The Pros and Cons of Packaging

There are countless options on the market today when it comes to the kinds of packaging available for eCommerce retailers. Many online brands even choose to customize their packaging for a one-of-a-kind unboxing experience.
Should you brand your packaging?
Should you opt for sustainable packaging?
How do you balance the labor and costs associated with packaging with customer expectations?
Here’s what you need to know about your packaging considerations.

Branded Packaging: Is Unboxing Worth the Investment?


Should you ship your goods in branded packaging, or is it not worth the investment? One of the main considerations online retailers must consider is how the positive and negative aspects of branded packaging and whether it’s the right option for them.
Pro: Make a Strong First Impression

First impressions may not seem like a huge deal, but they last. It takes consumers as little as 3 seconds to form an opinion about a product. That means that from the moment your product arrives at your customer’s doorstep, they are developing an opinion about who you are as a brand. Branded packaging is an opportunity to deliver your products in a beautifully designed, custom package that advocates for your unique brand.
In the era of unboxing, packaging is everything. Especially in the world of eCommerce, your branded packaging replaces the experience of entering a storefront. It’s the only chance you have to create the first tangible, tactile experience surrounding your product. According to Forbes, 60 to 80 percent of all consumers do not go back to the same business, even if they were satisfied with the product. Branded packaging is a change to create a total experience, jam-packed with a “wow” factor that will set your brand apart from the competition and make you memorable.
After all:

  • 72 percent of consumers in the US say their purchasing decisions are influenced by the packaging design.
  • 61 percent of shoppers are more likely to repurchase a luxury product like jewelry, makeup, and perfume if it comes in premium packaging.
  • 40 percent of consumers will share a picture of your packaging online if it is unique or branded in some way.
  • 50 percent of consumers will recommend a product if it comes in packaging that is branded or feels like a gift.

(Potential) Con: Pay More for the Experience

One reason some brands opt against branded packaging? It might cost a bit more upfront, but if done right, can actually earn you more attention in the long run. Yes, a branded box or bubble mailer might cost more than plain corrugate, but in the world of online retail, branded packaging acts like a billboard. You can create personal experiences, share links to your website, and spread the word about your brand all with a beautifully, thoughtfully designed package. It’s not just packaging, it’s marketing too.
Unless you collaborate with your 3PL provider, personalized packaging may also slow the fulfillment process.
The secret to avoiding the hassle of paying more for branded packaging? Work with a 3PL provider to design affordable packaging that promotes your brand story and streamlines your processes and saves you money at every step of fulfillment, from packaging engineering, assembly, and production to shipping weight, material choices, and more. 

A Look at Sustainable Packaging


According to Nielsen, the US sustainability market will reach $150 billion in 2021. When it comes to sustainable packaging, business is booming. What is there to consider regarding sustainable packaging?
Pro: Appeal to Eco-Driven Consumers
Sustainability is a major driving force for an increasing number of consumers. One study led by the National Retail Federation and IBM discovered that 6 in 10 consumers would change their shopping habits if they knew it would reduce their environmental impact. What’s more?

  • Nearly 8 in 10 consumers stated that sustainability is important to them.
  • More than 70 percent of survey respondents shared that they would pay a premium of 35 percent for brands that make sustainable or environmentally responsible choices.

It pays to share your sustainability story with your customers, and could actually attract more customers to your brand if you choose sustainable packaging.
Con: Non-Sustainable Packaging Could Lose You Business
If you’re skipping on sustainability, you could be skipping out on potential customers too. In one survey conducted by Hotwire, 47 percent of worldwide internet users stated that they had ditched products or services from a brand that violated their personal values. And sitting at the top of the list of these values? Protecting the environment. 
Organizations that pass on sustainable packaging may find that consumers looking to make choices that protect the environment won’t become repeat customers once they discover just how wasteful some brands are when it comes to their packaging choices.
Pro: Sustainable Packaging Could Actually Save You Money
Without the proper packaging, 1 in 10 products would arrive broken at their final destination. But that doesn’t mean that packaging has to be damaging to the environment, or that organizations have to shell out more money to find eco-friendly packaging alternatives.
Function of Beauty is one such company that found a way to make sustainable packaging that saved them money. They switched from white paper-backed corrugate to natural kraft board and changed the way they printed on their boxes, eliminating flood coat printing to use 90 percent less ink. They also worked to reduce the amount of packaging they used, implementing simpler, more versatile modular inserts to support sustainable, affordable choices. This greatly reduced their packaging costs while also giving them a more sustainable option.

The Pros and Cons of Different Types of Packaging


There isn’t one solution when it comes to packing something securely so that it arrives at your customer’s door intact. Sure, you have options of white board or kraft board boxes, bubble mailers, or recyclable padded envelopes. But what about the packing materials inside?
Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
Pros: These are better for the environment and less expensive than their styrofoam counterpart.
Cons: Some customers do not enjoy dealing with loose-fill packaging when they open a product.
Corrugated Bubble Wrap
Pros: Made from up-cycled corrugated cardboard, this replaces plastic bubble wrap, which is not a sustainable packaging product. Plus, it’s great for cushioning and is recyclable.
Cons: Very few! Truthfully, the only downside to this packaging option is that corrugated bubble wrap doesn’t have the same satisfactory “pop.”
Inflatable Air Pillows
Pros: These are a great alternative to styrofoam or bubble wrap and come in a variety of sizes. They reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging and cost less to produce.
Cons: Not all inflatable air pillows are made from biodegradable plastic or recycled materials.
Cornstarch Packaging
Pros: Cornstarch packaging is made from corn or maize and has plastic-like properties that can be used for molded forms and loose-fill packaging more sustainably than petroleum-based packaging.
Cons: Since this product is derived from the grains of corn, it competes with human and animal food supply and could raise the price of a worldwide dietary staple.
Mushroom Packaging
Pros: Inexpensive and eco-friendly, this packaging can be sued to support smaller items and it made from mushroom roots, which otherwise would go to waste. It can be composted at home and is non-toxic, and doesn’t compete with the food supply. It can also be molded into any shape, dried, and used as packaging.
Cons: None!
Seaweed Packaging
Pros: This is a new prototype for use as a packaging material that’s plentiful, sustainable, and could be the next big this in eco-friendly packaging.
Cons: It’s not available (yet!).
Recycled Cardboard and Paper
Pros: Cardboard and paper are some of the most recyclable materials available, but should be sourced from post-consumer or post-industrial recycled sources, or sustainably managed forests.
Con: Not all paper products are sustainably made. White cardboard and paper but aren’t always sourced in ways that maintain forest growth.

Support for All Your Fulfillment and Packaging Needs


OceanX is dedicated to being a true partner in your third-party logistics (3PL) process—and that includes packaging. We believe that you shouldn’t have to choose between environmentally friendly, personalized, and affordable packaging options. At OceanX, you can have all three.
Stop weighing the merits of branding over cost, and never sacrifice your commitment to the planet again. Ready to see how we can make it happen? Download our guide: Everything You Need To Know About Brand Packaging Design.