When creating a product to sell it’s really important to think about how to package your product! Packaging can’t be an afterthought, as it affects the entire customer experience.
Why is packaging important?
It adds to the overall customer experience
The packaging is an integral part of your product and can help to add value to what you’re offering.
For example, what looks more premium – a baby towel packaged in a box, or the same product shrink-wrapped in plastic with a sticker applied? It’s the same product, and the difference in cost (for the packaging) might not be much (although as I write this, perhaps it will be), but it makes a big difference in terms of perceived value and what you can potentially charge for it – as well as giving an opportunity to promote your brand.
As an example, I recently bought a headband online and it came in an unbranded clear plastic bag. This was definitely sufficient as the product was clean and in good condition (more on this in a minute!) But it didn’t tell me anything about who made it – and I certainly couldn’t recommend them to you now, as I have no clue who it is!
A simple sticker, or insert card would have been a great (cheap) addition and told me a little about who I’d bought from.
Packaging serves a few other functions too.
It’s a way to reflect your brand and give it some character.
I’m not a branding expert (read this blog post from branding consultant Cara Bendon for more on that – she also gives great advice on packaging and the unboxing experience), but here are just a few ways your packaging can elevate your brand.
- If the unboxing itself is an experience it’s much more likely that customers will share it (and give you some free marketing in the process!)
- You can add your own messaging – whether that’s a cheeky note, or sharing information about your brand values and what difference buying your product makes – this is your space to share who you are.
- Practically, if you want to ask for reviews, offer a discount, share top tips on how your packaging can be reused, or give useful product information – this is your space to do so.
Packaging protects your product!
Even if you feel your product might not need a lot (if any) packaging, you do need to think about how you’ll protect it during shipping (and storage if applicable).
As an example, my products were all packaged in recyclable kraft card boxes.
They were also super sturdy, as they were intended for gifting, so tended to be handled a lot. Plus they had to make the trip from the manufacturer, to the warehouse, then some went on to Amazon, before finally making it to the customer – who might actually have bought it for someone else!
So, as you can see, they needed to be strong! Which leads me onto my next point.
I know from experience that products get thrown around in vans, in warehouses, thrown over people’s gates, stuffed through letterboxes and left outside in the rain. I also know that if you send in products to sell via Amazon FBA they can also get thrown around a bit.
While of course you can’t prevent any of this from happening, do at least package your product in a way that protects it as well as you can.
The bottom line is this – What you can’t count on, at any stage of the process, is someone else caring about your product and the condition it arrives in as much as you do! Therefore, you need to ensure it’s packaged in a way that will keep it protected – which in turn gives the customer a better experience. This is especially important if you sell a product which is frequently gifted.
Where do you start with choosing and designing your product packaging?
Remember, your packaging doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive – but does need thinking about.
There are 4 main things to consider:
- Functionality – your packaging needs to do its job – i.e. keep the product in good condition.
- Aesthetics – ideally it’ll look good!
- Purpose – is it purely functional, or do you also want to use it to share more about your brand, get people to your website, or educate them about your product and how to use it?
- Legislation – I’ll cover this in more detail below.
There are lots of options for how to package your product – and it really depends on what you’re selling and what your budget is.
- Boxes (with or without windows)
- Letter boxes
- Gift bags
- Padded envelopes
- Tissue paper or wrapping paper (maybe branded) to wrap your product in
- Using stickers or stamps to seal or personalise your packaging
- Branded belly bands or ribbon
You might also decide to include a product insert with an offer, discount, or a request for feedback or reviews.
How to package your product – A practical tip to get you started
Look at how other, similar, products are packaged
You can either go into a shop, or order products online (with the intention of returning them) to see how they’re packaged and get some inspiration.
Look at how the packaging is constructed, read what’s written on it and see whether there’s an insert card or flyer included.
Make notes and take photos – but don’t copy anyone else’s packaging outright. This is just intended as a starting point and to hopefully inspire you.
What do you need on your packaging?
I’d suggest the following, as a minimum:
- Your logo
- What the product is
- Where the product was designed and made
Other things you can include:
- Any information you’d like to share about your product (or packaging) and how to use or care for it.
- A printed barcode, or space for a barcode sticker to be applied at a later date.
- A call to action (i.e. leave feedback, join my mailing list for a discount, etc).
- Social media links, or your website address.
Getting a barcode – GS1
If you need a barcode, the only place to go (in the UK) is GS1. This is the only barcode source accepted by many retailers and marketplaces.
Check for any relevant legislation
Some products have rules around how they’re packaged and / or what’s included on the packaging. As an example, in the UK, there are things that are required to be on the label for pre-packaged food products and plastic bags require a suffocation warning.
Google is the best place to start when researching this. Google ‘packaging requirements for…[country and product] which should give you any guidelines. (Try and find the official government website on this.) If in doubt, do lots of research and make some calls to clarify. It’s best to get this right to save making changes at a later date.
Look at marketplace requirements
If you’re looking to sell on online marketplaces then some (I’m thinking of Amazon FBA specifically) have requirements on how products need to be packaged (they call it prepped) when they arrive at the warehouse.
These are mainly for the reasons I’ve outlined above – if they feel your product isn’t adequately packed to prevent damage they may return them.
For example, Amazon states that textile items ‘must be wrapped in shrinkwrap or placed in a sealed poly bag.’ This doesn’t need to be your main packaging of course – but if you know you want to sell your textile item on Amazon eventually, this is something you can factor in now, while you’re planning what you need.
Where would I get packaging made?
One thing to consider is where your product is created.
If you’re making it yourself you might find a packaging supplier either local to you, or online. There are some great, affordable eco-friendly options available now.
If you’re sourcing your product (either abroad or in your own country) your supplier should be able to help themselves, or put you in touch with a packaging supplier. Generally, if your product is being produced abroad it’s cheaper to get your packaging made, and your product packaged, in the same place (country – not necessarily factory), before it’s shipped.
One thing to know here is that it’s usual for packaging to have a higher MOQ (minimum order quantity) than the product. If this is the case I suggest either asking for the leftover packaging to be stored by your supplier (if you’re sourcing from overseas) or store yourself ready for your next order.
How do you brief a packaging designer?
If you’re going to have packaging designed, whether that’s a box, a backing card, insert or label, there are a few things your designer will need to know:
- The dimensions. (If you’re not sure, your supplier should be able to advise.)
- The material used (i.e. is it a kraft card, white card, etc)
- Details of colours, fonts, etc, that you want to use. (If you have this.) It’s good to give them an idea of the kind of thing you like. This is where sharing photos of packaging you’ve seen and like can be really helpful.
- If you have any restrictions around colours – i.e. some suppliers charge more if you print using more than 2 or 3 colours.
- Everything you want included – i.e. any text or images (as we’ve been over already)
My final tip – Start thinking about this early
That way you can find out whether:
A, you can get what you want
B, what the costs are likely to be
So there you have it! Hopefully you found this pretty comprehensive. However if there is anything I haven’t covered please do ask.