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Ecommerce Packaging: The Ultimate Guide for Scaling Your Business

Updated on December 8, 2021

8 Min Read

One challenge that many business owners fail when scaling their company is the cost of packaging. Ecommerce packaging costs money, and you have to make sure that the pricing remains nominal. You can try and reduce your shipping costs as much as possible, but a large chunk of the money still goes into packaging.

If the products aren’t well-packaged, they are susceptible to breakage and damage. And, you can’t expect your customers to pay for the box used in shipping. It’s common knowledge that people hate paying for shipping, so tacking on an extra cost for “safe packaging” or any such thing is simply going to result in a loss of revenue.

To scale your business, you need to figure out where you are bleeding money. The world of online sales is incredibly competitive, so you need to shave off costs wherever you can to gain a foothold. That includes ecommerce packaging.

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What is Ecommerce Packaging?

Ecommerce packaging is simply the packaging that you use for shipping your products. The packaging you use can be customized for branding and promotional purposes, and can significantly improve the impression your products paint on your customers.

Good ecommerce packaging can go a long way in improving brand loyalty.

4 Reasons You Need to Change Your Ecommerce Packaging for Business Growth

Ecommerce product packaging isn’t just designed for protecting the goods you ship, but it’s also important for branding purposes. When using custom ecommerce packaging, make sure that it features your brand and also offers adequate protection.

There are four main reasons why you should consider changing your ecommerce packaging.

shipping boxes

1. Oversized Boxes

Oversized boxes might not be suitable for your business. Most companies prefer working with a third party logistics provider, so they will charge you based on the size of the box. The bigger the box, the more you pay.

2. Inadequate Branding

Make sure your ecommerce packages carry appropriate branding. The best ecommerce packaging should clearly reflect your brand at first glance. Use branding and printing techniques that make your ecommerce packages stand out.

3. Poor Design

In a world of unboxings and detailed reviews, ugly boxes can bring into question the credibility of your brand. Good product packaging can drastically improve your return rate. First impressions are everything, so make sure your boxes look good when they are packed and shipped. Evaluate how each type of package will be received by your consumer.

4. The Packaging Costs Too Much

Are you paying an incredibly high fee for packaging? That’s unsustainable, especially as your business grows and you get more and more customers, you’ll start losing money with each type of package. You need to make sure that your product packaging costs remain low.

How to Make the Packaging More Attractive

soap boxesSource: My Box Printer

Just follow a few design strategies that are consistent with your branding, and you can improve your packaging for online store considerably. Here are three tips you can use.

1. Focus on Branding

Your boxes should 1) look pretty, and 2) heavily feature the brand. Branding is a primary objective that you simply can’t afford to miss out on. It’s also an integral part of your cost structure; make sure you calculate shipping costs including the expenditure on branding the boxes.

2. Use Color To Your Advantage

You don’t have to stick to a standard brown box! Get creative with custom ecommerce packaging. Start by adding color and unique design elements to your boxes that make them stand out! Custom ecommerce packaging always looks good.

3. Introduce a Sustainable Design

Sustainable ecommerce packaging is fast becoming the standard. Invest in recyclable boxes that won’t harm the environment. If the boxes can be flattened and reused by your customers later, all the better! You can also offer customers a discount on future purchases for returning old packaging materials. These are some tips for selecting the best ecommerce packaging.

4. Setting a Budget

When setting up your budget, there are several important factors to consider. A significant portion of your packing and shipping costs will depend on the kind of products you sell. For instance, if you sell heavy goods, you will have to invest more on packaging. If you deal in lighter and smaller products, your packaging costs will be low.

Analyze your cost expenditure in order to reduce your shipping costs. Don’t opt for cheaper boxes that could break and expose your products to external elements.

A key component that many entrepreneurs fail to consider is the potential cost of returns. Keep the budget as low as possible in order to keep your prices as competitive as possible.

Custom packages are designed according to the shape and size of the products that you sell. They may cost a bit more, but are generally much less expensive than you might realize. However, if you run a dropshipping store or just don’t think that custom boxes offer any benefits, it might be a wise idea to opt for cheaper boxes.

Readymade boxes are perhaps the most viable option, because they are both affordable and  available in many different shapes and sizes. However, when it comes to branding, you really can’t ignore the upside potential of customized boxes. You choose the materials, you design the box, and you craft the box according to the specifications of the product. It’s hard to compete with that for branding purposes.

