The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Packaging: Which is Right for You?

4.7/5 - (42 votes)

In August 2020, TikTok influencer, @theerinmarie, went viral after she posted an unboxing video of her latest Chanel purchase: cotton pads. Yep, you read that right. Cotton pads. Rather than spending $6.99 on drugstore ones, Erin decided to fork out $20 on Chanel’s designer range: Le Coton. 

Her unboxing experiencespread over three videosamassed millions of views and over 1 million likes. The reason why she bought these cotton pads and posted them on social media? She wanted to see if they came in Chanel’s premium, luxurious packaging. And they did. 

Le Coton comes in the classic cream Chanel box, tied in a signature black bow. Not only that, but the box includes free samples of Chanel mascara and perfume, delicately placed in a cream bag. As The New York Times and Washington Post noted in their coverage of the bizarre viral trend, “the purchase is more for the packaging and the aesthetic of having a Chanel box than anything else.”

This is the power that packaging can hold: a customer buying your product for the sheer experience of opening it. It’s fair to say that, if you play your packaging cards right, your packaging can become more than just a safety vessel, it can become a communication tool, a marketing powerhouse and, even, a lifestyle. 

The Value of Packaging

@theerinmarie video wasn’t a one-off either. With the ubiquity of TikTok and YouTube, unboxing videos and captures of retail shopping experiences are moving from strength to strength. Take @marc.unbox, an influencer who has dedicated his channel to “buying and unboxing the cheapest items from luxury brands,” says his TikTok bio. With over 200,000 followers and millions of likes, Marc’s channel shows the appetite for premium packaging experiences. The research backs this up, too.

In one published study, researchers uncovered that attractive types of packaging stimulate the reward-seeking parts of our brain, which are associated with impulse purchasing. This means that beautiful packaging designsand the well-crafted experiences that go along with themcan directly increase your sales.

How to Create Beautiful Customizable Packaging

How to Create Beautiful Customizable Packaging

It’s evident that the types of packaging that house your products play an important role in showcasing their value, But where do you begin? Creating beautiful packaging is no happy accident. It takes strategy, careful planning, and understanding. 

The tricky thing, of course, is that there are so many types of packaging options out there, it can be hard to know where to begin. You want to get your packaging right, but you don’t know which material is best, what size to choose, what to fill your package with, and so on. 

Shop Popular Products

In our opinion, the question of choosing the right packaging really should be an enjoyable task, but we understand that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of options out there. We know you want to make the right choice, at the right price, for your customers.

This is exactly why we’ve created this guideto help you demystify the jargon around packaging types and find a solution that benefits your business. To begin with, though, let’s go back to basics…

Packaging’s Importance for Both Ecommerce and Retail Strategies

Instead of diving straight into the different types of packaging and the packaging materials available, let’s first cement the reasons why you need packaging for your product. From the below list, it’s likely that a few reasons will resonate with you and your brand, some more than others. This is a good thing. By finding what’s important to your packaging strategy, you can make informed decisions later down the line when it’s time to pick your materials. 

1. Functional Purposes

At a basic level, packaging is a necessity for safely transporting products. It provides physical protection from damage, from things like vibration, weather, compression, dust, and so on. Packaging also offers a sense of security. If the product is well wrapped, it prevents someone in the logistics system from tampering with itor even stealing it. 

2. Cost-Efficiency

cost efficient functional eco-friendly digital unique

Putting effort into the economics of your packaging strategy can help the bottom line. By choosing cost-effective types of packaging and ensuring the size is just right, you can minimize waste, improve delivery costs and, ultimately, save money. Think of it like this: Your products packed in boxes that are way too large will take up a lot of extra space during the delivery process. This leads to higher costs and possibly even longer delivery times if not as many parcels can be sent out at once. After all, there’s only so much room in a delivery van! 

On the flipside, if your packaging protects your products snugly, then you’ve found the most cost-efficient way to both store and deliver them.  

