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e-Commerce Packaging: The Complete Guide

Time to read 16 min

A Guide To e-Commerce Packaging

We see this a lot: simple, non-custom e-Commerce Packaging that gets the job done. How can you expect to hit your sales target if you don't invest in your presentation at the store?

You have a great product, but you left out one thing - your Packaging! e-Commerce Packaging is a great way to grab your customer's attention at retail and even online.

The best packaging even creates brand loyalty - 52% of customers return for business if they like the packaging. It's an easy thing for most brands to overlook, but this is exactly the issue we aim to solve. Working with a Packaging Manufacturer can be a great benefit to you and your brand.

It can be your differentiator! the reason a customer picks your product instead of another, and then keeps coming back.

To nail that customer interaction, you need the right design.

We help upgrade brands from plain to premium, and take advantage of all the latest technical and marketing innovations to create new designs, and more importantly increase your sales.

Bringing new packaging ideas to life can be a challenging task. That’s why we created this guide to walk you through each step.

Talk with our team today about your next e-Commerce Packaging

How e-Commerce Packaging helps your product

  • Protect your products during shipping
  • Tell your brand story and connect with your customer
  • Include product benefits and valuable information
  • Stand out to a consumer to increase their consideration
  • Encourage customers to take a closer look
  • Explain how to use your product

Step 1: Determine Your e-Commerce Packaging Needs

  • What type of e-Commerce Packaging do I need?
  • Are there new innovations I can implement?
  • What type of product is it?
  • What dimensions do I need?
  • How many units do I need?
  • How can this be an extension of my brand?

A) What type of e-Commerce Packaging do you need?

The type of packaging you need will vary depending on your product. This will be based on the size, shape, and weight.

If you have a fragile product, you would need to consider a solution that is structurally safe and includes cushioning.

Related: The Complete Guide To Understand Corrugated Boxes.


B) Are there new innovations you can implement?

Getting ahead of your competition is important. You should research, or find a trusted packaging partner who can confidently update you on the latest innovations in the marketplace.

There are so many new exciting ways to reach customers, and if you're creating a new packaging design, you should include some!

C) What type of product is it?

Each industry has its own trends, and while you don’t want to fit in, you want to make sure that your customer can immediately identify you as a member of that industry.

So either do some research of your competition, or reach out to a trusted packaging company to give you some pointers.

D) What are your dimensions?

Start by measuring the height, width, and length of your product and everything you plan to put inside the box.

Then, consider the type and size of any protective packaging inserts you plan to use. This will determine the size of the box you need.

Pro Tip: Minimize your box as much as possible. This will allow the product to fit safely, and avoid any shipping damages. Most importantly you will reduce your costs and carbon footprint.

E) How many units do you need?

How much do you plan to sell? Do you need 100 units? 500? 1,000? 10,000? Will you need recurring orders?

This will directly affect your costs, and the more you order the better the deal you can get.

F) How can this be an extension of your brand?

This is a critical part of Step 1. You want to create packaging that not only fits the packaging, but fits in with your overall branding and marketing strategy.

From the color choices, the fonts, the information and images you include - these all tell the customer exactly “who you are” and shouldn’t be chosen lightly.

Step 2: Establish Your Budget

There are two types of costs associated with new packaging.

  1. Visible costs: such as the upfront cost of design and the price of the packaging itself.
  2. Hidden costs: such as additional filler, breakage, and more.

Your budget should include the cost of Packaging Supplies and Shipping Boxes. If any kind of packaging fillers are required, you need to account for them.

You can also include a Contract Packager to help with fulfilment or assembly.

By using a company like Bennett, you get Turnkey Solutions that help you minimize costs. 

A successful e-Commerce Packaging program needs a budget that considers the economics of the entire process. You should consider the price of your product, your profit margin, anticipated sales, and the length of time you expect your Packaging to be in place.

Setting a budget or at least a range for your Packaging helps the process not become inefficient or aimless.

Volume purchasing

As with most printed products, you only really get a good value at high purchase quantities, due to the economics of scale.

If you don’t buy in bulk, each package will add an unreasonable amount of expense to each shipment.

If you do buy in bulk, you will not only be putting more money up front for production, but also for storage, transportation between warehouses and handling. Digital allows you to have complete flexibility for this.

