E-Commerce Packaging Solutions 101

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ecommerce packaging solutions

The How and Why Of E-Commerce Packaging Solutions

One of the main focal points of e-Commerce is making sure the product reaches the consumer in optimal condition. Along with that factor is the overall user experience of opening the packaging to reach the product. The package must provide protection while not frustrating the consumer during the opening process.

Package Design

Above all, e-Commerce packaging design requires an understanding of your product’s size, weight, and protective packaging needs. But it also means looking at several factors that influence your package’s safe arrival and positive reception, including:

  1. Package construction
  2. Durability
  3. Costs
  4. Customer experience
1. Packaging Construction 

While the outside aesthetics of a package is an important consideration for the overall design, it’s only part of the equation.

e-Commerce package design starts with considering what’s needed to make sure its contents arrive in the same condition they left the warehouse. It’s best practice to design custom packaging for eCommerce from the inside out. That begins with selecting the right materials that immediately protect a product, such as padding and cushioning materials. Moving outward, effective design then looks at box strength (more on that next), size, and shape.

Pro Tip(s): It’s crucial to select in-the-box protective packaging first, then move to the outer box that is the perfect size and rated to hold enough weight. Additionally, it’s important to select a box that is the correct shape – square or rectangle boxes are generally more stable and less likely to be damaged in transit.

2. Durability 

Digging in a bit more on product protection – corrugated boxes (one of the most common materials) are continually being optimized and tested to ensure they meet national strength guidelines. All U.S.- made boxes are certified via the Mullen Bursting Test or Edge Crush Test (ECT) to guarantee they withstand the proper amount of pressure or stacking strength.

3. Costs 

e-Commerce packaging represents a balancing act of sorts. In addition to size and weight, custom e-Commerce boxes must also consider the fragility of the product inside and shipping costs.

Although it’s important that products are adequately protected during transit, this doesn’t have to come at the expense of a higher price tag. Through efficient design, cost drivers (size, weight) and their impacts on your bottom line are minimized.

However, an investment in the right packaging for your product is something of a buffer for your budget in itself. Put simply: damaged products cost money whether it’s in the form of a refund or replacement. What’s more, shoddy packaging that failed to protect its contents can lead to dissatisfied customers and negative reviews, costing your business even more in the long run.

4. Customer Experience

When packaging for e-Commerce, prioritizing design can make a product experience more enjoyable from the get-go – first impressions go a long way

For instance, an effective package design allows for easy opening and unpacking of the product. In contrast, a poorly designed package can lead to damaged products, frustration, and even negative reviews.

When designing your custom e-Commerce packaging, it’s important to keep the customer in mind at every step of the process. This includes considering the entire packaging experience, from in-transit protection to unboxing. The right package can mean the difference between a satisfied customer and one that’s frustrated or disappointed. Don’t underestimate the power of effective packaging design in creating a positive customer experience.

Protective Packaging

Protective packaging has come a long way from shredded paper & packing peanuts. While those supplies remain important to shipping all over the world, there are newer options for more fragile products, including:

  • Retention & suspension packaging
  • Air pillow packaging
  • Custom-designed inserts
  • Paper-based packaging

Retention & suspension packaging places an item on an insert that’s suspended in the shipping container away from the edges. A thin film is then wrapped around the item to hold it in place during shipping. This combination of retention and suspension helps protect the item from damage by placing space between the item and the edges of the shipping package.

This type of packaging is widely popular among the e-Commerce market, especially for parts and products that tend to be more fragile.

This type of shipping packaging material is becoming increasingly common as a replacement for packing peanuts, so you’ve likely seen it before. It comes in rolls of flat plastic that has pockets in it, which create a pillow of air when inflated. This pocket of air cushions the item during shipping and keeps it from jostling around while in transit.

This is also a common form of protective packaging that you’ll find in e-Commerce. It’s great for holding delicate products in place, and comes at a lower cost than many other types of packaging.

Packaging needs to be constructed specifically for a particular product to protect it during the shipping process. A well-constructed package also makes a positive impression when end consumers first receive it. Some of the many ways to customize shipping packaging supplies include:

  1. Packing tape
  2. Boxes
  3. Partitions
  4. Edge protectors
  5. Delicate items

Paper-based protective packaging is known for being cost-effective, versatile, and best of all curbside recyclable by your end-user. Paper-based protective packaging comes in many shapes and forms, offering a variety of benefits:

  • Crinkle paper and tissue paper come in a variety of color options for a fun, on-brand look
  • On-demand paper void fill, cushioning, and wrapping systems turn ordinary paper rolls into different shapes and sizes of paper cushioning and pads, protecting all items in your product line using one material. 

