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With online shopping, it’s more difficult to brand differentiate as customers are only able to interact with images of your products.
This is why it’s important to consider your e-commerce packaging and the impact it may make on your customers from their mail rooms to their unboxing experience!
Let’s start from the beginning and discuss the key aspects of e-commerce packaging that lay the foundation for a successful customer experience.
How Does E-Commerce Work?
When thinking about how e-commerce works, you have to think about two distinct elements:
How your product is presented online vs. in person
How shareable is your unboxing experience
While it’s true that the first impression is made through the computer screen, the first physical interaction is where you can count on customer retention.
The unboxing experience of your products plays a crucial role in the true first impression customers have of both your brand and product.
While this may seem more convenient than splurging on premium packaging, it’s actually much more difficult than it seems!
Your customers’ expectations and anticipation are built from a simple digital image they see on their computer screens.
Your business is responsible for meeting and/or exceeding customer expectations.
How do you accomplish this?
By choosing packaging based on the purpose rather than the appeal.
Let’s put it this way, it’s what’s inside that counts!
What is Frustration Free Packaging?
Frustration-free packaging is a type of e-commerce packaging that is designed to make the delivery process smoother and less stressful for both the customer and the seller.
It aims to eliminate the hassle of opening the package and reducing unnecessary packaging material. Frustration-free packaging typically involves using a minimalistic approach with simple, yet effective designs that make it easy to open and recycle
Cost and Environmental Benefits
It also helps to reduce shipping costs, decrease the environmental impact, and improve the overall customer experience.
Improving Customer Experience
With frustration-free packaging, customers receive their orders in a timely and efficient manner, without any unnecessary stress or frustration, making it a win-win situation for everyone involved.
The Importance of E-commerce Packaging
The right ecommerce packaging helps your business stand out.
The wrong choice can lead to a plethora of issues ranging from damaged products to weakened brand connections and customer retention.
To create e-commerce ready packaging, one of the better guidelines to follow is Amazon’s aim to create ‘Frustration-free packaging’ (FFP).
This consists of creating packaging that is low waste, easy to open, and offers considerable protection during shipping without driving up costs.
This seems like a lot to pack into one kind of packaging, but it is completely possible when you work with packaging experts during the design process.
Working with a packaging expert can be vital for guidance around the right packaging materials to use and the marketing message that needs to be conveyed.
The primary reason e-commerce-ready packaging is essential is because it protects what you’re trying to sell, which in essence, is a pretty simple objective.
Shipping and distribution will be a stress-free process for your business, and you’ll have a slew of happy customers who receive their product undamaged and ready to be used.
Furthermore, well-protected products add significant value to your brand. There is no risk of refunds and exchanges, and it creates a strong impression that serves your brand well overall.
From a marketing standpoint, e-commerce-ready packaging provides a lot of return if you make the proper investments.
Through the right design, you can create a meaningful unboxing experience for customers that they will always remember – which is vital for building brand equity with customers.
The right e-commerce packaging will ultimately be your differentiator and help customers distinguish the products from computer screens to their homes.
It primes them for the product itself and creates a sense of excitement.
Ultimately, all of this will serve as crucial components in building an authentic and long-lasting connection with your customers.
In today’s competitive e-commerce market, creating a strong brand image is critical to success, and packaging plays an essential role in achieving this.
The way you package your products can have a significant impact on how customers perceive your brand. Well-designed, high-quality packaging can make a positive impression, enhance the perceived value of your products, and differentiate your brand from competitors.
On the other hand, poorly designed or low-quality packaging can harm your brand’s image and discourage repeat purchases.
By investing in e-commerce packaging that aligns with your brand values, you can create a memorable unboxing experience that delights your customers and builds brand loyalty.
Ultimately, a strong brand image can help your e-commerce business stand out in a crowded marketplace, improve customer retention, and drive revenue growth.
The First Steps of E-commerce Packaging
Packaging has become just as important as the product in delivering a first impression.
Thorough research and planning will help you find ways to have your packaging complement your merchandise and brand identity.
Furthermore, custom packaging can help you create a strong brand identity that’s sure to impress your customers.
If you are in the beginning stages of deciding your first e-commerce packaging for your online products, we’ll help you out in deciding which options work best for your product!
At very low quantities, consider standard-sized packaging options with inexpensive customized additions.
Standard-sized packaging can be made fancier through the use of;
Before starting anything, you will have to know what your overall goal is for your packaging.
Determining your budget based on how much value your packaging can bring to your product will help lay the foundations for a successful packaging design.
This way, your packaging will not exceed your budget, coming out of your profit margins.
Adding value by promoting, protecting, and complimenting the respective product, can boost your brand visibility in turn boosting your sales.
Consider how many products you expect to sell in a period of time and how much of your margin you are able to invest into your product packaging.
This will give you a good ballpark range of what your packaging, design, and shipping options will entail, allowing you to make a well-rounded, informed decision on your packaging options.
What is the target market and how are your competitors packaging their products?
