Packaging Matters

Packaging for E-commerce

Packaging for E-commerce


E-commerce is skyrocketing with no signs to slow down in the near future.

Brands are aware of the commercial rewards of e-commerce and are dedicating increasing resources to digital sales channels, whether going direct-to-consumer or selling via online intermediaries (generic such as Amazon, or specific to their industry).

The shift from bricks to clicks has changed B2C y B2B distribution channels and created new logistic needs and opportunities. However, brands efforts seem mainly focused in marketing and sales, and often not enough attention is paid to how the product is delivered directly to the consumer. As a result, they have not taken advantages of these opportunities and have failed to meet the challenges. For Instance only 10%’ of UK firms to improve e-commerce packs, claims survey.


Focusing on packaging,  although “click” sales has increased the demand for new packaging solutions,  e-commerce packaging is often an afterthought (e.g. oversized cardboard boxes fitted with paper and cardboard inserts.). Also the branding is sometimes excessive or ill-directed.

My intention is to review the main areas where the difference between e-commerce and traditional sales may significantly affect packaging


In e-commerce the product is sent directly into the consumer’s hand. A product derived via courier is more likely to be damaged than a traditional commerce product transported in a pallet. A parcel may fall up to 30 times during the last 1.5 miles.

Also, it is difficult I optimize secondary packaging for the huge variety of products to be delivered and their different shapes, sizes, weights, and fragility

Another important factor is the delivery time. A fast delivery is not as important as a timely delivery. Online purchases are often required on a specific date (or birthday, anniversaries, holidays or any other special occasions).

Delivery time has nothing to do with packaging and is the courier’s responsibility. Maybe there will be a demand for more premium services in terms of quality and delivery time for and extra cost.


In terms of packaging there are some improvements that can be made to improve delivery and product integrity.  A few examples are:

–          Ensure product protection without overpackaging, Costs can be reduced by simplifying the packaging, eliminating the elements no longer needed in e-commerce.

–          Some varnishes/coatings are being applied to corrugated shippers to make them  rain and snow resistant.

–          Using barcodes, RFID tags or data matrixes (most useful in product where anti-counterfeiting measures are needed) could help with organization and efficiency in warehouses, speeding  up picking and packing processes.

–          Design can help to identify different types of product (via colors, geometric forms… etc). Also including written descriptions of the package’s contents on multiple sides of the box, can help items to be identified and stored more conveniently.

From a product protection, but also form a sustainability point of view, it’s vital to optimize the packaging to the content size and weight.

DS Smith has several packaging optimisation software tools with e-commerce in mind, such as Made2fIT  or the eBox Range Optimiser

DS Smith Made2Fit tool

Mondi and Weedon PSC have also recently presented solutions for e-commerce packaging (the Re(use) and a can apply different types of sealing tape offline respectively).

Mondi_ReUse. Source:


People are more demanding about how an when they receive their online purchases

The main measure to guarantee an enjoyable user experience  is to make sure the product is received when expected. The second will be that the product is in perfect condition

The third will be an enjoyable unpacking. This means at least making sure he packaging can be opened easily without external tools.

Video: Amazon Frustration-Free packaging.

5 Senses

All of the above are the bare minimum for a pleasant user experience. The direct contatct with the customer allows designer to stimulate any of  the 5 senses, including in the packaging aromas, music, videos (or  other added content, such as recipes, articles, augmented realty… ).

Here are some examples on how to do so..


Brand Identity

Packaging mission is not only to protect and transport the product, it also gives important info and works as a constant reinforcemment of brand identity.

While e-commerce packaging can be made more plain than on-shelf packaging, some argue that  strong branding is required to protect the brand and to confirm purchased product (see 1 and 2).

However, customer’s perception against a excessive packaging advises against  strong on-your face branding. Here are some examples of plain packaging with strong branding values

Plain &strong branding (howdy).

Other branding option is to include discounts or specific recommendations based on each client previous purchases.


Goldfish personalized packaging.

The direct delivery is an opportunity to personalize the package Digital printing can be used to  include  the name of the customer, photos , specific artwork… etc

HP-Oreo personalized packaging.


The main keys to sustainability seen in e-commerce packaging are: optimization (to the product weight and dimensions), re-usability and the use of eco-friendly materials.

Here are a couple of articles tackling the subject: 3 , 4 , and 5 . And some examples:

Resusability and  eco-friedly materials:

2 Examples of Veuve Clicquot champagne sustainable packaging.

Biocompostable air pillow film from Southgate Packaging



And finally, RePack is a reusable and returnable packaging service.

RePack Packaging:

I will probably dedicate further posts ti this subject.

August 2018, Bruno Rey – The Packaging Blog –

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