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7 Packaging Best Practices for CPG Brands Moving Toward E-Commerce

If you’re old enough, you remember cultural phenomena like having milk delivered to your house by a milkman.

Packaging best practices

But many of today’s adults considered buying CPG products as something done by going to a retailer, picking items off shelves, and then purchasing them and taking them home. 

With the rise of e-commerce, things are coming full-circle. Not only do many national supermarket chains offer online ordering and home delivery, but people are also becoming used to buying CPG products online, once again cutting out the trip to the store.

Consider the astonishing rise of e-commerce for consumer packaged goods. In 2013, people only bought around 1% of their packaged food online. By 2025, online grocery sales will represent 20% of total grocery retail, according to a study by Nielsen and Food Marketing Institute. 

Brands that adopt CPG packaging best practices for e-commerce can boost their chances of capturing their share of this growing segment of online shopping. Here are seven best practices for CPG brands that are increasing their e-commerce efforts. 

1. Make Packaging Attractive

You may not think package aesthetics are that important for online shoppers, but in fact, how your packaging looks is as important as it ever was. The difference is that the aisles they’re shopping aren’t physical, and for some product categories, those virtual “aisles” may be nearly infinite. Therefore, your product packaging must stand out. And it must be photographed with skill to show off packaging aesthetics to their greatest advantage.

2. Packaging Functionality and Convenience Work in Your Favor

Convenient packaging holds strong appeal. When people know they can easily reclose their stand-up pouch of sugar-free sweetener, or that their skincare product comes with a convenient measuring dropper, they respond positively. The same packaging convenience features you work on for traditional retailer sales are important for your online sales as well. 

3. Show Packaging from All Angles

By showing product packaging from all angles on your product pages, you help replicate the experience of picking up a product from a shelf and examining it. People want to see the packaging up close, and from all sides, in high resolution, because it reassures them that it is indeed the product they want. 

Packaging best practices

4. Show the Product Outside the Packaging

Likewise, it’s good to show not only the packaging itself but also high-resolution images of the product that comes inside the packaging. Consumers want to see what the cookies, tahini, or olive oil looks like as it’s being used, because it makes them more confident in their online purchasing decision. 

5. Use Product Pages to Your Advantage

While some CPG product categories have to adhere to strict labeling regulations, the mere presence of your product pages online provides an opportunity to clean up product labeling and consider putting information that used to be on the label in the product description. When your product pages are well-organized, easy to scan, information-packed, and SEO friendly, you boost sales and raise your brand’s online profile.

6. Make Sure Packaging Survives Shipping

Individual CPG units can be shipped for the final mile in numerous different ways, including being boxed up with products that are heavy. They’ll probably be turned upside down at some point, and shaken during the journey. Choosing outer packaging that can sustain the knocks of last mile delivery is no longer an extra: it’s expected. 

7. Make Packaging Accessible

Unboxing packages is fun, even if those packages contain ordinary items inside. Making the unboxing experience enjoyable is partly down to making it convenient. People don’t want to feel like they’re trying to get inside Fort Knox when they open your CPG packaging, so try to strike that critical balance between adequate protection and ease of access. 

With so many CPG brands getting into the e-commerce mainstream, requirements for packaging design are shifting. Follow these best practices, and you can take home your share of the growing CPG e-commerce trade. PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news!


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