Ecommerce Packaging

Bespoke packaging vs Off-the-shelf: Which is right for my ecommerce business?

7 mins

When it comes to running a successful ecommerce business, packaging is a crucial element that can't be overlooked. Not only does it protect your products during transit, but it also plays a significant role in shaping the experience customers have with your brand.

One of the key decisions you'll need to make is whether to use bespoke packaging or standard, off-the-shelf packaging. Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one for your ecommerce business can have a significant impact on your success.

In this blog, we explore the differences between bespoke packaging and off-the-shelf packaging to help you make an informed decision.

Off-the-shelf packaging for ecommerce

Off-the-shelf packaging, sometimes referred to as stock or standard packaging, offers a straightforward and convenient solution for ecommerce businesses. These are packaging solutions that are mass-produced and available for purchase without the need for any customisation.

Advantages of off-the-shelf packaging

There are various reasons why off-the-shelf packaging may be preferred by some ecommerce businesses, including:

  • Quick availability - Speed is of the essence in the world of ecommerce. With off-the-shelf packaging, you can quickly access packaging materials without the lead times associated with custom designs. This agility allows you to respond swiftly to changes in product offerings or market demand.
  • Low minimum orders - Off-the-shelf packaging can be ordered in lower quantities than bespoke packaging. This flexibility is especially beneficial for smaller ecommerce businesses, startups, or those with fluctuating sales. It means you can order just the right amount of packaging to meet your immediate needs without worrying about excess inventory.
  • Cost-efficient - Off-the-shelf packaging stands out as a cost-efficient choice. Unlike bespoke packaging, off-the-shelf options are pre-designed and ready for use. This can significantly reduce your packaging expenses, making it an attractive choice for those starting out on a tighter budget.

Disadvantages of off-the-shelf packaging

Whilst off-the-shelf packaging can be a beneficial choice for some, it does, unfortunately, come with its drawbacks:

  • Limited branding - Generic or off-the-shelf packaging, by its very nature, lacks the personalised touch that bespoke packaging offers. It's like wearing an off-the-rack suit versus a tailored one. While both may serve the basic purpose, the tailored suit fits you perfectly and reflects your style, just as bespoke packaging aligns seamlessly with your brand. The limited branding opportunities in off-the-shelf packaging can be a missed chance to establish a strong and memorable brand identity.
  • Less Product protection - Another significant drawback of off-the-shelf packaging is its potential to compromise the protection of your products during shipping. The majority of standard packaging options will likely offer adequate protection, however, this can’t be compared to a bespoke solution that provides peace of mind.
  • Unsatisfactory unboxing experience - In a market flooded with similar products and competitors fighting for the same customers, standing out is crucial. Unfortunately, off-the-shelf packaging often leads to a lack of uniqueness. Your packaging may appear strikingly similar to that of your competitors, blurring the lines between your brand and others in the eyes of consumers. As well, the excitement and anticipation associated with unboxing a package, a moment that can be a powerful touchpoint for building customer loyalty, is often diminished when using plain and uninspiring off-the-shelf solutions.

Bespoke packaging for ecommerce

In the competitive landscape of ecommerce, first impressions matter. This more detailed approach to packaging is all about creating a solution that resonate with your brand, your products, and your audience. Here's a closer look at why bespoke packaging can be a game-changer for your ecommerce business:

Advantages of bespoke packaging

  • Brand identity - At the heart of bespoke packaging lies the ability to craft a distinct and memorable brand identity. Your packaging becomes an extension of your brand's personality, allowing you to infuse it with your unique colours, logo, and messaging. With every delivery, your brand values are reinforced, leaving a lasting imprint on your customers' minds. This visual consistency enhances brand recognition and establishes a sense of trust and authenticity, as customers learn to associate your distinctive packaging with the quality and value of your products.
  • Custom fit - One of the foremost advantages of bespoke packaging is its precision. Each package is precisely designed to accommodate your specific products. This custom-fit not only ensures that your items are securely protected during shipping but also minimises the need for excess packaging materials. This results in lower shipping costs, contributing to a more sustainable and cost-effective ecommerce operation.
  • Enhanced customer experience - The unboxing experience is a pivotal moment in the customer journey, and bespoke packaging excels in elevating this crucial touchpoint. A thoughtfully designed package creates a sense of anticipation and excitement among your customers. As they open their orders, they are greeted by a package that mirrors the care and attention to detail you invest in your products. This positive emotional connection can translate into online reviews, social media shares, and, most importantly, repeat business. A memorable unboxing experience is a testament to your commitment to customer satisfaction and can turn first-time buyers into loyal brand advocates.
  • Marketing opportunity - Bespoke packaging is not just a protective shell; it's a marketing tool in disguise. You have the creative freedom to include additional elements that engage and inform your customers. From showcasing information about your other products to promoting ongoing promotions, your packaging can communicate valuable messages. QR codes strategically placed on the packaging can seamlessly lead customers to your website or social media profiles, encouraging greater interaction and brand engagement.
  • Exclusivity - The concept of exclusivity and premium quality is often conveyed through bespoke packaging. When customers receive a product in a uniquely designed package, it evokes a sense of exclusivity and reinforces the idea that they are receiving a high-quality item. This perception can justify higher price points for your products, allowing you to position your brand in a premium segment of the market.

Disadvantages of bespoke packaging

It’s clear to see that bespoke packaging offers numerous advantages, but it's not without its own set of considerations. Let's delve into some potential challenges that businesses may face when choosing bespoke packaging for ecommerce.

  • Higher initial costs - One of the most notable drawbacks of bespoke packaging is the higher upfront costs associated with custom design and manufacturing. Unlike off-the-shelf options that are readily available, the creation of bespoke packaging requires an investment in design work and prototyping. For small businesses or startups with limited budgets, this initial expense can be a considerable barrier.
  • Longer lead times - Bespoke packaging takes time to design, prototype, and manufacture. This longer lead time can be a challenge for ecommerce businesses that need to launch quickly or adapt to changing market demands. It's crucial to plan well in advance and ensure your supply chain can accommodate these longer production timelines.
  • Minimum order quantities - Many manufacturers of bespoke packaging have minimum order quantity requirements. This means you may need to order a larger quantity of bespoke packaging than you actually need, which can tie up capital and storage space. Smaller businesses might find it challenging to meet these minimum order quantities.
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Bespoke ecommerce packaging from Swiftpak

Working with an experienced bespoke packaging supplier can make all the difference in creating successful packaging solutions. With expert advice on materials, design, and sustainability, you can achieve your packaging goals while staying within budget.

At Swiftpak, we pride ourselves on delivering the very best bespoke packaging solutions. With over 45 years of experience and a trusted in-house packaging design team, we can ensure a successful solution that your ecommerce business deserves. If you’re interested in making the most out of your packaging, get in touch with our expert team today. We’d love to show you how our bespoke packaging process can drive business growth.