Packaging Ideas - how to do packaging for your online business

Like most of us, I order a lot of products online. I get a lot of deliveries and I open a lot of boxes. Every order I open tells a story. And it's this story that really interest me because I send a lot of boxes out to customers each and every day.

What's the story my packaging says to my clients. And does it connect with my values and my brand?

For example, do I talk about being environmentally friendly online but use plastic packaging that isn't environmentally friendly?

Does the company value fun, but send orders out in boring packaging?

Or, like in the video in this blog (if you can't see it, click here) do you have a high-end product, but send it out in cheap packaging?

The story your packaging tells is important for your customers, and thinking about it is really critical to our business.

Watch the video

So in this video review you will see that I ordered a reasonably expensive Lie-Nielsen No. 62 Low Angle Jack Plane (woodworking stuff if you have no idea what I am talking about) from a website called

Here's a summary of the story of the packaging. Make sure you watch the video as I explain each point, and show you examples.

The story of the packaging

First, the box comes with the usual brown paper inside. A lot of paper. This what Amazon use in their parcels - so it has to be of some value, right?

In some respects, it does - it's cheap, it's light and it's biodegradable. And it ties in with Amazon's values of low cost.

But I didn't order it from Amazon. So what I see is just brown paper that's dull and pretty boring.

But the box didn't just have brown paper. It had more, different types of packaging material: bubble wrap, chips and shredded paper.

Packaging Tips

  1. Avoid shredded paper. It can't be put in the recycling and it's messy.

  2. Pick one type of packaging material, otherwise it looks a mess.

  3. Pick material that connects with the products, values and brands you are sending.

Adding Free Gifts to your order

You'll notice in the video that the supplier (Classic Hand Tools) included a couple of free gifts. Which was great, really great. Wherever you can, add a free gift.

Top tip though, label the free gift so it obvious that it's free. It may sound simple, but a simple sticker adds a lot of value to the gift.

Packaging for small items

In the order, there we two smaller items that I ordered that got 'lost' on all the scrap packaging (the shredded paper). It would have been easy to forget about these and throw them away.

When sending really small items in large boxes in that type of packaging, make sure that they stand out some how so people notice them and don't accidentally throw them away.

Identify each item

One of the smaller products in my order was a stone that you use in sharpening the plane blades. The stone just came in bubble wrap, and it wasn't identified. Now, I knew what it was - but if my wife opened the order, or I had sent it as a gift etc - then it would have been easy to not understand what it was.

Always label items in the order, never assume that recipients of the order understand everything that they are getting. Make it super clear.

Packaging the expensive stuff

OK, so let's look the Lie-Nielsen plane. It came in a brown box, bubble wrap, white paper and brown paper.

Now, being British - that felt like I was opening a bag of chips, which isn't a great association for such a quality tool. The packaging should also be quality for that product. Apple have learned to do that very well.

Logos on boxes

A pet hate of mine is that companies like to put a large copy of their logo on the packaging. By all means add your logo, but keep it small. It's about the customer, not your logo. The customer doesn't care about your logo. They care about what your product is going to do to enhance their life. Tell them that instead and connect customers to your values and story better.

Adding leaflets to your packaging

If you add leaflets to your order, make sure they also match you brand. If it's a high-end brand, add quality leaflets. The one that I received wasn't particularly well presented (bad printing, of square) - it felt cheap, like someone had made it in the back of their garage somewhere.

Also, use the leaflet to engage the customer. I would get them to your website and logged in / registered as quickly as possible and then build a relationship with that customer.

Think about your international Audience

The Internet has made the world a much smaller place and you can no order anything from anywhere. So as eCommerce website owners, we should be aware of our international audience.

In this particular example, the information from Lie-Nielsen was all in imperial measurements (inches) but a lot of the world now works on metric (millimetres). It would have been better for Lie-Nielsen to give the inches measurement but also the millimetre measurement as well.

International markets can add a significant percentage to your bottom line, so make sure you help them engage with your products when they get them.

Putting it all together

When you send an order to customer, really think about your packaging. Don't just send the order in any old thing. It's an opportunity to really connect well. Remember the box is the first real interaction with your company. Up until that point, everything has been digital pixels. The box is the first real thing that they touch and feel. Make sure it connects well with them and celebrates who you are as a company.

Make sure you watch the video as I go through each of these points and more.

Want to see more videos about packaging?

Well, I have put together a convenient playlist of all my other videos that talk about packaging, so if you've got a few minutes and want to see more examples - watch a few more!.