Bootstrapped E-Commerce: Packaging 101

There are a lot of little things to consider when opening an e-commerce store. Among them, packaging is a commonly neglected one. While your product line will dictate your packaging options, getting the most bang for your buck will help improve your customers’ unboxing experiences, as well as your profit margins.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans say that if they receive a damaged or broken product from an online order, they would not buy from that retailer again. Given the vast majority of e-commerce businesses are bootstrapped, that’s money and customers you can’t afford to lose.

Here’s a crash course on packaging 101.

Which Packaging Type is Best for Your Product Line?

When researching packaging lines, the terms will likely sound pretty foreign to most people. Do you have any idea what a roll end tab lock box or a poly mailer is? If you answered no, don’t worry. Most e-commerce beginners answered the same way. However, you would know the difference if you saw them at your doorstep. Step one to identifying the optimal packaging for your products is understanding the differences in each type of packaging option available to you.

If you sell cosmetics from home, your orders are going to comprise smaller products. This means your packaging is going to be smaller too, or you can fit multiple items from a single order into a larger container. Shipping various items together saves on shipping costs and helps you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to packaging.

Not all e-retailers have that luxury though, which is why packaging types can play such a pivotal role in an online business. Efficiency is vital because it improves your bottom line and shows customers you’re not being careless or wasteful with packaging materials.

Packaging Size and Type Can Affect Shipping Costs

Why pay more for a service than you have to? The goal is to get your customer’s order to their doorstep as quickly and safely as possible without hurting your margins. Using a standard-sized box from the post office might fit your product, but it may also inflate costs and provide less protection.

More and more, customers are directing their business to online shops offering affordable or free delivery, presenting a growing need for packaging that can withstand day- or week-long journeys with the post office, while reinforcing a consistent and positive brand message.

Popular E-commerce Packaging Options

There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all, but different packaging solutions can provide e-retailers with adequate options for a wide variety of products. Here’s a quick look at some of the more popular e-commerce packaging options:

  • Roll End Tab Lock Boxes:  The tab lock roll end box or mailer box is a corrugated box style that is well sealed and sturdy. This is the most popular e-commerce packaging box, due to its protection capabilities and the quality of the unboxing experience.
  • Slotted Corrugated Box:  These are your standard shipping boxes. The sheet is formed at a joint where one panel and one end panel can be joined together. This style requires manual sealing, but is ideal for larger products.
  • Roll End Tuck Top Boxes:  Roll end tuck top boxes are unglued and can be folded without hassle during assembly. The top can open and close smoothly to ensure maximum closure with a tuck inside the box. These are ideal for shelves, tea, catalogs, clothes, gifts, electronics, health, beauty products and small hardware.
  • Poly Mailers:  The poly mailer is an elastic type of packaging made from polyethylene LDPE. It is a popular choice for e-commerce businesses who ship non-fragile items like apparel and soft goods due to its low shipping costs. This packaging type is extremely affordable, lightweight and a space-saver. It is also tear resistant and waterproof. Poly mailers have a self-seal adhesive strip for secure closure.

Packaging is a small detail that most new e-retailers don’t take time to consider. These e-retailers will quickly learn how important packaging is to their products, shipping costs and their customers. Reading through a variety of packaging choices available and understanding which options are best for your product line can maximize protection, shipping cost and use of space.


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