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Your Guide to eCommerce Packaging & Unforgettable Unboxing Experiences

woman with package

When you're running an ecommerce business, every little decision counts. Every choice is important and contributes to the overall image of your brand. The same is true for the packaging you use for shipping your products. 

When a customer orders from your store for the first time, you have the chance to impress them and turn one single order into a long-term, repeat customer. How? By leaving a good first impression. And choosing the right packaging will help you do just that. That's why in this comprehensive eCommerce packaging guide, we want to tell you all about the importance of eCommerce packaging and how you can use it to your advantage.

Keep reading to learn how to win over your customers by making the right packaging choices and making the entire process as smooth as a well-sealed eCommerce package, seamlessly gliding through the virtual aisles.

What Is eCommerce Packaging?

Ecommerce packaging refers to the materials used for packaging and shipping products sold online. It includes everything from the box or mailer used to contain the product to the filler material used for protection during shipping.

The purpose of ecommerce packaging is not only to prevent damage during shipping but also to create a memorable unboxing experience for the customer. Effective ecommerce packaging can set your brand apart from competitors, increase customer satisfaction, and build brand loyalty. Hence, it is a crucial aspect of your customer service and marketing strategy.

What Is the Difference Between eCommerce Packaging and Retail Packaging?

While both eCommerce and retail packaging share the common goal of product protection, they differ in their emphasis and design considerations. eCommerce product packaging refers to the packaging used for products sold online and shipped directly to customers. It primarily focuses on ensuring safe and secure product transportation from the seller to the buyer. Key features of eCommerce packaging include:

  • Protection: eCommerce packaging is designed to keep the product safe during transit. It must withstand handling, transportation, and potential impacts during shipping.
  • Size and Weight Considerations: Since shipping costs are typically based on size and weight, eCommerce packaging aims to be as compact and lightweight as possible while providing adequate protection. It often includes features like bubble wrapping, packing peanuts, or air cushions to safeguard the product.
  • Branding and Marketing: eCommerce packaging often includes elements of branding and marketing to enhance the customer's unboxing experience. This may include custom printing, inserts, or branded tape, as it serves as the first physical touchpoint with the customer.
  • Logistics and Efficiency: eCommerce packaging is designed to facilitate efficient packing, handling, and shipping processes. It may incorporate features like easy assembly, standardized sizing, and barcode labels for effective inventory management.

On the other hand, retail product packaging is intended for products sold in physical stores and displayed on shelves. Its primary focus is attracting customers, creating a visual impact, and providing relevant product information. Key features of a retail packaging process include:

  • Shelf Appeal: Retail packaging aims to catch the attention of potential customers in a crowded retail environment. It often includes eye-catching designs, vibrant colors, and clear product images or illustrations to stand out from competitors.
  • Product Information: Retail packaging provides essential product information, such as ingredients, usage instructions, and legal requirements. It may also feature additional details like product benefits, certifications, or endorsements to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.
  • Product Visibility: Retail packaging allows customers to see the product through windows or clear packaging, giving them a better idea of its appearance, color, or texture.
  • Retail-Friendly: Retail packaging is designed to be easily displayed, stocked, and stacked on store shelves. It may include features like hang tabs, UPC codes, or perforations for easy opening.

The Importance of Packaging for e-Commerce Businesses

Wondering, "How important is packaging in eCommerce?" The truth is the impact of packaging on ecommerce success cannot be overstated. Poor packaging often results in damaged products, returns, and negative customer feedback, harming your business's reputation and bottom line.

Therefore, by investing more effort and resources in creating the ideal packaging for your products that offers adequate protection, you can reap many benefits. Here are the main advantages of effective eCommerce packaging solutions that will help your business thrive.

  • Protects products during the shipping process
  • Enhances the customer experience and satisfaction
  • Reinforces your brand identity and values
  • Sets you apart from competitors and increases brand recognition
  • Acts as a cost-effective marketing opportunity that generates word-of-mouth referrals
  • Reduces returns and associated costs

attractive asian woman hold package

Understanding Your Audience and Brand

One of the first steps in creating your eCommerce packaging strategy is determining your goals, customers, and values. We will explain the main steps, tips, and best practices in understanding how to go forward with your strategy.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

Defining your target audience is crucial when creating effective packaging. Understanding who your customers are, their preferences, and their values can help you come up with the appropriate design and messaging and choose the right packing materials.

2. Define Your Brand Image and Voice

Which values and causes are important to you as a business owner? What does your company stand for? These are some of the questions to ask yourself when coming up with your brand image and personality. Think about how you want to present your business to your audience, what you want to highlight, and where your priorities lie.

Once you know what your principles are, it is time to decide how you want to communicate them to your customers. This means determining your brand voice. Remember that your brand voice transcends your store and online presence – it can also play a part in your eCommerce packaging strategy.

3. Use E-Commerce Packaging to Reflect Brand Personality

When you have a deep understanding of your brand values and personality, you can use eCommerce packaging as a tool to convey your message to customers enjoying online shopping. For example, as a luxury brand, you can use high-quality materials and elegant designs to communicate exclusivity and sophistication. If your brand is serious and professional, minimalist designs and straightforward messaging is usually the appropriate choice.

