Once you’ve decided on the necessary design and performance requirements, it’s time to choose your product packaging. There are a variety of packaging solutions available, and their suitability will depend on your product specifications and brand aesthetic.
Product packaging can be divided into two main types; outer packaging and inner packaging. The outer packaging is what protects your product during the transit process. Inner packaging surrounds your product within the outer packaging to ensure it doesn’t move around. Inner packaging can also have an aesthetic purpose i.e. creating an exciting product reveal.
Outer packaging solutions
A shipping box is what we would recognize as a regular cardboard box, commonly used for moving house or more commonplace e-commerce deliveries. Shipping boxes are sturdy, relatively cheap, and a great form of return-ready packaging. They also come in a variety of sizes to cater to variations within your product catalog.
Mailer boxes are much more presentation-focused than shipping boxes, as they have tabs at the front to create a nice clean opening for the customer. This makes them popular with subscription box brands, as well as gift box services and luxury food products. They can also be custom printed in a variety of colors to suit your branding.
Rigid boxes feature a two-piece design of a box and lid, which fit together for an extremely flush fit. Apple is famous for using this style of box for its iPhones and Macbooks, which has helped give the brand its polished and high-tech feel.
Rigid boxes are usually made out of chipboard, which is extremely strong and resistant to chipping or denting. This makes them a favorable design for more fragile products, such as electronics or fragrances.
Poly mailers are extremely light and weatherproof, which makes them a good option for apparel and other soft items that don’t require much protection. Most poly mailers are made from plastic, but there are a growing number of eco-friendly compostable options available to help reduce packaging waste.
Padded mailers are usually made out of paper or plastic with a lining of bubble wrap to protect fragile products. They’re well-suited for smaller e-commerce orders that don’t warrant using a box, which helps to lower fulfillment costs. However, they’re very difficult to recycle or reuse.
Inner packaging solutions
Tissue paper is a valuable addition to product packages because it’s incredibly versatile. It can be used to line the inside of boxes, gift wrap products, or to add a bit more drama and flair to your product packaging, best of all, colored tissue paper is very cheap and easy to purchase in bulk.
Packing peanuts/air pillows
Using some form of packing filler is vital to ensure that products are protected against events like a parcel being dropped. Packing peanuts and air pillows are two low-cost and effective options. However, these materials aren’t easy to recycle, and you could end up frustrating your customers by saddling them with the packaging they can’t easily dispose of.
Although a pricier option, crinkled paper is great for businesses who want a packing filler that gives off a more premium feel. Because it’s a lot denser than traditional packing peanuts, it also helps to make your box look fuller for better product presentation.
It’s important to make sure that items aren’t rattling around when your package is in transit, as this could spoil your product presentation or result in damage. Corrugated cardboard or polystyrene inserts will help to keep products to place for the final reveal when your customer opens their box. This also makes for compelling in-store product displays.
Smaller packaging accessories such as stickers and tape are very useful for sealing boxes or paper together for a tidier look. While you can use plain stickers, this is a great opportunity to showcase your brand by using a custom sticker or tape designs.
Should you consider a custom product packaging design?
In e-commerce, the moment of delivery represents the first tangible contact a customer has with your brand. And we all know, first impressions count. An anti-climactic and forgettable delivery experience is hardly going to secure your customer’s loyalty.
But by curating a memorable unboxing experience, you can ensure a positive post-purchase encounter that puts your customers on a path to purchasing from you again soon.
According to Dotcom Distribution, 68% of online shoppers report that branded or premium packaging makes a brand appear more upscale, while 61% say that branded aesthetics get them more excited about receiving/opening a package.
In sum, a custom product packaging design allows you to shape your customers’ perception of value. When they receive an eagerly anticipated product dressed up in gift-like packaging, it’s a powerful statement of how your brand goes the extra mile for customers.
What are the key design elements of custom packaging?
Custom product packaging can either be a simple or a complex piece of design work, depending on your budget and how elaborate you want your packaging to be. To create an enjoyable and seamless experience for your customer, your design ideas need to consider three key elements:
- Brand identity
Branding is one of the biggest considerations of the packaging design process. This is what helps your customer foster brand familiarity during the post-purchase experience, so you need to make sure that your packaging is cohesive from end to end. This includes the following brand elements:
- Logo design
- Brand voice
For example, your logo and brand colors should take a prominent place on your packaging to ensure that customers recognize their delivery when it arrives. This helps to build anticipation and excitement for the unboxing, which creates a more engaging experience for your customers. Packaging accessories such as custom stickers or packing tape are excellent places to put your logo, as they provide a strong focal point in your design.
It’s also important that you think about how your product packaging design compares with your competitors. Your design should be distinctive enough that it’s not likely to be confused with any other brands, not least to avoid copyright issues. Whatever design you choose, you want to be the only retailer that comes to mind.
Ultimately, your custom product packaging must accomplish a certain purpose – or even several purposes. As fun as it is picking out your panties or tissue paper, you need to resist the temptation to stray from your core functionality requirements.
Depending on the selling channels your product packaging is being used in, it will need to accomplish some or all the following:
- Protect items in transit
- Maintain product integrity
- Provide product information/instructions
- Entice customers to interact with a product
- Brand positioning
A custom packaging design can be a powerful tool for experiential marketing. So, you should put yourself in the position of your customer interacting with a product or receiving their online order. Every aspect of your product packaging design should aim to increase engagement and the perceived value of the purchase – from the outer box design to the final product reveal.
These questions will help you to reflect on the kind of unboxing experience you want your customers to have:
- How do you want your packaging to look, feel and sound as customers interact with it?
- What sort of mood/feeling do you want your packaging to inspire?
- What does your product presentation tell customers about your product/brand?
- How can free samples, business cards, or handwritten notes provide additional touchpoints?
- Does my product packaging provide customers with helpful customer support information?
Is it possible to dropship with custom packaging?
It’s entirely possible to implement custom packaging into your dropshipping strategy. This is a great approach for brands who want to give their customers a cohesive brand experience from end-to-end, as your customer may not be aware that their order is being fulfilled and shipped by a third party. Plain packaging is overwhelmingly used within drop shipping to save on cost, meaning a custom packaging design can give your dropshipping business a major competitive edge.
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