Ecommerce Boxes - Product Guide
A detailed guide to ecommerce boxes covering the different types of ecommerce boxes and what they are used for.
6 September, 2021 by
Ecommerce Boxes - Product Guide
Cameron Izard

Ecommerce Boxes - Your Comprehensive Product Guide

Your comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about ecommerce boxes. We go over the different types of ecommerce boxes and what applications they are best used in. There are many different types of boxes for ecommerce and it can get confusing which boxes are best for which type of online store. Below we'll do our best to unravel the confusion and help you on your way to choosing the perfect ecommerce box for your online store.

Does my Company need eCommerce Boxes?Internally Printed eCommerce Box with Double Self Seal Strip

There are many different types of cardboard boxes available, but if you aren't buying ecommerce boxes you could be missing out on opportunities such as creating a memorable unboxing experience and reducing order packing times. Ecommerce boxes are designed specifically for online stores, and eliminate some of the issues that online stores often experience when shipping their online orders. If you are using standard packing boxes, you could inadvertently be experiencing some of these issues as well without even realising it. Ecommerce boxes can help solve the following issues:

  • Slow Order Packing: If you need to pack more orders but don't have the space or time to pack them, ecommerce boxes can help you speed up your order fulfilment. Fast packaging is designed to help you pack more orders in the same amount of time and the same amount of space. Need to speed your order packing up? You need pop up ecommerce boxes with a self-seal closure strip.

  • Multi-size Orders: Packing multi-size orders in standard boxes means you often end up using a lot of void fill. There are many examples of a small order being sent in a large box with loads of void fill material simply because it just wouldn't quite fit in the next size down. That doesn't go down well with the customer who has to get rid of all that packaging. Multi-size ecommerce boxes change size to fit your online orders so you don't have to use all that packaging.

  • Poor Brand Perception: Your packaging is the first tangible experience that your customers have with your brand. By creating a memorable unboxing experience for your online orders, you can help improve your brand value and your customers will perceive your brand as higher value for money.

  • Difficult to Open Boxes: If your boxes are difficult to open they will quickly frustrate your customer. By using frustration free ecommerce boxes, you can make your customer experience flow much more easily. Think of difficult to open boxes as having a big flight of stairs that customers have to climb before paying at the till, sure most customers will go and pay if they've found something they really like, but will they come back next time if they find things they like in other stores? Probably not.

  • Failed Deliveries: If you are regularly getting failed deliveries because your customer wasn't at home when the postman called, you need letterbox boxes. Postal boxes that are designed to fit through a standard size letterbox means that your deliveries will always get to your customer on time.

What are eCommerce Boxes?

Ecommerce boxes are boxes designed for use by ecommerce stores for packing small to medium size online orders. They are usually designed to increase packing speed, give a memorable unboxing experience, and/or allow for multi-size orders. Examples of ecommerce boxes are; self-seal boxes, crash-lock boxes, inside printed boxes, multi-size mailers, letterbox boxes, and retention packaging.

As the need for packing and sending online orders grows new ecommerce box designs are constantly being designed and developed. New solutions that help to solve different packaging problems are being produced constantly, so let's have a look at some of the best ones so far.

The Different Types of eCommerce BoxesWhite Inside eCommerce Box with Custom Printing

The different types of ecommerce boxes span a wide range and there are many many different types of ecommerce box. Some types combine different aspects to solve different packaging problems. Here's the key types and what problems they solve.

Self Seal Postal Boxes

Self-seal postal boxes are ecommerce boxes with a peel & seal closure strip designed to be posted through the postal service. A peel & seal closure strip is a strip of pressure sensitive glue or double sided tape that is covered with a silicone release backing. The self seal glue strip helps packers to pack online orders quickly and easily without having to use tape to seal a box. With a self-seal box it's just a case of peeling off the silicone backing and pressing the glue flap firmly in place. Using tape to close a box is often time consuming and fiddly, but a peel & seal closure strip makes it very quick, often only taking a couple of seconds to close a box.

Crash-Lock Base Boxes

Crash-lock base boxes are boxes with a special folded and preglued base. This preglued base is designed in such a way that the bottom folds out and locks in place as you open the box out. This pop up base means that there is no need to fold and tape the bottom of the box, saving a lot of time. Crash-lock popup boxes can be made up ready for filling in less than 2 seconds, that's even faster than a box erecting machine. Crash-lock boxes are used for speeding up ecommerce packing operations and allow order packers to pack more orders in less time. Boxes that are fast to pack are especially popular at peak periods such as Black Friday weekend and Christmas. At peak times like this it is vital to pack fast as high volumes of orders come in a short space of time. If an ecommerce fulfilment operation is not prepared, the backlog of orders can take a long time to get through.

