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1. What is ecommerce packaging?

Ecommerce packaging: Five trends for 2024

As an avid shopper or a conscious brand owner, you're likely aware of the buzz around ecommerce packaging. It's more than just putting products in a box, believe it or not. It's about creating a unique unboxing experience that excites and delights.

It's about communicating your brand's values and story through minimalistic design and smart packaging trends. It's about being environmentally responsible with recyclable materials.

In this article, we're going to dive head-first into the world of custom ecommerce packaging and its tremendous benefits.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Grasp the concept of ecommerce packaging and its critical role in shaping first impressions, representing brand identity, creating memorable unboxing experiences, and fostering customer loyalty in our digital era.

  • Discover the numerous advantages of custom ecommerce packaging, which include enhancing perceived value, potential shipping cost savings, providing innovative marketing platforms, strengthening brand remembrance, and the possibility of incorporating sustainable practices.

  • Stay informed about enticing commerce packaging trends such as the employment of recyclable materials, the appeal of minimalist design, digitally enhanced smart packaging, the art of brand storytelling, and the crafting of personalized customer experiences.

  • Learn to construct your own custom ecommerce-ready packaging effortlessly using online platforms like Gelato and achieve professional and appealing design outcomes.

What is ecommerce packaging?

Ecommerce packaging is the material used to protect products purchased online during delivery until they reach the hands of the customer. It not only plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and integrity of the product but also represents your brand directly to your clients.

  • Protective packaging: This includes materials specifically intended to safeguard items during transit. It could comprise bubble wrap, packing foam, or air pillows.

  • Product packaging: The product packaging is the immediate covering of the product—usually branded—which the customer sees as they open the protective packaging. It's as important as the item itself, as it's a representation of your brand.

  • Specialized packaging: This involves extra layers of packaging used for fragile or highly valuable items. It may include strengthened box walls, additional protective layers, or specialized materials.

The importance of custom ecommerce or retail packaging design

Ecommerce packaging design goes beyond just making your products look pretty. It's an essential aspect of the online shopping experience that can significantly affect your brand's success. It combines aesthetics, functionality, and environmental friendliness to create a lasting impression on your customers. Let's understand why this strategy is crucial in the ecommerce space.

Setting a first impression 

In ecommerce, the first real-life interaction customers have with your brand is when they receive your package. So, it literally sets the first impression. A custom-designed, unique package can delight your customers at first sight and strongly imprint your brand in their minds.

Avenues of communication 

Custom-branded packaging is also an effective communication tool. With a blend of logos, colors, typography, and messaging, brands can reinforce their identity with every parcel that finds its way to a customer. It can hold vital information like product usage, care instructions, or even a simple 'thank you' note. These add value to the customer experience.

Unboxing experience 

Ever heard of the term 'unboxing'? It's a trend that speaks volumes about the importance of packaging. For many customers, the act of unwrapping a package is filled with anticipation and excitement. Custom ecommerce packaging brings in the joy and wonder of unwrapping gifts, enhancing the entire shopping experience.

Building customer loyalty 

When you look at packaging as more than just a box, you open up a realm of opportunities to create unforgettable customer experiences. Thoughtful ecommerce packaging inserts can lead to repeat purchases, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth referrals. Essentially, it's your secret weapon to build customer loyalty.

Environmental accountability 

When strategically done, custom packaging resonates with consumers' growing environmental concerns. By choosing sustainable materials and processes, you demonstrate your commitment to minimizing your business'secological impact.

Benefits of custom ecommerce packaging

Embarking on a custom ecommerce packaging journey offers more than just a tailored look. Let's examine how it can generate tangible benefits for your business.

1. Increased value perception

By investing in a unique and aesthetically pleasing packaging design, you increase the perceived value of your product. Imagine how you'd feel receiving a beautifully wrapped package that elevates the entire unboxing experience versus a dull, generic one. It's a little like receiving a uniquely wrapped, personalized gift, isn't it?

