Key Points:

  • Custom packaging is an excellent way to stand out amongst other eCommerce merchant competitors
  • Cardboard envelopes are a great packaging option for eCommerce if your products can fit, plus it's sustainable
  • UPrinting is a great website to create custom packaging for your customers

Custom packaging is a no-brainer for thriving e-commerce brands. Let’s face it, customer acquisition costs are rising every day. More and more, brands are competing for shorter customer attention spans. The first purchase is often made at a loss.

To make a profit, brands are aiming for higher customer lifetime values, word of mouth and repeat purchases. Triggering natural, organic growth has probably become the number one objective for marketing teams. And packaging is a key player in that field. When you ship products to your customers, packaging can say a lot about your brand - and keep them coming back for more.

To stand out in e-commerce, you have to keep in mind these three fundamental questions:

  • How can I surprise my customers?
  • How can I invite them to share and stay in touch?
  • How can I personalize their whole experience?

Doing these things properly will set you on the path to eCommerce success. Here are 10 inspiring packaging designs that will spark your creativity.

Table of Contents

1. Packaging Fresh Out of the Oven from Thelma’s Treats

Can packaging contribute to a brand’s success? When it’s as creative as this one, it certainly can. Product packaging design can even be the number one growth factor for a unique product that’s marketed exceptionally well.

Thelma’s Treats come in an oven-inspired cardboard box. The cookies are placed on a tray and neatly stacked inside. The packaging is a nod to creativity in food packaging and is perfect for eCommerce.

It’s sturdy enough to withstand shipping and unique enough to provide a great customer experience off-screen. It’s also extremely shareable on social media and since you can order it online, the impact is easily measurable.

Furthermore, Thelma’s Treats packaging design is coherent with its promise of freshly baked goodness. The emotional response that their packaging seeks to trigger is the childhood joy of getting fresh cookies warm from the oven. That’s also why the design is based on a 1950’s oven style instead of a modern-day version.

This tailor-made packaging has been featured on many blogs and social media accounts, creating a lot of buzzes and free advertising for the brand behind it. When designed well, packaging can be a wonderful source of organic growth.

2. Reusable Packaging by Monday’s Child

British clothing brand Monday’s Child doesn’t just use its eCommerce packaging design to ship products. The boxes can also double as a dollhouse for their target customer - young girls.

Monday’s Child designs and sews dresses for little girls. According to their founder, “The beauty of receiving a Monday's Child dress doesn't begin with the dress, it begins with opening the box of that dress - untying the bow with the Monday's Child seal, seeing the iconic Little Pink House, and revealing the dress inside.”

These boxes are designed specifically to be a dollhouse. The doors and windows can be cut for a great interactive experience. The box in itself is made of recycled materials and is reusable, so it’s a great example of green packaging, too. The whole experience is designed to be unique and memorable.  

3. Minimalist Packaging Design by Soylent

Behold clean and punchy packaging skillfully enhanced by a bold typeface and the timeless combination of black and white.

Soylent, a startup specializing in ready-to-eat smart food, plays the minimalism trend to perfection. A limited color palette and a clean design serve the brand's vision: nutrition made simple. The packaging goes straight to the point and is not burdened with unnecessary noise. Plus, they’re well-designed for shipping liquids, which is useful for Soylent’s drinks.

The startup is booming globally and its simple but creative packaging design is playing a big part in its success, inspiring other startups like Feed along the way.

4. Carrier Box with a Window by Yope

YOPE is providing its customers with a new, healthier way of treating their hands. Their soap is free of preservatives and made with natural ingredients.

Their tailor-made carrier box has a small window in the center to showcase the products inside. In addition, a subtle mix of colors, patterns, and pictograms come together to create a rather calming custom packaging design.

Put the carrier box in a biodegradable poly mailer and you've got a delightful packaging design for both eCommerce and retail.

