Insights / White Papers

E-commerce Packaging: How to Optimize for Omni-Channel

There’s no question that online shopping is booming. Just think about how many digital purchases you’ve made in the last week, day, or even hour. E-commerce products demand packaging that meets a unique set of design and logistical requirements. Failing to optimize your package design for omni-channel can hit your company’s bottom line and reputation. This paper will outline what you need to know to develop impactful and effective e-commerce packaging.

By: Moira Stein
Date: May 17, 2024

Customer using credit card on ecommerce website


According to recent government data, annual U.S. retail e-commerce sales exceeded $1.1 trillion in 2023 — a 7.6% increase over the prior year. E-commerce accounts for more than 15% of total retail sales, and that number is expected to continue to grow. Consumers appreciate the safety, convenience, variety, and competitive pricing online platforms provide. Omni-channel retail is moving beyond web-based retailers to include B2C and D2C, social media sites with online marketplaces, smart device apps, quick commerce, and more. E-commerce packaging has unique design and logistical considerations driving new trends and strategies.

The Digital Consumer: Convenience Is Key

Let’s start by talking about the online shopper. For many consumers, shopping online is a strong habit, with 34% shopping online at least once a week (Forbes). Today’s consumers are leading increasingly busy lives and looking for products and technology that help save them time. E-commerce provides the convenience they’re looking for. Click-and-collect, curbside delivery, and home delivery can save consumers valuable time. Monthly subscription boxes and auto refill services can create peace of mind and give consumers one less thing to worry about.

With convenience a key priority, the ideal e-commerce experience should help consumers quickly and easily find and receive the products they need. According to Forbes, the online shopping cart abandonment rate is almost 70%. Nearly half of consumers report that extra fees (i.e., shipping and taxes) prevent them from finalizing their purchase during online checkout. Nearly a quarter drop out of an online shopping session because shipping is too slow. Other inhibitors include needing to create an account, privacy concerns, and a complicated checkout process. Reducing shipping costs, providing fast delivery, and allowing guest checkout can optimize the online shopping experience.

Packaging can also provide convenience. Package design that is frustration-free and easy to open saves time and effort. Packaging that allows for easier returns, is reusable, or is easily recyclable also adds efficiency. And packaging that arrives intact and damage-free eliminates the need for inconvenient returns and exchanges. This is where e-commerce-ready packaging comes in.

What Is E-commerce Packaging?

E-commerce products may be handled up to 4 times more than packaging sold through traditional retail and, therefore, they need to withstand rigorous conditions and rough treatment. Fragile glass bottles and jars can break. Plastic caps, triggers, and other components can crack and cause leaking. Aluminum cans can dent, making the product inside unsafe and unusable. Broken primary packaging leads not only to replacement costs but also reputational costs. Even cosmetic damage - like scuffs, dents, and imperfections that don’t impact form, fit, or function - can also lead to a negative user experience.

Thousands of packaging solutions have been pre-tested and certified to ship from an e-commerce provider through carrier services without damage or leakage. These are considered e-commerce-ready. They are tested to assess pressure, vibrations, leaking, temperature control, and impact to simulate potential hazards during shipping. However, not all have been validated to work with a specific product or formulation. Berlin Packaging’s quality and engineering teams evaluate and develop designs that perform properly for our customers’ products, whether they are sent via e-commerce or pallet.

A critical part of e-commerce-ready packaging is ensuring it meets retailer requirements, including Amazon’s strict guidelines. Let’s talk more about Amazon and APASS.

Understanding Amazon and APASS

Amazon's mission is to optimize the overall customer experience by collaborating with manufacturers worldwide to invent packaging that delights customers, eliminates waste, and ensures products arrive intact and undamaged. Amazon Packaging Support and Supplier Network (APASS) is a group of packaging and supply-chain experts who are certified to ensure items warehoused and fulfilled by Amazon adhere to their packaging guidelines.

It is essential to partner with a packaging supplier who understands the ever-changing guidelines surrounding e-commerce packaging. Berlin Packaging has been APASS-certified since January 2019. With extensive knowledge of Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging (FFP), Ships in Product Packaging (SIPP), and Prep-Free Packaging (PFP) tiered categorization system and testing requirements, we can help customers with design, development, sourcing support, and more. Our teams analyze, test, verify, and certify packaging solutions to ensure they meet all requirements.

Amazon also prioritizes sustainability with a sustainable packaging initiative that helps customers and the environment. They are so serious about sustainability that if a brand doesn’t comply with their regulations, it could incur fees and up-charges of $1.99 per item. Berlin Packaging’s e-commerce know-how, sustainability expertise, responsive QSD (quality service division), and APASS certification allow us to help resolve problems, prevent waste, reduce costs, and improve the consumer experience.

Stock vs. Custom Solutions

Given all the requirements and guidelines, do you need a custom package for e-commerce? Not necessarily. In most cases, stock packaging can be suitable and effective for e-commerce. Finding a packaging supplier who identifies and sources e-commerce-ready packaging is a great place to start. Berlin Packaging supplies e-commerce-ready solutions for every end market, including our proprietary MODA system. The MODA is designed exclusively for Berlin Packaging customers and is a stock-available polypropylene pump that passes the rigors of ISTA-6 OB protocols for up to 500mL bottles. In addition to meeting e-commerce needs, the pump has a modern aesthetic and a locking pump actuator that reduces product waste. The versatile packaging system is e-commerce indicated for a variety of formulas, including hair care, skincare, and more.