3. Appeal to the Eco-Conscious Customer

According to EuroStat, in 2018, the total volume of packaging waste was roughly 77.7 million tonnes. Consumers aren’t happy about this. A recent McKinsey study found that 71% of US respondents said they are more concerned about packaging sustainability in 2020 than they were in 2019. For brands like yours, this is an opportunity. Choose the right packaging materials, and you can:

  • Have a positive impact on the environment
  • Build a more positive relationship with your customers

This is because consumers are becoming more and more conscious of their carbon footprint. Many want to be eco-friendly, and they are looking to the brands they engage with to help them on this mission. If your packaging materials are recyclable or more sustainable, then you can appeal to consumers with this mindset. 

4. Brand Differentiation

When we say Tiffany & Co., what image springs to your mind? Chances are it’s the brand’s little blue box, possibly adorned with a signature white ribbon. The box is so infamous that, in London, there’s a cafe named after it: The Tiffany Blue Box Cafe at Harrods. 

tiffany blue box brand differentiation iconic packaging

What Tiffany & Co. has done with their packaging is create something iconic, a box that instantly conjures up a precise image of sophistication and luxury. For your brand, creating signature packaging can be a way to stand out from the crowd and cement yourself in the crowded retail space. Plus, as we explored above, the notoriety of unboxing videos on social media means it’s easier than ever to reach huge, global audiences with your packaging. A beautiful design and engaging experience can build brand affinity and get you new customers. 

5. The Digital Touchpoint

With COVID-19 taking hold in 2019, many consumers who had never shopped online before started to do so. Even now things are somewhat back to normal, there’s no doubt that some consumers will have changed their shopping habits for good. But in the absence of a physical retail store, how can brands create the same experience and connection with their customers? 

You guessed itpackaging! In the ecommerce journey, your packaging is the final step of your customer’s engagement with your brand. 

Sure, you may have a cool website and you’ve got your email marketing down to the tone of voice, but if your packaging experience is bland or subpar, then you risk your customer being one-time only. On the other hand, if you’ve thought out the unboxing experience and make an effort to make it enticing and pleasurable for your customer, then you can effectively bring a little bit of the in-store experience directly to your customer’s home. 

ecommerce packaging and digital touchpoint for unboxing experience

6. Brand Affinity

You know that moment in Pretty Woman, when Richard Gere presents Julia Roberts with a beautiful suede jewelry box. She’s completely dazzled by the gift, without opening it. The box conveys so much. The packaging is elegant and oozes luxury. Of course, not every brand is a luxury brand, but that doesn’t mean your packaging can’t be cool, fun, or exciting. You can still create a special moment for your customer and build brand affinity in the process. 

By creating a type of packaging that elevates your product and brand, you can create that same feeling in your customer that Roberts’ character felt when she was presented with the jewelry box. Create this positive feeling consistently and you might find you build some long-lasting, loyal customer relationships. 

7. Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

Lastly, we can’t forget that packaging is ultimately a marketing vehicle. With clever design and branding, your packaging can become an extension of your marketing strategy. It can communicate your brand values, lead to new customers via social media, and make your brand memorable. It’s integral to make sure that packaging is one of your “Ps of marketing.”

Packaging Materials: Narrowing Down Your Focus

So we have the why, and you’re now keen to unlock the power of packaging to build better customer relationships, supercharge your marketing, and boost cost-efficiency. To help you do this, it’s important to get a few things clear upfront.  

The below questions are designed to help you narrow down your focus, so that you can start to clarify what different packaging materials are best for your business and goals. 

1. What Packaging Material Suits Your Needs? 

There’s a wealth of materials out there to choose from: cardboard, plastic, paper, glass. Within these materials, there are subsets, too. For example, if you’re an ecommerce brand, you’ll want to make sure your choice of packaging materials is durable enough for the logistics journey. You also need to think about the size, weight, and fragility of your productand what type of material will best protect it. 

what packaging material suits your needs

But aside from practical considerations, you should also think about how your packaging materials can reflect your brand values. If sustainability is important to you, then your packaging choice should be eco-friendly. Consider this stat: 68% of consumers say they’re more likely to choose a product in paper packaging or cardboard boxes over plastic, while 63% say paper packaging makes a product appear higher-quality. 

So if you consider yourself a luxurious brand, then plain, corrugated cardboard won’t be the way to go, as it won’t portray the sense of elegance your brand wishes to convey.  

