Growing an online business? Learn how to make better packaging choices for you, the planet, and your customers – and discover the best packaging solutions for the hottest up and coming ecommerce business ideas.
Ecommerce packaging for small business: first thoughts
Your priorities for small business packaging solutions may be different than packaging for bigger companies – but the fundamentals will be the same. You’ll be looking to:
- Protect your goods, to limit customer returns and refunds
- Reduce the cost of packaging including materials, shipping weights, and PPT outlay
- Provide the most ecologically sound solution
- Showcase your brand and build customer loyalty
And broadly speaking, that’s it! But remember, each of these points runs deep – for example, protecting your goods means different things to different businesses. Shipping a printed artwork or t-shirt is very different to sending out handmade glassware. Ultimately, your ecommerce packaging design is dependent on the product being shipped, your target market, and the goals of your business.
Choosing ecommerce packaging for your business
Your stock of ecommerce packaging materials depends on what you need to ship. If you ship lots of different items, modular packaging systems can be designed, with manual packaging lines kept in mind for ease of use.
Read more – How to Set Up a Packaging Workstation
So, let’s cover some of the most popular scenarios, based on current trends in entrepreneurial online retail and ecommerce startups.
Packaging for selling clothes
Selling clothes (and reselling on sites like eBay and Vinted) is now a day job for fashion-forward designers, and for audience-savvy people who’ve carved out a niche among specific communities.
The simplest solution is to use polythene bags for clothes. Clothing packaging doesn’t need much, unless the garments are fragile in some way – so a good fold and a tough mailing bag are all you’ll need. Polythene bags for clothes have a ton of advantages:
- The lowest cost of all packaging solutions for clothing
- Lightweight, with the cheapest shipping cost as a result
- Completely waterproof when heat sealed (no stains)
- Tear resistant
- Can be reused when sending clothes back
- 100% recycled, and recyclable
- Smallest carbon footprint
- Can be coloured and printed for branding
Polythene bags are an all-in-one packaging and shipping solution. This might not seem super high-end, but coloured and printed polythene bags can elevate the experience, and you can show you’ve committed to the least carbon-emitting option.
By using recycled material, you can lower your Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) bill, too – and give your packaging a second use as a returns bag, to avoid waste.
Beauty and cosmetics products come in as many shapes and sizes as their users. And we’ve seen lots of home businesses popping up, specialising in skin care creams, lotions and bathing products. Being aimed at health and beauty-conscious audiences, there’s an appetite for functional but good-looking packaging. And this needs some though during design.
We’ve seen boxes used for dry soap bars and bath bombs, stuffed with shredded paper as a void filler, and printed with usage and storage instructions to save paper. The boxes can be branded up easily, and look great. But the trouble with soaps in boxes comes when moisture creeps in.
One option to avoid this is to use an outer packaging layer of heat shrink polythene film, to seal in the box. Alternatively, the bath bombs or soaps can be shrink wrapped.
Another super creative thing we’ve seen is someone use polythene centre fold sheeting to dispense body butter. They’ve cut and sealed one edge to create a corner, filled it with body butter, tied it at the top – and made it into a kind of piping bag. The user snips off the end, and squeezes it out. Brilliant!
Bath salts and granulated products are often supplied in gusseted bags – which hold form and can stand up, while remaining watertight and flexible.
Boutique electronics packaging
We’re not talking about consumer stuff like phones and laptops – but luxury, niche electronics – like handmade guitar effects pedals. This little industry is booming, with clever makers leaning into their audiences with both their exterior design and the internal circuits.
Designs are mostly analogue, but others require digital processing to work – and digital effects may need additional protection. Electronics packaging with anti static polythene will provide numerous levels of protection for digital circuits in transit, and simple untreated polythene bags will be suitable for analogue gear to protect from moisture and dust.
It’s typical to find bubble wrap or foam bumpers in this kind of packaging, rounded off with a sturdy cardboard box as an outer shell. All of these packaging items are suitable for manual packaging lines, requiring little more than some tape to finish.
Polythene postage bags can be used as a final layer, to keep the (usually expensive) package hidden, and to keep the box safe in transit.
Packaging for handmade works and crafts
In the weird and wonderful world of makers, the variety and diversity of items on sale is positively galactic in scale. This means it can be tricky to package and move these oddly shaped and often fragile items – and one-off, delicate works usually need multiple layers of protection.
For instance, a vase would need to be carefully wrapped in tissue, bubble wrap and an inner polythene bag – before being boxed twice: once with a tightly void-filled inner box, and then once more with a double-walled, loosely filled outer box.
To find out more about specialist packaging, read our last post about unusual packaging for odd items.
Branding, customer loyalty and consumer education
Printed polythene can be used for showcasing your brand – and that’s especially important if your only packaging is a polybag. But you can do more with printing than just show off your brand. You can also tell stories, and cement your position with your customers.
Print your polythene with environmental information – like how you use recycled material, and explaining that polythene is the least CO2-emitting option for packaging. Your copy can also urge users to recycle themselves, and point them towards recycling schemes that accept polythene bags.
And you can save on other printing costs, too, by providing usage instructions, warnings, and contact information at the point of use. It’s a win-win-win!
Bespoke packaging design for ecommerce businesses
We’ve been in the packaging materials industry since 1968 – working with clients big, small, and everything in between. Let’s help you design custom ecommerce packaging solutions for your company, with specialist design consultation from our seasoned experts.
Get a quote online, or call us on 01773 820415.