All of these factors can help determine the type of packaging and the volume you need for your first production run.
Custom packaging can leave a lasting impression on your customers giving your products a higher perceived value and quality.
Once that’s settled, start thinking about how you’ll place the product in the packaging, as this will determine the structure of your box.
For example; If you’re in the cosmetics or beauty business it’s common to place the merchandise where its entire size, shape, and color can be seen without having to open the packaging.
Based on where you want to place the product and how much space it may occupy, you can now determine the measurement of your packaging.
To be the most cost effective and protective it is best to minimize the dimensions and keep the packaging lighter and smaller.
Through structural engineering, packaging specialists can help you create packaging that leaves minimal space for your product to move around in.
This in turn will offer your products more stability and minimize the risk of damage!
Exploring E-commerce Packaging Materials
Corrugated shipping boxes and poly mailers are the most popular packaging materials on the market for e-commerce packaging.
Made from recycled materials, corrugated packaging is very protective and can come in various shapes, sizes, and thicknesses making it incredibly versatile for a range of products.
Choosing the right material stock depends on your artwork and your branding designs.
Check out the different options below:
Natural White (Digital & Offset): For colorful and flood printing.
Bleached White (Digital): Brighter output of colors to mimic offset printing slightly
Kraft (Digital & Offset): Environmental and rustic look – perfect with black print and there is no coating required.
Material Thickness Options
Typically, manufacturers can make suggestions on the thickness of the paper based on the weight of your products and the dimensions of your box.
It is still good, however, to have an understanding of what they are and how they can benefit your product.
The average thickness of the E-flute corrugated board is 1.2mm.
This type of fluting is ideal for packaging software, retail products, beauty products, food, and more.
The average thickness of the B-flute corrugated board is 3.0mm.
L x W x H = >570 anything more than this total dimension is B-Flute.
This type of fluting is ideal for packaging shoes, industrial products, furniture, and more.
Discussing Popular Packaging Styles
Now that you have a better idea of your material choices and thicknesses, you can start looking for the ideal structure to accommodate your product.
Consider how much protection you need and the weight of your product.
Heavier and larger items generally require greater protection to withstand harsh shipping and handling conditions.
Some of the most popular and cost-effective e-commerce packaging options used for shipping can be found below:
Roll End Tab Lock Corrugated Shipping Boxes
This is the most popular e-commerce packaging box due to its durable capabilities and unboxing experience.
Corrugated boxes offer versatile printing and finishing capabilities allowing you to build an authentic connection with your customers from the comfort of their own homes!
Regular Slotted Corrugated Boxes
Slotted corrugated boxes are your typical shipping box.
The sheet is formed where one panel and one end panel can be joined together to create the box.
This style is ideal for large and heavy-weight items that need that extra support and care during shipping.
This type of box requires manual taping when put together, but this is simple enough and can be done very time effectively.
Roll End Tuck Top Corrugated Shipping Boxes
Roll end tuck top boxes are shipping boxes that can be folded without hassle during assembly.
The top can open and close smoothly and ensures maximum closure with a tuck based on the inside of the box.
These shipping boxes are ideal for;
Shipping Poly Mailers
The poly mailer is a flexible packaging type, made from polyethylene LDPE, or paper.
Think of an Amazon bag or FedEx mailer bag – these are both poly mailers.
A padded envelope is also considered a poly mailer.
With it being light and versatile, it is a popular choice for e-commerce businesses that ship all types of products of light to medium weight.
Unfortunately, poly mailers are not great for heavy products, since they may not provide adequate protection and support.
This packaging type is very cost-effective, tear-resistant, and usually waterproof!
Poly mailers have a self-seal adhesive strip for easy closure and are available with a padded interior or as a simple flat-packed bag, making packing and assembly a breeze.
Read more on choosing your box structure.
Choosing the Right Printing Method
The quality of print significantly affects the presentation and overall look of your product packaging.
While your custom shape and size are important to accommodating your products, printing is important to accommodating your customers.
Displaying clear and concise information is important to forming an authentic connection with your customers.
Because of the harsher shipping journey e-commerce packaging faces, high-quality printing is not usually recommended for the exterior of the box as they will likely get damaged, tarnishing the overall unboxing experience.
Instead, e-commerce businesses tend to opt for interior printing or retail packaging inserts, which we will explore a little later.
These are the two main printing options for corrugated liner board:
Digital printing is the process of transferring a document on a desktop or any digital storage device to a particular printing substrate through a device that accepts graphics and text output.
The ink of the printer is printed directly on the packaging material, working similarly to the average printer you use at home or at the office.
It is perfect for low-quantity orders and is far less expensive than other printing methods since no printing plates and dies are required.
Check out our digital printed corrugated boxes: PakFactory’s Digital Corrugated Boxes
Typically, digital printing is advised if e-commerce businesses are looking to print on the exterior of their packaging.
Because digital printing is much more cost-effective and time-efficient, e-commerce businesses can afford the risk of potential damage in return for a little brand differentiation.
