The most successful businesses tend to follow something called best practices, which are procedures or guidelines that represent the most efficient and beneficial way forward for their enterprise. The most successful e-commerce businesses do something called best packaging practices, which are guidelines that present the most efficient way to handle their packaging and shipping needs. With the help of a few of our favorite e-commerce businesses, we’ve put together the kind of best packaging practices that’ll help your own online store reach packaging practices nirvana.

1. Fit the packaging to your product

Choose a corrugated box that comfortably fits your product and allows for protective material around it. Your product should be snug enough to not bounce around during delivery, or experience compression. By minimizing your packaging footprint, you’ll save money on dimensional weight shipping charges, and keep your customers happy—no one likes an oversized delivery.

2. Match the packaging materials to your product’s needs

With the variety of shipping containers out there, a box isn’t always your best choice. If your product’s packaging profile is small or narrow enough, you can take advantage of containers like cut out wraps, e-commerce boxes or mailer envelopes. You’ll reduce the size of your packaging even further, which will save you time during packing, lower your shipping costs and maximize your packaging budget.

3. Choose the right void fill for your packaging

If you want your product to travel well, it needs the right protective material around it. As a good rule of thumb, the more fragile or expensive your product is, the more protective your void fill should be. Bubble cushion is always a great choice, as its air-filled cells provide superior padding. If your product merely needs an extra layer of wrapping or separation, packaging paper or packing peanuts will suffice. Always keep your customer’s expectations in mind. No one likes a damaged shipment.

4. Use recyclable and reusable packaging

There’s no reason not to use recyclable materials in your packaging plans. With modern-day technology, today’s recycled packaging can be just as strong and reliable as brand new material. By adding them into your lineup, you’ve made a powerful commitment to reducing packaging waste and preserving the environment. Not only will that make you look good, but your customers will feel good about buying from you—increasing the likelihood that they’ll continue doing business with you.

5. Use return-friendly packaging

Just as easy-to-use return policies actually encourage customers to buy more, return-friendly packaging has the same effect on online ordering. When customers know there’s less risk of being hassled over returns, they feel far more comfortable buying more often. For example, new styles of mailer envelopes have easy-open tear strips to avoid damaging the mailer, while some also have a second adhesive strip allowing it to be easily sealed up again for its return journey. Though these forms of packaging do cost more, customers have stated they’re willing to pay a little more over time, if it means easier overall return options. Don’t forget that including a returns label with a shipment is a strong indicator that you’ve got a good returns policy, and are confident in your products.

6. Stick with your packaging choices

Once you’ve chosen your packaging materials, commit to them. By purchasing only the supplies you’ve chosen, you’ll cut down on packaging waste and avoid overspending on your budget. To you customers, this will make your packaging techniques (and your branding) look consistent, and they’ll invest in the idea that you know what you’re doing. They’ll know what to look for when expecting a delivery, and more greatly anticipate it!

7. Wow your customers with your packaging

Invest in the unboxing experience. Try using e-commerce boxes to make customers feel like they’re opening a present. Wrap their products in tissue paper or crinkle paper to draw out the anticipation for just a few more seconds. Thank them for purchasing from you by adding a personalized thank you card, a purchase-appropriate gift, or coupons meant just for them. It may take you a few extra moments, but concentrating on the customer experience will pay out dividends.

8. Follow up with your customers and refine your packaging

After a successful delivery, ask your customers for their opinion. Not just on the product, but on the packaging and delivery experience. You’ll learn where you need to improve your packaging or branding, as well as learning ways you can appeal to them better. Perhaps there’s a certain color they all seem to love, or the packaging itself could use a different texture or shape. You’ll refine your packaging practices this way, making things more efficient and effective. Best of all, your customers will realize you’re actually listening.

A solid understanding of your products, and your customers, is all you’ll need to develop your best packaging practices. For all your shipping supplies and packaging materials needs, we’re The Packaging Company, your e-commerce partner.