Product Packaging For E-Commerce Brands: The Definitive Guide
Per IBEF, India’s e-commerce market is expected to reach US$ 111 billion by 2024 and US$ 200 billion by 2026. With more and more shoppers preferring online shopping to in-store shopping, and a majority of brands, irrespective of their size, setting up their shop online, it has become increasingly important to ensure your brand stands out from the competition. One of the best ways to do that (in addition to having a kickass product) is to have kickass product packaging.
But how can you leverage something that is often overlooked (when you dream about your business) to create a lasting impact? We’ll tell you. Read along!
What Is Product Packaging?
Packaging, in simple terms, is the process of designing and creating the container and wrapper for a product, aimed at storing, handling, and protecting it from external factors like sunlight, moisture, breakage, etc.
When we say product packaging, we aren’t just talking about the container in which a product comes. When you visit a store to purchase something, more often than not, the store offers you a carry bag to take the product with you. However, online shopping is an entirely different ball game. Online shopping involves the product being shipped across geographies. And for that to happen seamlessly, external product packaging plays a vital role.
Why Is Product Packaging Important?
It is obvious why a product needs to be packaged, isn’t it? We beg to differ. It is true: The basic idea behind packaging a product is to ensure that the product doesn’t get damaged during transport, handling, or storage. However, often, brands don’t realize the significance of good packaging beyond the safety of the product.
Good product packaging helps build a reputation for your brand. Imagine shopping online, and every product you look at is put in brown cardboard boxes and completely indifferentiable. Nightmare! With tons of brands offering products with similar ingredients and benefits (competition alert!), choosing the product one likes can be challenging without proper product packaging. The icing on the cake is if you choose to go sustainable (We strongly recommend this). With tons of sustainable packaging options available in the market today, it is a great way to build a positive image for yourself AND save the planet.
Also read: Why You Need To Adopt Sustainable Packaging & How To Do It Right
Product packaging is also the best way to connect with your customers on a personal level. In the case of in-store shopping, businesses enjoy the opportunity to get to know a customer directly. However, that is not the case for e-commerce brands. Hence, the closest you can get to providing a personalized experience for your customers is through packaging. For example, you can choose to tell your brand’s story through your packaging. Or even take it a step further and address your customer directly through custom packaging. Some brands even send a personal note/letter thanking the customer for shopping with them.
ProTip: You can create the packaging design guide that your designers can consult to make sure everything is on-brand.
Product packaging also helps make your brand relatable and relevant. For example, notice how beautifully an Indian brand, Phool.co, has leveraged its packaging for its product for Rakshabandhan, with a cartoon of siblings playing (how nostalgic!)
Different Types Of Product Packaging
Now that we have established the importance of product packaging, let us look at the different types of packaging options available today.
Paperboard boxes must be one of the most commonly used packaging techniques worldwide. These are boxes made of thick paper, usually a great option for printing. They are known to be sustainable as they are renewable and recyclable. The best part? They can be crafted into many shapes, helping you with fit-to-product packaging.
Corrugated boxes (aka cardboard boxes) are disposable containers whose sides are made up of layers of material that include an inner layer, outer layer, and middle layer. They are mainly used to transport finished goods through the supply chain. They can be customized to provide an exceptional unboxing experience to your customers.
If you’ve used toothpaste, you’ve come across laminated tubes. Yes, often used by brands to package liquid/semi-liquid products, laminated tubes, or lamitubes, are tubes that give you the advantages of plastic but with barrier properties close to those of metal. The advantage that brands get with this kind of packaging is that it is tamper-proof, giving the customers a product that is untouched by contaminants.
If you’re looking to go the eco-friendly way, glass bottles are the way to go. Today, many brands opt to package their products in glass containers. These containers are sustainable and refillable. Glass has an almost 0 rate of chemical interactions, ensuring that the products inside keep their strength, aroma, and flavor. They can be repurposed later in multiple ways as well.
Remember the box you got when you ordered your smartphone? What about the one you received your watch in? Those boxes are called rigid boxes. Often used for fragile/luxury items, rigid boxes are known for their “gift box” looks. They are usually thick, customizable, and give a premium feel.
One of the most durable types of plastic today, polyethylene packaging comes in different thicknesses and clarities. It doesn’t allow water vapor to pass through, making it easier to seal easily contaminated products away from dangerous elements. If you’re wondering why it is a favorite among many, it is because this packaging is soft and tough at the same time.