Just a reminder – try to keep your artwork as minimal as possible in terms of details and colors. The simplicity will provide a better output quality when printing digitally.
Having too many small details and lots of colors in digital will fog the overall quality of the artwork and can end up looking very low quality.
Digital printing is the best for low-quantity orders as it is the most cost and time-effective printing method.
Offset printing is a printing press technique that transfers the ink from a plate to a rubber roller (or blanket) and then to a paper material.
It is typically used for printing large quantities of;
The setup costs are quite expensive for offset printing. However, the quality is impeccable!
Typically, offset printing is advised for printing on the interior of the packaging or on packaging inserts for optimal color output and quality.
Due to the set-up costs being so high, it’s best to opt for offset printing if you have a high-quantity order.
Check out our off-set printed corrugated boxes: PakFactory’s Freedom Offset Corrugated Boxes
What makes offset the desired choice for printing is its ability to print in PMS Color and produce special printing processes such as;
These finishing capabilities are much more difficult to achieve with the digital printing process.
Read more on printing methods.
Using Custom Box Inserts
You can also consider adding box inserts for protection or promotional inserts for marketing purposes.
Box inserts offer extra support and durability for your products and also allow you to enhance the unboxing experience by adding value to your packaging.
To help you decide, we have enumerated some types of inserts for different purposes.
If you want to protect and organize your products, you can use cardboard or foam inserts to divide and protect your products.
These types of box inserts will prevent your products from moving around in the box during transit.
They also enhance your brand identity by offering a higher-end unboxing experience.
Box inserts are available in:
Promotional inserts are one of the cheapest ways to promote your product and increase brand awareness, customer loyalty, and sales.
A custom message, cross-promotion or a simple thank you can be a powerful statement to reflect your brand’s narrative while improving your customers’ unboxing experience, ensuring your brand remains in the good sentiments of your customers.
Promotional inserts give customers the motivation to continue engaging with your products and an opportunity for them to get the most value out of your brand.
Furthermore, customers look to make an authentic connection with brands and this is a great way to work towards aligning your company with your customers.
Considering The Artwork Design
Here are simple elements you can incorporate into your artwork to resonate with your customers.
The printed design is, in fact, the first thing they see and interact with when looking for your packaging in their mailrooms.
You don’t need fancy letters or designs to capture the attention of your customers.
All it takes is having a well-thought-out brand narrative that shows off the personality and value of your brand.
Furthermore, speaking directly to your customers allows them to feel a sense of connection with your brand.
Unlimited Brand Color Scheme
What is great about custom-printed e-commerce packaging boxes is that you can use unlimited colors for your artwork without any additional charge.
Therefore, make sure to include all of the elements of your brand colors in your artwork to really establish a unified brand narrative.
If your website, blog content, and product all use pastel colors, then it would make sense to incorporate that into your packaging as well.
You can also consider color psychology and choose which colors you would like to trigger based on your target market’s needs and desires.
This should be visible the moment they receive your box.
This can be achieved through exterior and/or interior printing of your brand logo.
Make sure to allow your brand name to stand out and be memorable to your customers.
Making your brand logo the star of the show allows customers to remember your brand and in turn repurchase your products with ease.
Samples and Prototyping
Prototyping is one of the most critical steps in the packaging process.
It is recommended that a prototype is made to confirm the structure and printing of the final output of your packaging.
Imagine receiving hundreds or thousands of boxes with the wrong dimension, or inaccurate fit.
Unlike in-stock products, custom packaging is made specifically for your products and cannot be returned or refunded.
An incorrect batch of packaging will need to be written off and recycled, coming out of your costs and causing your company added stress and time to your product launch.
Get a physical CTP proof to check color and printing accuracy and a non-printed sample can help ensure product fitment.
Another great option is a physical prototype of your custom packaging.
A prototype is a one-off make of your packaging in either production or sample grade.
This provides the closest experience to your actual packaging to look, feel, and experience the unboxing your customers would get.
Read more on why box samples are important for your packaging.
The Production and Shipping Process
You will have minimal involvement in the last step of this guide.
This is when the manufacturer mass-produces your packaging based on your final packaging specifications.
Typically you will be the one to take care of this part of the process on your own by finding a freight forwarder to complete the shipment for you or asking the manufacturer to ship the product to you with their forwarders or by express.
There are four main ways you can ship your products:
Sea Freight (Coming from overseas and typically the least expensive option for international shipping)
Air Freight (Overseas or local, quickest and most costly)
Logistics can be a daunting process, especially, if you are shipping internationally, requiring several documents for declaration, customs clearance, and policy.
The benefit of working with a courier is that they are able to help you through the clearance process while shipping through freight may require a bond that needs to be purchased and renewed annually.
Don’t let the process overwhelm you — instead, see it as an opportunity to connect with your target market.
When you understand what your target market is looking for, it will enable you to come up with packaging that will help sell your products and attract new customers!
While it may seem troublesome to start your own e-commerce packaging project, with proper preparation and support from reputable vendors, any business can achieve a professional e-commerce packaging solution.