Product Shipping

Safely shipping a product means both a satisfied customer and less hassle with returns. It’s also important to meet the needs of a customer base that’s used to two-day delivery, as well as more dynamic and efficient packaging of their products and a simpler return process.

Shipping in the world of e-Commerce can make or break a sale, depending on whether or not shipping prices are considered exorbitant. This leads to the true enemy of online retail: shopping cart abandonment. This is when the customer goes so far as to put a product in their cart but leaves the site before completing the purchase.

Shipping can be –and often is – the thing that makes or breaks a sale. Nothing stops a sale faster than when shipping costs far exceed their perceived value.

But it’s important to note the many factors that can throw a wrench into a customer’s decision to move away from their cart::

Return Policy - After waiting for the product to arrive, a customer may be frustrated to find they must return the item. A straightforward, smooth return policy may sway them to buy through your website.

Shipping Timeframe - Packaging options and safety are important during a sale. However, the longer the expected wait time for the product from purchase to arrival, the more likely that shopping cart abandonment can occur. Customers may look elsewhere, compare both shipping price and timeframe and decide to go with another merchant. 

Site Navigation - The more difficult the site navigation, the less likely the sale will occur. This goes for the checkout process as well. If the customer is having trouble getting to the next step, they may give up in frustration.

Packaging Supplies: What’s Helpful and What’s Necessary 

Working your way out from the product to the corrugated box is the best way to determine safety for your product. Your customer experience will be improved, and your repeat business with those customers will increase. Start with a look at customization and expand from there.

One way is to customize all your packaging, not just the outside of the box but also the tape, peanuts, tissue, packing paper, protective inserts, and just about anything else that goes with the box.

When it comes to e-Commerce shipping supplies, the possibilities for effective customization are practically endless. It’s a matter of knowing what your customer wants, and using imagination to deliver it. The most important thing to keep in mind is that every contact with a customer is a chance to develop loyalty and sales – and your packaging is the first contact they have

Consider these possibilities:


Invite your customer in. Your custom-printed corrugated box is the first thing your customer sees when their package arrives. Make it count! Feature things like:

  1. Bright colors
  2. Unique images
  3. Enticing word choice
  4. Exclusive offers
  5. Your logo

If you use protective inserts, they’re probably printable.

Depending on the size, you might just print your logo, or your logo and a brief message -- perhaps your company tagline or a funny memorable message.

Air pillows, paper, and paperboard inserts are all great options to consider. 

Do you sell custom coffee mugs? Foam peanuts can hold a fresh coffee scent. They can also be colored to match your corporate colors or to mimic coffee beans.

This is just one of the hundreds of unique ways those packing peanuts can be transformed from an annoyance into something of value for your customer.

If your limited edition wood sculpture needs to be padded and stabilized, you might use packing paper. Why not turn the paper into a sales tool by customizing it with your logo and contact information?


Packaging is more than just the box or envelope that an order arrives in. For the recipient, it’s the first part of the overall experience of interacting with an e-Commerce company in the real world. For an e-Commerce business or company that also sells products online, packaging is a means to connect with a customer.

An investment in custom e-Commerce packaging is an investment in:

  • Fewer returns for damaged products
  • Better unboxing experience
  • Reduced waste
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Upgraded real-world exposure

When customers receive a product that’s been damaged in transit, it’s frustrating and usually leads to a return. Custom packaging helps reduce the number of damaged returns by ensuring that products are more securely packed and arrive at their destination in one piece.

Regardless of fragility, a well-designed custom package features thoughtful and adequate protection for products while in transit. It’s also a buffer for your business – returns and replacements cost money.


A well-designed custom e-Commerce box can set the tone for the entire unboxing experience. It can create a sense of anticipation and excitement, leading to a higher rate of customer satisfaction.

Ease of opening is an important consideration for a good unboxing experience. When opening the package is easy and frustration-free, it makes the entire unboxing process more enjoyable for customers. Easy-to-open packaging also helps reduce the likelihood of damage to products during unpacking.


Put simply, custom packaging reduces waste.

Designed specifically for the items it’s protecting, custom packages only use what’s needed. Both you – and your customers – won’t pay for unnecessary materials and scrap is minimized.

