E-commerce businesses are growing at a continuous rate and not showing any signs of slowing down. This trend has been further accelerated with the recent Covid-19 pandemic which is forcing businesses to adapt and trade in new ways. Keeping your business alive through these turbulent times means leaving behind the traditional storefront and focusing on your online presence.

Coronavirus has created a very challenging economic environment for small businesses, and it seems like it may permanently change how people shop on a day to day basis. In other words, it’s crunch time! Adapt or be left behind.

The success of a good e-commerce company comes down to effective branding and online marketing. Alongside this companies should also consider the packaging of their products and the “opening” experience for their customers.

This article will discuss some of the most popular solutions for e-commerce packaging and provide you with some useful tips on how to adapt them to your own business needs.

Printed Mailing Boxes

Custom mailing boxes or postal boxes are one of the most popular choices when it comes to providing product protection and an exciting unboxing experience for the customer.

Typically these boxes will be made from a corrugated card which is available in different colours and thicknesses. Most manufacturers can supply printed mailing boxes made to custom sizes and they can be printed with a simple design or full colour designs/images. This style of box is generally an eco-friendly option as many corrugated cards are made from recycled materials and can be recycled after use.

Some of the best ways to add appeal to your mailing box include adding a matt or gloss lamination, printing a message on the inside of your box, adding a custom insert to house your items or even printing using a metallic foil. Other optional features that can be added to a postal box include peel and seal strips with perforated tears to open or even a pre-stuck document window for address labels or compliment cards.

To keep your cost per box as low as possible consider sticking to a simple single colour print, keeping your box as compact as possible and also order in larger batches at a time to take advantage of economies of scale.

Printed Mailing Bags

Although plastic packaging is becoming less widely used, branded plastic mailing bags are still a common choice for many companies dispatching online deliveries. Mailing bags are cost-effective to produce, they provide protection from moisture and they can be printed in vibrant and eye-catching designs.

Plastic mailing bags are closed using a self sealing strip and optional extras include a double self sealing strip (for returns) or a die cut handle so the mailing bag can be easily carried. When ordering from a printed mailing bag manufacturer consider if you have to pay for plate or tooling costs relating to print set-up. You should also consider the film thickness used. You do not want the plastic to be too thin or even slightly see thriough. 60 micron or thicker will provide  a strong and reliable mailing bag.

Printed Tissue Paper

Printed tissue paper is one of the most cost-effective and versatile options to add branding, product protection and luxury appeal to your packaging. This packaging solution can be added to a postal box, bag or envelope and can be printed in simple single colour designs or with full colour images.

Tissue paper is available in a range of thicknesses with some of the most common options ranging between 17-30gsm (Grams per Square Metre). You can print on top of coloured tissue paper or flood print your tissue paper to match a brand pantone (PMS colour reference).

Most suppliers will provide you with printed tissue paper in pre-cut sheets. A sheet size around 50x70cm is the most common size but you can order your printed tissue paper cut to specific sizes to meet your requirements.

Similar to many printed packaging options sticking with a single colour print design will help keep your costs down. Larger runs of 5000 sheets or higher will help keep your cost per sheet as low as possible but some companies will supply runs as low as 250 sheets.

Printed Stickers

If you are looking for a versatile and cost-effective packaging solution then printed stickers is a great option to go for. Stickers are typically made from paper or polypropylene, both of which are available in any shape, size and finish you like.

Printed stickers can be used on plain packaging to add your brand or message. They can also be used to seal mailing boxes, bags or tissue paper wrapping products. Some companies even offer branded stickers as a promotional item included with their product so the customer can put them wherever they please. Apple and Google often supply stickers with their products.

Printed Packing Tape

Similar to stickers branded tape is a great way to add branding to a plain postal box or bag. It is also available made from polypropylene or in more eco-friendly kraft paper varieties.

Most packing tapes will be around 50mm in width but you can order thinner variations. Like most printed products, increasing the number of print colours in your design can push your costs up but you will still find better costs per roll with larger volume orders. Printed packing tape can be turned around quite quickly and is a great way to add that professional image to your shipping boxes and packaging. Useful tip –  when it comes to storing your packing tape, keep it out of cold storage environments as the tape can lose it’s tackiness and not stick as effectively. This tip would also be relevant to postal boxes or mailing bags that have peel and seal strips.

Compliment Cards and Vouchers

Printed compliment cards or vouchers can be an extremely cost-effective way to build your brand loyalty or promote deals/incentives.

Printed compliment cards are easily sourced, available in any size you need and can be printed with pretty much any design. You can also opt for more luxurious paper options and even add special finishes such as hot foil printing or gloss UV.

This is a common packaging add on to add inside a mailing box or bag along with your product. It is a simple way to add a bit of excitement to the unboxing phenomenon or to even emphasize something about your brand and/or ethics.

Printed Envelopes and Jiffy Bags for E-commerce

Custom printed envelopes are a relatively common way to market to your e-commerce business or brand and many companies will use these to send out documents or correspondence with customers.

There are quite a lot of options for ordering simple printed stationery but you can still opt for something a little more bespoke or perhaps made from more premium paper stocks. G F Smith offers some premium and luxurious paper choices which can really add that luxury image to your brand. Consider your budget and the purpose of the envelopes when choosing which options to go for.

Jiffy bags (also known as bubble bags) are not quite as easy to print as paper envelopes or mailing bags but they are an available option. As this type of packaging is a bit trickier to print you can find prices creeping up when it comes to multiple print colours or larger print areas in regards to the surface of the jiffy bag being printed.

Jiffy bags are available in a range of colours, sizes and finishes. White and brown kraft bubble bags are the most common options but you can also get coloured options, matt and gloss finishes or even quite striking metallic options.

If you are finding the cost for printed jiffy bags quite expensive then you may want to consider buying in plain stock and customising them through printed stickers, branded shipping labels and perhaps adding compliment cards inside the bag along with your product.

There are not set rules when it comes to choosing your postal packaging for e-commerce but perhaps some of the examples above can provide some inspiration into the different options available.

The unboxing experience is vital when it comes to improving brand loyalty and customer retention but always consider the practical aspects of your packaging as well….  Does it fit and protect your product suitably? Can you store the packaging? Can the packaging be printed with your desired design?

Martin Brown has worked in marketing for nearly 10 years and has experience in web design and photography. He now works at Print Fox as a lead marketer and content writer.

E-commerce stock photo by siiixth/Shutterstock