The last week or two have been busy preparing for the launch of the towels next month.  One of the key things to do, now they’re in production, is work on the packaging.

Here’s my guide on how to do this.

Start thinking about this early

Right at the stage when you first start contacting suppliers, ask them about packaging. If you know what you want (a kraft-paper box, with a clear window, in my example) you need to find out whether:

A, they can supply that.

B, what the costs are likely to be.

Even if you don’t know what you want, it’s good to find out what the options are and what it might cost you.

There are also other considerations like whether the MOQ for the packaging is different to the MOQ for the product. (i.e. you might need to order – and pay for – extra packaging, which your supplier will then store for a future order.)

If you’re selling on Amazon, you’ll also want to find out if your supplier has worked with Amazon sellers before.  Amazon have rules about things like applying labels/barcodes and it’s best to establish upfront whether your supplier will find this a problem. (More about this later on.)

If you don’t know what you want…

Order samples from competitors

If you’re really stuck for ideas on your packaging, I’d recommend ordering some of your competitor’s products and getting some inspiration.

I did this when thinking about packaging for my swaddles. I spent a few hundred pounds on similar products, took lots of photos, got some ideas and then returned the lot.  

Depending on what you’re selling, you might be able to just go to a shop and take a look at what they have on the shelves if you want to save yourself the hassle (and the trips to the post office!)  

Think about the options

For most things you might be selling, there will be different ways you could package them.   Boxes are the ones that immediately spring to mind, but a big negative here is that they can get damaged in transit.  This happened with some of my swaddle boxes and was the biggest reason for customer returns.  (More on this below.)

They are however good options for products that may be given as gifts, as you can can create a really premium look.

Bags tend to be cheaper, but there are safety implications, which you would need to look into carefully.  

You can google ‘packaging requirements for…[country and product]’ which will give you any guidelines. As an example, plastic bags require a suffocation warning.  

Amazon have their own packaging requirements, which is also worth looking into.

Thinking about design

Unless you have some pretty good design skills, you’ll probably need to hire a designer.  You might remember that for my first product I used 99 designs to source designers.

I was really happy with my packaging designer and, as I needed this box to be very similar to my current one (in terms of design) I used him again.  

We’ve already done a lot of the hard work in terms of selecting colours and fonts, etc, for the branding, but he still needed a clear brief for this work.

Thing to include

Firstly, think of the basics.  You need to work out the size of your packaging, plus what format you need it in.  Is there a template your supplier can send you?

Next, there are some things you absolutely need:

  • The product or brand name.
  • Where the item was made.
  • Any other relevant certifications.
  • A barcode.  (See below.)

Other things you can include are:

  • Key features of your product.
  • Your website/social media/contact details
  • Washing / care instructions.

If you’re selling internationally, or you might decide to translate part of the text.

You might also decide to include a product insert with an offer, discount, request for feedback, or, as I’ve done, a link to a freebie.

Getting a barcode

I am by no means an expert here, but I can share what I’ve done.

As I have a brand (rather than just a product) I was able to register into Amazon’s brand registry.  This then grants you an exception, where rather than needing a UPC, ISBN, etc, to identify your product, you are assigned a GCID (Global Catalogue Identifier).  Once you  have this, there’s no need to buy a barcode. You simply (I say ‘simply’, but hardly anything on Seller Central ever is!) go into ‘Manage Inventory’, select ‘Print Item Labels’ and download labels, complete with barcode.

You can either send to your supplier to stick onto your completed box (hopefully you’ve left a space for this!), or you can get it incorporated into your design and printed on.

Another quick thing to note is to check early on with your supplier whether they’ll charge you for labelling if they have to do it manually.  One of mine does, the other doesn’t.  The cost is minimal, but it’s always worth knowing upfront.

You can get more info on Amazon’s Brand Registry here.

If you do need to go down another route to get your barcode, this should help.

The improved box

So my last box was made from 380gsm kraft paper and, as I mentioned, I had some issues with boxes being damaged in transit.

We worked really hard to fix the issues and this new box is made from kraft paper, but with corrugated card sandwiched between two layers, for increased durability.  The finished box is still recyclable, but a lot sturdier.

We’re still using up old stock of the current swaddle box, but the next order (after the one on the way now) will also use this new design.

Without further ado…

Here’s what the finished box will look like.

Tiny Chipmunk towel box

What do you think?