For a positive customer experience and guaranteed safety of your eCommerce packages during transport, you need to choose your packaging materials carefully. Before you can make the final decision, there are several factors to consider – that will help you make the best choice for your business.

  • Product size, shape, and weight
  • Product fragility and sensitivity
  • Packaging costs
  • Shipping costs
  • Environmental impact
  • Branding opportunities

Take a minute to take all of these factors into consideration, as the importance of eCommerce packaging is non-negotiable and lies in making the right choices to ensure secure package delivery.

Different Types of Packaging Materials

You can choose between various types of ecommerce packaging solutions, depending on the factors we mentioned above. The material choices listed below are some of the top picks among ecommerce business owners. Whatever you opt for, prioritize product protection!

  • Boxes are the most versatile and offer excellent protection for larger and heavier products. If being sustainable and using eco-friendly and recycled materials is important to your business, you can even use corrugated cardboard boxes. Additional options are double-wall boxes for delicate items and overboxes for added security. Boxes are a good choice when shipping things like clothing, electronics, home goods, cosmetics, food items, etc., and you can always order a custom box tailored to your brand's or products' specific requirements.
  • Mailers are a lightweight and cost-effective product packaging solution but may not be suitable for fragile or heavy items. This could be a good solution if you are shipping books, small electronics, jewelry, or documents. You can always go for padded mailers for an extra layer of protection.
  • Bags are ideal for soft goods and can offer a more eco-friendly option, but they might not provide enough protection for delicate items. They are a good solution for items such as clothing, small toys, snacks, crafts, and pet treats.
  • Envelopes are great for flat and lightweight products and can be a cost-effective and eco-friendly option, but they might not be suitable for larger or heavier items. They are recommended when shipping documents, photographs, flat items like stickers and decals, small cards, and stationery.

What Tape to Use?

When it comes to securing your eCommerce packages and ensuring they can withstand the weight of your shipment, it is critical to choose the right packaging tape. The two most popular options are acrylic tape and water-activated tape.

  • Clear acrylic tape – a pressure-sensitive adhesive tape often used for sealing corrugated boxes. It has good adhesion and can withstand a range of temperatures. It is a good option for packages up to 15 pounds
  • Water-activated tape (kraft paper tape) – requires water to activate the adhesive. It is often used for sealing corrugated boxes, and it is a more secure option, good for packages over 25 pounds.

Use the Right Infill

So, what are the best ecommerce packaging materials for fragile items? For maximum protection of your eCommerce packages during shipping, it is recommended to fill out the empty space with certain infill materials. They keep your product from moving around and protect it from any damage. There is a variety of available materials to choose from:

  • Bubble wrap – a thin, flexible plastic material with air-filled bubbles, providing cushioning and shock absorption. It is commonly used for packing fragile products.
  • Air pillows – small plastic pouches filled with air that provide cushioning and support for the contents of a package.
  • Packing peanuts – small, foam-based pellets that cushion and protect the products. Like bubble packs, they are often used when shipping fragile items.
  • Kraft paper – a durable, eco-friendly packaging material made from recycled paper. It usually serves as an alternative to bubble wrapping and packing peanuts.
  • Foam wrap – a flexible, lightweight material that protects fragile items from damage during transportation.
  • Shredded cardboard (or shredded paper) – a sustainable, lightweight material, often used as an alternative to packing peanuts that can be recycled after use.

young postwoman giving package to the man at the post office

The Power of Branded eCommerce Packaging

Your ecommerce packaging can be a great marketing opportunity for your business. You can use a unique and compelling product packaging design to communicate with your online customers and even personalize it to represent your brand with custom labels, custom packing tape, etc.

Wondering, "How can I create a unique and branded ecommerce packaging design?" Designing custom packaging will require some creativity, but there are plenty of available solutions:

  • Customize the shape, size, material, and labels of the eCommerce package
  • Add personalized notes or thank-you cards
  • Use branded boxes and bags featuring your logo or unique artwork
  • Incorporate other print materials, such as tissue paper or stickers, to make the branding stand out even more.

Designing personalized packaging helps create a unique unpacking experience, thereby improving customer engagement while simultaneously building customer loyalty and satisfaction. This way, you will also improve brand recognition and build a stronger connection with your customers. With a creative packaging design, you can make sure that your products will arrive safely and look impressive when they reach their destination.

Choose Secure Shipping Solutions and Get Shipping Insurance

After going the extra mile to create the perfect e-commerce package, the next step is to find a logistics company that will ensure an efficient and safe delivery of your products. A reliable logistics partner is the last step in ensuring a smooth delivery process, you have all the necessary shipping documents, and your customers are satisfied.

UNIVAL Logistics offers secure, end-to-end eCommerce shipping solutions and full-value shipping insurance even for your high-value, luxury parcels. Leave your valuable shipments in the hands of professionals and ship them safely. Get in touch with us today to have peace of mind when shipping orders to your customers.

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