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Step 3: Designing The Outside

Did you know that 75% of consumers are influenced by package design?

What elements of your brand need to be seen immediately? You could choose a simple or minimal design for the outside, and save the “wow factor” for the inside - or have both be just as beautiful.

Elements to include for e-Commerce

  • A logo that stands out on the package
  • Information Architecture / company story
  • Brand colors / design if choosing a minimal look

Pro Tip: If you’re not a designer, and don’t have a design team - we provide access to our award winning in-house team in Creative Services.

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For e-Commerce on the other hand, this is your opportunity to make a huge impression on your customer. You should use the inside to tell your brand story, make your customer smile, or create something that encourages them to share the packaging on social media.

More customers post a photo of products and packaging when it is an appealing design.

What you can include to make their experience shareable?

Over 90,000 people search for unboxing videos every month! Your audience is looking at what that experience is.

These videos build a community around your brand online. When customers watch someone else open your package, they want to get that product! All of these unboxing videos should tell you that you need to create better packaging.

Create a complete kit that complements your wine. Smaller items usually add little to shipment costs if implemented correctly.

Customers today expect a branded experience from start to finish - the marketplace has responded, and so should you.

Related: 7 Design Tips For E-Commerce Packaging

Step 5: Use New Packaging + Marketing Innovations

  • QR codes that when scanned tell consumers expiration dates, and other wine or brand details.
  • Eco-friendly packaging designs.
  • Give your customers the option to order packaging with “less materials” 
  • Digitized printing allows for more customization and customer personalization.

Step 6: Choose a Printing Style

Choosing a printing option is more than simply looking at cost factors.

The technology has been changing over the years, and while some older methods are still proven and effective, newer methods have introduced completely new ways to attack the marketplace. 

Here are three printing options to consider:

Lithography Printing

When it comes to commercial printing needs, lithographic printing is the most used solution. And it’s great if you are creating a single design to print over and over without much customization.

One of the main issues is the upfront costs for the printing plate, and the lead time for the project.

If you choose Litho, that means you’re committing to waiting and a portion of your budget before you even get your first box.

If you are looking for a high volume production run of a single design, this is the way to go.

High Speed Digital Printing

Bennett's digital presses are game changing for the custom retail packaging industry.

While other companies might tell you that Digital isn’t competitive when running large orders, what they aren’t telling you is with Digital you can run a variety of designs without needing to pay for, or wait for, new printing plates to be made.

Digital has been growing in the industry, but only a few brands have actually started to take advantage of this huge opportunity.

Imagine creating regional messaging, designs for different stores, seasonal or product variation sizes - all without additional costs.

We were the first to invest in a high-speed, single-pass, direct-to-corrugate, 6-color digital press of its kind in North America. If you want to learn more, check out our page on Digital.

Related: 10 Tips To Make Your Packaging More Sustainable.


Flexography Printing

Flexographic printing will bring your cost of printing down, and tooling costs are typically lower. It has a fast turnaround time that can use both water and oil-based inks.

But, compared to Lithography and Digital, Flexography has a noticeably lower printing quality.

It cannot create photo quality images, and smooth colors or gradients will have visible banding. 

The colors aren’t as vibrant or crisp as the other two options, but this format of printing is inexpensive. It also doesn’t require a lot of attention to detail, and can be produced at very high speed.

Designing With Digital

Here are some design tips to create an effective e-Commerce Packaging from the ground up:

Information Architecture

Messaging needs to be clear and motivated. What should your customer know as they pass by the Packaging? What can they see from across the store? Keep it concise and focused! Only the important benefits should be included here.

e-Commerce Packaging Product Showcase

How customers experience the unboxing and initial view of your product is crucial to giving a great experience. The better you do this, the more likely they are to share it on social media - free advertising!

Color Science

Each color speaks to the customer on a different emotional level, that's something all designers know. Why not use that on the store floor? Here's an actual opportunity to put that knowledge into practice and create something that matches your brand in a powerful way. 

Match Your Brand Colors

Most manufacturers claim they will match your brand colors accurately, but they're not actually equipped to do that. We have some of the best printing capabilities in North America, and promise we can actually match with 100% accuracy. 

Step 7: Do You Need Paper Coating?

A coating can be applied to complete your packaging’s  look -  while offering additional protection and even enhancement.

