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Does packaging matter for ecommerce?
With so many businesses competing in an ever-growing e-commerce market, it is becoming increasingly important to distinguish your business from the crowd to attract potential consumers.
In e-commerce, customers don’t just look at the product itself but also look for a memorable buying experience, and this starts with the packaging.
Yes, for e-commerce, the product packaging is primarily for protecting a product during transportation, but that is not all.
For businesses to thrive in a saturated e-commerce market, their packaging must also be a tool to advertise their brand and reach out to consumers.
To answer the question if product packaging matters for e-commerce, yes, it definitely does. It plays a very crucial role in the success of new and established e-commerce businesses.
Opening a thoughtfully designed custom package elicits many positive emotions from the customer and gives them a reason to purchase from your business over others.
Building consumer loyalty is how e-commerce businesses successfully thrive, so designing a custom package for your product is a great decision.
But what is the best packaging for e-commerce? How do you package for e-commerce?
There is no one size fits all solution. Each business has its own needs and target audience, so some options might be great for other companies but not yours.
There is a variety of ecommerce packaging that focus on different things. Some are to expand your brand, some for eco-friendliness, some for the customer experience and even some budget-friendly options.
In this article, we will go through 10 creative ways to use custom packaging for e-commerce, and hopefully, you will find a few options that greatly suit the needs and values of your business!
But first, let us examine the difference between e-commerce and retail packaging to understand why packaging is a lot more significant in the e-commerce market.
Retail Ready Packaging vs Ecommerce Ready Packaging
You might think that packaging is the same for products in retail and products offered through e-commerce.
Though retail and e-commerce package share similar functionality in that they are meant to protect the product within, they are still very different.
Retail ready product packaging is designed primarily to attract the consumer’s attention away from the other competitors on the shelf.
With retail ready packaging, delicate details are printed onto the box and designed to be aesthetically pleasing.
Because retail ready packaging does not need to be heavy-duty, weather resistant, or built for long-distance travel, this delicate attention to design detail is possible.
Ecommerce packaging, on the other hand, does not focus on the detailed design of their packaging.
It is predominantly designed for function over aesthetics.
Product packaging in the e-commerce industry needs to get from your warehouse to the customer in one piece. The main objective of the packaging is to protect the contents inside.
However, just because the main objective of ecommerce packaging is protection doesn’t mean you can’t still customize the unboxing experience!
When the product arrives at your customer’s door, the first thing they see is the packaging, so making an excellent first impression is still important.
Ecommerce packaging thrives on the philosophy of ‘experiential unboxing.’
This means that ecommerce packaging taps into everyone’s anticipated excitement of opening a gift they had just received.
Think of opening a gift on your birthday. There is that feeling of excitement of the unknown when finally revealing what is underneath the wrapping.
This feeling of excitement also applies to ecommerce packaging. Unboxing is just as much of an experience as the product itself.
So with that being said, let’s dive into some of the options you have to customize your ecommerce packaging!
Branding-Focused Ecommerce Packaging
Let’s start with some ecommerce packaging ideas that focus on your brand. It is important to separate yourself from the competition, and custom product packaging is a great option to do so.
As mentioned before, the e-commerce market is saturated with competition, and a good product is not enough to distinguish yourself from the crowd of other products that may be equally as good as yours.
Let’s look at some statistics to understand better how important packaging is for e-commerce:
72% of Americans say their purchases are influenced by packaging design
50% would recommend your product if it comes in gift-like or branded packaging
And finally, 40% will share an image of your packaging if it is unique or branded.
The above statistics emphasize the importance of distinguishing your ecommerce packaging from your competitors.
With this in mind, let’s look at some branding-focused product packaging ideas!
1. Fully Branded Packaging for Ecommerce
Customizing your packaging to fit your brand image will leave a lasting impression on consumers!
A custom-branded package goes beyond simply placing your logo on a box.
Branded ecommerce packaging is designed to highlight your brand and create recognition through features inside and outside the box.
And though this is a more expensive option, the more beautiful and unique your package is, the more likely consumers will share your box on social media and bring even more awareness and potential customers to your business.
Unboxing videos are just one example of how custom-branded ecommerce packaging can help you reach a wider audience through social media.
These videos are massively popular on YouTube and other platforms, and studies show that one in five consumers view unboxing videos, so tapping into this audience is a good idea!
In fact, 35% of American consumers report watching unboxing videos. And of that 35%, 55% report that they were convinced to buy a product through said video.
This statistic alone should be enough to consider catering to the unboxing experience for your potential customers.
2. Custom Tape and Labels
Alternatively, custom tapes and labels for your ecommerce packaging are a much cheaper option than fully branded packaging.
Instead of spending a lot on custom boxes, custom tape can do the job well too!
Though they do not have the sheer impact of a branded custom package, tapes and labels are still an effective way to showcase your brand to consumers and stand out from the competition.
As a bonus, custom tapes and labels add extra security and safety to your package during shipment and handling.