Inside Printed eCommerce BoxesInside Printed eCommerce Box

Ecommerce boxes with print on the inside are especially good for creating a memorable unboxing experience. Printing on the inside means we essentially turn the box inside out so the brown is on the outside and the white with personalised printing is on the inside. An inside printed box is good for two reasons. Firstly, it keeps the branding hidden while the box is in transit, and secondly displays your brand clearly and professionally if the box is photographed and shared on social media. The first of these is important for luxury brands and shipping high value items securely. By keeping your brand name on the inside your parcels travel incognito and reduces the risk of theft. A brown box doesn't look like it contains high value items so is more likely to travel unmolested. The second point is great for building your brand. When online orders are photographed and shared on social media, the photo invariably has the box sitting nearby in the open position. If the branding is on the outside of the box it is mostly hidden when the box is sitting open. However, printing on the inside means the open lid of the ecommerce box is the perfect canvas for your brand logo and message. It's also the perfect opportunity for a little message asking your customer to share their photo to your social media tags.

Frustration Free Boxes with Tear Open Strips

Frustration free ecommerce boxes are boxes that are quick and easy to open. Frustration free boxes usually have a tear open strip that can be used to quickly and easily open the box without using a knife or scissors. When packing a parcel the fact that someone has to open the box is often overlooked. Some ecommerce boxes are actually quite difficult to open, while many packers ensure that the box doesn't come open in the post, they are inadvertently also making it very difficult to open. If you also think that the customer could be an aged person, and the only implements they have to cut open a box would be a pair of scissors, it's not surprising that Amazon and other online marketplaces are pushing for frustration free packaging. Frustration free ecommerce boxes are another part of the puzzle to provide a memorable unboxing experience. If a customer gets frustrated with their packaging it's a big negative. The delivery of your online orders needs to flow smoothly and be an extension of the seamless online experience that you offer.

Multi-Size Mailers for eCommerce

Multi-size orders are the order of the day with ecommerce. Different products are ordered together in different quantities which results in a multitude of different sizes. Coping with these multiple order sizes is often a headache for a packing operation. Using multiple different box sizes increases unit costs, complexity, and storage space. But on the other hand, using too few box sizes results in increased packing costs and unmatched box sizes which need a lot of void fill. Multi-size mailers help to alleviate these problems with a size adjustable design. This means that one mailer or box size can be used to pack many different sized orders by altering the size of the box to fit.

Letterbox BoxesCustom Printed Letterbox Box for Posting Online Orders

Letterbox boxes are ecommerce postal boxes that fit through a letterbox. These boxes are designed with dimensions within the average UK letterbox size of 254mm x 38mm. Letterbox boxes help to increase delivery rates by fitting through the letterbox rather than the customer having to be in when the postman arrives. They are a fantastic solution for small subscription boxes and low order value online orders. Ensuring your online orders get delivered on time improves your customers purchasing experience and reduces customer queries.

Retention Packaging Boxes

Retention ecommerce boxes are increasing in popularity because they help to reduce the amount of packaging used as well as looking great. Retention packaging is designed to retain items in the middle of the box with a space all around it. By retaining items in a box, you remove the need for void fill and therefore reduce costs and your impact on the environment. The most popular design of retention boxes for ecommerce uses a clear stretch film that stretches around the items being packed. This clear film holds the items onto a cardboard base and ensures the items are held securely with a crumple zone all around them. Retention boxes can also be made with a retaining paper sheet instead of the clear film. This paper sheet acts in a similar way to the clear film but helps to improve the recyclability of the packaging for an eco-friendlier alternative.

Insulated eCommerce Boxes for Chilled & Frozen Products

Insulated ecommerce boxes are used for shipping chilled or frozen products like meat, frozen foods, cheese, vegetables, pharmaceuticals, and milk based drinks. Insulated boxes have a layer of insulating material such as polystyrene, wool, or layers of paper. This insulation works along with frozen gel packs to keep the temperature inside the ecommerce boxes below a set temperature. Insulated ecommerce boxes are designed to keep its contents below a critical temperature for up to 48 hours, enough to allow your online orders to reach their customers in great condition.

Custom Printed eCommerce Boxes

Ecommerce boxes can be custom printed with your logos and brand messages in your brand colours. Custom printed ecommerce boxes can be printed on the inside or the outside depending on what designs you have in mind. We can personalise boxes with your brand in a few different printing processes which give a different quality finish and different price point. We explain more about these different printing processes below.

Custom branded ecommerce boxes can be used to increase your brand perception and support your marketing campaign. Branded ecommerce boxes are especially good when your customers share their unboxing photos with their friends on social media. A nicely printed box is often included in the photo helping to gain you extra brand visibility across your customers friends and followers.

The Different Printing Processes used for Custom eCommerce Boxes

The printing process you choose for printing you custom ecommerce boxes can make a significant impact on the look and cost of your ecommerce boxes. By carefully considering the different custom printing options, and understanding the cost implications of each different printing process you can save money while getting the custom branding on your ecommerce boxes that matches your brand storey. There are 4 commonly used printing processes for printing ecommerce boxes, each one is good in different applications.

