The Ultimate Guide to eCommerce Packaging

ecommerce packaging close up of brown cardboard boxes

According to Australia Post’s annual eCommerce report*, 9.2 million Australian households shopped online in 2021. Now, that’s a lot of packages. When your main touchpoint with a customer happens at delivery, you want to ensure that experience is truly great. Packaging forms an essential part of the eCommerce experience – which is why we created this guide. Our ultimate guide to eCommerce packaging covers everything you need to know – from the most popular box styles to our insider tips for eCommerce packaging design.

What is eCommerce packaging?

eCommerce packaging is any packaging that delivers products direct-to-consumer (D2C). It’s most common for online stores and marketplaces, but it may also be used by subscription services. The key factor is that the purchase happens online. This means the packaging represents a main touchpoint, sometimes the only touchpoint, between the customer and the brand.

When eCommerce packaging goes wrong – it can spell disaster. Think damaged orders, customer refunds, complaints or bad reviews. But, when it goes right – it’s a powerful tool for brand visibility and customer loyalty. Getting eCommerce packaging right is deceptively simple. Just ask global retailer Amazon – who came up with three rules for what they call, ‘Frustration-Free Packaging’:

  1. Packaging that is easy to open
  2. Packaging that is low waste
  3. Packaging that protects products in transit

The purpose of eCommerce packaging

The main purpose of eCommerce packaging is transporting your products safely to the customer. Corrugated cardboard is a great material for this as it’s both strong and lightweight.

The other purpose of eCommerce packaging is to build your brand and customer relationships. Your customer won’t get to browse in store or talk to a staff member, but they will get to open their box when it arrives. Nicely designed packaging is a great way to show off your brand – creating a positive experience that helps with customer loyalty.

Read more about designing a memorable unboxing experience.

ecommerce packaging cardboard box

The most popular box styles

While there are lots of packaging materials out there for online stores, our favourite has to be corrugated cardboard. Not only is it lightweight – helping to reduce shipping costs – it’s also versatile, with a wide range of box styles to choose from. Here are the most popular options.

Die cut boxes

Die cut boxes have to be the most popular type of eCommerce packaging. Also known as mailer boxes, this style was designed specifically to send small items through a postage or delivery system. They’re super easy to assemble without the need for tape and present nicely to your end customer.

RSC boxes

Regular-slotted cartons are used for larger items. Think electronics, appliances, homewares and furniture. All of these can be purchased online and they need to arrive safely at the customer’s door. Many of these items are quite heavy, but rest assured – corrugated cardboard is up to the job. With a few tricks of the trade, you can create a mighty strong box to carry all that weight.

We shared our tips for strong cardboard boxes in a previous blog.

Folder style boxes

Folder style boxes are the best choice when you have long, thin or flat items to send in the mail. Examples include artworks, books, wallpaper, mirrors and even golf clubs. These boxes arrive flat to your business, so all that’s left to do is lay your product down and wrap the box edges around it to be sealed.

Inserts and partitions

This one isn’t technically a box style, but it is popular for eCommerce packaging. Custom inserts keep your products safely in place during transport and mean you can use one box for multiple products. A common choice for online retailers is to build bundle sets where they package similar products together. With custom inserts, you can design the perfect fit every time.

Internal printing

Again, not technically a box style – but a great option for any eCommerce business. Internal printing is both an opportunity to maximise branding on your box and to surprise your customer. Message ideas include your brand story, product instructions, email signups or safety tips.

close up of red box with QR code

How much does eCommerce packaging cost?

The age-old question, with no definitive answer. The actual cost will depend on a lot of factors – from box size to colour printing options. The best we can give you is a rundown of what features can make your boxes cost more or less.

Cost more

If you have the budget for it, we highly recommend die cut boxes with full colour design, internal printing and even an insert or two. They really show off your brand and make a great impression with your customer. However, these custom elements are the kind that push up box prices. If your budget is small – you may want to think simpler.

Cost less

Reducing your box costs is easier than it sounds. It’s all about minimalism. Opting for only 1-2 colours in printing, choosing standard RSC boxes or even investigating stock box options will all help cut down on costs.

Learn more about stock vs custom boxes and how to reduce packaging costs on the blog.

ecommerce packaging open box with product inside

Expert tips for eCommerce packaging

With more than 20 years’ experience designing boxes for online retail, we’ve learned a few tricks to make them shine. Here are two top tips.

A great fit is key

Not only will it look nicer when you open the box, but a snug fit also helps protect your products in transit. Custom box design is the best option here as it means you can tailor your box dimensions to your products.

Consumers want sustainable

The Australia Post report also found that 3 out of 4 Aussies consider some element of sustainability when they shop online. It’s great to see a shift happening with eco-conscious shopping and it’s easier than ever to choose sustainable packaging. Recycled box packaging by Echo Cartons is one way you can improve sustainability in your supply chain. Other options include choosing a local packaging producer and buying the right box size to avoid wasted space.

Order eCommerce packaging with Echo Cartons

Echo Cartons is a family-run business who have built a strong reputation for friendly customer service and great quality boxes. With a factory in Braeside, Melbourne – we’re the box manufacturer of choice for a wide range of Australian SMEs. Whether you’re seeking eCommerce packaging or shipping boxes, it all starts when you request a quote. 

*Australia Post Report:

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