Packaging with a lower environmental impact is becoming increasingly important to consumers. Businesses that invest in custom packaging with an eco-friendly design are more likely to stand out from the competition and attract environmentally conscious customers

With integrated recyclable materials, sustainable custom packaging goes to the next level in reducing the amount of unnamed (12)materials that end up in a landfill.


Custom packaging doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact, it can often be more cost-effective than using standard packaging from a supplier.


Generic packaging is one-size-fits-all. Custom packaging is tailored to fit your specific needs. That means you won’t have any wasted space or unused materials. Everything about your packaging is concise and serves a purpose.


A well-designed custom e-Commerce box promotes your brand in the real world. For companies that don’t have a physical storefront, custom packaging can serve as a way for customers to see and interact with your brand outside of the online space. In other words, it’s the only physical contact they’ll have with your business.

Plus, it’s an opportunity for repeat advertising as customers may keep and reuse the packaging. When customers see your product being used in everyday situations, it helps create a connection between your brand and your target audience.


Now more than ever, consumers care about their impact on the environment. That concern extends to the products they buy and the packaging their purchases come in.

Beyond consumer demand for green products and environmentally friendly packaging, governments worldwide are introducing new regulations for both. For instance, London implemented a Plastic Packaging Tax in April 2022, while throughout the U.S. many states have outright banned single-use items often found in e-Commerce packaging.

For e-Commerce businesses, focusing on green packaging presents a unique opportunity to be a leader. Nothing pleases an eco-conscious customer more than a company actively working to reduce its impact on the environment and meeting all regulatory requirements. With sustainable e-Commerce packaging, this effort reassures consumers that you are taking care of the environment.

However, staying in sync with green trends and laws is challenging, especially on a global scale. With an e-Commerce packaging provider as a partner, you’ll have another set of eyes and ears paying attention to the latest changes.

Sustainable Packaging:

Eco-friendly e-Commerce packaging, such as reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable inner packaging and outer boxes, shows customers you are making an effort to reduce your carbon footprint. Therefore, the unboxing experience should not only provide quality but also show you are in tune with your customers’ interests.

An investment in brand packaging puts your name and your story front and center - before your customer even opens the box. Likewise, simplicity and class in presentation can leave a lasting impression - and increase the odds of a repeat purchase.

The key is balance - investment in both product and packaging to make sure the user experience is satisfactory from unboxing to product use.


When it comes to planning for the various stages in your product’s shipping journey, knowing the three levels of industrial packaging is crucial. Knowing which category is suitable for each package you ship ensures proper packaging and personalization when necessary. The three categories of packaging are:

Primary - packaging your customers take home

Secondary - packaging used to group various materials, such as stretch film, boxes, and trays

Tertiary - packaging for transportation purposes (cartons, warehousing, and pallets)


Optimizing your shipping process is a strong step toward increasing revenue. When it comes to the size of the box, the reliability of the material, and the level of protection your product receives, there is no room to compromise.


The size of the package you use is one of the best ways to prevent shipping damage. Cramming items into a too-small box can damage the items in shipping, resulting in returns and dissatisfied customers. The same goes for boxes that are too big and don't contain enough protective packaging inside.

unnamed (13)-1EFFICIENCY

Efficient packaging materials have a significant effect on the products you ship.

Paperboard and plastic materials are commonly used for shipping because they are lightweight and provide adequate protection for your items. Corrugated cardboard is a popular type of packing because it’s:

  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy
  • Recyclable
  • Cost-effective

The primary purpose of proper packaging is to minimize exposure to the elements and any damage to the items you're shipping. Poor warehouse and external conditions can damage your products, but using the proper packaging adds an extra layer of protection.


E-Commerce packaging solutions should be fine-tuned based on the size and fragility of your product. Likewise, considerations for efficiency and reliability of the corrugated box you choose and the protective packaging for within depend on the product being shipped. With some time and attention to detail, the product should be in optimal condition upon arrival.



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Your product left the warehouse and is on its way to your customer. They’re eagerly waiting for it to arrive at their front door. But when it does, will it be in
one piece?

While you can’t control every aspect of the shipping process, custom protective packaging helps ensure a good unboxing experience for your customers.

This guide will cover:
Why Custom Protective Packaging Matters
Protective Packaging Considerations
Types of Protective Packaging Materials

Download the Protective Packaging Guide