How to Design Custom Packaging & Make Your Business Stand Out [+Examples]

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For an ecommerce business, the direct touch point that your brand has with your customer is when they receive the package and they unbox it.

Through custom packaging, you can build an everlasting connection with your customer by ensuring that they have an unforgettable unboxing experience.

One way for businesses to stand out is to invest in custom packaging, from eco-friendly options to highly branded and personalized experiences.

Below we share the top tips and best practices for brands considering utilizing custom packaging.

Table of contents

What is custom packaging?

Custom packaging is an alternative to standard packaging used by ecommerce businesses looking to make a great first impression. It can be seen as an extension of a brand by elevating the unboxing experience with custom dimensions, colors, labels, and messaging.

Many times, custom packaging can also reflects a brand’s values, such as an environmentally-conscious business opting in for eco-friendly packaging materials.

Depending on the product, sometimes custom packaging is an essential to protect items during the shipping phase, if standard options fail to keep products safe from damages.

Why businesses should create custom packaging

In such a dynamic and competitive market, there is one rather underestimated aspect that is now beginning to gain importance: having a custom packaging solution.

High-quality custom packaging boxes are more than just a container for your product. It plays a variety of other roles.

Here are notable reasons for your ecommerce business to begin using custom boxes and packaging today.

Create a great first impression

A crowded marketplace filled with a barrage of product messaging is confusing, but a unique first impression can make a brand stand out among the noise.

People are visual by nature, so we store information as we see it.  That’s why attractive brand packaging not only attracts attention but it also retains it.

“In my business, packaging is a huge deal. Sometimes I feel like, packaging sells better than actual results do. Having been in business for a year and a half, it was time that I got more responsible with how my brand is aesthetically presented.”

Jalen, GOODESKIN

It’s also true that out of the many retailers offering similar kinds of products, people will remember those deliveries that were packaged in a more aesthetically pleasing way than the others.

Give your customers something to remember

Unique packaging designs make your shipments more memorable, which can help keep your brand top-of-mind for future purchase decisions.

After a positive unboxing experience, your customers are more likely to return for a repeat purchase.

Build better product protection

Custom packaging allows a business to create a solution that will be personalized and tailored to meet the specific needs and demands of their product and will be in line with their brand values. 

Custom packaging enables you to protect your products when your package gets shipped. Arka provides custom inserts which add a layer of protection for your product. 

Custom inserts or packaging inserts are inlays that ensure your products are secure in their box. You may use the best and durable boxes or cartons to pack your products for shipping.

Custom inserts or packaging inserts are inlays that ensure your products are secure in their box. You may use the best and durable boxes or cartons to pack your products for shipping. 

Make your brand stand out

You can safely add custom packaging to your branding and marketing plans. Full color or eye-catching packaging with your brand name and logo stands out more than retail packaging and helps create high brand recall. Use this opportunity to build your brand further.

Capture your brand’s personality. If your brand is all about delicacy, customize your packaging to reflect that image in custom labels, custom tape, subtle colors, stickers, and box designs.

Likewise, if your brand image is rugged, utilize corrugated boxes with primary colors and bold designs to make a lasting statement.

Don’t have any design chops? Recruit some design contractors to draw your logos and designs for you. Twine, Fiverr and Upwork are great resources for this. To make sure your design files are ready for printing, they should be 300DPI and above as well as vector files.

Increase perceived value of a product

Premium packaging and shipping improves overall brand perception. When it comes to shoppers, 61% of them said premium packaging makes a brand seem more upscale.

That makes sense considering 49% of shoppers say that when they receive nice packaging, they are more excited about the brand.

Get more shares on social media

Custom packaging can be a great way to spread the word about your products on social media. Instagram is filled with creative packaging photos.

Create hashtags for your brand (and have them printed on your boxes), then share pictures of excited customers posing with your beautiful packaging.

Consider adding custom packaging to your branding and marketing plans. Colorful or eye-catching packaging with your brand name and logo creates high brand recall.

Create better brand loyalty and customer experience

When it comes to brand loyalty, 44% of shoppers said that when a product comes in premium packaging, it reinforces their confidence in the amount spent.

That’s a win because that involves less buyer’s remorse means that these customers are more likely to purchase from you again and recommend your brand to others.

Build an eco-friendly product package

According to McKinsey, one out of four consumers say they are planning to focus more on environmental issues and will pay more attention to social aspects in their shopping behavior. 

83% of consumers now prefer positive activism, showing support for companies by buying from them, rather than avoiding those whose practices they disagree with. 

This means that consumers will continue to shop online and make purchases that are more environmentally-friendly. 

Eco-friendly packaging is becoming a best practice for many fast-growing online businesses. It refers to only using designs and packing materials that minimize the impact on the environment.

You can build an eco-friendly product packaging strategy that aligns with your brand’s values by opting into only using recyclable and biodegradable packaging options that you can customize as well.