Selecting a Packaging Style

The best ecommerce packaging styles primarily offer a mix of protection and design, and make it easy for the end user to open. Here are three of the most popular choices of packaging styles available to you.

1. Roll End Corrugated Boxes

Corrugated Boxes

The roll end corrugated boxes, usually with a tab lock, are perhaps the most common choice when it comes to ecommerce packaging. They are corrugated, so you can easily stack them, and they’re made from high quality cardboard. This mitigates the chances of damage to the boxes, and also offers a variety of printing options. Common options include:

  • Tuck top boxes
  • Tab lock boxes

2. Slotted Boxes

Slotted boxes

This is the common shipping box that you might have seen almost everywhere. These boxes are ideal for moving large or heavy goods because they are quite durable and capable of withstanding sudden jerks and movements. However, it must be manually taped by shipping staff when you put the box together.

3. Poly Mailers

Poly mailers

Poly mailers are flexible, and perhaps the cheapest ecommerce packaging option out there. Think of a poly mailer as your average FedEx mailer bag. It’s made of flimsy plastic, and it’s ideal for shipping clothes or other durable things. If you want, you can add some padding in the envelope as well – it will still be considered a poly mailer. Because they are so light and easy to manage, your shipping and ecommerce packaging costs are going to be considerably low.

Selecting an Appropriate Package Thickness

material thicknessSource: Deposit Photos

An important factor to consider when considering different ecommerce packages is the thickness of the material. There are several materials that you can choose from, such as: E-Flute and B-Flute. Essentially, they are just different kinds of custom cardboard boxes.

The thickness of the material might be costing you thousands in shipping costs over the course of the year, especially for growing stores. Here’s the appropriate thickness for both:

  • E-Flute has an average thickness of 1.2 mm. This is suitable for retail products.
  • B-Flute has an average thickness of 3.0 mm. This is ideal for shipping slightly heavier goods like shoes or even furniture.

Fluting is essentially the wavy layer of paper that offers strength and support to the box. The thickness of the flute, therefore, affects its durability. Flutes come in different sizes, known as “profiles.” For shipping, it’s best to choose between E and B-Flutes.

Package Printing – Printing Styles and Why They Are Important

We have already touched upon the importance of appropriate printing and branding on the packages. Here are three printing styles that are incredibly popular and are widely used in  custom printed boxes for packaging.

1. Lithography

Quality plays an important role in retail. Lithography is one of the first and most popular options that you will come across. Invented in 1976, lithography involves the use of oil and water for printing.

If you want vibrant colors on the box, you should definitely consider this time-tested method. It offers excellent color detail and doesn’t compromise on image quality. The best part is that the prices are incredibly affordable.

Lithography is commonly used for covering entire boxes with art or color schemes. It’s become incredibly common for businesses that want to separate their boxes and want to give them a certain creative flair.

2. Flexography

Flexography is used primarily for bulk box printing, so you will get volume discounts. It’s relatively new, having been discovered in 1970. Flexible relief plates are used for printing, with ink applied first on the plates and then transferred to the boxes. Laser engraving is also used for high-precision printing.

Flexography is cheapest when used for bulk orders, mainly because it’s done through flexible relief plates. It’s ideal for printing logos on shipping boxes.

3. Digital

Digital printing differs from the two on this list as the ink is applied directly on the surface without any need for print plates. It offers several advantages. It’s cheaper, and you don’t have to worry about minimum order volumes. Because tooling costs are low, you also pay much less.

Digital printing simply creates a thin layer on top of the box, so the cardboard texture is going to show. It’s suitable for businesses that don’t wish to spend a lot of money on packaging, but do want to customize their ecommerce shipping boxes.

Adding Inserts for Protection

If you feel that the box might not be enough for protection, you can also add inserts within the box. You can print out different kinds of inserts to promote offers and your brand as well. Customers love it when their package contains a personalized message or a simple note thanking them for their purchase.

Apply unique and engaging custom artwork on the inserts  in line with your branding. Inserts prevent your goods from moving about in the box while they are in transit, and help promote your products as well.


Once you have perfected your ecommerce packaging, it’s time to put it to the test. Run a shipping test by putting goods in the packages and then shipping them to a few customers, or people that you know. This will give you a better idea about whether the products are safe in transit, or if you need to tweak around the packaging to make it stronger.

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Najam Ahmed

I work as a digital content producer at Cloudways. Besides that, I love to read, and i love to play the guitar. Fan of all things Arsenal and the Patriots. Occasional gamer. I like to fly drones too. Jack of all trades.


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