One of the things that I had to figure out early on that is pretty dang basic (and super necessary) was how to package e-commerce products. And…if I’m going to be all sorts of honest about it, at first it was pretty bad. Okay, that’s not true. It was really bad.
As in, “throw whatever product it was into a box or bag and get it out the door” kind of bad.
How to Package E-commerce Products on the Cheap and Where to Find What You Need
Fortunately, my earliest e-commerce products were things like vinyl sheets, wood blocks, canvas bags—things that wouldn’t shift or shatter between my garage and my customer’s mailboxes.
Can we all just enjoy a collective “phew!” right now?
And the other thing was that even if I did know better back then, I did NOT have a lot of money to sink into my product packaging. So when I wanted to up my packaging game, I needed to find things that were inexpensive. Dang it—let’s yet again be honest—what I mean here is downright cheap!
And ta-dah! Today I’m going to share the oh-so-many things I learned about cheap packaging with YOU so that you can help to avoid some of my mistakes. And yes, I’m even going to tell you WHERE to get them.
Yep—I’m that kind of girl. So here we go:
1. Shipping bags
For the 98 billion rolls of washi tape and twine I shipped out, simple poly mailers—were just dandy. And yes, at first I opted for all sorts of plain-Jane sorts of bags because they were cheap, functional…and there quite honestly were NOT as many options as there are today. But now, my friend, the world is your poly bag oyster!
Just head on over to Amazon, type it in the search bar, and you’ll see a whole bunch of options pop up. You could opt for something that’s your brand color (yay for branding!), find a super crazy cute pattern, or even choose something that’s just a smidge more seasonal. Pineapples for summer, apples for fall, snowflakes for winter…seriously, there’s something for everyone.
You can ALSO get a lot of fabulous things on Etsy. My favorite stores are 2qPaper and TheGoldenDandelion18. Seriously, check them out.
Okay, folks—we know that not every single e-commerce item is going to delightfully slide into a poly bag. Nope…you gotta have boxes. But if you’re thinking you need to start with custom boxes plastered with your logo, think again. When I began refining my packaging, I used plain boxes. The least expensive I could find. Then I ordered a rubber stamp with my logo on it for about $15 and “voila!” Branded packaging.
But if you ARE at a point in your online product business that you do want to have customized boxes, check out FlexPack.com or PrintRunner.com. FlexPack is great for designing larger shipping boxes, while PrintRunner is fantastic for smaller products—they can even do custom tags, card toppers—all of those things.
Oh! And one reminder—sometimes the most cost-effective box can be a free Priority Mail package from the Post Office, so be sure to check that out.
3. Custom Tape
Go grab the most recent Amazon box you received. What do you see? Customized tape? I mean, THE largest e-commerce company in all of the world seriously uses your typical brown box and customizes it just with tape. And they change what’s ON the tape depending on upcoming events, like Prime Day, that they want to promote.
Full transparency here: I did NOT use custom tape for years in my online product business. But it is something I use now and love. I get mine from TapeJungle.com, so give them a quick look-see.
Now that we’ve discussed how to package e-commerce products on the OUTSIDE, let’s talk about what you can do INSIDE.
4. Tissue Paper
Trust me when I say that you’re going to go through tons and tons and tons of tissue paper and other packing materials in your e-commerce business. Wanna know where I got mine for the LONGEST time? The Dollar Store.
Boom. Secret’s out. You can get like 35 sheets for a buck, which is awesome + sauce, right?
BUT as your business grows, you can get good deals on larger quantities through Amazon, and I really like PaperMart.com too. They’ve got a good selection and a lot of different colors and patterns that can make your packages “pop.” Wholesale pricing is also available. And by the way, if you REALLY want to get swanky, there are companies that will custom print tissue paper with your logo, etc.
Speaking of PaperMart, they’re also great for package ribbon. If you sell blankets, for example, and want to tie a bow around it, they have a lot of phenomenal, affordable options for you too.
Hi. My name is Alison, and I’m a twine addict. Yes, I love baker’s twine. I’ve sold roughly enough of it to wrap it around the earth about 33 times. (Okay, so I made that up. But I promise it’s a LOT of twine.) But I also love to use it as a fun way to add interest to my packaging.
You can find twine in a number of places, but right now you can get a screaming deal on my site, ClanDrop.com. While it lasts, you can also use the discount code TWINE to save even more. (Is it wrong that I kind of want to go buy some twine from myself? Yeah, I didn’t think so.)
7. Call-to-Action Inserts
So this is one of my favorite things to talk about when it comes to online business because I’ve benefited from it so dang often. A simple postcard that goes into your package (aka an insert) can thank your customers AND give them a reason to shop with you again. I made more than $20,000 in just one year thanks to these handy dandy little things—without me ever having to market to my customer. I just included a coupon code on the card that went out with their order. And the card probably cost me a whopping penny or two. But you can also use it to promote your social media presence or even just give their kids something to color (Zulily is famous for that one!)
For these cards, Vistaprint is my best friend. And I have to tell you this little secret: they ALWAYS have some sort of coupon code available. ALWAYS.
Whaaaa….? Did I seriously just write that?
You better betcha! I love to give my customers a little something extra in every single package and I’m all about making it FUN. I’ve mailed approximately one kajillion pieces of Laffy Taffy because it makes me stand out, puts a smile on my customers’ faces And it can even help get their family involved. (Kids have been known to ask their moms to order from me so they can get candy! Most recently, I’ve started sending those little temporary tattoos that kids cannot get enough of. They put them on their arm, strike a pose, and moms post the pic to their social media accounts. So it’s fun for them and it’s practically free advertising for me! If you want to look into it, visit 24hourtattoos.com.
Oh….and did I mention that I put ALL of this e-commerce packaging information in an easy-to-access .pdf? Just click the link and it will wing its way to you via Facebook Messenger to help you learn more about how to package e-commerce products on the cheap.