Custom Packaging: The Thing You Forget About — Until You Need It

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Cheap, expendable and disposable online purchases.

We’ve all bought them. Whether it’s an original copy of "Sleepless in Seattle" on VHS from eBay, or a novelty burger flipper in the shape of a guitar from Amazon, we’ve all bought something that we didn’t really need.

Think back to your last throwaway purchase — how was it delivered to you? 

In a dull padded mailer bag probably. Or, if you were lucky, it may have come in a plain white box. Nothing fancy — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But what do you remember about the actual brand you bought your little indulgence from?

Absolutely nothing.

Yes, the purchase itself was a minor expense. You bought it because it was fun, cheap and a bit of a thrill. The brand is irrelevant, because whoever the brand was, they’re probably not a brand that you’re going to be loyal to for life.

But the fact remains that the product blew you away, yet you don’t remember who’s responsible. Your first physical experience with this brand was...well, pretty non-existent.

And as an ecommerce brand yourself, you know this happened for a number of reasons:

            The product wasn’t a large financial investment

            The product was mass produced

            The seller made only a small profit margin on the product

Again, as an ecommerce seller, you know that these are restraining factors, and that’s probably why the experience didn’t blow you out of the water.

But let’s take a look at you and your product for a moment. You’re more than likely an ecommerce brand that knows the products it's selling pretty well.

Whether you’re selling white label products, dropshipping or fulfilling your own orders from your own warehouse, you know your brand pretty well. You know its profits, your marketing process, and how you create, develop and launch new products to your audience.

That’s you. That’s what you do, and why your brand has a unique selling point. You love what you do, it’s a passion, and that’s reflected in your brand.

So, here’s the burning question:

All things considered, do you deliver your products in the same padded mailbag that you got your novelty BBQ tool in?

If you are, you’re selling yourself short.

If you’re not delivering your products in packaging that’s equally as memorable and unique as your products, expect people to remember your brand as much as they remember their inflatable novelty furniture.

There are a million and one other reasons why your ecommerce brand needs to be delivering purchases in bespoke packaging, and in this article, you’re going to see a few more!


Make a killer first impression


You only get one chance for a first impression.

We base a lot of our experiences on a first impression. For example, a firm handshake and consistent eye contact make you’re more likely to perceive someone as confident and trustworthy.

And as you no doubt know, the first physical touchpoint in ecommerce is when your customer has their purchase delivered to them.

So, in the case of the ecommerce world, your product packaging is the handshake that sets the stage for the product.

Nail your first impression by using a box that shows off who you are. A flaky first touch-point isn’t the basis of a good retention strategy.


It adds value


Remember the last time you thought "Wow, I really got my money’s worth here".

This may have happened the last time you went to a new restaurant and got a lot more food than you thought. It may have been when you bought your dining suite and the salesperson was super helpful. It might have been when your mechanic rotated your tires for free because they were due and it had to get done anyway.

These situations all have something in common: extra value. You feel that what you got was more than what you paid. And this is what a well-designed box does.

A box that echoes your branding leaves your customer thinking "this stunning box isn’t something I thought I would get". The result is that your customer associates your brand and products with a higher value.

You may already be delivering a lot of value to your customers in the form of freebies like stickers, or a discount for a repeat purchase. But for as little as €0.30 per sale, you can add extra value in the form of an elegant box that pushes home your branding.


The unboxing experience


You’re probably guilty of watching an unboxing video or two in your life. It’s a bizarre concept, watching other people open and enjoy products. The science behind this social media trend says that we feel the same emotions we feel when opening a surprise gift — even though we know what we’re getting!

The point here is this: with influencer marketing being a potent sales channel, there’s every chance that your product will end up as the focal point of an unboxing video on YouTube.

The unboxing experience is important, even if it’s not being filmed. The unboxing experience itself is about creating a last impression in the time between your customer getting their packaging and using the product for the first time.

The unboxing experience is another ring in the chain of modern ecommerce — the buying experience was great, the unboxing experience was awesome and it’s now time for the product to shine.


It’s more than just a box


There’s more to the world of custom packaging than just a box. A square or rectangle box with a lid is important — as it’s the go-to solution — but there’s so much more to an unboxing experience than the box.

If you’re selling something fragile or delicate, it may need a little extra protection. Sure, you can always scrunch up yesterday’s newspaper, but if you’re selling high-end lingerie, that’s probably not going to help your customer feel that they’ve made the right decision.

Bring your entire packaging setup together with a little custom printed tissue paper.

