10 Creative Packaging Design Ideas for Small Businesses
Unboxing experiences are a big deal in the eCommerce world. Small business owners who want to sell their products for premium prices need to think of creative packaging design ideas.
Imagine I asked you to pick between two necklaces. Both necklaces are exactly identical, but one of them comes neatly packaged in a turquoise jewelry box, while the other one has been haphazardly thrown into a brown paper bag.
You’re going to pick the one with the nice box, right?
Not only does the packaging make the necklace more appealing, but it can also make it appear more expensive. This is called perceived value.
“[Packaging] helps to reinforce the perceived value of the product that's inside, and it really enhances the customer experience.” –Barbara Whitney, Marketing Director for Packaging Specialties.
New business owners often think of packaging as just another expense on a spreadsheet. I’m here to tell you that putting a little extra thought and budget into your packaging is actually an investment in your business that can pay off in a big way.
The few moments it takes for a customer to open and unpack an order are incredibly influential for shaping how they will feel about your brand. In other words, it influences whether or not they will want to buy from you again.
Your packaging is a key opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and build a connection with the people who buy from your business. You don’t need to break the bank, but a little bit of effort goes a long way.
Here are 10 creative packaging design ideas for small business owners to help you elevate the customer experience.
#1: Use Your Product Packaging to Reinforce Your Brand
The most important consideration when designing your product packaging is representing your unique branding.
Branded packaging is key to setting yourself apart from the competition and establishing brand recognition with your audience.
People buy from you because they feel connected to your brand and what it stands for. Use your brand colors, fonts, and logo to create a cohesive experience that is aesthetically pleasing and immediately recognizable to your customer.
If you decide to include any text in your packaging, be intentional about using it to express the one-of-a-kind personality behind your brand.
(Source: Packaging Specialties)
Over time, you may want to change up your packaging. This is totally fine, and can even be a fun way to create a special experience for different seasons and holidays. But never alter it so drastically that it becomes unfamiliar to the customer.
Unless you’re doing a complete rebranding across your whole business, try to stay consistent and make small changes over time.
#2: Curate an Unboxing Experience for the Customer
Getting a new package in the mail is an exciting event. Lean into this and design your packaging with the unboxing experience in mind.
Every detail counts, from the way your products are arranged in the packaging to the tactile experience of opening it.
Unboxing videos have become increasingly popular online. When you get this right, you might inspire your customers to film the experience and generate a powerful piece of social proof for your brand.
You can even stage and film your own unboxing videos as a way to get your audience excited about ordering something from you.
In combination with strong branded packaging, you’re essentially crafting an influential advertisement for your business.
#3: Design the Interior and Exterior of Your Packaging
When you’re thinking about your unboxing experience, leave no stone unturned.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with using generic packaging to save a buck, but it can be a missed opportunity.
There are plenty of companies that allow you to print on both the inside and outside of shipping boxes, which can really elevate the unboxing experience to another level.
It can also be a fun way to incorporate more text into your packaging and drive people back to your website, email list, or social media accounts.
#4: Customize the Little Details
Your branding doesn’t have to stop at the box.
Companies like MOO and noissue give you the freedom to design custom packing tape, tissue paper, stamps, and more.
If you really wanted to, you could customize every element of your packaging to reflect your business’s unique branding.
Now, just because you can don’t mean you should.
You don’t want to overwhelm the customer to the point that your packaging distracts from your actual product. Your product should always be the focal point of an unboxing experience.
That being said, think of ways you can use the small details to make your packaging stand out.
#5: Go Green
According to Business Insider, consumers care more than ever about the perceived sustainability of the brands they shop from, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.
Companies like EcoEnclose and Better Packaging offer affordable options for ordering eco-friendly packaging materials in bulk, and you don’t even need to sacrifice customizability.
If sustainability is a core part of your brand values, it’s especially important to think of the environmental impact your packaging has – because your customers definitely will.
You can go the extra mile by including instructions on how to properly recycle, compost, or dispose of any leftover waste from your shipping materials.
Making environmentally friendly packaging choices can give both you and your customer peace of mind and demonstrate your brand’s commitment to ethics.
#6: Make Your Packaging Reusable
Another way to emphasize sustainability is to find ways to make your packaging reusable for the customer.
This is especially doable with high-ticket products like jewelry that need to be stored carefully. Ring boxes, drawstring pouches, and box inserts make it so your packaging doubles as storage.
Be sure to think carefully about the product you’re packaging, too. For instance, necklaces tend to get tangled up in drawstring pouches.
#7: Employ Clever Design
Part of establishing strong brand recognition is making your packaging memorable.
Brainstorm cheeky ways to let your personality shine through with clever details that enhance your product and the unboxing experience.
(Source: Dashing and Dainty)
Keeping it simple is key. Remember, your packaging should complement your product, not distract from it.
#8: Ship Your Product with Bonus Goodies
Your customers are already going to be excited to receive their order in the mail. You can make it even better by including little bonuses to surprise and delight them.
- Branded stickers
- A free sample or bonus product
- Product care instructions
- A jewelry cleaning cloth
- A cute art print
- An inspiring quote
- Anything else that adds value to your customer
Painter and educator Miriam Schulman found the perfect way to go the extra mile for her customers by including mini prints of her art in her snail mail marketing. It’s a simple gesture that shows her customers she cares and gives them something to cherish.
#9: Add a Personal Touch
As a small business owner, you get an advantage over big-name brands because you have the time and resources to personalize your packaging.
Something as simple as a hand-written thank you note can go a long way in making each customer feel valued and seen.
If you know the customer well, you can also use it as a sales opportunity to recommend another product you think they will like.
Try to go above and beyond for those extra special customers who buy from you consistently and recommend you to their friends. Nurturing customer relationships is vital for small businesses to thrive.
#10: Include a Call to Action
Making a sale is a big deal, but the goal is to form relationships with repeat customers who will buy from you over and over again.
Once someone has bought from you, guide them to take the next step.
Ideally, you should be driving traffic to your website or building your email list – especially if the customer purchased from a third-party platform like Etsy.
The easiest way to do this is to include your call to action somewhere in your thank you note or on a printed business card. You can also consider incentivizing them with a lead magnet by offering them something of value in exchange for their email address.
Your packaging is only one of many ways to make your small business stand out online.
It’s my passion to help independent jewelry designers break through the noise and build a successful online business.
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