Supplying the brewing, food and beverage industry.

A guide to packaging for small businesses


Choosing the right packaging for your small business or start-up can help boost sales, reduce costs, and increase both brand awareness and brand reputation. From sustainable full colour printed packaging with tear strips, through to one colour corrugated transit product protection packaging, there are lots of factors to consider when looking for affordable packaging that meets your business needs and enhances your brand. Making the right choices when it comes to custom packaging can lead to memorable customer experiences, in turn accelerating your reputation, building a positive touchpoint with your customers, and providing the opportunity for positive word-of-mouth recommendations and social sharing.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a short guide that explores some of the most important areas to consider when choosing packaging for your small business.

Packaging purpose

In order to choose the right packaging, you need to be clear about its purpose, which can be multiple things. You might be looking for packaging that not only delivers your products safely but creates a positive and memorable experience for your customers.

  • Are there transit damage factors you need to consider that could lead to costly problems and customer dissatisfaction?
  • How will your packaging navigate the supply chain and what channels will it travel through to get from you to the end customer?

39% of online customers will not repurchase from a brand if they received damaged products. This highlights just how crucial it is to have fit-for-purpose packaging that delivers on every aspect needed. With help from our ISTA Lab, we can delve into all aspects of your packaging’s journey to make sure we eliminate potential problems to deliver your products as intended.

  • Will the packaging need to stand out on shop displays, shelves or in an online environment?
  • Are you offering your customers the option to re-use the packaging for easy-returns?

80% of online customers said that experiencing a bad returns process can break their loyalty to a brand. Therefore, you should consider the ease of your returns process and how your packaging can create a positive experience for customers within this.

Brand representation

Another consideration is how your packaging is reflecting your brand. If you want to harness the opportunity for the packaging to represent your brand values, you’ll need to consider how you want to communicate your brand on the package.

  • Is one of your key brand values sustainability? – If so, how can you portray this in your packaging design?

According to a report by Drapers, 89% of consumers are irritated by voluminous packaging waste and 73% of customers say that using paper or cardboard packaging is important to them.

  • Does your brand strive for inclusivity? – What ways can you make your packaging accessible to all?
  • Are you hoping your customers will share their unboxing experience on social media?

A memorable unboxing experience has become an important way to elevate a brand in consumers’ minds. This has become even more relevant as the trend for influencers and social media users to share unboxing visuals has grown. In fact, according to YouTube, videos featuring amateur unboxing have been viewed more than 1.1 billion times.

  • Are you using your packaging as a way to communicate with your customers, either through messaging, website pointers or QR codes?
  • Does your brand have intricate design details which will influence the type of print and number of print colours you are looking for?
  • Are you happy that your packaging simply needs to display your logo or in fact, have no branding at all?

We’re here to help you come up with a design that will speak volumes about your brand whether standing on a shop shelf or being delivered through your customers’ doors. We have a team of packaging specialists who understand what consumers seek from brands with regards to sustainability and accessibility. We can also create some amazing social media share worthy packaging solutions to help you with that brand reach.

Box style, size and quantities

From simple one-colour designs with intricate, textured finishes, or a single open tear strip to multiple perforations, packaging comes in many styles, sizes, materials, and optimum quantities.

  • Will you be manually erecting and filling the packaging with goods, or will it go through an automation process?
  • How many boxes will you need?
  • How many different sizes do you think you will need?

The style of the packaging must align with its intended purpose, create an easy customer experience, and suit the channel the products are being sold through. For example, eCommerce customers value easy-to-open and easy-to-return packaging, and products need to weather the rigours of transit. Having packaging that enhances the consumer experience by making it hassle-free and making sure products arrive intact goes a long way to ensure customer satisfaction with your brand, leading to greater customer retention, higher lifetime value, and a stronger brand reputation.

There are various material grades for packaging and so many different styles of packaging which can support manual or automation processes ensuring the cost value is at its best and supports in reducing labour time for your business.

With a wide range of print options also available, this is quite often lead by the quantity required, the purpose of the packaging and the intricacies of the packaging artwork.

It is very common for a brand to be unsure what print type, style, and material options their packaging requires, we’re here to assess your products, recommend solutions and produce custom packaging that meets all your bespoke needs.

Packaging cost

When you look at your packaging cost, you need to consider not just the box itself but also the costs involved to erect, store, and transport your boxes, cartons, and cases. You’ll also need to find the optimal costs that balance the volume required as lower volumes often come at a higher cost. Low-cost packaging is high on everyone’s agenda, but low cost doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality.

You can explore what we’ve achieved for some of our customers here.

How can a good packaging supplier help you?

All good packaging suppliers will help you to find the best fit-for-purpose solution for your needs. They’ll help you to design packaging that fits the needs of the product, creates a high-impact unboxing experience, and builds on your brand reputation and values. They’ll also work with you to find cost savings across the whole packaging journey, from the right materials to reducing waste and minimising labour and transport costs.

Choosing the right packaging can attract new customers, and strong, usable, and eco-friendly packaging that delivers their purchases in great condition will keep them coming back for more. At Smurfit Kappa, we can help you achieve your business goals with the right packaging solutions. Our Experience Centres, ISTA lab and SupplySmart software enable you to optimise your supply chain, giving you peace of mind that your packages will arrive safely with your customers and achieve your branding goals.

Whether you are starting out or looking to grow, your products deserve packaging that helps them shine. If you have a project you’d like us to help with, get in touch today.

To explore more about our packaging solutions, please view our product pages.


Picture of Ruth Evans

Ruth Evans

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