How High Volume E-Commerce Sellers are Customizing their Packaging

The highest grossing e-commerce sellers optimize on the value of customized packaging. Boxes are no longer about the necessity of protecting the product but about furthering the consumer’s experience with the brand.

a stack gadgets and accesories

When a customer orders from your e-commerce site, the first in-person interaction with your brand is the box they see on their front doorstep. This initial, direct touchpoint is an opportunity for you to delight your consumer, engage a loyal client base, and enhance your marketing.

If you’re looking to grow your business, it’s time to start customizing your packaging. Here’s how the best e-commerce retailers are using branded unboxing to boost their volume and revenue.

What is customized packaging?

Customized or branded packaging is a purposeful presentation of products. You provide additional value to the customer by creating an unboxing experience that reflects your brand. This could be as simple as a box with your name on it or as elaborate as a scavenger hunt within the box.

Let’s consider Apple for a second. They have the unboxing experience down to a science. When you open an Apple product, you know you’re getting that clean packaging, that new electronics smell, and even the gentle “pop” when you slide off the packaging to reveal the new goody inside. People like opening Apple products almost as much as the product itself.

Customized packaging tells your customers that they are opening a parcel from your brand specifically.

What are the benefits of customized packaging?

E-commerce merchants generally have less direct opportunities to surprise and delight their customers. In-store experiences, in-person sales associates, and in-hand products are all much easier to create an experience that reflects the store’s brand.

For example, you know what kind of atmosphere and service you’ll get whenever you walk into a brightly-lit Apple store. But you should also get that same level of service and excitement when you purchase the new iPhone online. Apple creates this consistent experience with their website and their packaging.

Creating an experience “over the web” is equally as critical as an in-store experience. It allows you to stand out amongst your competitors, especially in a saturated world of online retailers.

You want to create a memorable, exciting moment that customers will think of whenever they hear your brand name. This excitement creates a rush of positive emotions that encourage customers to keep purchasing from you.

In fact, 52% of consumers are highly likely to make another purchase from an online merchant that delivers their product in premium packaging. That means that you could retain half of all of your consumers simply by enhancing the unboxing experience.

If you continue to delight your customers with experiential and branded unboxing, these repeat customers turn into loyal brand fans. This customer retention allows you to grow your brand without spending exorbitant costs on customer acquisition.

Loyal brand fans who enjoy the unboxing experience are also more likely to share that experience on social media. 74% of consumers ages 18 to 25 say that they’ll share a recent online purchase on social media if the product packaging is unique.

These residual marketing effects also improve your credibility. The more frequently people post about your products, the more “legitimate” your brand appears to future customers. Moreover, a professional unboxing experience sets you apart from the “amateurs” who are simply throwing their goods in a brown box. A branded box shows you as a company, not a seller.

Benefits summary:
· Creates a memorable experience
· Encourages repeat customers and brand loyalty
· Boosts social proof and brand awareness
· Enhances credibility

a group of young people all looking at their phones

How do high volume sellers customize packaging?

1. Make it shareable.

The first thing you want to consider when creating your unboxing experience is its shareability. When customers see the box, what kind of pictures will they take? Will they take a picture of the outside of the box before opening? Will they be more surprised and excited once they open the box and see the inside presentation?

Be deliberate about the moments during the unboxing process that you want customers to say, “Wow, this is cool.” These are also the points where they’re most likely to share the experience on social media.

Consider what shareability looks like after they’ve opened the box. Your customers might not be patient enough to take pictures of the unboxing experience until after they’ve been through it themselves. So, if they completely unwrapped everything, would there still be a strong brand that comes through when they take a picture? What would everything look like after it’s been opened?

There are two key areas to focus on with shareability: shipping box and promotional materials.

Shipping box

The box is the first impression with your brand. What they see on their doorstep will tell them exactly what kind of brand experience is inside. A plain white or brown box is considered “cheap,” while a box that is even slightly decorated or branded can give off a more professional and credible appearance.

