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Everything You Need to Know About Packaging Supply

11 min read

Confused about the myriad of options for ecommerce packaging supplies?

Packaging supplies are a big part of shipments reaching the customer in perfect condition. Before going any further, let’s highlight the key reasons why a suitable packaging supply is vital, including:

  • Protecting the condition and transport of products
  • Maintain customer satisfaction through correctly received products
  • Decreases the chance of damage costs, returns, and refunds
  • Saves money by removing risks
  • Maintains brand image of quality and order completion

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Packaging Options

The first part of establishing the ideal supplies is to choose the right packaging for the job. There are several packaging options out there, including:

  • Corrugated/Cardboard boxes: Corrugated and cardboard boxes are the most commonly used packaging options. These are just the typical shipping boxes that many products will arrive in. Boxes are versatile, as they are available in various sizes and types. This makes it easy to find options that work for virtually any product. Additionally, boxes are often an eco-friendly packaging option that can be easily recycled.
  • Poly mailers: Poly mailers have become an increasingly popular option for small to medium-sized products. They are essentially envelopes constructed from polyethylene LDPE. Poly mailers are affordable, lightweight, and self-sealing, making them efficient.
  • Padded envelopes: Padded envelopes are another excellent option for small to medium-sized products. These are envelopes with padding layered on the interior. The padding can vary, but it is often a form of bubble wrap. Padded envelopes offer similar benefits to poly mailers, including being lightweight and easy to seal. However, the built-in padding can make them a better option for more fragile or delicate products.
  • Tuck-top boxes: Tuck-top boxes are a type of cardboard box with a tab design for easy opening and closing. Some have a tab that goes into the inside front of the box, while others have tabs that slot into the sides of the box.

Shipment Padding and Protection

After choosing the packaging for products, then comes protecting them during shipment. There are several options for this as well, including:

  • Packing peanuts/loose fillers: Packing peanuts and other loose fillers have been around for a long time. However, there are certainly more eco-friendly and biodegradable versions now. These can be an excellent option for oddly shaped products or filling large spaces. The one downside of loose fillers is that items may shift to the bottom of the box during transport if the filler is not tightly packed in.
  • Cardboard inserts: Cardboard inserts are simply structured cardboard pieces that can be inserted around products to help keep them stable throughout shipment.
  • Foam: Foam has been a longstanding option for shipping protection. There are two common foam options: large foam inserts and thin layers. The large sections are excellent at keeping a product in place, while the thin layers can be wrapped around products to protect them. Unfortunately, foam is typically the least eco-friendly/recyclable option.
  • Bubble wrap: Bubble wrap is a mainstay in the shipping world. It can be purchased in large rolls, which makes it easy to wrap a large volume of products to protect them. In modern times, it is also relatively easy to find recyclable/recycled material-constructed bubble wrap options.
  • Air cushions: Air cushions could be described as a scaled-up version of bubble wrap. They consist of large plastic pockets filled with air. They can be a great option for keeping medium- to large-sized products stable during shipping. Just like bubble wrap, there are recyclable/recycled-material-constructed air cushion options.

You can use almost anything as a package filler

Package Sealing

Now that the product is packaged and protected, the next step is sealing it up for shipment. The supplies needed for this step will depend on the type of packaging used.

Some types of packaging, like padded envelopes and poly mailers, have a self-sealing strip. This means the thin strip covering the self-sealing material must be removed before pushing the edges together.

A good roll of packaging tape will be needed for cardboard boxes. There are several options for packaging tape, including standard, heavy-duty, and reinforced. The latter two options can help ensure the box stays shut even if the tape gets damaged.

Labels and Administrative Supplies

Ok, the product is packaged, protected, and sealed shut. All that’s left is ensuring it gets to the right destination.

For smaller ecommerce businesses, this could mean using pens and markers to write the address on the package. However, this is not precisely scalable as traffic increases.

So, this will mean investing in a decent printer that can produce shipping labels to affix to the box. Shipping labels can be affixed with tape or printed on sticker paper to make it easy.

Benefits of Custom Packaging Supplies

As a brief note, custom packaging supplies can often be an excellent investment for ecommerce companies. These can include supplies like branded boxes or custom-designed poly mailers. Of course, this will come with an increased cost, but it can also be a massive boon for branding.

Another option is to create custom boxes or padding to surround the product to truly protect it during shipping. Again, this will mean an increased cost, but it can also help prevent damage that could lead to returns or refunds.

Additional Tips for Choosing and Using Packaging Supplies

The above basics should make it much easier to navigate the world of packaging supplies. We have included some additional tips below to help you choose the right ones.

  • Always consider the size and weight of products when choosing packaging
  • Place labels in a clear and easy-to-see location where they can’t be obscured
  • Try purchasing bulk shipping supplies to cut down on costs, such as large rolls of padding material
  • Use extra protection for more fragile or delicate products
  • Don’t skimp on packaging by immediately choosing the cheapest option

Using a Packaging and Shipping Service

In the early days of an ecommerce business, the seller will often be packaging and shipping out products themselves. However, as traffic increases, it will become significantly more challenging to fulfill orders internally. This is where it may be a good idea to work with a packaging partner.

Outsourcing these operations will allow products to continue being packaged and shipped while the seller can focus on day-to-day operations and expansion. Alternatively, the business will likely need to hire additional staff to handle all packaging and shipping needs.

Ecwid Can Help You Get Your Ecommerce Store Started

Are you looking to start your first ecommerce store or add another storefront? If so, Ecwid can help to make it easy. Our selling platform is designed to work across many other platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and more. This makes it easy to see all of your stores from one simple dashboard.

The best part is you can get started today for free!

Also, make sure to check out the Ecwid Academy, where you can learn everything you need to know about starting and running a successful online store.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are packaging supplies?

Packaging supplies include everything you need to package a product, protect it, and get it to the customer, such as boxes or envelopes, padding/protection material, tape, and more.

What are the common types of product packaging?

Product packaging options include cardboard/corrugated boxes, poly mailers, padded envelopes, and tuck-top boxes.

What is the best packaging option?

There is no best packaging option. It depends on the product type, size, weight, fragility, and other factors. Ultimately, proper packaging will vary between products and sellers.

What are the options for shipping protection and padding?

Several options are available to adequately protect products during shipping, including bubble wrap, air cushions, loose fillers, foam sections and layers, and cardboard inserts. Be sure to choose the option that holds products stable or provides ample cushioning.

In some cases, this could mean investing in custom-designed boxes or protection to ensure the product is stable and protected. Some sellers may run into this need with oddly shaped or fragile products.

Remember, don’t skimp on shipping protection. It will mean more upfront costs, but it can help to prevent higher rates of refunds and returns.

Are there eco-friendly packaging supplies?

Yes! The boom of ecommerce has significantly raised the importance of eco-friendliness and sustainability. After all, more products and shipping mean more waste and production. Fortunately, there are numerous eco-friendly options, including recyclable packaging and padding and options made from recyclable materials.


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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