Matte Lamination

While the overall effect of matte laminated surfaces is understated and elegant, it creates a noticeably high-end and sophisticated feel to your packaging.

Gloss Lamination

This provides a beautiful shine, vibrancy, better image contrast, and more vibrant depth of color.

Gloss lamination even provides better protection against things like moisture and dust. 

AQ Coating

AQ Coating is a clear, water-based coating that is capable of fast drying. It’s environmentally-friendly, making it a great choice for food, household, and fast-consuming products.

It has a very faint gloss finish compared to UV coating and lamination.

UV Coating

UV Coating can create a similar look to lamination, but the difference is that UV is applied directly to the material. Packages are UV-coated using a flood or spot application. Spot coating is applied to one area of the package, while flood (or overall) indicates a coating applied to the entire package.

Spot UV is generally screen coated in thick amounts for maximum visual "pop" and rub-resistance. While flood is usually roller coated in relatively smaller amounts.


Varnish increases the perceived quality of the product. However, it offers a lower degree of protection in comparison to aqueous coating and UV coating.

They are also susceptible to yellowing over time. Varnishes are also not particularly eco-friendly. This is the least popular option.

There are other options, but these are the most popular.

Related: Printing Coating Options

Step 8: Do You Need Special Finishing?

Consider enhancing your packaging by adding a more impactful look & feel. You can include a variety of special processes to create a more eye-catching design.

Foil Stamping

Perception is everything. A product with a foil-stamped package can have a higher perceived quality and value, than one in a standard package. Foil also draws attention - which can make your product stand out among a crowd of competition.

Spot UV

Similar to UV coating, but this is applied to a specific area of the packaging, rather than coating the entire surface.

This is to allow for these areas to be overprinted afterwards, as overprinting will not be successful on areas on which there is a UV varnish.

Embossing + Debossing:

This will add dimension and depth to your packaging. Embossing and Debossing a printed sheet creates a raised (embossing) or lowered (debossing) area.

It is formed using male and female moulds or dies.

Window Cutting

Small windows can allow consumers to see the product inside, and can even allow the consumer to touch and use the product. Toy packaging often uses windows to allow a consumer to press a button or interact with the toy.

Step 9: Creating a Dieline

Now that you have your design in place, it’s time to transfer it to the structure template, a.k.a, the dieline.

There are a few dieline and artwork preparation and requirements that need to be noted by your designated designer, even if your artwork is done and ready to go.

If you do not have a designer, then your packaging company will take care of this for you.


A dieline is typically created on a computer with a designing tool such as Adobe Illustrator, Artioscad, or Adobe InDesign. Measurements need to be precise, to save time and money.

Step 10: Preparing The Artwork

Working with your packaging partner, you will deliver high resolution quality artwork for printing. It’s best if you speak directly to the company you are working with to determine the exact specifications for their CMYK printing.

At Bennett we offer access to our award winning Creative Services to help you design, prep, and deliver all your artwork to our manufacturing teams - and ensure your project details are correct every step of the way.

Pro Tip: Need more clarification on preparing your artwork? Reach out to Bennett if you need help with any of your designs!

Step 11: Creating Prototype e-Commerce Packaging

You should always request a prototype box to confirm the structure and printing for final production, especially if you have a very large order. Once the prototype is created it can be delivered to you in person, or via mail carrier.

We have an array of equipment in our Creative Services Department that will match the exact quality of our High Speed Digital Printers to allow you to quickly get prototypes - and move your project along to production.

Step 12: Production + Shipping

Once you finalize everything, your product packaging is ready to go into full production. You can sit back, relax, and wait for the arrival of your packaging!

Receiving your shipment all depends on your requested timeline, the size of the package, the method of delivery, etc.

It is different depending on your situation, but your account manager will keep you up-to-date with the production and shipping process, ensuring that you are always on track.

Pro Tip: If you need to order on a consistent basis, speak to our packaging specialists to map out your inventory expectations and schedule. This will make it easier to maintain a healthy inventory flow and allow the manufacturer to know exactly when you need it.

Learn more about Contract Packaging


Supply Chain Solutions

Once you have your Packaging design locked and production is ready, you need to create a Supply Chain plan. You should consider the entire process from manufacturing, storage, retailer delivery, etc.

