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Guide to packaging for small businesses

Small Businesses

Welcome to the ultimate guide to packaging for small businesses. If you own a small business, or work for a small business, you have come to the perfect place to learn all about how you can make the most out of your packaging.

This guide covers it all, from getting started and learning the basics of packaging, to designing custom packaging your customers will love.

But why is it the ultimate packaging guide? We have been producing, designing and supplying small businesses with packaging for over X amount of years. The expertise and experience the Belmont team have is extremely vital for businesses looking to purchase packaging. Our aim is to help you get the most out of your packaging, address any paint points you may have before you have recognised them and be the packaging supplier you can trust. Therefore, it makes sense to share the knowledge we have attained over the years and create the ultimate guide for small businesses.

Chapter 1: Getting Started with Packaging for Small Businesses

Why having the right packaging can help your small business

No matter what type of product you sell or business you run, it is important
that all businesses focus on product packaging to create a great first impression and keep customers coming back for more.

We know that some small business owners do not understand the power of the right packaging, and dismiss the marketing and business advantages it holds. The right packaging for your business can become iconic, helping you stand out from competitors, build brand awareness and attract new customers.

Here are just some of the reasons why having the right packaging can help your small business…

  • Protects your products
  • Protects your reputation
  • Prevents damaged products and negative reviews from customers
  • Enhances your brand awareness
  • Helps you gain market advantage
  • Helps create loyal customers
  • Enhances the customer experience
  • Adds trust and value to your brand

Five key factors when choosing a packaging solution for a small business

  • The journey your packaging will take

    It is important to consider the journey your packaging will be taking as this determines the type of packaging you will need. For example if your goods are being transported to another location, you will need transit packaging which is designed to be sturdy and last any journey no matter how bumpy it may be.

    However, if you are an ecommerce business that posts your goods through the consumer's letterbox, the best packaging for you will be subscription and postal packaging. As this will be the perfect size to fit through your customers letterbox and also opens up opportunities for a great unboxing experience.

  • How your packaging will look

    This is one of the most important factors when it comes to packaging for small businesses. Your packaging is like your business card, it needs to tell your brand story and wow your customers just as your business intends to. It needs to be recognisable, on-brand and unique to stand out from the competition.

    How your packaging looks will also add to the overall consumer experience and can influence customers to share your designs online increasing your social engagement and online presence.

  • How big does your box need to be?
    When it comes to boxes, not one size fits all. If you order the wrong size packaging this can lead to a higher chance of your products being damaged. It is important to have accurate measurements of your products so the packaging we provide offers the best form of protection for your business.

  • What experience will it offer to customers?
    By placing careful consideration and thought into your packaging, you ensure your small business receives a positive first impression from consumers that keep them coming back for more. Including inexpensive extras in your custom packaging such as stickers or “Thank You” cards helps your small business stand out while also making the experience more memorable for consumers.

    You may be familiar with the phrase “The unboxing experience”, which is extremely important if you are a new eCommerce business. Unboxing refers to the act of unpacking a box or product packaging. This experience should be a memorable and exciting interaction for the customer.

    It is important for every business to create a memorable unboxing experience. But when it comes to eCommerce businesses, this sector needs to work particularly harder to connect with their customers.

Can you trust your packaging supplier?

Investing in a good packaging supplier is the first step. This decision can have a tremendously positive effect on your sales as well as revenue. But making this selection can be a daunting task as various factors come into play here.

We have made this job easier for you by answering 5 important factors to consider when selecting the right packaging supplier for your business.

  1. Quality
    Ensure that your packaging company will be using effective processes and procedures to calibrate, control and maintain high standards. Do they perform regular inspections, measurements and tests of their equipment?

  2. What is their customer service like?
    Customer service should go beyond just meeting your needs today; look for a package design and production company that’s committed to exceeding your expectations now and planning for your success in the future.

  3. Do they offer custom packaging?
    Custom packaging is a leading industry trend and it is here to stay. By incorporating custom packaging, you are enhancing your brand’s value by multifold. Through customised packaging, you can build an everlasting connection with your customers by ensuring that they have an unforgettable unboxing experience.

    Custom packaging strengthens your company’s branding. When your product’s package has your company’s trademark colour, design, and logo, your brand creates a stronger identity, and customers develop a great brand affinity. This can ultimately increase sales and revenue for your company.

    For example, the team at Belmont Packaging were recently approached by Farro Bakery, an independent Bristol Bakery business. We provided Farro Bakery with custom packaging that can be used as a subscription box and to hold their tasty pastries. Find out more about Farro Bakery’s custom packaging and how custom packaging helped their small business.

