It can be challenging for smaller enterprises to compete with the world’s most established brands. However, usually, the goal is not for them to become as well-known as those entities. Instead, it’s to fill a niche in the marketplace and show potential consumers there are appealing reasons to buy from enterprises that are not as large.

Small- to medium-sized business custom packaging offers an excellent way for such organizations to get noticed for all the right reasons. Also, when packaging specialists provide it, they could grow their companies by catering to a new market segment.

It Can Help Businesses Evolve for the Future

Custom packaging can become a useful way for businesses to adapt to changing consumer preferences and trends. Such was the case with Caurnie Soaperie, a Scottish small business with nearly a century of history behind it. The company has several standout aspects associated with it, including that it only sources locally grown or foraged plants to produce products in small batches with antique equipment.

The leaders of Caurnie Soaperie want to turn it into a globally recognized brand. Some of the things representatives did to work towards that goal involved improving its website and removing the second word of the brand name.

However, packaging also played a major role. Decision-makers wanted to revamp it by focusing on sustainable, locally sourced materials to fit its overall ethos. However, they also wanted economical packaging that was reusable, if possible.

Stuart Gilmour, owner of the communications agency Stand, was part of the team overseeing these changes. He noted, “Going back to basics, it was about making the packaging easy, pre-made, and inexpensive, but stickered in a way that is very clean and clear. It was absolutely about consistency but with enough differentiation between the range of products.”

Another part of the plan was to turn products into storytelling vehicles by putting QR codes on the packaging. Scanning one would take customers to a dedicated media channel that facilitates repurchasing an item, learning more about it, or accessing social media feeds.

These options are examples of how a revamp of small business packaging can show customers that the brand is in touch with its current and future consumers.

It Can Help Shipped Items Arrive Safely

It’s frustrating for everyone involved if products sent through the mail to a customer’s doorstep arrive in an unusable condition. That problem adds costs for a small business and could make the recipient think twice about buying from the company again.

However, small business custom packaging options can help prevent breakage or other unwanted issues during shipment. The underside of the box might feature a phrase such as, “If you can read this, I’m upside down!” Alternatively, if a company offers perishable food, such as meal kits, the messaging could say, “Delicious meals have arrived! Please refrigerate promptly.”

It’s common to see generic labeling that warns items inside a package are fragile or otherwise need special handling. However, sometimes, that content on packaging is too small or it blends in with aspects like the address label so that people miss it.

Focusing on custom packaging that makes people more aware of the contents could help reduce costly problems during shipping. It also gives you opportunities to catch attention in other ways, such as by using specific colors or a logo in the packaging design. These elements can make branding stronger and people will get the impression that company representatives have shown the necessary foresight to stop products from arriving damaged.

Statistics indicate that returning customers spend an average of 67% more than those buying for the first time. With that in mind, you want to do everything you can to ensure people are delighted with every order. Custom packaging that features handling instructions supports that goal.

It Can Cut Packaging Waste

It’s often difficult to ensure a package is durable enough to serve its intended purpose and design it so the materials used are not excessive. Even the world’s most successful businesses sometimes struggle with that challenge. Amazon took in $11.19 billion during the 48-hour Prime Days event in 2021. However, during a survey that same year of adults in the United Kingdom, 48% of respondents felt Amazon topped the list of companies that use too much packaging.

Consider how a small business might make some packaging-related decisions to reduce how much material people have to throw away after they get the product. Maybe a company sells gift sets that were initially packaged in cardboard boxes with shaped plastic inserts. A different approach that targets waste would be to put the stuff in containers people can reuse, such as those made out of metal or even cloth.

If a small business has the infrastructure to support such a decision, another possibility is to offer customers the option to refill the product packages they have or send in their empty ones to have full containers returned to them.

A growing number of small businesses, particularly those selling cleaning and personal care products, have such programs in place. Some of them even provide postage-paid envelopes so that sending back the packaging is hassle-free for consumers.

Small business custom packaging could also include reusable elements, such as ribbons. Then, there’s a higher likelihood of people finding creative ways to repurpose them. Think about how a small business might encourage them while also driving traffic to social media profiles. The packaging might say, “We love seeing how you use our packaging in your life. Show us on our socials!”

Custom Packaging Can Be Scalable

A final thing to remember is that there is a huge number of possibilities for utilizing customized packaging. Suppose a small business has limited resources and wants to see a strong return on investment before committing more money. Then, leaders might begin with something relatively minor, such as printing a company’s name on a cardboard shipping box or using branded packaging tape on it.

However, if packaging companies offer arrangements that don’t require minimum order quantities (MOQ), it’s easier for them to attract the owners of small businesses and show them what’s possible. That could be the beginning of a fruitful customer-supplier partnership that lasts for years.

Many people associated with small businesses may feel curious about packaging options but not know where to start. Exploring the different avenues with a packaging provider could help them discover how a package can promote the company and its values.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She regularly covers trends in the industrial sector.

This article originally appeared in the May/June, 2022 issue of PARCEL.