Maximizing sales and brand visibility of your products often means offering it in both retail and online stores. This may seem overwhelming; however, it’s important to consider your products’ packaging for each environment.

So, you may ask yourself, how do I package my product for retail vs. online stores?

Well, packaging that is effective in an online scenario may not see the same light of day in a retail store, and vice versa.

Making a crucial distinction between your physical and online store will grow your brand visibility and make your customer experience richer overall.

Whether you are trying to maximize both environments (online and offline) or just to upgrade your customer experience through packaging,

Here are the top 3 important considerations when starting to create your own custom packaging for retail and online stores:

The Purpose of Packaging in Brick and Mortar Stores

First, it’s important to consider how brick and mortar stores work before considering how to create your retail packaging effectively.

Brick and mortar stores sell goods and services directly to customers. This means the purpose of your packaging is to create shelf impact and make a strong first impression through physical interactions with customers. 

Having your products distributed through brick and mortar stores often means deploying more traditional marketing and sales strategies to attract customers to purchase your product. 

Example of retail ready packaging
Source: PakFactory

This process involves physical customer interactions, maintenance, and raising brand awareness through other services such as:

  • Customer Service
  • Email newsletters
  • Billboard advertisements
  • Brochures & other printed materials

Your packaging needs to not only appeal to the eye, but also to the touch. 

Afterall, the first interaction your potential customers will have with your product is by picking it up and looking at it. 

Your packaging is an extension of your brand, so retail packaging will need to give consumers a good idea of your brand narrative from the get go.  

Some businesses will choose to strictly stick to brick and mortar stores. 

However, today with the growing trend of e-commerce platforms, most in-store brands have branched out to online stores while maintaining their physical locations.

While taking advantage of the brick and mortar store environment can be exciting and rewarding, maintaining high sales numbers is increasingly more difficult without an online store as more users transition to online shopping because of its ease and convenience.

Although the trend has steadily remained in favor of online shopping during the pandemic, physical shopping is currently seeing a huge boom. 

Consumers are flooding to stores in the midst of lifting restrictions around the world, making it all the more important to create an impact through branded product packaging. .  

This shows that consumer demands shift at a very fast pace, making it important to tailor your packaging to both environments to properly optimize your customer reach. 

Read more about retail ready packaging. 

The Purpose of E-commerce Packaging

E-commerce seems like it would be less straightforward than brick and mortar. 

However, it’s much simpler than you might think.

E-commerce refers to the process of purchasing and selling products and services online through the use of a user-friendly online store. 

This means consumers don’t have any physical interaction with your product, but rather interact with your brand online. 

E-commerce eliminates the display purposes of your product and delivers your product straight to your customers’ laps. 

In many senses, e-commerce has become more convenient for both businesses and customers.

However, your products face the challenge of shipping and logistics, which brings the purpose of e-commerce product packaging into perspective.

Example of ecommerce packaging
Source: PakFactory

Product integrity is a huge priority for e-commerce businesses.

Although consumers have put a lot of trust into online shopping over the years, they are still wary of new products and expect to get exactly what they see on their screen. 

E-commerce product packaging needs to be protective, durable and able to withstand harsh shipping conditions, in order to ensure your products remain intact for delivery. 

Furthermore, catching your customers attention from the get go is simply impossible, so it’s all about customer nurturing through the unboxing experience. 

Read more about ecommerce ready packaging

Considering How Your Product is Presented In-store

How your product will be presented goes above and beyond just your average display shelf.

Retailers may want to display your product on a freestanding display, gondola display, entryway display, and much more. Having a good idea of how your product will look in-store will offer guidance to your packaging’s design process.

For retailers, visual merchandising strategy is a huge part of how they maximize sales. The way your packaging sits on shelves and how much space it will utilize is important to consider when designing it for a retail environment.

Having a good visual merchandising strategy for your products will ultimately increase your product’s appeal to customers, directly increasing the chance of purchasing your product. This is why your custom packaging is an important component in driving more sales.

With your products displayed in physical stores, your customers can directly interact with it, which can be a big advantage when opting for a more luxurious feel to your packaging. For example, rigid packaging offers an exclusive feel, not just to your product but to your brand.

Make the most of this opportunity by offering a high-end shopping experience through not only your product but your packaging too.

Another thing to keep in mind is the amount of space the retailer will give your product in inventory.

Bulky packaging in-store may be a disadvantage both on-shelf and in-storage. Retailers need space to store your product for inventory purposes.

With limited in-store space, easily stackable packaging may work better in favor of your product.

Example of stackable packaging
Source: PakFactory

Some distributors and retailers may have specific requirements with regards to your products. This means when planning and designing your packaging, they have to be tailored to certain guidelines.

While this may limit you a little bit with regards to your packaging and product designs,  the design decisions need to be practical for all parties, from manufacturing all the way to the hands of your customers.

Maintaining Product Quality for Shelf Impact

The main function of your packaging is to protect your product from any outside forces that may damage it during the distribution process.

That’s why it’s important to consider appropriate packaging depending on your product, especially for brick and mortar stores.