2. What’s Your Budget? 

As with all things in business, your budget will dictate what you can and cannot do, and that includes choosing the packaging materials that you want your brand to stand for. Imagination and creativity can get you a long way but you still need to plan financially. After all, product packaging is meant to enhance your business, not detract from it. 

Your budget should consider a few things: 

  • Firstly, how many units will you need? 100? 5,000? 100,000? The more units, the more cost. But you will also find that when buying your packaging materials wholesale, you will be able to get a large amount of boxes for a good price. Equally, though, you want to make sure that the amount you buy reasonably matches the number of orders your online and retail stores expect to receive. Otherwise, your boxes and other packaging materials could end up taking up unnecessary space.
  • Secondly, you’ll need to budget for design. If you’re going to make your packaging a part of your marketing strategy, customization is crucial. Creative work is an extra cost – but a worthwhile one if you want to stand out from the crowd.  

consider packaging budget quantities MOQ design customization marketing

3. What Do You Think Your Customers Want? 

“Know thy customer” is the first and most important commandment of business. When choosing and designing your packaging, you should look at the product through the lens of your target audience: 

  • What kind of packaging would they like? 
  • What colors will resonate with them? 
  • Will they want freebies? Recyclability? 
  • What should be inside the box? 

Plan out and imagine the ideal packaging experience for your end customer. If you’re not sure or are still figuring out your key demographic, then spend time doing research. Look at what other brands have done, read articles like this one about packaging expertise, and create mood boards to cement your vision for your packaging.  

4. What Are Your Box Dimensions?

This is a fundamental but often overlooked part of a packaging strategy: finding the best size package for your product. The dimensions of your packaging play an important role in the cost of production, the price of shipping, and the safety of your products.  

The three main dimensions to measure a box are length, width, and depth. You measure these inside the box, not outside. Accuracy is pivotal here. We recommend triple-checking your measurements to make sure you’ve got them right.  

Ideally, the dimensions of your box should be an inch or two bigger than the size of your product, so that they fit snugly inside. This will help to reduce the risk of transportation damages, as well as minimize the need for lots of internal packaging filling. 

9 Popular Types of Packaging

Let’s take a look at some of the common packaging material options that can be used for both ecommerce and general purpose consumer packaging, like cosmetic packaging products, FMCG, clothing, and toys.  

As we go through each type, we’ll give you an idea of the benefits and disadvantages of each, as well as a guideline on the price, to help you make an informed decision. 

What If I Just Want Basic Cardboard Boxes?

This is a fair question and we get it. For busy business executives, mulling over packaging design can feel like another stress, another thing to add to the endless to-do list. However, you’ll be surprised to learn that there is no such thing as a “basic box” when it comes to packaging materials. Even plain corrugated boxes or brown paperboard boxes come in many types and sizes. There are different closures, different levels of thickness, and much more. 

If you want retail packaging to be part of your marketing strategy, then going beyond basic necessity is well worth the time and effort. If your packaging ends up going viral in a TikTok unboxing video, your whole company will reap the rewards. 

1. Rigid Boxes  

You know Apple’s infamous, clean-cut, white iPhone box. This is a prime example of cardboard being used for a rigid box. The look and feel of rigid boxes lends itself well to items that are delivered as gifts, such as beauty products, jewelry, or fashion accessories like sunglasses or watches. Because of their durability, this type of packaging material is also excellent for technology items, keeping them safe during the ecommerce journey. 

rigid packaging boxes thick cardboard

Rigid boxes are made using super thick cardboard, at least 4x thicker than your average piece of cardboard. As the name insinuates, these boxes are rigid to touch. They’re hard to bend and not very malleable. Like Apple’s boxes show, this type of custom packaging is great for unique designs. You can print your logo on them, choose different colors, give them a matte or glossy finish, and even emboss them.  

Cost-wise, rigid boxes are on the pricier end of the scale. The durability and design flexibility of these types of packaging materials come at a cost, which is why these boxes are often associated with luxury items (Apple, we’re looking at you!)  