Key Questions:

  • Will your Packaging be shipped fully assembled or KDF?
  • What is the weight of your Packaging with your Shipping Box and Supplies?
  • Where will you store your Packaging?
  • What is the cost for Packaging Supplies?
  • Fulfillment costs, if any?
  • How will you account for returns?

Learn more about Packaging Supplies

Key Things To Keep Track Of

Track if you have enough packaging to meet demand. It’s crucial to keep a tight inventory on the packaging you have at your fulfillment center, and whether it is enough to meet the demands of the season.

Did you ever run out and have to purchase more? Did that incur any delays and costs?

Did you have a surplus? Was it of only certain sizes?

Try to keep track and keep packaging inventory levels in line with demand.

Record breakage

Were your shipments kept safe? This is the priority for any fulfillment center. You should set a tolerance level for the amount of breakage that you can absorb, and then track whether you are meeting that goal.

If you aren’t, you should consider adding more packaging filler, or using a different carrier.

Shipping Deals

One way that brands encourage eCommerce sales is by offering deals on shipping. This includes free shipping. Formulate a strategy for structuring your shipping deals, and then keep track of the process.

Final Mile Carrier

The impression your brand makes on your consumer is just a small piece of the overall delivery experience. Be sure to select the best carrier that can deliver you an optimal “final mile” experience!

Ice pack shipping

Summer shipping may need to include the use of ice packs. Ice packs cannot be simply added to an existing shipper and be effective. This will require you to create a completely different package type, costing you more money, adding the cost of the ice packs themselves, and potentially the new dimensional weight.

ISTA Testing For e-Commerce Packaging

International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) testing helps brands to create packaging that will protect against shock, vibration, compression and any other atmospheric hazards in the distribution environment.

This allows you to eliminate the need for multiple trial shipments, and get your products to market faster, while also ensuring their survival.

It can also help you negotiate lower freight and cargo insurance rates - due to the confirmed lower risk of shipment damage.

We conduct a range of shipping tests (vibration, drop test, etc.) so that you are certified and ready to go. We partner with you through the entire process and make sure there aren’t any surprises - and if there are we are ready to solve them.

If packaging is not tested and not approved by the carriers in advance, then they will not pay any damage claims.

Without approval, it may also put your other approved packages at risk as well.

Bennett Makes e-Commerce Packaging

Bennett is a premier packaging and retail displays manufacturing company striving to protect and promote our clients' products with customized corrugated solutions. When you work with us, you’re part of the family. We will partner with you every step of the way.

With our fully-integrated design-to-delivery process, we can be the single supplier source. We are an award-winning manufacturer of virtually anything corrugate. We offer everything from plain brown shipping boxes to sophisticated, high-graphic printed point-of-purchase displays, and everything in between.

Talk with our team today about your next e-Commerce Packaging

Frequently Asked Questions

What is e-Commerce packaging?

e-Commerce packaging is typically a simple outside design with a complex customer focused inside design. It incorporates your business’s logo, brand colors, copy, and message on the outside (and inside) of the box. This helps your brand stand out in stores and encourages brand loyalty for e-commerce brands.

Where can I order e-Commerce packaging boxes?

Bennett offers a wide variety of e-Commerce packaging boxes, including folding cartons, mailing boxes, and shipping boxes. No matter what kind of product you have, or box you need, we can make it. Just Contact Us and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

Do you also make retail displays?

Yes! We have award winning displays that we can design in tandem with your packaging for your next campaign. By taking advantage of a single source supplier, you can reduce costs and simplify the entire supply chain.

What’s the difference between “Solid Board” and “Corrugated Packaging”?

There are 2 main types of product packaging. Solid board (also referred to as carton board) is a solid material used to create boxes such as those used by Apple (for its iPhones / iPads etc.). Corrugated packaging is made from cardboard). Both are suitable for e-Commerce applications.

What packaging is best for my product?

The style of box chosen for your product depends on a number of factors. This includes the size, shape, weight, and fragility of your product - and even your target market. At Bennett, we can offer the full spectrum of box styles that will take your brand from plain to premium.

What Printing Styles do you offer?

We are able to produce Litho, Flexo, and specialize in Digital. We were one of the first manufacturers to invest in Digital Printing, and that’s put us ahead of the curve. Typically customers think Digital is only useful for small runs, but Digital allows you to create printing variations and create multiple runs of different targeted designs - using some of the latest innovations in marketing!