This adds a little extra wow factor when your customer first opens their box. If your box is the stage that presents your product, tissue paper is the curtain that’s opened at the beginning of the show.

Poly Mail bags are also waterproof. For example: if you’re selling shoes or a product where the box is actually part of the product, you don’t want it to get wet. Throw it inside a Poly Mail bag and it’ll be dry no matter what kind of weather your delivery guy gets stuck in.

If you’re also selling out of a brick and mortar store or at a trade show or craft fair, impress your customers with a branded paper bag.

Not only are they fully biodegradable, but they turn your customer into a walking billboard.


It complements your sustainable image


With the world growing more and more environmentally conscious, consumers are wanting to be involved with brands that minimize their impact on the planet.

Cutting down on the impact a brand makes often means minimizing packaging. This makes logical sense, as often packaging is used once and then thrown away into a landfill.

If you’re one of these brands, you’re obviously trying to make sure that the packaging you do use isn’t taking away from the Earth.

Some custom packaging companies use cardboard that is made from a minimum of 80% recycled material. This means that your custom packaging was a kid’s school book, an empty toilet roll or a cereal box in a previous life. The remaining 20% is brand-spankin' new glue and vegetable-based ink that can’t be reused.

If your brand aligns itself around sustainability and environmentally friendly, this is obviously important to you. But you also want to make sure that the packaging you DO use can echo your branding.

This is where cardboard really sells itself. The woody, natural, organic texture of cardboard is one that many brands use to take their morals onto their box.

Simple white or black printing on the natural texture of a box is a beautiful way to push your message, as well as your branding in front of a customer.

Bonus points: You read earlier that many brands try to avoid single-use packaging. Here’s how the one candy company designed a box that has a second use for its consumer — kids!


It helps to persuade people to buy


For many ecommerce brands, having a physical presence in a brick and mortar store is also a massive sales channel.

This is one of the reasons why your product photography needs to be spot on and informative. But it’s also the same reason that your product packaging needs to stand out. Even the most simple box, designed well, can make your product stand out on the shelves.

If standing out isn’t your thing and you’d rather your product have a more subtle, understand image, your product packaging can help that, too.

If you’re not a brand that says BANG HERE I AM LOOK AT ME, consider elements such as natural boxes with white print. A pastel color can make you blend into an elegant store, but also be seen when you need to be.


It solidifies your branding


As an ecommerce business, you know the role your branding plays. It’s much more than a logo. It’s an entire color palette, hundreds of design assets, a website, letterheads, business cards — your branding is every single way that your brand is visually consumed.

So why not put it on your packaging?

By placing your logo, branding and other design elements that echo you branding onto a product box, you’re delivering the image of a business that knows how to present itself to the world.

Delivering a a product that a person genuinely wants — and doing so with a consistently branded experience — is a great way to stay in the mind of your customer.


It’s another form of marketing


What's your unique selling point? Why are you different than your competitors? How will someone's life be better for choosing your product over another brand?

Your product packaging is one of the best places to put the answers to these questions. Product packaging is a marketing channel, and it’s a potent place to remind your customer why they bought from you.

As soon as your customer holds your box, before even seeing the product, they’re reminded not only why they made the choice they made. They’re also reminded that the choice they made was, in fact, the best possible choice.

Reaffirming that your customer will make, and has made, the right decision is the role of marketing and advertising in its essence — your packaging is a marketing channel.


It’s where form and function meet


One of the great philosophical arguments of our time is form versus function. There are many points on both sides, but the general consensus is that form should follow function.

This basically means that whatever you’re designing, practicality should come before prettiness. And that concept rings true in the world of packaging design, too.


Packaging design is also where form and function meet. Your packaging keeps your product safe during transportation, but it’s also the stage where your product makes its debut in your customer’s life.

Package design is where form and function come together in unison and work together. They work harmoniously.

In fact, designing your packaging can actually be, believe it or not, an enjoyable experience.


Wrapping up


There is clearly more to product packaging than just a box. You’ve just seen a handful of reasons why that’s the case, but here’s the most important part:

It’s the only marketing channel that reaches 100% of your customers.

It’s gotta be good, it’s gotta impress your customer. If it does that, you’ll stay in the mind of your customer. You’ll build loyalty, your customers will talk about you and they’ll keep coming back.

Even if you’re selling novelty burger flippers, you don’t want to be the brand that delivers it in dull, unimpressive packaging. With online software specifically for packaging design, it’s now simpler and easier to literally drag and drop your logo onto a box.

You get your box, as you want it, and deliver it to your customer with an impressive product inside. If you’re doing anything less, you’re selling yourself, and your brand short.



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