Premium – great for luxury items 


Strong; will keep products safe 

Not malleable, so more expensive to store 

Versatile; can be used for all kinds of products across sectors 

In the ecommerce journey, will need extra packaging around it to ensure items are secure and safe 

2. Paperboard 

Think of paperboard like thick paper. It’s thick but not quite as thick as a traditional cardboard box. You’ll see paperboard used often for small products, especially food items like cereal or sometimes even toys.  

Paperboard as a packaging material is extremely affordable, but it’s also extremely flimsy. It’s not good for delicate products, as it doesn’t provide much protection from the elements. Saying this, it’s also very versatile in that it can be cut into all sorts of shapes and designed into beautiful, unique finishes that portray brand values.  

Paperboard is created using wood pulp. If you use the right manufacturer, you could even get your paperboard packaging created using 100% recycled materials, which is great for eco-conscious brands.   

Notably, paperboard tends to come in two options: 1-ply or multiple-ply. What you choose will depend on the durability you need. Multiple-ply is slightly more dense and stronger than 1-ply, making it a better choice as protective packaging. Although, we still wouldn’t recommend using paperboard packaging materials for delicate items. 



Affordable price 

Weak – does not offer the protection of other packaging options

Versatile; can be used for all kinds of products across sectors 

Unable to withstand elements, which could lead to products being damaged

Recyclable – can also be made from 100% renewable materials 

Cheap and cheerful – not great for premium products 

3. Corrugated Cardboard  

Corrugated cardboard is a bit of a powerhouse in the ecommerce industry. When you hear people talking broadly about cardboard packaging materials, chances are they’re referring to the corrugated variety. This cardboard is as versatile as it is durable. It can be used for everything from shipping cartons to gift boxes to takeout deliveries.  

corrugated cardboard multi-layer fluting

Cardboard is made of multi-layered paper called fluting. It’s corrugated, thanks to the sandwich-style application of the different layers, which makes the packaging strong and cushioned. No wonder it’s a top option for ecommerce deliveries.  

Generally speaking, the more fluting in the box, the stronger the package will be. From a sustainability standpoint, corrugated cardboard boxes tend to be made using recycled materials, making it a good option for eco-conscious brands. It’s also inexpensive. 

From a design standpoint, corrugated boxes are often a favorite. Corrugated cardboard is extremely customizable. Whatever shape, color, or finish you want, it’s possible. Corrugated cardboard can handle different types of coatings, treatments, and adhesives. 



A solid price for a solid product

The cost increases depending on the strength you want 

Strong; will keep products safe 

Will take a lot of design work to create a premium look and feel 

Versatile; can be used for all kinds of products across sectors and can be designed in many different way 

Sustainable as made from recycled materials 

Although heavy products are often shipped in rigid boxes, if an item is too heavy for even a rigid box, a corrugated box will do nicely. Rigid boxes are made using corrugated material, so they keep their structural integrity intact even when stacked up. This, in turn, helps prevent more damage to the items stored inside. These features make these types of boxes ideal for moving. 

4. Cotton Bags   

Remember the Chanel unboxing experience we mentioned at the beginning of this guide? You may recall that, within the beautifully designed box, there were a couple of freebies encased in a delicate cotton bag. 

For physical retailers, cotton can be a great packaging material option for your products. For a start, cotton is usually a renewable, inexpensive fabric. This makes it great for brands who want to demonstrate their sustainability values through their types of packaging. Also, because cotton bags or pouches are reusable, they are in the mind of your consumer long after their purchase is made. 

cotton bags reusable bags or pouches

Cotton is also extremely versatile. While its color is naturally cream, it can be dyed into any color you like. It can also be weaved in different ways to create different measures of thickness.  

Cotton materials can be treated and personalized in numerous ways. It is naturally an ivory color, giving it the ability to fit any vision. The color isn’t the only advantage; it can be made into different types of gauges and weaves, so bags can be thin like delicate muslin or very thick like a sturdy tote. Cotton fabric as a packaging material is also easy to work with, so there are no limitations in how small or large the final package can be. 

Needless to say, the softness of cotton makes it a no-go for the ecommerce journey. However, just like Chanel did, you could always incorporate cotton packaging inside your more durable shipping boxes.  