2. Reduced shipping costs 

Custom packaging isn't just about aesthetics; it's also about efficiency. By customizing your packaging to each product's dimensions, you optimize space utilization and potentially reduce your shipping costs. In an industry where every dollar counts, optimizing the shipping process couldn't be more significant.

3. Creative marketing opportunity 

Although functional, your packaging is also a strategic marketing tool. It presents a unique opportunity to incorporate branding elements, promotional messages, or even QR codes that lead to web pages with special discounts. By doing so, you turn your packaging into an interactive platform, keeping your customers engaged beyond the unboxing experience.

4. Enhanced brand remembrance 

Ever unboxed a product and threw its packaging away only to forget what brand it was from a week later? That's less likely to happen with custom ecommerce packaging. A unique, well-thought-out packaging design tends to stick in customers' minds, enhancing brand remembrance and, consequently, loyalty.

5. Sustainability 

As we'll see in the trend section below, sustainability is a big deal in today's conscious consumer market. By choosing eco-friendly packaging materials, you're sending a powerful message about your brand's commitment to environmental responsibility—a trait that can greatly influence purchase decisions today.

Five ecommerce packaging trends to wow your customers

Let's dive right into the ecommerce packaging trends that are sure to leave your customers wowed. Each of these packaging trends taps into a variety of consumer desires, from sustainable practices to engaging design elements and personalized brand engagement. Becoming aware of these trends can give you the upper hand in a competitive ecommerce marketplace.

1. Recyclable packaging materials 

As we continue to place emphasis on sustainability and reducing our environmental impact, recyclable materials have become a key trend in ecommerce packaging. In recent years, advances in recycled materials science have led to the development of lighter, stronger, and more sustainable packaging materials. 

Cardboard and paper, for example, are beloved by both customers and businesses alike. They are robust, sustainable, and easy to recycle, making them an excellent choice for the custom ecommerce packaging process. Companies such as Gelato, for instance, offer a wide variety of packaging options made from these environmentally friendly materials. 

Other material options include:

  • Biodegradable plastics, which break down quicker than conventional plastics, reduce plastic pollution.

  • Cornstarch packaging is a renewable resource that is both compostable and recyclable.

  • Mushroom packaging is a new innovation that uses agricultural waste and mushroom roots to create a natural packaging alternative.

Remember, the choice of material for your e-commerce packaging should not only consider environmental factors but also the protection of your product, the unboxing experience, and the alignment with your brand image.

2. Minimalist design 

Brands that adopt a minimalist design approach for their packaging are likely conveying that they are clear, honest, and straightforward, traits that many consumers today appreciate. It’s an aesthetic that aligns perfectly with fast-paced, modern lifestyles where efficiency and convenience are key. 

  • Clarity: With minimalist packaging, brands strip down to essential elements only. This means no overwhelming colors, complex graphics, or unnecessary text. The goal is to focus on the product and communicate its value succinctly.

  • Elegance: Minimalist design often displays a refined look, allowing products to exude elegance and quality. It's the classic "less is more" at its finest, where every element serves a purpose and sparks intrigue.

  • Sustainability: Often, minimalist packaging uses less material or utilizes eco-friendly materials. This aligns with the growing consumer advocacy for sustainability—a trend that seems to only be gaining traction.

Going the minimalist route can also have financial benefits. With simplistic designs, brands often save on printing and material costs. And it's worth remembering that many of the world's most recognizable brands, such as Apple, have built their image through minimalist packaging.

3. Smart packaging 

Without a doubt, in the highly competitive ecommerce world, smart packaging has emerged as a game changer. It's more than just custom boxes or bags; it's a frontier of innovation that combines technology, functionality, and user experience in a single, seamless package.

But what exactly is smart packaging? And why is it causing such a buzz? Let's delve into it.

Smart packaging generally refers to the incorporation of technologies that enable the packaging to engage with consumers and provide additional value. Speaking of which, the use of QR codes is one of the most sought-after options. Users can scan the QR code with their smartphones and instantly gain access to additional product information, user manuals, or access to your website or social media.

