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Ecommerce Packaging Priorities: Size, Shape, Materials, and More

by EasyPost
Woman packing a box for shipping

Packaging is one of the most important aspects of ecommerce. Still, it can be challenging to determine which elements will put you above and beyond the competition–or meet your business's needs. Size, shape, and materials are all factors that need to be considered when packaging goods for shipment. Read on to learn what you need to prioritize to get your ecommerce packaging right.

What is ecommerce packaging?

Ecommerce packaging is all about protecting your products and making them easy to ship–but there's more to it than just that. This includes the box or mailer products are sent in, as well as any infill or additional materials mailed out. The size, shape, and materials used in your ecommerce packaging can make a big difference in how well your products sell. In addition, product packaging makes an impression on consumers that will continue to impact their shopping habits.

If a fragile and expensive product arrives damaged, that customer will be less likely to recommend your brand to friends and family and might not buy from you again. So whether or not you're shipping fragile goods, packaging should be designed to securely protect a product while it ships to its final destination and enhances the brand experience.

Choosing the right packaging materials

While it may not always be the first thing you think of, the packaging is essential to the success of an ecommerce business. You need to choose materials that find affordability, durability, sustainability, and customizability to succeed.

This includes exterior packaging materials in addition to infill. Packaging materials are the containers that carry products and have the likes of corrugated cardboard boxes and poly mailers. Infill keeps goods from moving around during shipping. Kraft paper, packing peanuts, and air pillows are all common forms of infill. All of these options vary in cost and performance. There isn't usually a one-size-fits-all solution, but trying out different options will help you find the right packaging for your products.

Common packaging types

  • Corrugated cardboard boxes
  • Double wall cardboard boxes
  • Poly mailers
  • Padded envelopes

Common infill types

  • Kraft paper
  • Air pillows
  • Packing peanuts
  • Bubble wrap
  • Foam wrap
  • Shredded cardboard

Does packaging shape matter?

Yes, packaging shape matters greatly in ecommerce. A package's shape can make or, quite literally, break the condition your product arrives in. Choose the shape of your packaging with your product and carrier in mind. Some items might be fragile and require careful packaging to avoid damage while in transit. Carriers may also charge more for oddly-shaped parcels, so it's safer to stick to the standards rather than going too far outside of the box.

If you do want to get creative though, perhaps look into changing the exterior design of your packaging rather than the shape. A fun design alongside your logo on a corrugated box, will be much more memorable to a customer than the brown cardboard many are used to receiving.

Woman unpacking box

Why is size important in ecommerce packaging?

In ecommerce packaging, size is essential because it impacts how much your product is protected while in transit. The size of a parcel should be relative to the size of the product. If you're sending out a pair of flip-flops, there is no need to use a box designed to fit cowboy boots. This costs more due to increased size and weight, but it also increases the chance of the item being damaged if enough infill isn't used–which is another cost you'll have to consider.

Man sorting cardboard

The sustainability factor

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the importance of sustainable packaging. Sustainability is becoming a more influential buying factor among consumers, so it's good for customers and good for the planet.

Look for sustainable packaging materials that minimize raw materials, manufacturing energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This will likely include materials that have previously been recycled and are recyclable.

Ensure customers will be able to recycle the materials themselves. For example, in many cases cardboard is easy for the average person to recycle, but certain types of plastics can only be recycled in certain facilities that may not be accessible to the everyday person.

Common sustainable packaging materials

  • Previously recycled packaging
  • Plant-based packaging
  • Plantable packaging
  • Compostable plastic packaging
  • Biodegradable plastic packaging

Why is ecommerce packaging important?

If you work in ecommerce, there is no escaping packaging–and it shouldn't go overlooked. If products regularly arrive damaged, you will lose both money and customers, not to mention ruining your brand reputation.

As more people rely on ecommerce for everything from groceries to wedding rings, it's valuable for a brand to appear professional from the beginning of the buyer's journey, all the way through the end, and that includes packaging. Good packaging will build your brand, but bad packaging can destroy it.

Perfect your ecommerce packaging

So what's the answer? How can you create packaging that will make your ecommerce business succeed? The best way to find out is to experiment. Try different shapes and sizes, and use various materials until you find the best fit. Then, see which ones are most popular with your customers and which ones work best with your shipping logistics.

Don't forget to ask for help–experts in the shipping industry can give you valuable advice on how to package your products, so they arrive safely at their destination. Talk to one of our shipping experts or sign up for free today.