  • Folding carton offer versatility, with many different finishes available. However, it is the least protective packaging.
  • Corrugated packaging offers maximum protection. However, it is often used for heavier products that require that extra support.
  • Rigid packaging offers a luxurious experience. However, it can be quite fragile.

You don’t have much control over how your product is handled during the distribution process so it’s important to plan ahead and choose packaging materials that will keep your products intact, even when stocked. 

Our recommendation is to choose the type of packaging that suits your niche industry and your goals. For example, are you looking to package food?

If you are, we recommend choosing folding carton or plastic packaging as it offers optimal printing capabilities allowing you to clearly label things like best by dates and ingredients. .

Or are you looking to package fragile glassware? 

Then we recommend a corrugated box, as this is the best option for offering cushioning, structure and support to fragile items.

Keeping all components of your product intact for the display process of your packaging is very important to building a customer experience in-store.

Protective packaging is not only important for the distribution process of your products, but for the customer experience.

Keeping the design components of your packaging intact and presentable upon arrival for the purpose of customer experience plays an important role in building brand identity, credibility, and sales in-store.

Optimizing Online Exposure Through In-Store Packaging

Optimizing online opportunities goes beyond just having an online store alongside brick and mortar.

The unboxing experience plays a big role in online exposure nowadays. 

Example of unboxing experience
Source: PakFactory

Through social media platforms and influencers, brands have the opportunity to build brand awareness by making the customer experience as high quality as it gets.

Social media influencers especially on Instagram and Youtube have popularized this idea of unboxing videos. They offer their first impression of not only the product but the packaging which is more often than not the first aspect discussed in these unboxing videos.

According to Think with Google The amount of time people have spent watching unboxing videos just on their phones is the equivalent of watching the holiday classic “Love Actually” more than 20 million times.

Whether you choose a brick and mortar store, an online store, or both for your sales path, influencers take their time to review the packaging, product, and overall shopping experience, which is a great way to gain exposure for your brand and product.

Customers undoubtedly really enjoy the unboxing experience as it shows the brand’s care and attention to detail. Arguably, they enjoy it more than the actual product!

Focusing on the packaging and unboxing experience has the potential to elevate your brand identity, awareness, and credibility. 

It also helps potential customers have positive sentiments in anticipation of opening your packaging.

In other words – make your packaging interactive, interesting and innovative.

Protecting Products In Transit 

In the e-commerce world, the main function of your packaging is to protect your product from the processing, storing, and shipping stages all the way to the laps of your customers.

Shipping your product directly to your customer can be stressful since you don’t have a good idea of the journey the product may be exposed to. 

That’s why making your packaging considerations a high priority is important for online sales.

The mailing and delivery process is most concerning for your packaging considerations.

We’ve all seen the occasional mailman haul the package at your door without a care in the world, and then proceed to go on and do it to hundreds of other packages.

You can’t control the mailing and delivery process.

However, your packaging is something you do have full control over.

Keeping your products protected and secure from the outside world is a very important aspect of running a successful online business.

It’s important to choose the appropriate materials for your products. 

It’s not only important for the distribution or mailing process of your products, but for the customer’s experience with their purchase at home.

While corrugated packaging offers your products maximum protection, box inserts should also be a consideration for your e-commerce packaging needs.

example of foam box insert
Source: PakFactory

Pairing your packaging with these inserts mentioned above will offer your product maximum protection and ensure an impeccable customer experience upon arrival.

Meeting Expectations from Screen to Door Step

The online shopping experience takes away from your product slightly until it is delivered to customers’ doors, considering they can’t physically interact with your products before deciding to purchase.

While having high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and a user-friendly website is crucial to appealing to your customers online, it’s even more important to uphold these promises with the product you deliver to their door steps. 

Being fully transparent with your customers online about your product all the way to the delivery builds brand credibility and allows you to build a loyal customer base.

Consumers tend to be wary of things they purchase online, even today. 

Which is why meeting consumer expectations will create a more trusting relationship between your brand and customer. 

Not only are customers able to open their packages from the comfort of their own couches, but it is delivered to them in the promised condition, allowing them to interact with your product in private and really get a feel for your brand. 

This is also why your packaging plays a huge role in the wow factor of your products when it comes to e-commerce and your customers.

To make it simple – create a memorable unboxing experience.

Prioritizing the Unboxing Experience  

Making an instant impact on your customers in their own homes is crucial to building a brand narrative that speaks even louder than your product.

Creating a memorable unboxing experience is what truly makes up for the missed in-store shopping experience.

The use of social media throughout your packaging also becomes a crucial part of e-commerce. 

Example of ecommerce unboxing

As previously mentioned, unboxing videos have gained a lot of popularity. Optimizing this trend is crucial to the e-commerce world, so make sure you encourage your customers to share online with friends and family! 

Keeping your products safe is only half the battle for your packaging.

Making sure your e-commerce packaging stays relevant and interactive for the purpose of the unboxing experience and exposure through social platforms is essential.

Speak directly to your customers through your packaging. 

Personalize it with labels and stickers to spruce up your packaging designs and enhance the unboxing experience of your products and gain more exposure through social media.

Considering the design and strategy of your product’s packaging for retail and ecommerce environments is a key part of helping you increase sales and brand awareness. 

Interested in learning more? Get in touch with PakFactory.


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