  • Product authentication: Smart packaging can also include security measures like tamper evidence or temperature indicators, ensuring your product gets to the customer as intended.

  • Engagement: By linking to brand-centric content or interactive activities, smart packaging can increase customer engagement and brand loyalty.

  • Ecommerce readiness: With QR codes, businesses can connect offline customers to online platforms with minimal hassle, easing the transition to ecommerce for first-timers.

Smart packaging is the extra mile businesses can go, not just for branding but for a holistic and innovative user experience.

4. Brand storytelling 

Imagine opening your packaging to find not just your ordered product but a carefully crafted narrative that speaks volumes about your brand. That's what brand storytelling in ecommerce packaging is all about.

Brand storytelling isn't merely throwing in a nicely printed pamphlet about your company in the box. It's about seamlessly integrating your brand's story, values, and vision into the packaging design and unboxing experience. This trend is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason.

  • Engagement: A captivating brand story told through packaging piques customer interest, strengthens emotional connections, and enhances brand loyalty.

  • Distinctiveness: Amid thousands of ecommerce vendors, your brand needs to stand out. A unique brand story can elevate your brand in customers' minds.

  • Value building: Buyers perceive brands that invest in storytelling as high-quality and value-driven. This can ultimately impact your brand's likelihood of receiving consumer recommendations.

Case in Point: The subscription box service, BarkBox, is well known for this approach. Every month, they send out a themed box with a playful narrative connecting all the included pet products. This clever approach makes a BarkBox more than just a simple package; it's an adventure for customers and their pets to enjoy. 

5. Personalized packaging 

Fantasizing about a step further from minimalist design? Let's dive into the realm of personalized packaging. The essence here is to derive a powerful expansion in branding while simultaneously delivering an unforgettable unboxing experience for your customers.

Well, you might be shaking your head and saying, "Personalization sounds costly!". Think again. It's not always about incorporating high-end, expensive elements. Sometimes, a simple thank-you note, a custom sticker, or even a creatively designed SKU would suffice to impart that personalized touch. Also, keep in mind that customers are more likely to become repeat buyers and even brand ambassadors when they feel special. 

  • Hand-written note: A hand-written note breathes life into a product by adding a human touch. This way, you could forge a more intimate bond with the customer, a rapport that certainly can't be achieved through an automated email.

  • QR codes: Personalization doesn't have to stay old-school. In an era of digitalization, QR codes on packaging work wonders. These codes can lead to a heartfelt "thank you" video or personalized recommender system—an out-and-out attention grabber.

  • Artistic SKU: Branding isn't confined to just logos or color schemes. An illustrative Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) depicting your brand story would act as a cherry on top in the customer's unboxing journey.

We hope these personalized packaging ideas arouse your interest and stir creativity for your ecommerce packaging solutions. After all, your packaging should speak volumes about your brand's personality.

Create custom packaging with Gelato in minutes

As we wrap up this comprehensive look at ecommerce packaging, let's circle back to an innovative player changing the game in this sphere: Gelato. Their print on demand solution stands as a beacon for all online merchants out there, aiming to create a distinctive and sustainable brand image. Offering local, on-demand production on a massive scale, Gelato simplifies the ordering and delivery process with frustration-free packaging customized to your brand.

Ranging across 32 countries, Gelato's extensive network allows businesses to produce and ship their products locally, such as t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, photo books, wall art, tote bags, etc. This, in turn, enables your brand to reach customers faster, lower shipping costs, and significantly reduce carbon emissions. Not just about cost-effectiveness, they are carving a path for sustainable and responsible ecommerce business operations.

So, whether you're an established brand or a start-up trying to break into global markets, Gelato's custom ecommerce packaging solution offers you a route to expand your reach to potentially five billion consumers overnight. And the best part? It's free to use. You only pay for the products that your customers order. No hidden charges, no rocket science.

Ready to start creating unforgettable unboxing experiences and ensuring your brand stands out in the crowd? Sign up for Gelato today and take the first step toward designing your custom ecommerce packaging!


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