4 Best Practices for Optimising Packaging for E-Commerce

by | Nov 21, 2017 | Uncategorized

Whilst there are many strategies one can apply to optimise your product packaging for the e Commerce product sales environment, this article will discuss the4 Best Practices for Optimising Packaging for E-Commerce. These are the best practices which must be taken into consideration when designing packaging for the web or mobile shopping. By understanding the online shopper and following these practices, brand marketers can position themselves to win in this ever expanding channel and thus avoid potential barriers to purchase.   

FMCG companies must make the transition

Both large and small businesses are scrambling to quickly adapt themselves to selling effectively in a new and rapidly evolving mobile and internet shopping environment.

With the advent of the Amazon juggernaut coming to Australia FMCG companies are going to have to adapt their packaging to suit this new buying environment….and quickly. With a predicted 54% of all ecommerce sales coming from mobile devices in 2018, those FMCG companies that can make the optimization transition today, will put themselves in the front line to win tomorrow.

E Commerce grocery in Australia is growing super fast

According to Nielsen, whilst the growth of grocery e-commerce is still relatively small in Australia , only accounting for a little over 2% of total grocery sales – this market is growing seven times faster than the total market. According to a report by eMarketer, Australia’s total online sales are forecast to exceed $32 billion in 2017. This from just $26.6 billion in 2013. Current online grocery sales are dominated by Coles and Woolworth’s, rose 9.3 per cent year on year and now represent 17.9 per cent of online spending.  

Nielsen reports that online grocery is expected to account for around 20% of the $10.6 billion expected growth of the industry over the next five years. This prediction was prior to the Amazon announcement of coming downunder.

Brand Marketers questions on packaging for eCommerce

At Jam&Co, clients, in categories ranging from sausages to granola will often ask “So how does packaging work in an online environment?” Considering the rapid growth of web-based shopping, Amazon’s entry into the Aussie market and the fact that so many consumers are accustomed to researching and doing homework online prior to visiting the store, this is a very relevant question.

Other questions we at Jam&Co are often asked regarding the differences to online/mobile shopping and traditional selling from the supermarket shelf are:

  • How different do packs need to be for the online shopping environment?
  • What is the best approach for packaging online?
  • What do people see and what do they miss?
  • Is there a difference between shopping via a desktop and a mobile device?
  • Are there differences to online/mobile shopping across categories?
  • How do we facilitate online shopping?
  • Should we simplify our packaging?
  • Are there ways of creating a more visceral/emotional presentation of the product in an online store environment?

The gap between web shopping and bricks and mortar

There is a huge gap between the physical and e Commerce shopping experience. When it comes to the web-based shopping experience, packaging design plays a very important role, albeit in different way from the world of brick-and-mortar. In an online environment the pack may be even more critical. Unlike brick-and-mortar retail store buyers, online shoppers can’t physically engage their 5 senses or interact with an item. The shopping site’s presentation of products is often all online shoppers are able to rely on. Online levels the purchasing playing field providing smaller brands a more equal visual footing more so than the traditional store environment.









Online shopping makes it difficult for the customer to compare and contrast options. Also whilst limited SKU’s are immediately apparent, it takes a lot more effort on behalf of the customer to see more options. Online eye tracking has shown that the shoppers’ attention is focused mainly on the top three rows of the page and on the packaging itself. When shopping via mobile phone shopper visibility tends to drop with scrolls.

NOTE: When shopping online there’s often confusion between size relationships

According to PRS IN VIVO pioneers in shopper research, the on online shopper’s attention is focused primarily on the packaging itself. Their research clearly demonstrates that the online shoppers searching process centres on pack visuals as they navigate, consider and compare products online.

Experienced Web Shoppers
New Web Shoppers
  • Product View 43%
  • Sort by Sales 8%
  • Filter 3%
  • Search 2%
  • Sort by price 1%
  • Product View 32%
  • Sort by Sales 23%
  • Search 11%
  • Filter 7%
  • Sort by Price 5%

PRS had identified 3 primary phases that the web shopper goes through when purchasing product online.

1) search and “de-selection,

2) product comparison/selection,

3) confirmation and fulfilment.

In all three of these phases, the package is a vital tool supporting the shoppers decision making process. The online shoppers will typically rely heavily on packaging imagery for brand identification and product confirmation.

4 Best Practices for Optimising Packaging for E-Commerce

Whilst there are a number of strategies one can apply to optimise your product packaging for e Commerce, here are the four main practices that must be taken into consideration when developing and adapting your packaging for the Web.  

1. Brand Recognition: The online shopper is looking for reassurance and the security that they are buying the same product (online) that they know/trust from the supermarket. Therefore it’s important that simplified pack thumbnails retain your brand’s primary visual assets and look and feel.

2. Pack Translation and Informational Imagery: Many successful supermarket shelf packs don’t visually translate across to the web. Especially white packs or those packing designs that have been created specifically with eye-catching design enhancements elements such as special foils, embossing or holograms etc. Also designing packs for the web typically require other images to effectively demonstrate the functionality and benefits of the product in the pack. Ideally make the thumbnail and main image a 3D package shot. It is much more desirable and appealing to see a 3D photo or realistic rendering. A real product image sells much better than a flat, 2D image.

3. Quantity reassurance: In the digital shopping environment, size can be deceptive. Make sure your web pack uses simple and easy to read copy. This means that it’s essential to dispel customer fears regarding pack sizing and quantity. This is particularly relevant for the larger sizes to ensure the right price/value perception.

4. Leveraging the power of digital to explain and demonstrate: It is important to note that the e-commerce selling environment provides a brand marketer with opportunities to explain, demonstrate, inform and educate the online shopper in ways which are typically unavailable in a bricks and mortar store environments. Example: linking to a video illustrating product use or making it easy to facilitate product comparisons. Another example of where you have a distinct advantage to selling online versus in a physical store is being able to feature a brief description, key benefits, longer description further down, ingredients, usage ideas, and brand story.

To find out how you can optimise your product and brand images and get them web ready contact us HERE