Usually inexpensive 

Limited protection; not suitable for ecommerce 

Sustainable; can portray brand values 

Versatile; can be designed exactly to your taste 

5. Plastics  

Ah, plastic. Once the shopping bag of choices for retailers around the world, plastic packaging has faced some backlash in recent years, mostly down to its environmental impact. The interesting thing about plastic is its versatility. Aside from traditional shopping bags, plastic can be molded into durable shipping cartons and even blister packets.  

In terms of benefits, plastic packaging can be strong and good at resisting different weather conditions. It’s also inexpensive and highly customizable, enabling you to go crazy with your design ideas.  

There are many types of packaging material options for plastic and despite the bad rep, there are also some more sustainable options. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and LDPE (low-density polyethylene) are two of the more eco-friendly options. However, the recyclability of these plastics depends on the recycling stream in the country you’re shipping to, so if you’re an international retailer, take note. For example, PET can be recycled in Germany but not in the United Kingdom. 

In terms of their source, both PET and LDPE come from fossil fuels. But bioplastics exist, too. These are made using renewable materials but are also more expensive. In terms of protection, plastic packaging materials are not as strong as cardboard. So if your items are delicate, this packaging type may not be right for you.  



Usually inexpensive 

Not suitable for fragile comments 

Lightweight, durable and waterproof 

Not the most sustainable choice 

Versatile and easily customizable

6. Jute (Hessian/Burlap)   

Jute is made from the bark of the white jute plant and is also widely used in the packaging industry. It’s a golden fiber that can be woven into a coarse, strong material. Jute is often used for reusable shopping bags, agricultural packaging, and coffee bags. Since the decline of plastic shopping bags, jute has slowly edged into the spotlight. It’s 100% sustainable and extremely durable. However, it also has a rustic look and feel, meaning while it may be great for ethical brands looking for sustainable packing materials, it doesn’t shout premium. 

sustainable packaging jute hessian burlap strong packaged material

For physical retailers, jute is a great option. It’s cheaper than cotton packaging and its strength also means it can be used again and again and again. Talk about free marketing!  



Cost effective

Not suitable for premium products

100% recyclable 

Not suitable for ecommerce packaging 

Super strong – a great option for shopping bags 

 7. Padded Mailers

For small products that are about to go on an ecommerce journey, padded mailers as packing materials are a great option. They’re super easy to ship and are also very cost-effective. Because they can be sent in the mail stream, you don’t have to pay the prices associated with FedEx or another shipping provider. 

padded mailers with cushioning cost effective shipping

Padded mailers are usually made from paper, which is then blended with a padding material, such as bubble wrap, to provide extra cushioning. While the cushioning can help to keep items safe during the ecommerce journey, padded mailers aren’t recommended for very delicate items, as they may still get squashed during the logistics process. However, if your item comes in a boxsay, a necklace encased in a small cardboard boxthen a padded mailer will work. 

Padded mailers come in a variety of sizes and also have different sealing options, from peel and seal to self-sealing. These mailers are designed for the postal system, meaning the seals are usually very secure and difficult to open, which will prevent tampering or the elements impacting the package.  

In terms of design, padded mailers are extremely customizable. You can change the color, add designs, include your logo, and so on. They’re also easily recyclable, making them an eco-friendly choice. 



Cost effective

Not suitable for fragile products

Sustainable option

Not suitable for larger products

Easily customizable 

Good for ecommerce for smaller products 

The Inside Counts, Too! 

That’s our overview of the top types of exterior packing materials. Now, it’s time to think about the interior. 

Let’s revisit Chanel again. What made that unboxing experience so great was the synergy between the beautiful exterior packaging and the interior of the box. You want to create a consistent experience from the outside in and continue your customer’s delight. 

Now, if you’re thinking of packaging for your physical retail shop, then this part of the article will be slightly less relevant to you. After all, if your customer is waiting in a queue to pay for their item, they don’t want to see a sales clerk at the till faffing about with lots of bits and bobs to put inside their paper or poly bag.

top types of packaging materials inside printing and customizations

However, for ecommerce players, the inside really does matter. From a functional perspective, interior packaging adds another layer of protection and safety during the logistics journey. Then, from an experiential point of view, the interior materials can help to convey your brand’s messaging (think recycled paper for sustainability). This will excite your customers even more and add to the theater of the unboxing experience. 

