The Box Talk: The Right Box, Every Time

January 13, 2015

Now that the holiday rush is over, and the new year has begun, you might have some time to start making upgrades and changes to your business. One important area to consider is your shipping boxes. Maybe you had issues with damaged boxes in the past, or you’re concerned about shipping prices. Or you noticed some interesting branded boxes and you’d like to learn more. Here are some thoughts to get you started:

Sourcing Boxes

For less customized boxes, you have several options. Box stores and postal outlets sell packing materials and packages for shipping both large and small items. Many websites send free shipping boxes in exchange for using their shipping services. Some of our clients also source standard packaging and box materials through places like eBay.

Size Matters

There are many different sizes and shapes of boxes to choose from. Standard practice says to pick a package that is just slightly larger than the item being purchased to accommodate for some protective packing material, but not so large so that the product is at risk of damage or undue shipping costs are incurred. Uline claims 1,300 box sizes and types, so whatever you need, you are sure to find it there.

The most widely used and recommended shipping box is the corrugated box, or cardboard box, because it is durable and lightweight. If you ship many different items of different shapes and sizes, your best bet might be a multi-depth box, so you can easily resize it as needed. Multi-depth boxes are scored at intervals on the sides of the box. To obtain the desired size container, you simply cut down to the size wanted.

Dimensional Pricing and Weight Concerns

As you probably know, dimensional pricing is in effect. If you haven’t already done so, you may want to consider packaging changes to minimize the effect. Choose smaller box sizes, eliminate any extra packaging materials, and invest in those pre-scored multi-depth boxes that can be cut to various sizes. Aside from dimensional costs, remember the anticipated increases to FedEx’s general rate, surcharge, and accessorial costs.

The Box as Brand

Loot Crate's Custom Shipping Box

Loot Crate’s Custom Shipping Box

Brick and mortar products require fantastic packaging to draw the customer’s eye. Unfortunately, there can be a tendency in eCommerce to assume that because people have already seen and chosen the product online, they don’t need anything fancy when the product is delivered. However, depending on your price point and brand proposition, many e-tailers now see the huge value in making the package part of the total experience. Anyone who has ever received a box from Loot Crate, or One King’s Lane will know what we mean. This is your first physical touch point with the buyer and a perfect way to make your logo and your style an integral part of every piece of the ordering experience. You can certainly bet that the packaging experience will weigh into a buyer’s decision, especially if it’s a gift!

If your brand is targeting a specific personality type or luxury client, branded boxes may serve you well. There are literally hundreds of resources for custom box design. Check out Yebo or Custom Made Boxes as a start.

For more detailed information on using branded boxes, check out our post Should You Consider a Branded Shipping Box? 

Beyond the Box

Some people aren’t even using “boxes,” anymore, depending on the shape and size of their products. One of our favorite examples is Writeyboard, a ShipStation client. They use packaging in the shape of dry erase markers to send some of their products.

finchgoodsAnother example is Finch Goods. In his blog post, The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment, Richard Lazazzera says, “For my new ecommerce business, Finch Goods Co. I opted to go with the unconventional packaging option of coffee bags to ship some of my orders because many of my products don’t require protective padding. Coffee bags offered an inexpensive, but high quality option that also helps to showcase my brand by selecting matte black/silver lining bags, compementing my brand colours. A huge additional benefit to the coffee bags was that they keep my orders thin, affording me much cheaper shipping rates vs. the bulkier box counterparts.”


Could something similarly creative work for you? Whether you choose to heavily brand your boxes, do something that doesn’t even resemble a box, or go with the tried and true shipping methods, there are many things to consider and plan for as you choose the most economical and effective way of delivering your product to your customer.

Are you a ShipStation customer with an interesting approach? We’d love to hear about it!