Metal packaging has been used worldwide for decades now. They are usually made of aluminum or steel and are famous for helping the longevity of the product in it. Right from canned foods to luxury goods, many brands choose metal packaging today to ensure safety and durability.
One way you can stand out from the crowd is by including packaging inserts in your packaging. These are extra items, usually coupons, letters, brochures, etc., that are inserted into the packaging by e-commerce sellers. They are a great way to go that extra mile to ensure a connection with your clients. It can be a letter where you thank the customer for shopping with you, a message with a QR code that directs them to visit any website of your choice, or just you telling your brand’s story.
For example, see how the team at Juicy Chemistry slides in a few papers while packing their products. These are usually brand stories, and thank-you notes that would give a sense of connection to the customer.
Also read: Packaging Inserts Ideas For Ecommerce Brands (With Templates)
Things To Consider While Choosing Your Product Packaging
Remember, there are a number of factors that impact your product packaging. The 5 most vital factors are:
- Material: We’ve established that packaging can be done using various materials. Depending on your product and your supply chain process, choosing among the options mentioned above is the first step. You can also factor in elements like design, unboxing experience, and more while selecting a packaging material.
- Design: What your packaging will look like is crucial to winning at the packaging game. Would it have any colorful designs? What kind of font should you use? Should it adhere to your brand guidelines? Knowing the answers to these questions makes the choosing part a cakewalk.
- Cost: Remember, every element of the packaging journey (aka material, design, etc) affects the cost of the product. If you choose to go for a basic packaging process, you will incur less cost. However, you are at risk of poor-quality packaging or, worse, a subpar customer experience. Remember, the total cost should be consistent with your ROI goals for the product itself and sit within your packaging design budget.
- Durability: The product’s supply chain journey is something you should keep in mind while choosing the product packaging. If you’re sending the product across geographies, or if the product is fragile, choose a packaging that is durable. That means, choosing a material that can withstand all the conditions that the product would go through in transit.
- Sustainability: Are you an environmentally conscious brand? Do you want to save the planet? If yes, then you should consider how sustainable your product packaging is. Is the material used eco-friendly? Is it minimally packaged? Are you using a lot of packaging material?
Here are some of our favorite D2C product packaging:
A legacy of over 80 years in the Indian tea industry and a eureka moment is what led to the creation of VAHDAM India. Straight from India’s divine gardens— it all started with an intention to make India’s native wellness wisdom accessible to the world through an honest and ethical route. We’re amazed with how the same intention is seen in their product packaging as well.
Begun with the founders’ love of collecting souvenirs during travels, Chumbak is a globally inspired lifestyle brand known for offering product categories across home decor, fashion, accessories, and personal care with a keen emphasis on design and quality. We love how vibrantly colorful and detailed their packaging is.
Started in 2018, Rage Coffee is known as the world’s first plant-based vitamins coffee brand. You’ll always find a GOAT that features prominently in their packaging and communications that signifies achievement, a derivative of being in peak mental and physical form. And as per the brand, it also promises The Greatest Of All Times. We love how intentional and meaningful their packaging is.
Known as India’s 1st homegrown brand that invests in independent clinical trials and research, Earth Rhythm offers smart and safe skincare. We’re in awe of how they’re so conscious about being eco-friendly—even with their packaging.
ID Fresh Food
iD was founded in 2005 and has ensured since then that the world gets access to fresh, nutritious & delicious Indian food. With an unwavering vision to preserve traditional, home-made cuisine & a focus on making the process of cooking fun & effortless, iD serves homes across India, UAE & the US. We love the innovative and creative packaging they use for their brand.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that product packaging does a lot more than just protecting the product inside. If you want to stand out from your competitors, we recommend bookmarking this page and working on your product packaging strategy right away.
Have you ever loved product packaging so much that you preserved it at home? Let us know in the comments section below.
Velocity is India’s number one growth partner for D2C and e-commerce brands. We empower upcoming ambitious Indian brands with a combination of smart capital, innovative products, right partnerships and market intelligence.
Looking for growth capital to fuel your marketing campaigns? Get up to Rs 4 crore as revenue based financing from us. To get instant funds apply here!