10 most common types of custom packaging

There are several options for custom packaging for ecommerce businesses to choose from.

Below, we go over the top 10 most common types.

1. Corrugated boxes

Corrugated boxes are the most common kind of shipping boxes. They are also known as “RSC boxes” meaning regular slotted container boxes. They’re a strong 32ECT kraft corrugated with a rugged look and feel.

Corrugated boxes have the following features:

  • Simple to construct
  • Easily collapsible
  • Has the most economical board usage
  • Gives a uniform finish to the package
  • Very little manufacturing waste in production
  • Accommodate products of different sizes based on the length of flaps used
Cudaway knives uses a simple and sleek design to stand out and also ship their products effectively using Arka’s boxes

2. Paperboard boxes

As the name suggests, paperboard boxes are made from a sheet of paper which is strong but also lightweight. The sheets are either made from recycled waste paper or the fibrous material in wood. 

These sheets can easily be folded into boxes and cut into various designs and shapes to suit your product’s dimensions.

Image Source: Arka Instagram

3. Rigid boxes

Rigid boxes offer a premium solution for luxury products. These high end boxes are sturdy and offer excellent protection to the product.

These boxes provide a unique unboxing experience to your customers, increasing your brand values and creating brand awareness.

Depending on the box you choose and the products you need to package, you can also use custom designed inserts to hold your products in place inside your box. 

Custom inserts add an extra touch of elegance to your unboxing experience while ensuring that your products are safely secured within the box at the same time.

Image Source: Arka’s Instagram

4. Plastic mailers

Custom poly mailers are a great eco-friendly packaging option. It is made of a plastic substance called polyethylene. Bio-based polyethylene helps reduce the number of carbon emissions and also protects the environment. 

It is the perfect choice for lightweight items. It is strong enough to withstand any tearing or tempering and is also waterproof.

Image Source Arka’s Instagram

5. Paper mailers

Paper mailers are a great option for businesses that want a light-weight eco-friendly solution for their products. 

Paper mailers give a luxurious feel with sharp digitally printed colors, you can customize them in line with your brand’s aesthetics. They are a great option for the apparel industry. 

Paper mailers are ideal for shipping small or multiple products and provide a great unboxing experience.

6. Poly bags

Poly bags or poly mailers are a great eco-friendly and lightweight solution for soft items or apparel. 

The smooth exterior of poly mailer bags make it easy and hassle free to label your shipments. They are tear, tamper and waterproof and also ensure the safety of your non-fragile products. 

You can customize the poly mailer bags with the design and logo of your choice.

Image Source: Arka

7. Foil sealed bags

Foil sealed bags are a great packaging choice for food items. Arka offers a variety of eco-friendly options for foiled sealed bags:

Coffee brand The Good Ritual in Arka Packaging
Image source: Arka

8. Bottle & cap packaging

Bottle and cap packaging is ideal to package liquids. Glass bottles are a great eco-friendly solution for packaging liquids. 

There is a wide variety of options for packing caps including:

  • Cork stoppers
  • Metal caps
  • Glass closures
  • Child resistant caps
  • Droppers
Image Source: Arka

9. Jute packages

Jute packaging is a great eco-friendly option for dry foods and grains including  wheat, rice, coffee beans, potatoes and onions, etc.

It is also one of the oldest and traditional forms of packaging. A jute package is durable, has natural ventilation, and prevents damage to packaged products.  

10. Dunnage packages

Dunnage packaging is ideal for products that require extra padding and protection during the shipping process. There is a wide range of dunnage products, from bubble wraps to honeycomb kraft paper. 

Dunnage packaging provides extra cushioning for products and prevents them from bending or breaking. 

Arka’s recycled kraft padded mailers are made from:

  1. Recycle paper
  2. FSC-certified honeycomb and are both compostable and curbside recyclable

The recycled paperboard provides a rigid structure that is both durable and waterproof, while the honeycomb paper interior provides a layer of cushioning. Investing in recycled kraft padded dunnage package is a great option because it is:

  • Cheap
  • Eco-friendly
  • Reusable
  • Highly effective

Another eco-friendly option for dunnage packaging is compostable bubble mailers. 

Arka’s home compostable padded mailer is made from renewable bioplastic film. The mailers break down into healthy compost leaving no microplastics and conform to all most major compost certifications

Image Source: Arka

What’s included in custom packaging?

As mentioned earlier, the most popular ecommerce packaging types are mailers and shippers. These are available as plain boxes — sometimes called white-label — as well as custom printed boxes. Here’s how you can customize your packaging inside and out.

Exterior printed packaging

A popular and economical trend in the packaging business is digital printing. It’s fast, high-quality, usually hassle-free,  and applicable to orders of anywhere from 10 boxes to 500.

This is Arka’s bread and butter. You can take your packaging to the next level with just some simple designs, quickly printed within two to three weeks.

