What is SIOC Packaging? Amazon’s Packaging for Less Waste and Lower Costs + the Benefits for All Ecommerce Orders

Have you ever received a shipment that was delivered in its actual packaging and not a plain brown box?

The shipper didn’t forget to throw the item in a box; This was done intentionally to reduce packaging used. And this it’s pretty common with ecommerce shipping.

Direct-to-consumer brands of all sizes use this packaging method, but there is one company that is most known for encouraging it: Amazon. In fact, they’ve created multiple programs dedicated to this concept.

The purpose of Amazon’s frustration-free packaging (FFP) program is to enhance, simplify, and improve packaging processes. The program consists of packages to be designed, tested, and certified to qualify for one of the three tiers of ecommerce packaging: FFP, SIOC, or PFP. 

While Tier 1 FFP product packages are recyclable and open easily, Tier 2 SIOC packaged products ship to the customer in their original packaging without additional packaging or boxing required. 

Adopting SIOC packaging is a great option for business owners who ship their products through Amazon but want more control over how their orders are packaged, as well as other brands that want to use the SIOC packaging model to lower packaging costs and increase sustainability. 

In this article, you’ll learn what SIOC packaging is, what’s required, and how you can adapt an SIOC packaging without needing to fulfill orders through Amazon. 

What is SIOC Packaging?

SIOC stands for “ships in own container” and is a form of product packaging in which a product ordered can be shipped to the customer in its original packaging, without any additional packaging required such as an overbox. 

To approve for SIOC with Amazon, the seller will need to get original product packaging tested to obtain ISTA 6 certification. 

There are eight different sets of standards that the packaging must meet based on weight, size, and delivery method. These tests can include preconditioning, drop testing (e.g., free-fall drop, drops onto hazards, and rotational drops), impact testing, and compression testing. 

Why online shops prefer SIOC packaging

While Amazon’s enormous presence in the ecommerce industry was largely responsible for the inception and rise of SIOC packaging, ecommerce business owners also independently recognize that there are many perks to adopting the SIOC model, whether or not they sell and ship products through Amazon. Here are the top benefits of SIOC packaging.

1. More sustainable packaging

Amazon’s SIOC packaging program reduces excess packaging materials and proves to be more sustainable than most other packaging models — especially considering the thousands of packages processed by Amazon daily. Given the ecommerce industry’s continued growth, SIOC packaging is a cost-effective way for socially-conscious businesses to implement eco-friendly packaging by reducing waste. 

2. Lower packaging costs

In complying with SIOC packaging requirements, your products will be shipped by using less dunnage and other packaging materials, which means you don’t have to pay extra for materials like air pillows and kraft paper or an overbox.

Note: Some products might qualify for the SIOC packaging but still require additional packaging material. For instance, if you’re shipping a high-value product through Amazon that’s greater than $400, then it might require additional boxing to prevent theft. 

3. Better customer experiences

The primary goal of SIOC is to ensure that the package is delivered in the best condition possible and the items in the package are free of damage. Not only do SIOC guidelines and testing help to ensure damage-free delivery without the need of additional packaging, they also may enhance the unboxing experience by simplifying it for the customer. 

Using SIOC packaging, you can also enhance your brand’s image by eliminating the Amazon-branded box and keeping your own custom packaging uncovered. This can lead to a great first impression and a big step towards driving brand loyalty.

How much could your business save with SIOC packaging?

Without pausing to consider alternative packaging models, many businesses end up spending far more on packaging than is needed — most notably by shipping pre-packaged products in corrugated boxes or poly mailers

To ship fragile items like jewelry, cosmetics, and glassware, using extra packaging materials is a must to ensure a safe delivery. But for many types of products (e.g., apparel and shoes), “double wrapping” in more than one box isn’t always necessary and can quickly increase shipping costs. 

SIOC packaging, on the other hand, enables the original product packaging to serve as the primary shipping container for the product, meaning that adopting SIOC packaging can essentially eliminate half of your packaging costs immediately, simultaneously saving you thousands of dollars and drastically reducing the amount of packaging waste your company uses.

Not on Amazon? Your business can still use SIOC packaging!

Your business doesn’t have to ship with Amazon to follow their SIOC packaging model. Many direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) like ShipBob to provide cost-effective, brand-focused, and sustainable packaging options.

ShipBob offers SIOC packaging where the package’s design makes it possible for it to be shipped to the customer in the same packaging it arrived at ShipBob in. (Note: If multiple SIOC items are part of the same order, the final box type will depend on the discretion of our fulfillment associates. Click here for more information.) 

ShipBob also partners with leading custom packaging solutions that can help you create branded SIOC packaging that’s durable enough to deliver items safely. 

“We use noissue for our eco-friendly mailers that are 100% compostable, and ShipBob ships orders out for us in our custom branded packaging. We rely on a great post-purchase experience for this.”

