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How do you go big with e-commerce packaging when you don’t necessarily have a big budget? The answer isn’t as complex as some sellers assume it should be. In fact, a smart, streamlined e-commerce packaging plan is the best way to smooth out your strategy for product fulfillment. What are the elements of good e-commerce packaging that digital brands need to know about? Take a look at six shipping tips to never skip to make a good impression.

1. Don’t Go Heavy With Packaging

Some small e-commerce brands assume that “going big” is the best way to prove to customers that they are a “big” brand. As a result, they select heavy, bulky packaging that costs a fortune to ship. Heavier packaging doesn’t make a product seem like a premium product. What’s more, packaging that’s even an ounce heavier than it absolutely needs to be to safely hold products during transport is pure wastefulness. Here are some tips for keeping packaging as light as possible without “going flimsy” with materials:

  • Work with a packaging vendor to identify the best durable-meets-lightweight packaging materials available today.
  • Really zero in on dimensions. Get custom packaging that is truly the right size for creating a secure fit without any excess space.
  • Strategize on lightweight packaging materials that are chosen specifically to work with your custom packaging.
  • Choose packaging materials that add to brand value by being recycled, recyclable, or reusable.

Small tweaks create very noticeable savings for brands when it comes to shipping. When you’re doing high order volumes, the cost you’re shaving from each shipped item adds up very quickly. You may just find that switching to custom packaging that’s designed to offer the lightest option possible without compromising on durability opens up more room in your budget.

2. Pack Wisely

While brands put lots of focus on packaging, few dedicate as much time and attention to how products are packed. That’s a shame. In truth, packaging can ultimately make or break a package’s functionality. The simple trick for cutting shipping costs while actually making a product more secure is to pack tightly. This doesn’t mean “shoving” items into tight boxes. It means securely fitting an item into custom packaging to ensure that it’s not being shifted around during transport. When brands pack tightly, they’re able to safely fit products into the smallest boxes or containers possible. Packing items tightly also reduces the amount of bubble wrap, Styrofoam, kraft paper, and packing tape needed.

3. Expect a Bumpy Ride

E-commerce products all take unexpected journeys from the factory floor to the customer’s front door. While the hope is that the journey will be as smooth as possible, it’s important for e-commerce brands to anticipate some rough waters. This can include dropped packages, jostled packages, soggy packages, and more. The truth is that trying to insulate a product against all possible forms of damage isn’t a cost-effective plan unless you are shipping extremely high-priced, ultra-rare items. For most e-commerce brands, the packaging just has to protect against “reasonable” dangers. Quality testing is really important here. Brands should be putting packaging through “test shipments” to confirm how packaging stands up in a real-world setting.

4. Create a Positive Experience for the Customer

It’s very easy to get caught up in the responsibilities of making sure a package arrives intact without any damage. However, this can cause some e-commerce sellers to lose sight of the buyer experience. What marketers call the “unboxing” experience is more important than ever. According to research, between 60% and 80% of customers who are left unsatisfied with an initial experience with a company won’t do business with that company again. What does a good unboxing experience look like? Customers want to feel “special” when receiving a package. Here are the elements that help to make that happen:

  • Add a surprise that the customer isn’t expecting. This can be anything from a fun message to a free gift.
  • Personalize the experience. Consider adding the customer’s name to the packaging experience. Brands can also consider special coupons and offers that are tailored to fit the interests of the customer.
  • Add a reusable element. Consider packaging a product in a reusable tote.
  • Include something they just “have to share.” A big reason for creating an incredible unboxing experience today is that a fun unboxing experience is likely to be shared on social media. Make the experience exciting, humorous, or elegant using custom packaging elements designed specifically for your customer base.

A good unboxing experience doesn’t need to be gimmicky to be effective. Creating a good unboxing experience isn’t necessarily just about adding over-the-top features that leave your customers dazzled. In fact, investing in novelty packaging isn’t always the best move for e-commerce brands. However, it is important to design custom packaging that is effective for creating a unique experience that shows you’re thinking about your customers. What you create just has to be “special enough” for customers to want to tell someone else about it. Another big “score” with creating a great unboxing experience is that customers who have an enjoyable time opening your package are more likely to remember your brand when it’s time to ship someone a gift that makes a great impression!

5. Leave a Little Space for Inserts

Your brand has a captive and engaged audience whenever a customer opens an e-commerce package. Make sure you’re not wasting a second of this opportunity. E-commerce brands have every reason to toss some marketing materials into the mix when creating an unboxing experience. Here are some simple options that cost very little to help you stay on the minds of your customers:

  • Postcards with coupons, promotions, or invitations to sign up for a loyalty program.
  • Branded magnets.
  • A “thank you” card with a generous coupon offer for their next purchase.
  • An attractive merchandise tag. Adding tags to e-commerce products creates that “boutique” experience that shoppers often miss when shopping online.

Inserts are great because they actually encourage one more step of interaction even after a product has been removed from the packaging. When you add an offer to an insert, the customer is more likely to place the insert in a high-visibility spot that serves as a reminder to return to your online marketplace to look for another item they might like to buy. That means that your brand’s name is constantly in front of their eyes.

6. Don’t Forget the Instructions

This last category overlaps with inserts in some cases. Does your product require specific care, handling, or operational instructions? Make sure you’re including this information somewhere in the packaging. In some cases, you may be legally required to display safety or legal information regarding your product. In other cases, you may simply want to offer some useful tidbits for helping your customers enjoy your product at maximum capacity. There are two ways to do this.

The first way to include instructions is to simply add an insert. An insert can include information like assembly instructions, washing instructions, care instructions, storage instructions, safety instructions, and usage instructions. You can also use the insert to point customers to your website for detailed instructions and directions. The second way to handle product instructions is to have them printed on your custom packaging. Having some basic instructions on display helps to provide a “helpful brand voice” to your customers. Don’t forget to include contact information with a call to action to contact your customer service team with any questions. This is important because the “customer effort score” that measures the effort customers need to use to get their issues solved plays a big role in creating customer satisfaction. Providing contact information instead of forcing your customers to dig around for it puts you ahead of the curve.

Is It Time to Get Serious About Effective E-Commerce Packaging?

If your e-commerce brand is growing, the right packaging can help you keep up with the pace of orders without getting bogged down by failed packaging that costs your business time, money, and losses in customer perception. A custom packaging plan is the best way for an e-commerce business to deliver exactly what customers want. At Mid-Atlantic Packaging, we’ve helped countless e-commerce brands design effective packaging that fits their budgets. Contact us today for a free custom packaging quote.