider carefully before using them if you decide to do so.
- Foam wrap: Foam wrap, sometimes known as bubble wrap, is a type of packaging that can be used to protect delicate products. Foam wrap’s thinness, lightness, and ease of use are its selling points. Unfortunately, this item is not recyclable and might cause environmental issues. Fortunately, advances in infill technology afford you fantastic green choices
- Shredded cardboard: Shredded cardboard infill is an excellent method to recycle and wrap at the same time. All you need is a machine that transforms old cardboard into accordion-like sheets. These pieces can be used to safely surround fragile items while shipping. This is truly one of the most environmentally friendly packaging solutions available.
Ecological eCommerce branding
These days, going for a green atmosphere is a no-brainer. Customers are more environmentally aware and want to support businesses that reflect their values. Using recyclable, repurposed, or biodegradable packaging to package your goods will show your company as being ecologically aware.
There are many places to source eco-friendly eCommerce packaging. EcoEnclose offers a full line of compostable, biodegradable, and sustainable boxes, mailers, and tape. The company is committed to being earth-friendly, down to the soy-based ink on their boxes. They’ll also work with you to come up with a packaging style that fits your product perfectly.
A few additional key things to remember for your eCommerce packaging
Ecommerce packaging isn’t just about the materials you use to get your orders safely to your customers. What you put inside the box in addition to the products can made a big impression. Think of it as the physical manifestation of your brand voice.
Here are some items to consider as you figure out what you want to ship with each order.
(1) Offer rewards
In the box is the ideal location to expand your branding efforts and encourage loyalty. When your customer opens their purchase, your next sale begins. Include a coupon with a personalized discount code for repeat purchases within a certain period of time. Or include an invitation to join a loyalty-based reward program or early access to a forthcoming product release.
(2) Don’t forget the receipt
While you may not think about it, the receipt is actually an important part of the packaging process. Your consumers expect an itemized receipt for their purchase, but it frequently goes overlooked. Don’t just put a receipt in; make it stand out. Make sure the receipt complements and promotes your overall branding.Spend a little time to make sure that it doesn’t detract from the experience. With a little creativity, your receipt can complement your order.
(3) Adding brand colors is easy
If you want to add some branded colors, you can use tissue paper. The usage of tissue paper to wrap your items adds a sense of luxury and enjoyment to the customer. Tissue paper improves the quality perception. It may also aid in the consistency of your branding.
(4) Branded promotional items like stickers
Stickers are a great way to label your products in the box. You may put them on the tissue paper around the product or decorate the outside of the box or bag. As a freebie, include a few more stickers. In addition to that, you’ll be advertising for free!
There’s a wide variety of custom design tools and websites that allow you to print stickers in any color, shape, and size you want. Uprinting, VistaPrint, and Moo are all options that can be considered. If you’ve never used custom packaging for your products, custom stickers are an inexpensive way to try it out.
What does your packaging say about your company?
Every aspect of your eCommerce packaging sends a signal, from the box or envelope to the tape and infill. A well-packed box indicates that you care about properly transporting orders. The small touches you add help to strengthen your brand and increase consumer loyalty.
If you outsource fulfillment, you may seek assistance from your fulfillment provider for eCommerce packaging expertise. Have supplies sent to yourself and evaluate your order fulfillment firm. As a result, you’ll be able to better comprehend your consumer’s unpacking experience.. Test your order fulfillment company by having orders shipped to yourself. That way, you can better understand your customer’s unboxing experience.
As always, if you need help creating a better unboxing experience, or need help with custom boxes and packaging, our team is always available to help.