If you want people to share your brand, you want to focus on making a gorgeous shipping box. For example, Trunk Club makes their boxes look like travel trunks, with a selection of clothes inside. Their customers almost always take a picture of the trunk box because it’s unique and reflects the Trunk Club brand.

Remember that the look of your box directly impacts brand awareness. Customers that see a Trunk automatically know it’s their Trunk Club. Birchbox subscribers can point one another out based on the seasonal makeup bags they’re carrying. Create a parcel that has an emotional response behind it.

Check out these unique box designs on Wix.

a branded box opened to reveal a collection of nice men's apparel

Promotional materials

You want to include at least one type of promotional material inside the box. The best kinds of inserts are those that encourage social sharing, as opposed to redirecting them back to your website. That’s because customers who share your brand on social media are more likely to make a repeat purchase, because they’re already showing loyalty to you. It also encourages their friends to purchase in tandem.

For example, you might include a branded business card that has all of your social media handles on it and a call to action to share their unboxing experience. Or, you could include a referral discount code that they can share with their friends. Or it could be a recipe for the food products you just sent them.

These all indirectly encourage customers to share the marketing materials on social media whether to give/get a discount or show their friends their new recipe.

Tip: We love using small business cards because they’re inexpensive and don’t add weight to the box, but they’re another detail that promotes the social aspect of the unboxing. 

2. Make it surprising.

One of the reasons people love “unboxing” so much is the surprise. They feel like they’re unwrapping gifts from Santa whenever they get products from you. And you want these positive emotions associated with your brand.

There are two ways to create a “surprise and delight” unboxing experience (aside from the experience itself): tissue paper and gifts with purchase. 

Tissue paper

Something as simple and inexpensive as tissue paper can add to the experience. You’re building suspense by forcing customers to unwrap each product individually.

Ideally, the tissue paper should match the look and feel of your brand. You might want to consider colored or custom tissue paper. Keep in mind that if you have an eco-friendly brand you might want to opt for recycled paper or other “unwrapping” package inserts.


If margins allow for it, customers love being surprised with an extra gift in their box. They feel like they’re getting additional value simply because you appreciate them (not as a marketing ploy). This gets people talking about you and further encourages them to tell their friends.

Common gifts include samples for another product or branded stickers that the customers can put on their laptop or water bottle. Both of these not only give your customer something extra, but they also become gentle marketing tactics to boost future business as well.

Birchbox branded container opened to show a stack of post cards

3. Cut costs, not quality.

You don’t want custom packaging to cut too deeply into your margins, but you also know the value of providing a professional and exciting unboxing experience. The highest volume e-commerce sellers know that unboxing will get them more sales, but they don’t want more sales at low margins.

So make sure you compare all of your options before jumping into a design. Oftentimes, you can skimp on one area (like the tissue paper) by utilizing branded stickers or colored tape. You could even skip out on the promotional materials if you put the information right on the receipt itself. You’ll also want to compare products based on different box types, graphic costs, and printing expenses.

The most effective way to create custom packaging within your budget is to talk to an expert directly. Contact CompanyBox to get in touch with a human who can help you build the perfect unboxing experience that fits your finances.

4. Keep the experience consistent.

Some e-commerce platforms, like Amazon, do not allow you to customize packaging. But you want to maintain the same experience across all platforms. If you have an unboxing experience for purchasers on your own website, you need to have an equal experience through other distribution channels.

If you’re not sure how to maintain consistency across channels, contact Seller’s Choice (our partner and guest author of this post) to advance your marketing reach easily and effectively.


Start by checking out Seller’s Choice to build a marketing campaign that will help grow your business.

Customized packaging shows your customers that you care about their experience even after checkout. You’ll create a memory that encourages repeat customers and brand loyalty, social sharing, brand awareness, and greater business credibility.

Start comparing unboxing products at CompanyBox that will bring you to that next level.

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