Let’s dive into some of the common types of interior packing materials below: 

1. Styrofoam (Polystyrene)   

Styrofoam is a go-to protective material for ecommerce packaging. It’s made of mostly air, giving it a foam-like consistency that provides excellent cushioning for products during the logistics process. It’s also a good insulator, helping your products to withstand different temperatures, such as high heat levels during a hot summer’s day.  

Styrofoam tends to come into two forms: in rectangular shapes that fit between parts of a productfor example, do-it-yourself furnitureand also in the shape of packaging peanuts, which are small styrofoam nodules that can be poured into a box to provide protection. 

styrofoam polystyrene lightweight package option

Styrofoam’s air-like consistency makes it extremely lightweight. It’s also relatively inexpensive. From a customization standpoint, styrofoam offers a lot of potential. It can be molded into different shapes and even dyed different colors. For instance, packaging peanuts could be turned into brightly colored stars that add to the wow factor of opening a package. However, for all its plus points, styrofoam is not environmentally friendly. It is not biodegradable and can’t be recycled.  



Relatively cheap

Not recyclable 

Lightweight while providing excellent protection 

Negative environmental impact 

Easily customizable 

Costs extra to make styrofoam attractive/customized 

Good insulator 

2. Cardboard  

Another top choice for packaging materials is cardboard. Its versatility extends beyond its use for exterior packaging; it can be used for the interior, too. For example, corrugated cardboard boxes can be shredded to create an alternative to packing peanuts, or cardboard can be snugly placed around items to add an extra layer of cushioning and protection.  

As we’ve already noted, cardboard is inexpensive and sustainable. It provides strong protection, making it a great choice for many internal packaging needs.  

Just as with external cardboard packaging, internal cardboard pieces or shreds can be customized into your brand’s colors and molded into different shapes to add to the unboxing experience.  



Cost effective

Price increases when corrugated cardboard is selected 

Lightweight while providing excellent protection 

Needs customization to portray a premium look and feel

Sustainable options

Versatile – can be changed into different shapes 

3. Soft Plastics   

Soft plastics have a sturdy yet foamy consistency. They are made of a type of polyethylene or from a material known as EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate). You tend to find this kind of material inside of boxes that hold premium, electrical items, such as phones or voice assistants.  

They’re a great choice for these kinds of products because they are extremely strong, water-resistant, and cost-effective. They are also flexible, which means they can be wrapped or shaped around products to provide insulation and protection. 



Cost effective

Not as cheap as styrofoam 

Lightweight while providing excellent protection 

Premium look and feel

4. Bubble Wrap  

Who doesn’t love popping a bit of bubble wrap? With its fun consistency and strong protective properties, bubble wrap is a solid and affordable choice for fragile items like electronics or glass bottles. 

It’s made using polyethylene film, which is rolled into a sheet that contains small pockets of air. The sheet is extremely flexible, so bubble wrap can be wrapped around products of all shapes and sizes. The bubbles also come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny, centimeter air pockets to ones that are an inch in diameter. The size and fragility of your product will dictate the size of bubble wrap you go for. 

bubble wrap affordable packaging for fragile products

In terms of the ecommerce journey, bubble wrap’s structure is superb at protecting products. It’s also weather-proof, helping to keep your products safe from rain, hot weather, and so on.  

For all its benefits, bubble wrap is not easily customizable, meaning it’s not great for a premium unboxing experience. It’s also not the most sustainable choice, as it is made from PET, which isn’t recyclable in all countries’ recycling streams. 



Cost effective

Not sustainable 

Lightweight while providing excellent protection 

Quite bulky 

Good for ecommerce journeys 

5. Kraft Paper  

Kraft paper is a plain, brown paper that can be wrinkled into ball-like shapes and put inside a box to provide extra protection. Kraft paper is something that you don’t necessarily need to purchase especially. Your printer paper, old magazines, and even leaflets can be scrunched up and used for protection.  