  4. Do they use sustainable and ethically sourced materials?
    The sustainability of your packaging is just as important as what is inside the package. According to a recent survey on sustainable products and packaging, 80% of participants said they felt it was “important or extremely important” for companies to design environmentally conscious products. As consumers are getting conscious about their carbon footprint, they are more likely to support brands that share their values.

  5. Are they forward-thinking?
    Do they have fresh new ideas, industry expert knowledge to share and think of opportunities to make your packaging even better before you do. It is important that your packaging supplier keeps up with industry trends, challenges the status quo and likes to do things a bit differently to help you stand out.

How much does packaging for a small business cost?

The price of producing product packaging is a concern no matter the size of the brand - including companies that have been around for 100 years. Everyone is trying to get on the shelf for the least amount of money.

However, the question of how much you should pay for custom packaging is not the simplest one to answer, as it depends on your company and product needs. The cost of custom packaging will inevitably vary a lot depending on your needs, which is why asking how much you should pay for custom cardboard boxes is not a simple question to answer.

But to work out how much your packaging may cost, here are the different elements you need to consider.

Size and function of the box

  • What are your product measurements, so how big does your box need to be?
  • Does it require protective fillers or inserts?
  • What type of box do you need? (Transit, shelf-ready, display, eCommerce)

Artwork and printing

  • Do you already have branded artwork?
  • How many colours are required to print your artwork?
  • Are you having print on both the exterior and interior of the box?
  • Do you want a gloss varnish finish?

Origination Costs

These costs occur the first time you order custom boxes, these are the tools required to produce your bespoke packaging.

  • Printing plates
  • Die-cut tooling

What are the most cost-effective packaging options?

Depending on your box design, you may not need both pieces. These items are a one-off expense and charged at cost, then stored for future orders.
It is important to see your packaging as a long term investment, cheap packaging for small businesses can cause more harm than good for your business.
Although it is tempting to just look and factor in cost per unit for custom packaging, there are a lot of other elements to consider.

High quality custom cardboard packaging is cost-effective in a number of ways outside of unit cost:

  • The box will fit your products needs perfectly, therefore reducing excess costs in initial materials or fillers
  • Shipping costs can be reduced if packaging sizes are optimised
  • Custom inserts can be created to protect your product during transit, significantly reducing the possibility of items getting damaged
  • Efficient packaging means efficient packing from your team members

Packaging experts have suggested when carefully considered, that high quality custom packaging can minimise packaging related costs by up to 30%.

Chapter 2: Choosing the Right Packaging for a Small Business

What type of packaging does a small business need?

There are a variety of different types of packaging options for small businesses. Depending on the industry or product the business is selling can determine the packaging solution fit for them.

Here is a list of types of packaging we supply to small businesses regularly...

We also offer sector specific packaging suitable for small businesses;

Are you looking for eco-friendly or sustainable packaging for your small business?

The world is becoming more eco-conscious each day, it now matters to consumers and business owners how items are stored, transported, and sold. That’s why sustainable packaging is one of the most talked-about topics and one of the most in-demand products.

By offering suitable packaging you are enabling your company to improve its carbon footprint and appeal to a large number of environmentally aware consumers.

For a small business, it is important to consider how other businesses are changing the way they operate to stay ahead of the curve and not be left behind.
Consumers are now actively avoiding harmful packaging and the search for businesses that offer eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives is well underway. So, no matter how in-demand your product may be, your packaging could be turning away customers.

Recent studies have shown that consumers are focusing on sustainable living now more than ever. 74% of those surveyed stated they were willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. Also, nearly one-fourth of the participants were willing to pay an increased cost of 10% or more for the packaging. Which, for a small business offering sustainable packaging, can be a very profitable result.

What makes Belmont’s packaging eco-friendly?

We’ve helped and continue to help a large number of businesses across all industries provide their consumers with eco-friendly, vegan, sustainable, and cruelty-free corrugated packaging which is cost-effective and profitable for their business.

We manufacture cardboard that is made from a minimum of 70% recycled materials and all our boxes are 100% recyclable. That’s not all we are also FSC certified and source our raw materials from sustainable forests. We operate a number of environmentally friendly initiatives to ensure our manufacturing process has a low carbon footprint.

Here is a list of eco-friendly packaging materials that can be used…

  • Corrugated Cardboard
  • Corrugated bubble wrap
  • Recycled cardboard and paper
  • Organic fabrics
  • