You can’t judge a book by its cover.
Notwithstanding how much we love this phrase, online customers always judge products by their covers.
E-commerce packaging represents the first physical touchpoint that a customer has with your brand. You want to make a good first impression with your purchasers, don’t you?
If you answer in the affirmative, this guide is absolutely right for you.
This is a comprehensive guide on e-commerce packaging, covering a range of packaging materials, infills as well as excellent brand examples for you to learn from. Waste no time, let’s get started!
E-commerce packaging refers to the way in which you pack and protect your products prior to shipment.
It is usually done with the use of packaging materials and infills, such as corrugated boxes, bubble wrap, kraft paper and air pillows (more on this below).
Good e-commerce packaging not only has the practical function of protecting goods from damage during shipment.
It also serves an aesthetic purpose of building your brand identity and delighting customers.
If that sounds a little vague to you, below are some reasons (supported by data!) to explain why packaging for e-commerce is so important.
According to an e-commerce study by Dotcom Distribution, a vast majority (82%) of online shoppers want their packages to arrive in a box, not a poly bag. The top reason for their choice is that boxes provide better protection during transit.
That’s definitely true.
After leaving the warehouse, parcels go a long way before they reach customers.
For example, transit in trucks, planes, or ocean vessels could cause your goods to shift, collide or break. Mishandling by courier could also cause scratches or broken parts in your products.
All these are factors out of your control, but product packaging is one way to avoid damage to your goods.
We’re now in the 21st century. Online sellers are everywhere. You have a lot of competitors.
To make customers remember your brand, serious branding efforts are needed. The best practice is to make your brand identity apparent at every customer touchpoint — product packaging included.
The global cosmetics brand, Sephora, for example, always adds their brand name and iconic black and white stripes to carton boxes used in packaging.
These are quick identifiers of the brand. They’re simple, yet easily recognizable. Customers receiving the parcel will know where it comes from without having to unbox.
No one would turn down a sweet little surprise, right?
Consider the following facts about online shoppers:
The figures speak for themselves.
Nice product packaging makes customers happy. Delighted customers are more likely to buy from your shop again. Loyal customers mean more sales and revenue.
So e-commerce packaging isn’t just about aesthetics. It does have an impact on your company’s financials.
If you’re still sending out goods in plain, boring bags or boxes, it’s time for a change.
When it comes to packaging for e-commerce, there are many materials to choose from.
However, choosing the right packaging materials depends very much on your product type, size and shape.
We’ve made a list of popular e-commerce packaging materials, so you’ll have an idea of what you need to protect your goods.
Corrugated boxes are containers with multi-layered walls. The wall of a corrugated box typically has three layers:
The special structure of corrugated boxes gives them strength and durability. For sellers of large, heavy items, corrugated boxes are a must-have at your shipping facility.
Here is an example of Amazon’s corrugated shipping box:
In addition to sturdiness, below are some other features of corrugated boxes which make them a popular packaging material:
Padded envelopes are also known as cushioned mailers or padded mailers. They are envelopes made of thick paper, lined with protective padding on the inside.
As you can imagine, padded envelopes are not very large in size. They are therefore suitable for holding small, flat and fragile items.
Below are some delicate products commonly shipped in padded envelopes:
Bubble envelopes are also known as jiffy bags in the UK. Similar to padded envelopes, they are used to protect small, delicate items during shipment.
While padded mailers and bubble envelopes are both made with strong, durable paper, the latter offers more protection as its interior is lined with bubble wrap.
Poly bags are made with polythene, a form of soft plastic. This is what poly bags look like:
This type of bag is an economical choice if you sell items that don’t break easily.
Think about a courier hurling your package onto a delivery truck. Or having a hefty item put on top of yours. Will your product spill, break or deform?
If the answer is no, your goods will likely be safe in a poly bag.
Here are some items which could be shipped in a poly bag:
When you ship products in a box, infills are most certainly needed to fill the empty space in the box. They add extra safety and stability by preventing your items from moving during shipment.
A broad range of infills is available for e-commerce shipping. Here are some common ones.
As a kid, you’ve probably popped a few bubbles on the bubble wrap. It’s fun for children, and perhaps stress-relieving for adults.
When used in e-commerce packaging, bubble wrap is ideal for protecting fragile items from shock and damage during delivery.
Foam wrap is sometimes seen as an alternative to bubble wrap, except that it’s thinner and takes up less space.
Like bubble wrap, foam wrap serves as a soft cushion to protect delicate items in transit.
Foam wrap shares a lot of similarities with bubble wrap, so are their advantages.
For the economy of words, the merits of foam wrap are briefly listed below.
Kraft paper is brown in color and coarse-textured. In fact, it’s the type of paper often used to make envelopes.
Easily ripped and crumpled, kraft paper can be used to fill the void in a box, so that your products won’t move around during delivery.
Air pillows are also called air cushions. They are inflatable plastic sacs filled with air.
Although they can be space-consuming when inflated, air pillows occupy considerably less space before inflation.
Packing peanuts also go by the name of foam peanuts or foam popcorn.
As its name suggests, packing peanuts are shaped like real peanuts (unshelled ones).
This particular shape enables them to interlock with each other when compressed, but they would spread out when no pressure is applied.
The e-commerce landscape is competitive, but no one should go down without a fight.
In addition to proper protection of your goods, a superior unboxing experience is what sets you apart from rivals.
Here are the best packaging examples that we’ve found, and we want to share with you.
Apple Inc., the leading consumer electronics company, leaves no aspect of design untouched.
Everything from product design to packaging is thoughtfully crafted. It’s an art.
To begin, the classic Apple box has a matte black/white surface. With just a mockup on top, product name and logo on the side, the box speaks nothing but minimalism.
Next, an iPhone’s default wallpaper (or that of other Apple products) is abstract but elegant.
Looking inside the box, you’ll see pamphlets and accessories protected by mold in custom shapes, all carefully stacked together.
Simple. Classy. Reliable. That’s exactly the brand image Apple wants you to perceive.
Known to be a perfectionist company, Apple Inc.’s attention to detail is not to be doubted. And it’s a remarkable brand example to learn from.
Apple’s packaging delivers a strong message about the brand. Silent but impactful, it imperceptibly shapes what you think of Apple Inc.
More than 80% of shoppers find it important for brands to act sustainably, a recent consumer survey revealed. It also found that 71% of consumers care more about product sustainability than the year before.
Casetify is a company that exemplifies the corporate shift towards eco-friendliness.
For instance, one of Casetify’s Facebook posts introduces its 100% compostable packaging. The post was met with positive response from the online community, thanking the brand for its contribution to protecting Mother Earth.
With their commitment to sustainability, Casetify has won some loyal customers too!
Founded by American socialite Kylie Jenner, Kylie Cosmetics has a practice of sending handwritten notes to customers.
A handwritten memo in the box adds a personal touch to your business communication. It also makes customers feel valued and important.
Here is what the owner of the photo said about her online shopping experience:
“To [my] surprise, the box has a stylish design and a note from Kylie Jenner. [I] tried on the lip gloss and love[d] it.”
Pro tip: With a large volume of online orders, it may not be feasible for larger businesses to write a personalized note to all customers. In that case, a typewritten thank-you card works too.
Fairyloot sells young adult books with a twist. Packed with fairy-tale treasures in fancy boxes, it surely creates a memorable unboxing experience for young readers.
Shown above is a Fairyloot box. Accompanying the main product (a book) are collectible tarot cards, a travel mug and some washi tape.
The surprise box is not only visually appealing to your own eyes, it’s Instagrammable too.
It’s hard to forget such a magical experience, right?
In common parlance, people say that actions speak louder than words. With online sellers, we say e-commerce packaging speaks louder than any of your marketing messages.
Using the right e-commerce packaging materials and infills would help protect your goods in transit. But it’s always good to take a step further, create a pleasant customer experience and turn first-time purchasers into loyal ones.
At Choco Up, we always take that extra step (we’re not an e-commerce company though).
As Asia’s leading growth platform, we provide flexible funding to e-commerce companies of all sizes to accelerate their growth.
In addition to monetary funding, we’ve also built a suite of products tailored for e-commerce businesses, providing multi-faceted strategic support for our clients.
About Choco Up
Founded in 2018, Choco Up is the leading revenue-based financing platform in Asia Pacific, offering non-dilutive growth capital to fast-growing companies.
Currently covering more than 10 markets and 10 sectors, Choco Up has helped hundreds of businesses capture growth while protecting equity upside.
Click here to apply for RBF funding!