From a sustainability standpoint, this makes kraft paper a good choice. Not only can it be recycled itself, but by using existing materials, you can upcycle. However, it’s worth noting that crumpled pieces of newspaper don’t exactly scream premium or customized, unless you find a way to put a creative spin on this in your marketing strategy.

kraft paper brown protection and eco-friendly

You can, of course, choose to purchase kraft paper specifically for your packaging. If you do this, you’ll benefit from a range of customization options. Different colors, finishes, and patterns are all on offer.  

While kraft paper offers good protection at a good price, it’s worth noting that paper has some drawbacks. Namely, it’s not the best for dealing with humidity. This means that if your products are delicate or sensitive to weather conditions, kraft paper won’t be the best option. 



Cheap and cheerful

Vulnerable to the elements


Doesn’t portray a premium look and feel 

Offers solid protection for products that are not fragile 

6. Tissue Paper  

Tissue paper is thinner than kraft paper. Each sheet is extremely lightweight and thin. When a bunch of sheets are put together, though, tissue paper becomes a sturdy, cushioned option for both ecommerce and physical retail.  

Aside from being protective, tissue paper has an air of elegance about it even though it’s very cost-effective. Its range of colors and consistency lends itself well to designer products like perfumes, jewelry, and fine clothing.  

Saying this, we advise being careful about how you use tissue paper for the ecommerce journey. If your items are delicate, then tissue paper on its own won’t be enough to protect your products during the logistics process. However, they can still be added to the inside of your package to add a little theater and luxury. 



Cost effective

Vulnerable to the elements

Premium look and feel; easily customizable too 

Will need to be used alongside additional measures to protect delicate products during the ecommerce journey 

Offers solid protection for products that are not fragile 

7. Air Bags (Pillows)  

Air bags are exactly thatplastic bags that are filled with air. Unlike many kinds of plastic, airbags are recyclable because they are made from high-density polyethylene film, making them a more sustainable choice. 

Typically, air bags come in a long roll of individual bags. The edges between each bag are perforated, making them easy to separate. To use them, you simply stuff the desired number of airbags around your product in its packaging.  

Air bags are inexpensive and provide great protection for fragile items, offering the utmost cushioning. They’re also durable against the elements. While they’re lightweight, it’s worth noting that airbags are bulky. 



Cost effective

Bulky to store 

Offers high protection 


Add Some Wow Factor 

Throughout this guide so far, we’ve dropped some nuggets about the importance of customization. Now, it’s time to delve into that aspect a little further. Having an idea of the product packaging materials you want to use is the first, pivotal step. But how you use them as a vehicle to tell your brand’s story is just as important. 

add wow factor unique packaging ideas for personalized shopping and branding

Let’s reinforce this with some key stats: 

  • According to Bain & Company, 60-80% of consumers will not repurchase from a brand with poor packaging, even if they liked the product they bought.
  • Ipsos found that 72% of American consumers feel that a product’s packaging impacts their decision to buy.
  • 71% of consumers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal, says Segment.
  • According to SmarterHQ, 80% of frequent shoppers only shop with brands that personalize the experience.

It’s clear that personalization is the name of the game if you want to win new customers and retain old ones. This is where packaging innovation becomes integral. Funnily, innovation has become a bit of a buzzword in the business world. However, it is often not thought about in terms of packaging. 

Many businesses make the mistake of thinking packaging is a functional thing, something to protect your product as it gets from A to B. But it’s so much more. Customized packaging can be the difference between a one-off customer and a loyal brand advocate.  

It’s Time to Get Creative

The beautiful thing about many of the most popular packaging materials options (both internal and external) that we’ve discussed so far is their versatility. Besides offering basic protection and safety, they can be customized into different colors, shapes, and designs.  

For example, a couple of years ago, we worked with T-Mobile to create bespoke packaging for their physical retail location in New York. With their logo elegantly placed on the box and their brand colors shining through, these boxes were a hit with customers in-store. 

Turn Your Vision Into Reality 

Earlier, we asked you to imagine your ideal unboxing experience for your target consumer. Got the image in your mind? Now, let’s take a look at how you can turn that vision into an amazing reality…. 

