Running your own business can be, to many, a dream come true; but this dream is often challenging, expensive, and involves more effort than many are originally aware of. For e-commerce businesses, secondary packaging is often overlooked until the last minute, however it is often the first physical touch point with the consumer and therefore plays a major role in making a good impression. Below are some of the challenges small business owners face with secondary packaging, and why those challenges are worth learning to overcome.

What Is Secondary Packaging?

When a customer purchases an item, it is usually wrapped in its primary packaging, such as the tetra packs or bottles that juice comes in, or the small cardboard box that holds a set of pens. Secondary packaging is meant to not only protect product, but the primary packaging as well. Retailers use secondary packaging to ship purchases through the mail, to ensure the quality of both the product and its primary packaging are not damaged during transit.

Why Is It Important To E-Commerce Best Practices?

When a customer receives their purchase the first thing they encounter will be the packaging, as they will have to look at and open it to unearth their items inside. This provides opportunities for the retailers that would not be available had the customer purchased the item in a store rather than online. It’s easy to add branding labels, inserts, and advertisements during the shipping process that will promote your company wherever the package is seen. This in turn helps make your company more recognizable and memorable to potential future clients. With a unique look, your packaging can help boost the image of your company and make it more appealing every time it is seen along the way to its destination, potentially garnering future customers as well as bringing delight to existing ones.

Secondary Packaging & User Experience

When selecting options for secondary packaging it is beneficial to consider all the ways in which the packaging could be used. What happens if a customer needs to return a package, for example? There is now a wide range of options available to you other than just a standard box or envelope. Resealable or two-way packaging, tear strips and self-seal release liners are simply a few of the options that you can get to make your customers lives more convenient by using packaging with cool, helpful features.

Going green is now on the radar of every company as consumers values have shifted due to widely available education. They now want to know you care about the environment – especially millennials. Recycling packaging or using packaging with reusable features can help you communicate that you are a company that cares, and are taking action.

The Challenges of Fit – Something to Consider

Different items need different sized packages to be transported in, otherwise they might become damaged due to too much or too little space in the package. Returns due to damaged goods can be costly to both the company’s bottom line and reputation. Also, shipping companies’ cost structures have transitioned from measuring dead weight (weight alone) to charging by dimensional (“dim”) weight for lighter items in larger packages. They now charge by whichever measurement results in the higher price. For example a small but heavy item would be charged by dead weight while a bulky light item would be charged by dim. Improper packaging can cause a company to pay far more for the shipping of their product than is necessary, which eventually results in the costs being deferred to the customer making the e-commerce retailer less price-competitive. It can be difficult or expensive for a small company carrying a variety of different-sized and shaped products to maintain enough variations in their shipping stock to match these demands.

Should Secondary Packaging Be Re-Used?

Should you save money by sending out a new product in a used secondary package? On one hand, it is only secondary packaging after all. However, on the other hand, if you are going to send out a product in a reused package make sure the structural integrity of the package is in premium condition. There is nothing that will raise suspicions more in the eyes of your customers than having a ratty box show up on their doorstep.

Reusing old packaging for new orders is risky and if obvious can damage the reputation of your company by looking shabby. It might also seem like you are sending out an item that has already been returned once when in fact, you are not! As a business it will be important for you to establish your own packaging reuse & recycle program to build quality and efficiency into your delivery process. With both old and new packaging piling up you may be forced to pay more for storage/warehouse fees. These can quickly add up and drown a company before it can even really start up.

While secondary packaging may seem like a burden to e-commerce businesses, in truth it can be a blessing. It is the first thing noticed by your customers upon receiving their purchases, and can heavily influence the reputation of your company. Using this to your advantage can help make a name for yourself in your industry and keep customers coming back for more. Don’t be afraid to use secondary packaging creatively, to the best of your ability and help make your business shine.

If you are curious about how secondary packaging could be selected to address your business challenges, contact The Packaging Company. We’re happy to help.