5. Reusable Packaging by Disney

Disney is going eco-friendly with a box that turns into a boat. This Moana doll box is a great example of packaging that has a second use built into it.

Children can assemble their new toy themselves and thanks to clever packaging design, they have an added extra that accompanies the main product.

Disney is taking sustainability one step beyond with its SmartPackaging Initiative (SPI), a sustainable packaging measurement and design tool that aims to improve the environmental performance of toy packaging in ways that are measurable and visible.

Brands with a huge reach, like Disney, have influence over millions of people, including children. Being made aware of environmental challenges from a young age and understanding how to improve them will undoubtedly help turn kids into eco-conscious young adults.

6. Saying No to Over-Packaging: Snakehive

Overpackaging is a serious threat to the environment. Bad packaging has a hefty economic cost. This burden is passed on to the consumer and then to waste treatment facilities. It requires more energy to produce - and more energy to recycle -  and isn’t even necessary in the first place.

Many consumers regularly denounce overpackaged products on social media. If your brand is the focus of such a post, it can do a fair bit of damage. Imagine the power of word-of-mouth marketing, but with a negative message.

Snakehive sells premium leather phone cases. Their custom-designed two-piece product boxes are perfectly sized to fit their cases. The product fits perfectly inside the box, no excess material is used. This means Snakehive is saving on shipping costs thanks to well-optimized packaging design.

Their packaging is enhanced by a black sleeve that adds a luxurious aura to the unboxing experience.

7. The Blooming Box by Bloomers

This isn’t, perhaps, the most practical packaging design for eCommerce shipping, but it’s extremely creative nonetheless.

This custom packaging design by premium lingerie brand Bloomers, blooms like a flower, revealing the delicate lingerie items inside. This is a great example of brand coherence across the board.

Packaging is a great way to strengthen your brand identity, which should be unique and coherent across all your communication channels. By doing this, you’ll be remembered and recognized, and ultimately, trusted by a wider audience.

8. Internal Packaging Done Right by Goby

Goby manufactures premium oral care products. Their eCommerce packaging is designed to be self-sufficient, meaning no extra secondary or tertiary box is needed for shipping.

The electric toothbrush’s box has a catchy phrase on an appealing background color printed on the inside, adding a nice touch to the unboxing experience.

Accessories are bundled inside in tiny little boxes. To top it all off, the packaging is 100% recyclable.

9. Wise’s Sustainable Packaging Design

Wise develops skin care products for men that are both high quality and eco-friendly. Their packaging strips away the unnecessary clutter and is in line with their products that are made from just a few natural ingredients.

For example, their shampoo bottle features an eco-friendly design with a minimalistic approach, using 80% less plastic than regular shampoo bottles.

Their mailer box is compartmentalized with a tiny piece of cardboard that fits onto two extra layers of cardboard for a clean look. The whole box is just the right size for a typical order set.

10. Sustainable Cardboard Envelopes from Millbee

Beeswax food wraps are a growing trend in food packaging for individually-wrapped products. When we store food in our fridge or transport it to work, we often use plastic wrap or plastic containers.

Millbee’s beeswax food wraps offer a great sustainable alternative to plastic. To stay in line with their brand’s promise, the food wraps are shipped in recyclable cardboard envelopes that are also composed of recycled materials.

If your products can fit, cardboard envelopes are a great packaging option for eCommerce. They are sustainable, light, and can be shipped through any postal service. With these envelopes, shipping costs are optimized, customers are delighted, and the planet is preserved. It’s a win-win approach that every brand should strive to achieve.

Next Steps

Ahmed Lahlou is an aspiring VC. An entrepreneur at heart, he is a growth marketing consultant for a number of international firms, a marketing and sales copywriter and SEO expert, and the managing partner of a free e-learning platform serving millions of African students every year called Kezakoo. His purpose in life is helping people, companies and himself become the best versions of themselves. He works regularly with Packhelp, a company that helps eCommerce companies create custom packaging solutions.