In today’s e-commerce market, first impressions are everything, and the design of an exterior package that distinguishes a company’s personality is crucial to the unboxing experience and consumer retention. But what happens when a customer purchases an item and doesn’t want anyone to know what’s inside? Using a discreet package is the answer.

But just because a customer doesn’t want anyone to know what’s inside a box, that doesn’t mean companies must forgo the unboxing experience. In this article, we explore everything you need to know about the art of stealth packaging, starting with the meaning of discreet packaging, providing ways to retain the ever-important unboxing experience and detailing some important need-to-know information about shipping discretely. So, let’s get into it!

What is Discreet Packaging and Shipping?

Discreet packages and shipping refer to a method in which companies pack and ship products for customers with the assurance that no one outside the customer and the company will know what is inside a box when glancing at the exterior packaging. It is a packaging method that not only hides what’s inside a box but also the company or individual that sent it.

Woman carrying a discreet packaging mailer box
Source: Adobe Stock

What Does Discreet Packaging Look Like?

Successful discret packaging ensures that no clues or hints about what is inside are present on the exterior of a box; this means no branding! Shipping, mailer, or postal boxes that are plain and generic with mundane colours, such as brown, are standard to blend in with other packages and not draw attention. Standard-sized packages are also common practice to ensure no one knows the exact size of a product either.

Shipping labels should also avoid revealing the company or brand that sent the box. It is common practice to use an alternative name or partner.

However, it is essential to note that you should be subtle but not too subtle. Featuring generic packaging tapes or unrelated words such as “thanks for your order” is another good strategy if you want to ship discreetly packaged products.
So, to recap, your package should have the following elements to be considered discreet;

  • Plain box or mailer
  • Standard-sized packages
  • Generic packaging tapes
  • Shipping labels with alternative company name
  • No branding on the exterior
Example of discreet packaging
Source: Adobe Stock

Why Use Discreet Packaging?

You can use this packaging method for many things; it doesn’t necessarily have to be at the customer’s request. Being discrete with packaging works wonders in preventing the potential theft of valuable items or avoiding unwanted attention on products related to private matters.

Some common products that significantly benefit from using discretion include;

  • Luxury Items – Expensive high-end items are prime targets for thieves, making discretion a highly recommended practice for these types of items.
  • Medicine or Medical Devices – Medicinal items can also be considered a high-value target for thieves. But there are other personal factors which may warrant discreet packaging when shipping medicine. For example, many women may prefer discretion when purchasing birth control.
  • Political References – Politics can be a very divisive subject. Customers deserve the freedom to support their beliefs without worrying about their packages being vandalized or stolen.
  • Vapes – Vapes and oils have recently become a popular item warranting discretion. Many consumers wish for privacy about their vape-related purchases, and many companies now cater to consumer needs.
  • Cannabis – In a similar vein to vapes, with the legalization of cannabis in select areas of the world, discreet packaging for edibles and weed has also become commonplace in those regions.
  • Adult Products – It’s a given that customers want privacy when shopping for adult products, including toys, clothing, or other paraphernalia. Sex toys may be the first discreet packaging example that comes to mind when considering the want for discretion, but we featured this example last to show you how many other industries benefit from this.
Example of discreet packaging
Source: PakFactory

Unboxing Experience for Discreet Packages

Given the unique need for a plain exterior, creating a memorable unboxing experience for your consumers is a little more challenging. However, it is still essential to consider in today’s e-commerce market as the unboxing experience is becoming more important to distinguish your brand from others.

Consider flipping your box inside out to circumvent the need for a plain exterior! What we mean by this is that instead of branding the outside of your box, brand the interior with;

  • Interior-printed designs,
  • custom stickers,
  • custom tissue paper,
  • unique inserts

You can do many things to the interior of a box to elevate your customer’s unboxing experience while maintaining the need for discretion. After all, it’s not just the outside of a box that contributes to a customer’s unboxing experience but also the inside. The juxtaposition of a plain box and an exciting interior can lay a strong foundation for an impactful unboxing experience!

Example of interior printing
Source: PakFactory

Need-to-Knows of Discreet Shipping

Now that you know how to package your products discretely and why it might be wise to do so, there are some essential things you need to keep in mind when it comes time to finally ship your product.

Firstly, most major carriers, including USPS, FedEx, UPS, and Amazon, allow discreet shipping box options but have some restrictions or requirements on items such as vape devices or other sensitive items. In some cases, carriers might require an adult signature for these types of items. Ensure you and your customer understand these restrictions and requirements so your products can be shipped seamlessly through your chosen carrier without problems.

Secondly, specifically for international shipping, it is crucial to understand that in almost all cases, full disclosure and documentation of a package is required for customs declarations. Requirements might include your company’s name, physical location and exact package contents. Do not try to get around these regulations and provide the required information as necessary to customs, but make it clear to your customers what needs to be disclosed and what can be kept confidential. Though it might be tempting to try and give the customer a genuinely discrete experience, it is much better to comply with the law than to cause avoidable and unwanted problems!

Source: PakFactory

Offer Discreet Packaging Options to Your Customers

The offer of discretion shows customers you value their needs and provide ways to alleviate their worries about privacy and theft. Still, you must clearly communicate this intention. To avoid misunderstandings as to why your boxes have a plain exterior, show customers that there is a privacy option on your website and disclose to them that items they’ve purchased will arrive in a plain package.

With the knowledge you now have on discreet packaging and how to incorporate the unboxing experience while maintaining the balance of customer privacy and customs regulations, it’s time to get packing! Contact one of PakFactory’s product specialists today if you have any questions or would like to get started on your next custom packaging project!


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