Having custom tape ensures your packages are not tampered with before they arrive at their final destination.
Standard packaging tape can be easily cut and resealed, but custom tape will allow customers to tell whether their shipments have been tampered with.
Custom labels also allow special instructions to be printed and notify the carrier transporting your package to handle it with care.
3. Custom Stickers and Tissue Paper
Another branding option is to use custom stickers and tissue paper.
Custom-branded stickers can be placed on the exterior of your package for an added flare of your box’s surface, but there are other uses as well!
Branding your ecommerce packaging doesn’t just have to be outside the box itself.
Another affordable way to distinguish your brand is by including customizations inside of your box as well.
Wrapping your product in custom-printed tissue paper and sealing it with your own sticker logo is a great way to show the professionalism and care you took in packaging the consumer’s product.
People love opening gifts, and wrapping your product in this type of custom-branded tissue paper will elicit a feeling of excitement when unboxing.
Including extra stickers for the customer is also a fun and playful addition to showcase your brand.
People love a good sticker to place on their everyday items like a laptop or water bottle.
Have fun with your branding; the consumers will appreciate it!
Eco-Friendly Packaging for Ecommerce
The next set of creative ways to use custom ecommerce packaging is with sustainability and the environment in mind.
It is becoming a growing trend for businesses to push for sustainable and eco-friendly ways to do business.
So if your business’ brand identity mainly focuses on sustainability and eco-friendliness, you’ll be glad to know that eco-friendly packaging options exist.
With the growing push for sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives in all industries, it is no question that ecommerce packaging trends in this direction too.
So what are the recent innovations in packaging for more sustainable alternatives?
4. Compostable and Biodegradable Packaging Materials
Compostable and biodegradable packaging is currently a big trend for eco-friendly packaging options.
While the most commonly used packaging in the e-commerce industry is poly mailer bags made of plastic, the usage of so much plastic is a detriment to the environment.
It takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose, and when they do, toxic chemicals are released, which further cause detrimental effects on our environment.
Many consumers are voicing their objections to these harmful packaging methods by choosing where to spend their money.
So as more customers turn to businesses that support an eco-friendly initiative by reducing their environmental footprint, it is also a good idea to follow this trend.
Using eco-friendly packaging is a great way to advocate for your company’s dedication and support for a healthier environment.
Consumers will appreciate your efforts in providing a solution instead of continuing to be a part of the problem.
With biodegradable and compostable mailers, the materials used in the packaging are all natural and commonly made of field corn and wheat straw.
This means that instead of hundreds of years to decompose, they can break down in 90 days at a commercial facility or six months at home, which is a massive improvement to hundreds of years in a landfill or littered in our oceans!
And not only are packages available in a biodegradable or compostable alternative, but shipping labels are also available in a compostable alternative.
Other options to consider can be biodegradable bubble wrap or packing peanuts.
The market is enormous for sustainable and eco-friendly packaging materials, so there is no shortage of alternatives to help protect the planet!
5. Reusable and Repurposable Packaging
Another eco-friendly option to consider when implementing custom packaging for e-commerce is reusable packaging.
A great way to reduce our environmental footprint is to avoid single-use packaging.
Allowing your package to be repurposed or reused can be effective when appropriately implemented to lessen waste, reduce resource consumption and lower carbon emissions.
Reusable options can come in the form of a resealable mailer that the consumer can use again or send back to your business for reuse in another online order.
Alternatively, a fun option to repurpose packaging is to design your package to allow the consumer to repurpose the box.
For example, a British clothing brand called Monday’s Child packages its clothing in a box resembling a dollhouse.
With its target audience of young girls, this dollhouse design effectively allows the package to have a second life as a child’s toy.
6. Usage of Recycled Materials
Alternatively, to further reduce your environmental footprint, using recycled cardboard and paper when creating your packaging is another great and sustainable way to protect the planet.
Combining the above options while recycled resources are also an option to further do your part in reducing waste.
Kraft mailers, for example, use 100% recycled paper.
They are lightweight, affordable and naturally biodegradable, which makes them a solid option when considering eco-friendly alternatives to your ecommerce packaging.
Also worth considering are air pillows made of recycled content or recycled paper tape.
Air pillows are cost-effective and use fewer materials, but they can still fill the void space inside your package.
This cuts down the amount of plastic you use in your packaging, but to make matters better, air pillows can be reused and recycled!
Recycled paper tape is also an option. Since tape is currently always necessary for packaging, why not use an eco-friendlier alternative in recycled paper tape?
Ecommerce Packaging for Customer Experience
The options for ecommerce packaging continue beyond elevating your brand or doing your part to protect the planet.
There are options focused on your customer’s experience as well. Because at the end of the day, a happy customer is a returning customer!
We mentioned earlier that ecommerce packaging heavily utilizes the psychology of ‘experiential unboxing.’
Unboxing a product is as much part of the positive experience as the product itself, so why not consider catering to this experience?
As the previous statistics about unboxing videos can attest, the unboxing experience is deeply connected with social media, so catering to this memorable experience will also help with advertising and marketing your product!