For some products, customized packaging can address specific e-commerce concerns. When online sales increased and leaking challenges arose with The Honest Company’s 70 oz. detergent bottle, Studio One Eleven created a package to withstand rigorous e-commerce handling. The inventive structure employs a thick liner to minimize the assembly gap while ensuring a robust seal, unscrewing threads for secured assembly, and ribs to create a sealing surface that meets the design intent. The closure sits flush on the bottle for a seamless marriage of the two components.

All products using custom designs must ensure they are suitable for e-commerce. Studio One Eleven designed, engineered, and purpose-built a custom-made patented sprayer and handle for Rejuvenate Dual System Outdoor House Wash and Window Cleaner that allows consumers to switch between the two formulas with a simple rotation of the sprayer nozzle. Because the products are sold across multiple channels, the Studio’s Life Cycle Analysis was especially critical. To ensure product protection and integrity in e-commerce, the system ships with a specially-designed and threaded closure.

MODA E-commerce Ready Pump System

Honest Laundry Detergent

Rejuvenate Dual System Outdoor House Wash and Window Cleaner

Don't Forget About Sustainability

Today’s consumers care about sustainability when making purchase decisions, and e-commerce is no exception. People are looking for eco-friendly packaging solutions, including recyclability, recycled materials, and refill systems. For a packaging solution to be truly sustainable, it needs to perform at every stage of its journey, from the warehouse to the consumer. Shipping is a big part of an e-commerce package’s journey and contributes significantly to its carbon footprint. According to the EPA, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation account for about 29% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. When it comes to transportation, right-sizing your package to ensure it’s not larger than it needs to be can reduce the environmental impacts of shipping. Lightweighting - reducing the weight of your package by rethinking the size, material, or unneeded components – can also make a difference. Efficient packaging can reduce fuel consumption and emissions associated with shipping.

Berlin Packaging’s sustainability team conducts lifecycle analyses (LCA) to help our customers quantify their product’s environmental impact over the course of its entire lifecycle. With LCAs, we can calculate a product’s environmental footprint, including its carbon footprint (greenhouse gas emissions) and water, mineral resource, and fossil fuel use. Our LCA tool has helped many customers balance sustainability with brand positioning, performance, and functionality. We partnered with online wine retailer Naked Wines to create glass wine bottles that are 29% lighter than comparable products. Our LCA tool uncovered significant reductions in fossil fuel use (−3,375 tons), CO2 emissions (−986 tons eq), water usage (−321,553 m3), and glass usage (−1,901 tons).

We also helped direct-to-consumer brand Branch Basics with a pouch for their Oxygen Boost product. The pouch weighs 89% less than a plastic container and holds twice the amount of product. This results in reductions of 14.6 tons of CO2 emissions every year in shipping.

Driving Positive Impact with Naked Wines
Reducing environmental impact by switching to lightweight bottles

Branch Basics
Transition from canister to pouch results in reductions of 14.6 tons of CO2 emissions every year in shipping

Leave a Lasting Impression

So, your package has met all retailer requirements and arrived intact and undamaged. But its job is not necessarily done. E-commerce packaging provides a unique opportunity to create a more robust and memorable user experience. The unboxing process has become increasingly important, especially among younger consumers and social media influencers who post videos opening their packages. The #tiktokmademebuyit hashtag received 15 billion views, demonstrating the power of experience and discovery.

Secondary packaging and shipping cases can create enticing and memorable engagement that drives trial and promotes brand loyalty. Consider how the package opens – does it create a sense of excitement and anticipation? How is the product displayed – does it feel special and unique? Do the materials and finishes elevate the experience? How can you add an element of surprise for added delight? Berlin Packaging creates inspired secondary packaging solutions for distilleries, personal care brands, and more.

E-commerce also provides opportunities for interactive packaging solutions that elevate the consumer experience. According to GlobalData, one in four Gen Z and Millennials say interactive packaging is a key purchase driver. Packaging with smart features like QR codes and near-field communication (NFC) technology can redirect shoppers to a brand’s website to browse and order products, view tutorials, read and leave reviews, discover ingredient information, learn about a company’s social or environmental initiatives, and more.


E-commerce is here to stay, and companies need to consider how to best meet consumers’ changing needs and expectations in the digital age. When it comes to packaging, customers expect their purchases to arrive conveniently, sustainably, and undamaged. E-commerce-ready stock packaging and custom-designed solutions can ensure your product complies with all online retailer requirements and creates a positive consumer experience. Partnering with a supplier who understands the challenges and requirements for e-commerce package design can help drive business success by reducing return rates and chargebacks, maintaining your brand’s good reputation, and improving your company’s overall bottom line.

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The brands mentioned in this report are trademarks of their respective owners. Inclusion of these brands in this report is not meant to imply an association with or endorsement from the respective trademark owners.