Arrow box art by Jo Di Bona

Adapting to e-commerce

​The global e-commerce market is growing at double digit growth rates. Increasing e-commerce offers numerous opportunities for packaging suppliers, but also challenges, as online shopping places new requirements on packaging.


​While answering to the requirements of shipping, new packaging designs can provide unique consumer experiences and strengthen the value of the brand.

The basic function of e-commerce packaging is to deliver the products undamaged. Also, consumers expect to receive a package that is fit-for-purpose, the right size, easy to open, and, for example, re-closable, to be suitable for returns.

Besides these functional requirements, e-commerce packaging is shaped by key trends including sustainability, efficiency, connectivity and personalisation.

Arrow box

Reinforcing brand identity

The use of renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and lightweight materials for packaging serves increasing sustainability demands, while expectations for efficiency are answered by logistically optimal packaging design and tracking possibilities.

Connectivity via mobile apps and intelligent packaging can also be used to improve the brand experience, offering an interface between the consumer and the product by, for example, videos and further information about the product.

At best, quality e-commerce packaging can improve customer loyalty and convey the same brand experience as shopping in physical stores. Consumers look for a unique unboxing experience and entertainment, which calls for personalisation, limited editions and innovative design solutions, such as distinctive opening features.

A survey by Dotcom Distribution in 2016 shows that 40% of the respondents are more likely to make a repeat purchase with a brand ordered online, if it offers premium packaging. Furthermore, premium packaging is more likely to encourage word-of-mouth marketing.

In the future, there will be more omnichannel packaging, i.e. packaging designed to meet the needs of both traditional and e-commerce sales.

Arrow box

Customised graphics add to opening experience

The Arrow Box design (pictured) is an inspirational example of packaging designed for the requirements of e-commerce, with the aim of enhancing the consumer experience. Its “Pop Arrows” graffiti artwork by Jo Di Bona was specially commissioned for this joint development project between Metsä Board, Weilburger (printing inks and varnishes) and flexo-plates provider FlintGroup. The reproduction was executed by Panflex. The corrugated box was produced by Thimm Obaly using a Göpfert printing machine.

E-commerce facts:

  • In 2017, the e-commerce share of total retail sales was estimated to reach 10%, but could increase to 16% by 2021 (Source eMarketer June 2017)

  • Retail e-commerce sales worldwide are expected to reach a value of close to $4.5 trillion by 2021 (Source eMarketer June 2017)

  • The growth of e-commerce will contribute to a yearly growth rate of e-commerce corrugated board packaging by 13% by 2021 (Source SmithersPira)

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