Simple boxes with bubble wrap and no personality won’t cut it in the e-commerce market anymore.
So let’s look at some options your company can choose from to keep pace with the growing e-commerce market.
7. Inserts, Samples or Gifts
A great way to elevate a customer’s unboxing experience of your product is to include small gifts or a card your customer does not expect.
Including small things like a thank you card goes a long way in letting the customer know that you value their business.
You may also include non-promotional trinkets like stickers or keychains.
Inserts do not necessarily have to promote your product; they can simply let your customer know you appreciate them.
But you can consider inserting promotional items too!
Including coupons on the next purchase, suggested items based on the customer’s order or even including product samples does wonders to increase a customer’s perception of your business.
Also, having samples of other products in your online store increases the likelihood a customer will return and purchase that product if they are impressed with what they received!
As an added benefit, including coupons and samples also promote customers sharing these coupons and products with family and friends, further expanding the reach of your business!
Alternatively, you may even include cards asking for consumer feedback.
Showing your consumers that you want their feedback on purchased items shows them you care about quality and their experience with your product.
It tells the customers that you are dedicated to providing a memorable and positive experience for them and are willing to change in areas that require improvement.
Whatever you decide to include, the customer will always appreciate receiving something extra to accompany their order.
8. Seasonal and Limited-Edition Packaging
Another customer experience packaging idea could be to incorporate seasonal or limited-edition packaging.
By changing your ecommerce packaging each season, you can keep your consumers anticipating their next order and wondering what changes you made with your custom packaging.
Many customers collect unique or limited-edition boxes, so applying this to your e-commerce packaging is a smart move.
Consider the specific colors to go with the season, thematic designs, and maybe even include seasonal products to go with the new packaging!
Limited-edition products are always popular with customers because of their exclusivity, so tap into this with your packaging as well.
It makes customers want to have your product and your packaging simply because it won’t be available forever!
However, do keep in mind to maintain neutral language and design. For example, instead of putting “Easter Products,” consider using “Spring Edition” instead.
Doing this expands your consumer audience and the seasonal package’s life beyond a one-day holiday.
Seasonal and limited-edition packaging is an excellent way to keep your packaging fresh for the consumers and leave them wondering what their next order will look like.
Custom e-commerce packaging does not necessarily have to break the bank. Plenty of budget options exist to customize the packaging of new and budding e-commerce businesses.
This brings us to our final set of options we recommend for businesses looking to customize their packaging experience but have a smaller budget to work with.
We’ve already covered some budget-friendly options above, but we will go more in-depth with other options here.
We understand that smaller e-commerce businesses might not be able to afford the more expensive options on this list, but fret not!
Below are some alternatives perfect for a business on a budget.
9. Personalized Notes and Custom Stamp Alternatives
As mentioned above, inserts are a very effective way to reach out and connect with your consumers.
This option is naturally much more budget-friendly than other options, but to help further save you money, you don’t need to include samples or gifts if it is not currently viable!
Stickers are still a budget-friendly option, but a handwritten note adds a personal, homemade touch to your package that intimately connects you with your customers and shows that each of them is valuable to you.
This option is ideal for smaller businesses and helps build customer loyalty without spending too much.
Custom stamps are also a budget-friendly alternative to fully branded packaging or custom tapes and labels.
Stamps are simple, reusable and cheap but still showcase your brand in a positive and unique light.
Like the personalized note, the stamp offers a homemade, personalized feel to your package and product that customers will love.
Stamps are an artful and budget-friendly way to showcase your brand.
10. Shipping Box Alternatives
Budget-friendly options for e-commerce packaging are not just limited to small inserts and personalized notes.
There are also shipping box alternatives to help your growing business save money without compromising quality and appearance.
Rigid boxes are commonly used for luxury brands and are indeed a fancy and high-quality option.
However, rigid boxes are constructed by hand and may take 20-30 days to produce.
Smaller to medium businesses with a tighter budget than more prominent companies may alternatively opt for a folding carton.
Folding cartons offer an array of affordable structural design choices, printing capabilities and finishing options without compromising quality.
As a bonus, folding cartons tend to be more eco-friendly than rigid boxes, so businesses looking for eco-friendlier options can consider this alternative.
Mix and Match to Fit Your Business
With the plethora of options available to you, it may be overwhelming to decide which of these options are right for you.
But there is no need to worry or fret about this!
Finding the proper packaging for your business does not need to be a daunting task. Packaging is not just a fun experience for your customers but for your business too.
Experiment with different options and test them out to see what works and what doesn’t. Improvement is always possible, and customers will see this growth in a positive light.
You don’t need to focus on one option, either. Choose multiple options and combine them. Use custom inserts along with a branded package made from recycled resources.
The possibilities and combinations are endless.
Whether your focus is on branding, eco-friendliness, customer experience, or budget, there will always be many options and combinations that will fit your business’s needs.
Have fun with your packaging, and your customers will have fun with it too!