Custom packaging for your small business on a small budget

It’s never been easier to start a direct to consumer business, however having a great product to sell is only one piece in the puzzle. Your customers also expect great packaging and unboxing experience. This creates a challenge for small businesses; how do you balance meeting customer expectations, with the constraints of a small budget?

The packaging of your product is the first physical touch point consumers will have with your brand. It’s critical that packaging is not only well designed but also delivers its functional purpose – getting your product to the consumer in one piece! The right choices can go a long way to building trust with customers. It sets the tone for their experience with your product before they even see what they’ve purchased.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of over-investing in packaging for a small business. While there are certainly many bulk options for packaging, most require large upfront investments, and minimum order quantities are usually in the thousands or tens of thousands.

The good news is that you don’t have to make a bulk order of custom packaging in order to get your brand noticed. It’s possible to create beautiful and impactful, customised packaging with very little investment – even if your brand is in its infancy. Options such as custom paper tape, along with rubber stamps and embossers can be scalable, versatile alternatives. 

Before you jump in to investing in full-scale / bulk custom packaging, consider using these tips for quickly and affordably creating a great packaging experience.

The packaging of your product needs to be consistent with your brand proposition.
When you’re planning how to package your goods, think about the impression it will make to your customers. Is it true to your brand’s personality? Good packaging sends a consistent message to customers and reinforces your brand’s personality.

There’s no hard-and-fast rules here. For example, if you’re an eco-friendly brand, you need to be certain that your sustainable values are embodied in all aspects of your business. A great way to do this is by selecting environmentally friendly packaging options, such as repurposing packaging materials or choosing recycled or compostable materials. You’d want to make sure you’re using packaging materials that are biodegradable, recyclable, or even compostable (such as compostable mailers). Paper tape is a great choice for wrapping products. It’s both environmentally friendly, and it’s also easy to recycle.

On the other hand, if you want to convey a more fun and colourful positioning through your packaging, consider using colorful tissue paper, bright stickers or a colourful illustrated thank you card.

Work with the budget you have
Custom printed boxes may be great for established brands that have sufficient volumes (and budgets!) but are really not a viable option for small brands. For smaller businesses, custom printed boxes can be very expensive, and the return on investment is questionable. To keep costs down, small brands need to find a different way to convey the same branded experience.

Of course, we’re a little biased. But, we think no business is too big or too small for a custom rubber stamp. Rubber stamps are a versatile tool that can be used on virtually any flat surface. No two prints from a stamp will be the same, which adds a unique look and feel to your brand, as well as adding texture to your packaging.

There are many different types of shipping boxes to choose from and for every product that you want to ship. You can buy a small amount of plain shipping boxes on eBay or a local blank packaging supplier. Add a rubber stamp with your logo and you’ll ensure your delivery will stand out and be professional.

Look for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging.
Today, most customers reward brands demonstrating thoughtfulness in how they carry out their business. Being environmentally aware is an important factor in choosing which brand consumers buy. It’s crucial for brands to be conscious of the impact that their packaging has on the environment.

Fortunately, there are many options for packaging materials that are made from recycled materials, compostable and recyclable, as well as those made from sustainable, ethical sources.

Water activated paper tape can be used to seal packages up to 25kg. It’s a great way to secure them, too. The water-activated glue bonds with cardboard, making it a strong and versatile option for securing shipments.

This is an innovative product that may be a little difficult to use at first, but the upside is that this packaging is made with sustainably sourced materials and can be recycled through standard curbside recycling.

With so many choices that exist, it’s hard to know what the best packaging solution is for your product. When you’re in doubt, prioritise functional materials that will protect your merchandise in transit. Once you have those basics nailed as the bare minimum, then you can add more decorative elements to enhance your product’s packaging.

Simon McIntyre
Co-Owner & Managing Director, Woodruff and Co
Woodruff and Co are a small business based on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, offering a range of branding tools and packaging supplies for small businesses.