Personalize with Printing

The sky’s the limit for your packaging vision. With the power of custom printing, you can adorn your retail packaging with different colors and designs, putting your brand’s stamp on your box. There are a few different printing options to consider. The main ones are:  

1. Ink Effects

When you’re looking at ink designs, you’ll see a couple of acronyms pop up again and again: RGB and CMYK. RGB stands for red, green, and blue. These are the colors that make up images on your computer screen or TV. CMYK stands for the ink colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). These are the colors that you see on printed designs. For your packaging, it’s pivotal to submit your ink designs for printing in CMYK. 

personalize printing with ink effects RGB CMYK on box

In terms of what you can create, the opportunities are boundless with custom ink. They can be used to coat your package in your brand colors and come in different textures, such as metallic, matte, and even glow-in-the-dark. You can use as many colors as you like. However, be aware that the simpler the design, then the lower the price.  

2. Die Cutting

Die cutting is effectively like using a giant cookie cutter to add texture and dimension to your packaging. For example, you can cut a rectangular shape in your packaging using a die-cutter to give customers a sneak peak of what’s inside. 

For a detailed overview of how die cutting works and its applications, take a look at our die cutting guide for everything you need to know.  

Add a Touch of Sparkle

Printing and die cutting aren’t the only ways to personalize your packaging. There are tons of nifty ways to elevate your packaging with different artistic solutions. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Foil Stamping: Foil stamping involves using high temperatures and pressure to glue a foil design onto your packaging. The foil can vary in colors and textures, from gold to metallic to holographic. Foil stamping can add a sense of luxury and grandeur to your packaging. However, it comes at a price. It’s a labor-intensive process, meaning it takes both a lot of time and money to use foil stamping for large orders.
  • Embossing and Debossing: Embossing and debossing are two processes that bring texture to your packaging. Embossing works by elevating your artwork from the printed material of your packaging. Debossing sinks your artwork into the packaging. Like foil stamping, both processes add a sense of luxury to your packaging. It’s worth noting that embossing is slightly more expensive than debossing. 
  • Spot UV: Spot UV is a coating technique. It uses a high-gloss paint to coat your packaging, using UV (ultraviolet) light to cure the printed material’s varnish. It results in a shiny, glossy aesthetic where your packaging has been printed. Take a look at the example below.

spot UV coating technique high-gloss

  • Typography: Just like printing a piece of paper, you can add text in different fonts, sizes, and colors to your packaging. We advise using your brand guidelines as the basis for the text and colors you choose to ensure synergy with your wider marketing strategy. At the same time, you’ll need to make sure that your color background compliments your text color. For example, cream lettering on a white box will be difficult to see. Size is also an important consideration. For all the effort that goes into adding text to your box, you want to make sure it’s readable to the receiver.

What Should I Do Next?

choose best type of packaging for your business

We’re almost at the finishing line! Having read this guide, we hope your mind is brimming with creative ideas of the types of packaging and packaging materials to use and how to add a stamp of personalization. However, we also appreciate that the world of packaging can be a little overwhelming. Because there are so many different types and options out there, there’s no such thing as a wrong or right choice. One thing’s for sure, though. There is one that will be best for your business’s unique needs and goals. 

Here at Refine Packaging, we have years of expertise in helping brands large and small to unleash the potential of customized packaging. In this way, they can attract customers, improve relationships, boost brand affinity, and help the bottom line.

Whether you’re a pizza delivery service or a mobile phone provider, our range of boxes has you covered. Our team is with you every step of the way, from helping you choose the type of box you need to designing the perfect exterior, to ensuring the interior materials you use are safe and can wow your customers. We work with you to turn your vision into a reality. 

Refine Packaging is the top choice for the world’s Inc 5000 and Fortune 500 companies. With super fast production times, affordable pricing, and a sky’s the limit attitude, we’ll help you turn your custom packaging into a competitive differentiator. Contact us today and a dedicated packaging specialist will guide you through every step of the custom packaging process without breaking a sweat.

Ready to think outside the box? Let's get started!

Get in touch with a custom packaging specialist now for a free consultation and instant price quote.