Packaging 101: Types and Materials for Every Need

December 21, 2023
Mins Read

As an E-Commerce business owner, you face critical decisions that can shape the destiny of your enterprise. Selecting the optimal packaging type and material for your products is one such decision, and with a multitude of options available, it becomes a pivotal choice. At Starlinks, we recognize that packaging is more than a means of transporting products; it's a crucial element in branding and enhancing customer experience.


In this blog post, we’ll cover the most common packaging types and materials for E-commerce products, to help you effortlessly make the ideal choice for packaging that best serves your business goals and ambitions!

What to Consider When Choosing Packaging for Your E-commerce Business

When making this crucial decision, several factors come into play:

  • Nature of Your Products: The characteristics of your products should guide your choice of packaging.
  • Protection During Storage and Transportation: Opt for packaging that ensures maximum protection for your products.
  • Brand Identity: Use packaging as an opportunity to showcase your brand identity in a visually-appealing manner.
  • Influence on Buyers’ Decision: Studies confirm that packaging significantly influences buyers' decisions and perceptions of your brand.
  • Consumer Experience: Create a unique consumer experience to stand out in a competitive market.
  • Unboxing Appeal: Leverage the power of unboxing videos, 55% of those who watch unboxing videos believe the video convinced them to purchase the product.

6 Common Types of E-commerce Packaging

#1: Corrugated Boxes

When an average person thinks of “packaging”, corrugated boxes made of paper pulp materials usually come to mind. After all, this popular packaging material has been in use since 1856, solidifying themselves as the choice for business owners looking for a straightforward type of packaging.

The widespread use of corrugated boxes largely comes down to their numerous benefits, including ample protection, cost-effectiveness, light weight, biodegradation, and branding simplicity.

Although this standard choice of packing can be utilized to transport a wide range of products including food, electronics, textiles, and supplies, it can still prove quite limited for other needs. That’s because they are not known for lasting well under more challenging weather and environmental conditions, as well as being impractical for transporting heavier goods requiring a special kind of protection.

#2: Poly Mailers

For many of us who usually order products online, there’s a great chance we’ve come across this extremely common type of packaging: The Poly Mailers. This ubiquitous packaging type has been around since the mid 60’s, and are commonly manufactured using one of the most popular types of plastics: Poly-Ethylene. ChoosingPoly Mailers as your go-to packaging type can be a wise decision, as they’re exceptionally lightweight, moisture-proof, cost-effective, and easy to be branded. PolyMailers present a popular choice for packing and transporting durable and not-so-easily damaged goods, including clothing, textiles, accessories, gadgets, and some pharmaceutical products.

Despite their almost-universal use, Poly Mailers can still be a less-than-ideal choice for larger and more fragile types of products. As their basic level of protection is only sufficient for smaller and more shock-resistant products. Furthermore, for those who are more environmentally-conscious, traditional Poly Mailers can be problematic since they’re notoriously slow to biodegrade, making them a poor choice for the environment.

#3: Bubble Mailers

For those who are unable to depend on traditional Poly Mailers to transport their products in a secure fashion, bubble mailers become a more preferable choice. Those popular mailers provide far more protection to fragile products, thanks to its trapped air bubbles creating a reliably protective padding. This extra layer of protection comes without compromising the lightweight quality of traditional mailers, since bubble mailers proved extremely effective in transporting goods, while still being flexible enough to customize.

Items like technological gadgets, jewelry, automotive parts, and handcrafted goods can benefit the most from the superior protection quality offered by bubble mailers. Taking that into account, bubble mailers can be ill-suited for larger products that might need even further protection, bearing in mind their potentially higher cost compared to traditional mailers.

Moreover, those types of mailers are typically manufactured using similar types of plastics as traditional mailers, posing a challenge to business owners and consumers seeking a greener solution.

#4: Paper-Based Packaging

Moving on from plastic-based packages, we encounter another popular packaging choice: Paper Based Packaging. This type of packaging that includes Kraft paper and Paperboard Boxes, can bring the best of both worlds for environmentally-conscious business owners, also looking for a highly-efficient, cost-effective and customizable solution. Paper-BasedPackaging can be incredibly versatile for E-Commerce, fitting a large number of uses that include foodstuffs, electronic accessories, cosmetic products, and even hardware.

These types of packages are easily customized and personalized according to your needs in terms of size, thickness, and branding.  One of the most common uses of paper in packaging are Paperboard boxes, notably sturdy, durable, and biodegradable. This makes them more desirable for businesses offering more “high-end” products.

As probably expected, paper-based packaging does not offer much weatherproofing, making them a sub-par choice for products prone to damage by external weather conditions.

#5: Tube Packaging

Another highly in-demand choice for packaging is“tubes”. Those packaging tubes can be very versatile, usually manufactured using different materials such as plastic (polyethylene), aluminum, and also paperboard. Tubes can be a smart and cost-effective method to pack and transport goods, owing to their light weight, durability, flexibility, long shelf-life, and customization. They can also very effective in preserving active ingredients and protecting them from light exposure, air, or contamination. The typical uses for this unique type of packaging can span a wide range of industries, particularly cosmetics, personal care, pharmaceuticals, art supplies, and some food-based products.

The limitless customization potential offered by tubes has led many cosmetics and personal care brands to utilize them as their go-to choice of packaging, as they bring an excellent balance between safety, protection, and visual appeal. That being said, choosing tubes as your packaging type can be somewhat challenging, considering their different varieties.  For instance, aluminum-based tubes don’t come in cheap, as they can be considerably more expensive than traditional forms of packaging.  On the other hand, while paperboard tubes can be more economical, they offer little protection against moisture and external environmental conditions.

#6: Custom Packaging

Finally, for the more perfectionist business owners who don’t wish to compromise, it might be worth considering custom packaging for your products. Custom packaging isn’t really a different type of packaging altogether, but rather a way to get the best of what each type has to offer. In such case, the design and production of packaging materials would be tailored to meet the unique needs and branding requirements for your particular business.

Those materials can include several options like cardboard, corrugated boxes, plastic, metal, or eco-friendly materials, albeit with a higher level of customization than standard generic packaging. For instance, sustainable choices like compostable packaging featuring eco-friendly materials, are becoming increasingly preferred by modern-day business owners and consumers alike. Eco-friendly customizable packaging can include recycled cardboard boxes, biodegradable paper, eco-friendly mailers, and bamboo-based packaging.

So, what Makes an Ideal Packaging Choice?

  • Distinctive Branding: Creating a distinctive and memorable type of packaging for your products can be a strategic business move worth its weight in gold, especially in the light of a fiercely competitive marketplace and growing conscious consumerism.
  • Diverse Options: While choosing the best type of packaging for your business can sometimes be confusing and troublesome, the good news is that as of 2023, there is a fantastic range of packaging types and materials to suit your unique products.
  • Consideration Factors: When faced with such decision, we strongly recommend you take into account your products’ type, branding requirements, needed level of customization, and long-term business objectives.

The choice of packaging can be an immensely undervalued method of effective branding that attracts consumers, improves customers’ experiences, and fosters brand loyalty.

Seeking Professional Assistance?

Discover the power of seamless logistics with Starlinks. From last-mile fulfillment to Value-Added Services (VAS), we've got your E-commerce supply chain covered. Elevate your brand in a crowded market with our support at every step. Explore the difference Starlinks can make. Reach us though the form, and our business solutions experts will promptly provide you with the details you need.

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