Filler and promo materials

Filler, tissue paper, insert cards, and inserts are a great way to surprise and delight your customers. It makes receiving a box order from your brand feel like receiving a gift.

You can use printed inserts as a promotional opportunity as well — include discount codes, thank you notes, special offers, and more.

Additionally, offering branded, personal gift notes to your shoppers will make the unboxing experience even more memorable (you can even let your customers add a custom gift note at checkout if they are sending a present to someone special).

How much does custom packaging cost?

While custom packaging can be a great investment for small businesses, it can also be unnecessarily expensive if you’re trying to cut costs.

 If you’re not ready yet for custom packaging, unbranded boxes and mailers can still be a great option, with or without branded inserts.

That said, if you’re ready to take the next step into branded packaging, prices can range from $0.10 – $10.00 per box. 

A lot of factors go into the cost of custom packaging, including size, materials, quantity, ink coverage, and tooling. And as the quantity goes up, the price goes down.

3 questions to answer before designing customized packaging for your business

It is easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of custom packaging, but it’s important to look beyond what’s visually appealing and think about your audience, the size and shape of your product, and other factors.

Before designing customized packaging for your business, here are three questions to consider first.

Who are your customers?

Do you customers prefer luxury packaging or quirky homemade details?

Companies like Man Crates literally ship products in a crate that needs a crowbar to open. Focusing on your customers will help you pick color schemes and imagery that best market to your audience.

What is your product and how is it shaped?

There are some funkily shaped products out there, but you want to make sure they’re packaged nice and snug.

Figuring out the right combination of size, shape, and security of boxes can take some trial and error, but don’t be afraid to choosecreative packagingoptions if you want a custom size or a unique box style.

Of course, nontraditional packaging may not always be safe for your products, especially if they’re fragile, so be sure to balance form and function.

How fragile is your product?

The type of packaging you choose can make a difference in whether or not your product arrives broken to your customers’ doorsteps as shipping fragile items can lead to damages.

You’ll want to keep your products snug, perhaps with some additional cushioning such as airfill and other dunnage.

The two most popular types of packaging are shippers and mailers. Mailer boxes are ideal for keeping skincare, jewelry, and other smaller items safe.Bigger items such as appliances and kitchenware should be neatly wrapped in bigger shipping boxes.

When it comes to additional padding, crinkle paper, airfill, or bubble wrap can be economical options. If you have the budget, custom-fitted inserts are a great way to keep your products in place and safe.

The last thing your customer needs is to receive a pair of earrings in a large shipper box, layered in a million sheets of bubble wrap.

That’s a waste of material and can increase shipping and logistics costs, so make sure you’re using the right packaging for each product.

Custom packaging with Arka

ShipBob partner Arka is a one-stop custom packaging shop for ecommerce packaging at highly competitive prices. Merchants can use an advanced design tool to mockup product packaging in minutes.

Our team of experts and designers will assist you through the entire design proof and production process. Plus, we accept minimum order quantities as small as 10 boxes.

Whether you need 10 boxes or 5,000, Arka is ready to help. Contact us today for competitive custom packaging deals for your ecommerce business.

Need help fulfilling custom packaging orders?

ShipBob is a full-service fulfillment provider offering the best solution for brands that have custom packaging.

Request a custom quote below to see if we’re a good fit for you.

Custom packaging FAQs

Here are the answers to the most popular questions about custom packaging.

What is good packaging design?

Good packaging design must have the following features:

Attractive

By customizing your package with colors, design, logos, stickers, tapes and tissue paper you can enhance the presentation of your product and make the whole package more attractive.

Unique 

A good packaging design has to be unique in a way that it makes your product stand out.

Hassle free Unboxing 

The unboxing has to be impressive but also easy and simple. It should be packaged in a way that minimizes waste and uses recyclable materials.

Instant Brand Recognition 

The package should be designed in line with your brand values and showcase your branding (logos, brand colors, mascot etc) 

What are the three general requirements for packaging?

The three general requirements for product packaging are safety, design, and recyclable paper and materials.

What materials can be used to build custom packages?

Some of the common materials used to build custom packages include:

Custom packaging is the kind packaging that is designed specifically for your company and product. It is meant to fit the brand’s product perfectly and aims to raise customer satisfaction and brand awareness.

A custom package will generally include:

  •  Custom logo
  •  Right package size dimension
  •  Colors 
  •  A brand message

Adding extra accessories to your custom packaging gives your product a personality. You can enhance the appearance of your packaging by using:

Written By:

Phillip is a YC and 500 startups alumnus and the founder of Arka. A bay-area native, he moved south to San Luis Obispo to study Industrial Engineering at Cal Poly. Phillip worked at Boeing and Silicon Valley startups like iCracked before starting his own companies.

Read all posts written by Phillip Akhzar