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eCommerce Packaging: Bags, Boxes, and More

By
Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents

What is eCommerce without eCommerce packaging?

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eCommerce packaging is a valuable tool for marketing your brand, ensuring customer satisfaction, and avoiding inventory loss.

But with so many packaging options on the market, it can be hard to decide what to use for your business.

Keep reading to see part of our eCommerce business guide and learn about your packaging options, some sustainable choices available, and packaging trends to keep an eye out for.

What Is eCommerce Ready Packaging?

eCommerce ready packaging is an eCommerce fulfillment guideline designed to ensure products arrive undamaged and with little waste. Qualifying products are rigorously tested and packaging must meet stringent standards for both the materials used and their ability to protect the products.

eCommerce Packaging

These rules have been instituted by many major eCommerce marketplaces as a way to ensure quality and customer satisfaction. Whether you're looking at eCommerce marketplace management or just want to cut packaging costs, eCommerce ready packaging is very valuable.

eCommerce Packaging Bags

If your company sells light, but not fragile products, shipping with poly mailer bags is a great option. These bags are made of a durable, and recyclable, polyethylene film. They're water-resistant and offer a good amount of protection for a low price.

Many types of eCommerce businesses use these bags. They are particularly common in the clothing and jewelry industries. Their low costs can help if you are bulk shipping a large amount of product consistently.

Sustainable eCommerce Packaging

In the past 30 years, due to rapid eCommerce growth, packaging material has become one of the biggest contributors to global waste. To combat this rising issue, there are now many sustainable packaging options on the market.

Here are our top three:

  1. Recyclable packaging. The simplest way to improve the sustainability of your packaging is to use recyclable materials whenever possible. Use recycled paper for inserts, reuse branded bags and boxes, and avoid using plastic whenever possible. You should also use a digital catalog instead of wasting paper. For food suppliers, BlueCart eCommerce is a choice for this. It's the best-in-class digital catalog that can easily be customized to fit your needs.
  2. Reduced packaging. Over-packaging is a major problem in the eCommerce industry. Try to avoid using unnecessary packaging materials or shipping products in boxes that are much larger than needed. You can also use product kitting to ship multiple orders in a single bundle. It's also a great reason for your staff to try cross selling multiple products.
  3. Plant-based packaging. One of the fastest-growing trends in packaging is the use of biodegradable, plant-based materials. Coconut fibers, compressed mushrooms, cornstarch, and more. You can even use this move for B2B marketing or DTC marketing to highlight your commitment to the environment.

Bespoke eCommerce Packaging

Bespoke eCommerce packaging is any packaging that has been custom-made for a particular business or customer. Many third-party fulfillment companies offer services to create branded packaging for eCommerce companies. This is one of the benefits for small businesses selling consigned goods through a larger business or companies that participate in dropshipping.

You can also have custom packaging materials printed yourself. The most important thing with bespoke packaging is to maintain branding throughout. This will ensure your customers remember your business and shows that you care about quality. This isn't true for all businesses and is just one difference between B2B vs B2C and wholesalers (see what is wholesale).

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eCommerce Packaging Boxes

The most common types of eCommerce packing boxes are made of corrugated cardboard. Though often viewed as just "brown boxes", there are actually many styles available with different pros and cons.

Here are the three most common:

  • Regular Slotted Containers (RSC). RSC boxes are the ones that you are most likely to use. All flaps are the same length and two parallel sides meet in the middle. These boxes come in a variety of sizes and offer decent protection for a low price. Most types of inventory can be shipped in these boxes.
  • Full Overlap (FOL). For heavier or more fragile goods, FOL boxes are a good choice. They're nearly identical to RSC boxes, but two parallel flaps entirely cover the box. This means there's no small gap between flaps and your products are less likely to come out accidentally or be damaged. However, they are slightly more expensive and do require additional fastening to keep closed, so overhead expenses will increase.
  • Auto-locking bottom. These boxes come with a built-in folding component on the bottom. This allows your staff to push on the box to quickly make a sturdy bottom. It saves time and expenses on tape, but they are more expensive than the other models. It does also lower labor cost, so it can offset this increase. If speed and efficiency are very important to your business due to an increase eCommerce sales, these are a great option.

eCommerce Packaging Trends

With so many packages being shipped every day, there are a few trends that have come to dominate the eCommerce industry.

Here are the five biggest:

  1. Branded packaging. More companies than ever are using their shipments to hammer home their brand identity. We can't emphasize this enough, but your packaging should have a second job as a marketer. Putting your logo on everything you can, will keep you competitive and top of mind for your customers. You'll also want to include a branded packing slip and RMA form (see RMA meaning) in the package for optimal impact. Seeing well-branded packaging is also a great way to find wholesalers if you're in the market.
  2. Material minimalism. With more packages being shipped every day, the cost of eCommerce shipping is going up as well. This means it's more important than ever to keep packages and materials to a minimum. It's helped many small businesses keep their costs low, so they could focus on increasing their profit margin.
  3. Bold design. Standing out from the crowd can be difficult with so many eCommerce companies in the market. That's why more companies are embracing bold, colorful designs on their bags and boxes. They're memorable to customers and make corrugated cardboard boxes seem less boring.
  4. Sustainability. There has been a strong push in recent years to reduce the waste produced by shipping materials. More governmental organizations are incentivizing this change and customers are beginning to expect it. It's an easy way to make a difference and can even be used for marketing.
  5. Subscription boxes. Whether you ship DTC food, razor blades, clothing, or more, there's likely a subscription box in your industry. These boxes combine multiple products into a single package. This can be used to sell underperforming products, increase profits, and lower shipping costs. It also builds longer relationships with customers.
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eCommerce Retail Packaging

Both the B2B business model and direct to consumer model are expected to have good packaging, but the DTC business (see D2C meaning) will lose business more easily if it's bad. Retail packaging should be memorable, attractive, and compact. This is because individual buyers expect more effort than business customers, and they are harder to retain.

Good Things Come in Branded Packages

Whether you use boxes, bags, plants, paper, or something else, packaging is an important part of an eCommerce business. Invest in the best packaging options, focus on branding, and get to shipping your products across the world. Pair that with a strong focus on using eCommerce software to track eCommerce KPIs and you'll be leaving your competitors in the dust.

Now that you have your packaging under control, it might be time to take a look at your customer's experience on your site. A headless eCommerce platform can make your site easier to edit and a more enjoyable experience for your customers.