Product Packaging for Ecommerce Sales

Product Packaging for Ecommerce Sales

September 04, 2018

When it comes to packaging your e-commerce products for sale, it can be tough to know where to start. While packaging may seem like a small detail to some, it's so important to think through every element of your product packaging and how these choices will impact order fulfillment and your business operations. In this post, we are going to focus on the basics of product packaging, branded packaging, shipping, and customer experience, so let's dive in!

Types of Packaging

At the highest level there are two major types of packaging to choose from and both offer different benefits and challenges; utilitarian packaging and branded packaging.

Utilitarian packaging

Utilitarian packaging is basic, practical, and does the job. Usually a simple brown box, or bubble envelope, utility packaging gets your product to your customer safely, and affordably, but without any bells and whistles.

Branded packaging

Branded packaging, on the other hand, is about customer experience, marketing and wowing your customer through packaging. There are endless options when it comes to branded packaging. Branded packaging can rage from simple to extravagant and thus, the price tag can be much higher with these options.

Puppy peeking out of a cardboard box.

Which is right for my business?

It is likely that your brand's packaging will fall somewhere in between these two options, and will like be a hybrid of practicality and beauty.

When it comes to determining what packaging best suits your product and your customers, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Know Your Budget: Though it likely goes without saying, keep your costs in mind as you start researching packaging options. There may be a really neat idea you have that just doesn't make financial sense for your business at this time. Maybe there is a way you can recreate an idea in a more affordable and even more unique way. Keep your margins in mind and know how much wiggle room you have.
  2. Know Your Customer: You may have a packaging idea in mind that you think is really great. Keep your customer in mind when making selections. Do some research and see what colours and messaging make sense for them. What they will want to share with their social networks and tell friends about. Not necessarily what you think is awesome. Know your audience and do your research. If you're not sure, consult with your graphic designer or a Shopify Expert on your design choices to see if they work for your brand.
  3. Know Your Process: When selecting your product packaging, from materials to size, to complexity to assemble,  think about your business operations. Does your new packaging fit into your current business processes? Or does it mean changing things around to accommodate an extra step? Do you have the time and resources to make it work? These are all great questions to ask yourself as you shift aspect of your processes around.

Packing and Shipping

Generally speaking, shipping costs are determined based on the size and weight of the parcel being shipped. When selecting your product packing, keep things as compact as possible, choosing the smallest box or envelope that will still keep your product safe and secure.

Shopify put this best: "What this boils down to is that you always want to use the smallest packaging available, while still providing your products with enough protection to get them to your customer safely."

Mailbox against painted brick wall.

If you need more assistance setting up your shipping methods and rates and aren't sure where to start, Shopify has some great resources that can help you navigate this setup. Read this shipping help article to get you started.

Still need more help? Contact a Shopify Expert like us! We can help advise and configure your shipping set up in a way that works best for your business and your products. Get in touch here.

"For e-commerce businesses, the shipped package represents the most direct touch point and connection with the customer, it also happens to be one of the most under-utilized marketing opportunities for merchants."


Branded Packaging

When it comes to compiling the perfect branded box for your customers there are a lot of different items you can include. Here are some of the basics:


Some great ways to include branded content include handwritten notes, cards, packaging messages, business cards, info about other products, samples, discount codes, etc.


Include a promo code for an upcoming sale or a deal for a repeat purchase. Including a discount code in with your box increases the likelihood of a repeat purchase and improves brand equity with your customers.

Wrapped candies with love notes on them.


Do you have samples of another product you can include with your purchase? If so, consider including some in your branded packaging. Not only does this make customers feel special, but it gets another one of your products directly into their hands. Sephora is a great example of this. With each online purchase you can select 3 free samples which are then included in your shipment. This is a great way to encourage another order being placed.

Need more ideas?

Shopify has a create article which breaks down the different elements of the perfect branded box. Give it a read here.

Packaging Examples We Love

There is no shortage of gorgeous branded packaging out there, so we have included a few examples of our favourites to get you inspired.

Harry's shaving care packaging.


Harry's is a Canadian razor and men's grooming company that produces beautiful products in minimal, and downright cool packaging. Their packaging takes a basic cardboard box and elevates it with branding, and small details that make the simple, extraordinary. Not only is the packaging fun and Instagram-worthy, but it's practical too. The internal organization keeps all items secure during shipping, and the cardboard box is compact, making it easy to ship in an external package.

Photo credit: Harry's

Eye Buy Direct packaging example.


EyeBuyDirect is an online glasses retailer who sells both prescription and non-prescription eyewear at affordable prices. Their simple and chic packaging isn't reinventing the wheel but offers timeless packaging customers want to share with their audience. The branded cardboard boxes are compact and protect your glasses during shipment and beyond. Add on an additional soft case to your order for added style. EyeBuyDirect includes a branded lens cloth and a mini screwdriver for adjusting your frames with each purchase as well.

Photo credit: EyeBuyDirect

Native Shoes brand products lined up.

Native Shoes

Native Shoes creates playful, lite weight, vegan shoes, perfect for expressing your creativity and hitting the road. Their branded packaging includes a decorated shoe box with brand messaging and a simple graphics design. Inside the box, you'll see branded tissue paper, and notes from Native Shoes giving more information about their products and their philosophy. These simple inclusions in the shoe box make you stop and have a look. Playful paper branding is a simple and fun way to further engage your audience.

Photo credit: Native Shoes

Retail Packaging

Before you think we have forgotten about it completely, let's chat about retail packaging. In-store retail packaging is an important part of your branding strategy. Whether it's a tag, label, sleeve, or box, on-shelf packaging can make or break a potential sale.

Your in-store presence and appearance on shelf influence people's interaction with your brand. A striking package will catch people's attention.

If you ship your products, but also have shelf space in a retail business, ensure your package works in both circumstances. Keeping packaging consistent will not only save you money but keep your branding strong and consistent.

Storefront with bike parked outside on the street.

What now?

Whether you are starting from scratch with your business or an established business looking for a packaging refresh, there are lots of things to keep in mind. The purpose of your packaging, the size of your products, the cost of the materials, and the impact on your business operations all need to be taken into consideration. Perhaps most importantly, is your customer and how your packaging will continue to create brand affinity.

Want to discuss your branding, packaging, and shipping options with an expert? Get in touch with us today.

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