Box, Humbug:  Is Custom Product Packaging Worth It?

December 10, 2020 by Amware Fulfillment

Have you watched any exciting unboxing videos lately? 

Most people look at the creative packaging jobs and think:  “Ooh, cool presentation!” Here at Amware, we’re thinking:

  • “How long did that take to pack?”
  • “Has the customer thought about how much all of those packaging extras cost?”
  • (And most important of all) “Did the eTailer get a good return on its investment for all of that effort?”

Before you accuse us of being the packaging version of Ebenezer Scrooge, allow us to explain.

custom-product-packagingAlthough there are times when custom product packaging delivers tremendous value, it’s not equally beneficial for every kind of company, or a must-have for every buyer. In fact, there are times when – to use today’s slang – it’s simply “extra.”

So how do you tell whether investing extra in your packaging process for online orders is really worth it for your growing business? Here are five questions to help you make the call. 

1. Is your decision to use a custom packaging presentation temporary or long-term?

Custom product packaging doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. For example, if your company is shipping to a new customer, rolling out a new product, or engaging in an important rebranding initiative, it may often make sense to temporarily upgrade your packaging with a more impressive presentation. This will give your new customers the “wow” factor they need in the short term, while still giving your budget a break.


2. If your decision to use a custom packaging presentation is long-term, how elaborate do you want your customization to be?

Custom product packaging doesn’t have to be over-the-top to be effective. It certainly can be, as the gorgeous packaging of companies like Apple and Tiffany’s demonstrates. But it can also consist of a simple modification or two, such as using a tuck top or pizza box instead of a garden variety box, inserting products into organza bags, or using branded dunnage. 

The fewer bells and whistles you include, the more likely your customized packaging is to deliver a healthy ROI – and not just because it will cost you less to purchase supplies.    

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3. How many touches will it add?

This is a question that’s often overlooked by some of the biggest proponents of custom product packaging – your marketing and packaging professionals. These folks often forget to account for how their packaging plan will increase fulfillment center labor.

If your customization of choice is something that requires a lot of careful flourishes, such as wrapping items in tissue paper with a special fold and a beautiful sticker, it could add many seconds per order. And when that’s multiplied across tens of thousands of orders, it can really do a number on your bottom line.  

By contrast, if your customization isn’t labor intensive – for example, you’ve decided your customized experience begins and ends with the use of a pre-branded box or a marketing insert – the final tally will be considerably less, making your custom presentation more feasible.


4. How high-end/premium are the products that you sell?

Even though this question may seem obvious – in fact, you’ve heard it from us before – it deserves repeating.

If you sell a high-end product like premium cosmetics, jewelry, or designer apparel, then having a customized packaging presentation is practically a must, because if your product comes in a cheap box and is surrounded by inexpensive dunnage, your customers will feel a disconnect.

By contrast, if you’re selling something like toilet paper or ink cartridges, your customers are unlikely to care about how their purchases look upon arrival, as long as they arrive on time and intact. In fact, your customers may actually be put off if you engage in too much packaging fanfare, because they’ll assume they had to pay more because of it.

And if your products fall somewhere in between, it all depends. In some cases adding an extra flourish or two might allow you to differentiate yourself from the competition in a really good way. But in other cases, it might not matter at all, which leads us to our final question.


5. Do your customers even care?

If you’ve ever watched a five-year-old tear into a gorgeously gift-wrapped package that’s worthy of a magazine cover, you probably know where we’re going with this. No form of custom packaging, no matter how much or little it costs, is a good value if it’s something your customer doesn’t notice or appreciate.

Before you assume that your customers require a distinctive unboxing experience, take the time to conduct some due diligence.  Add a question about packaging to your post-purchase surveys. Check out unboxing videos that pertain to your industry to see what your competitors are doing. Or, talk to a company that handles fulfillment for many online sellers – like Amware Fulfillment.  We’ll be happy to advise you about some of the best practices we’ve seen and discuss the pros and cons of various packaging presentations that might be right for your company. Reach out to arrange a discussion


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Filed Under: Fulfillment Services