Packaging Tips For E-Commerce Start-ups

Whether it’s a side hustle or a dedicated e-commerce business, you’re setting up, getting your product shipped to your customers is a key part of the transaction. You want your goods to arrive in perfect condition, but could there be other opportunities you’re not considering?

Ultimately, your packaging is part of your branding proposition. Your e-commerce packaging solution is as important as the product that it holds. Follow this guide to get it right. It’s easy, just ask yourself the following questions:

Does my product fit perfectly into the packaging?

Is the packaging of your choice too big for the product inside it? Take care to choose containers that are the appropriate size. You want the packaging to fit tightly around your product – both inside and out. The objective of the design of your packaging is to ensure there’s minimal room left around the product. It’s all about efficiency, and a tight fit comes with the following benefits:

  • The product will not move around inside the packaging and therefore is unlikely to get damaged. 
  • The smaller the box you use, the less expensive it will be to store. You will also need less filler inside the box to fill the void. Bubble or foam is often used. You can cut down on material costs by switching design strategies.
  • Customers care about packaging sustainability. You want to communicate that you too care about this when they unbox their item. 

Do I need to use a rigid box?

Have you considered using a flexible mailer instead? They are very light, easy to use, and more cost-effective than boxes. Options include those with bubble or fibre padding (good for fragile goods) or a standard poly mailer that is appropriate for soft products such as clothing. E-commerce businesses offer customers the option to return goods if they no longer want them or they do not fit. Some mailers are produced with an adhesive strip that can be used when sending merchandise back. Serious about your branding? You can have your mailers designed with custom colours and printing. 

Have I explored more unique packaging options?

You want the unboxing of your product to be a positive experience for the customer. It’s also an opportunity for you as a brand to stand out from your competitors by making it memorable. Think very carefully about the materials you choose to use for your packaging. A cardboard box and bubble wrap isn’t your only option. For example, air pillows are an excellent alternative to packing peanuts or paper void fill.

You want to leave a lasting impression. Consider ways you can customise your packaging. You have the opportunity to print on boxes with colourful, bold branding. Custom packaging shows the customers that you care about your communication with them. You’ve invested in the design of logos and branding, so go ahead and share it with your customers at every opportunity – particularly when they receive the product they have ordered from you. 

Be creative with every touchpoint you have with your clients. It doesn’t end when they hit ‘buy’. It’s the e-commerce business that takes care of the little details that will ultimately make an impact and succeed. What are your competitors doing with their packaging? What can you do that makes the unboxing experience more enjoyable and easier for your customers? How will they perceive your brand once they have unboxed your product? Do your homework. 

Is it return friendly?

Receiving returned merchandise from customers is part of the daily grind for e-commerce businesses. If you are in the line of clothing or accessories, it’s common for customers to return items when they receive them and realise that they don’t fit their body size or look. You want to ensure that the items being shipped back to you arrive in good condition so that you have the opportunity to resell them and return them to stock. 

It makes sense, therefore, to invest in packaging that is return-friendly. You want to make the process easy for your customer. Think about it. They have already made the decision to return your product. You definitely don’t want to lose them as a potential customer forever. The easier you make the return process for them, the more positive they will feel about your brand. You don’t want them to be reluctant to purchase again because they are left with a reminder of a cost or time-wasting they had to incur when trying to send the item back to the sender.

You know what you need to keep your product safe and protected. Rather take control of the transaction and give the shopper the opportunity to reuse your packaging. You know it will get your goods back to you in good order. The objective is to eliminate damage costs, and leave your customer smiling. 

For more information about different types of packaging as well as packaging supplies and equipment visit 

Blake Cohen

Blake is a business journalist with a wealth of experience covering the world of finance, economics and technology. With over a decade of experience reporting on the latest trends in the corporate world, Blake has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, analytical and forward-thinking journalist. He has a keen eye for spotting emerging technologies and trends in the business world, and is able to explain their impact on the economy and society in a clear and compelling way.