  • Digital Printed eCommerce Boxes: This printing method has a high unit cost but no initial setup costs. It is great for prototyping and producing a small trial run of boxes. Many online stores use digital printing for influencer boxes to send their new products to influencers as part of a brand launching marketing campaign. Digital printing gives a very high print quality and allows you a lot of scope in the bespoke print design.

  • Flexo Printed eCommerce Boxes: Flexo printing is a low cost method of printing cardboard boxes for ecommerce. It is a printing process that has been developed for high speed printing and uses a flexible printing plate to apply ink to the cardboard box. This bespoke printing process is the most popular for custom ecommerce boxes. Keep in mind though that you will need to purchase a printing plate for printing your boxes which can cost anywhere between £150 - £500 depending on the printing design.

  • High Definition Flexo Printing: This is a similar printing process to a standard flexo printing process but with technological innovations that enable much higher definition printing. With more advanced machines and innovative printing rollers high definition flexo printing enables printing resolutions of up to 90dpi in CMYK full colour printing. Although HD flexo is not as good quality printing as litho print, it is often a good alternative due to its much lower unit cost. Be warned though, HD flexo printing plates can cost over £700 per colour.

  • Litho Printed eCommerce Boxes: Litho printing is otherwise known as lithographic printing and uses thin metal stencils as printing plates. This printing method is fast and extremely high quality giving well over 300dpi prints that are photo quality. This printing process also allows special coatings and effects such as matt varnishes and spot UV printing. Litho printing is the top notch printing process but unfortunately you'll pay the price for the high quality, it doesn't come cheap. Expect to pay over twice the price of a standard flexo printed ecommerce box.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ecommerce Boxes

Buying ecommerce boxes for the first time is quite daunting and no doubt you've got lots of questions. We've tried to answer some of the most common questions below. But if you have other more complex questions then get in touch with our friendly team. Call us on 02476 611234

or email

Should my Company use Custom eCommerce Boxes? There are many stock ranges of ecommerce boxes available, but not considering custom ecommerce boxes that are bespoke printed or made to a custom size could be a missed opportunity for your company. Custom ecommerce boxes that are personalised with your company logos and brand messages gives a great opportunity for building your brand. It is an opportunity to get your brand noticed and shared on social media when a customer shares an unboxing photo or video with their friends. Custom sized ecommerce boxes are also a good opportunity to reduce costs, not only the cost of the box itself but also the cost of the void fill packaging that you use to fill the spare space inside the box. Using a custom box that is made to the specific size of your items means you can often save money as well as using less raw materials to pack your online orders.

Which Printing Process should I use for my Custom eCommerce Boxes? There are 4 different printing processes that can be used for custom ecommerce boxes, digital printing, flexo printing, HD flexo printing, and litho printing. Use digital printing for low quantity initial runs such as influencer boxes, use flexo printing for standard production runs, HD flexo is used for getting that bit better printing quality on higher quantity runs, and use litho printing for photo quality high quantity runs. We explain the different printing processes in more detail above.

Can you Colour eCommerce Boxes in a solid colour? Yes ecommerce boxes can be coloured in a solid colour. The way ecommerce boxes in a solid colour are made is to use a white cardboard and print the required colour onto it with a solid printing plate. This is often called flood printing or full coverage printing.

What Size eCommerce Box should I Order? Getting the size of your ecommerce boxes right is very important, and when you have lots of different size orders it can be very tricky. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the box can fit in your largest item that you sell. That way you know your box will fit all your items. Don't worry too much about getting a box big enough to fit multiple item orders as you can always use 2 boxes to despatch the bigger orders. After all, if you get a big order you can afford to spend a bit extra on packaging. If you sell more than 250 orders per month you could probably stretch to 2 or 3 box sizes. In this case you will want a low cost box that you can use for your very small low cost single item orders, don't make this too big as you want it to be very cost effective. The other sizes can then be aimed at your larger items.

Should my Company consider Crash Lock Boxes? Crash lock ecommerce boxes are boxes that pop up very quickly ready for filling. They help to speed up packing of online orders by removing the need to fold and tape the box. Your company should consider crash lock boxes if they are struggling to fulfil orders on time. By investing in crash lock boxes your company can increase the number of orders with the same amount of packing staff.

Can you apply Print to the Inside of eCommerce Boxes? Yes custom printing can be applied to the inside of ecommerce boxes. To do this the print is applied to the side of the cardboard that will go on the inside and then turned over before the boxes are diecut. This means the print design is now on the inside and will be revealed when your customer opens the box.

Ecommerce Boxes - Product Guide
Cameron Izard 6 September, 2021
Share this post

Need to speak to someone about the packaging products and solutions in this blog post?  Get in touch with our friendly and experienced team.

Speak to an Expert