Manuel de la Cruz, CEO at Boie

Get a packaging, shipping, and logistics partner all in one

At ShipBob, we partner with fast-growing brands to help optimize their supply chain with proprietary technology that powers our entire fulfillment network. With our international fulfillment locations and fully-owned tech stack, we provide a transparent and powerful logistics solution along with consistent, accurate fulfillment services.

Here are just a few of the ways that ShipBob’s best-in-class fulfillment process helps its customers to be more successful online.

Fulfillment and shipping solutions

As a technology-enabled 3PL, ShipBob is equipped to handle a business’s entire fulfillment workflow, from managing inventory to automated shipping. Once you send us your inventory, incoming orders from your online store and other sales channels are automatically sent to ShipBob’s fulfillment center where they are picked, packed, and shipped by one of our trusted fulfillment experts.

If you don’t use SIOC packaging, ShipBob can ship orders in plain boxes and mailers, or you have the option to use your own branded custom packaging. 

“ShipBob offers the option to customize packaging and tell a story through our products when shipping to our customers, giving us more control over our business and brand.”

Matt Dryfhout, Founder & CEO of BAKblade

Business owners can also maintain full visibility of an order’s lifecycle and enjoy the following benefits:

Discounted shipping rates and simple fees

Many ecommerce businesses don’t ship enough to receive volume discounts directly from the carriers. To provide cost-effective shipping for our thousands of customers, ShipBob partners with major shipping carriers to negotiate shipping rates. These discounted rates can then be passed directly onto your customers by offering buying incentives such as free shipping.  

Many times, online brands are unaware of the hidden costs of self-fulfillment and may think that outsourcing fulfillment is not a cost-affective approach. But with ShipBob, you are given straightforward pricing, which includes fees only for the following core actions: 

  • One-time implementation fee (or free for merchants shipping under 400 orders per month that go through our self-onboarding Growth Plan). 
  • Receiving your inventory
  • Warehousing your products
  • Shipping each order

Note: You can also request additional pricing to fit your unique needs, such as kitting and other requests. 

“While many 3PLs utilize a complex pricing model that makes forecasting expenses nearly impossible, ShipBob has a clear pricing model so we know exactly what we’re going to be billed.”

Gerard Ecker, Founder & CEO of Ocean & Co.

2-day shipping capabilities

ShipBob takes a data-driven distribution approach to shipping orders. After analyzing where a merchant’s customers are located, ShipBob offers the option to split inventory strategically across one or more fulfillment center locations,  so orders are automatically forwarded to the distribution center closest to the order’s destination. 

This helps to speed up transit times and save on costs by reducing the number of shipping zones a package must travel to reach its destination. This distributed inventory model can help merchants save on fulfillment costs, which allows you to offer more affordable shipping options for customers, such as affordable 2-day shipping via ground. This can also reduce cart abandonment and improve brand loyalty.  

“Customers get accustomed to a certain service level at a low price — often free — and want it faster over time. Ever since we started our partnership with ShipBob in the summer of 2018, they’ve been able to deliver the customer service level we need at the right cost.”

Michael Peters, VP of E-Commerce Operations at TB12

Conclusion

With their frustration-free packaging program, Amazon made it simpler for sellers to improve sustainability and cut costs. But you don’t have to fulfill orders through Amazon to utilize SIOC packaging. ShipBob offers more control over your packaging and shipping strategy, along with SIOC packaging options that can support your brand’s unique needs.  

If you’re interested in partnering with ShipBob, click the button below to start the conversation and request a pricing quote.

SIOC packaging FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions ecommerce businesses have about ships in own container (SIOC) packaging. 

What is SIOC packaging?

SIOC or “ships in own container” is packaging used to lower costs by reducing additional materials when an item is ordered and to promote sustainable shipping. An SIOC item can be shipped in its original packaging without any additional packing materials needed to cushion it or boxes to go outside of it. 

How do you use SIOC packaging?

To use SIOC packaging through Amazon, you must first design your product’s packaging so that it falls within Amazon’s FFP and SIOC packaging certification guidelines by getting it tested for durability at one of Amazon’s testing facilities. Then, once created, you can have each item shipped as is, without needing to go through a packing station. All is needed is a label added to the exterior. 

Is SIOC packaging eco-friendly?

Yes! Amazon began its FFP program not only to improve the customer experience but also to reform shipping sustainability practices and reduce the amount of extra shipping materials that end up in landfills. When your product ships in its original container, it is easier for the buyer to unbox and reduce the amount of waste — a win for both vendors and the environment.

What are Amazon’s requirements for SIOC packaging?

According to Amazon packaging regulations, any package weighing more than 20 pounds or measuring 6” x 4” x 0.375” or larger requires a certification of an Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) as FFP or SIOC.
To certify your package, first make sure that your packaging is designed according to Amazon’s FFP and SIOC standards, and have that design undergo testing (including free-fall drop and vibration durability) at an APASS lab or ISTA verified facility. If it passes, it will receive an ISTA 6-Amazon.com-sioc Type A certification.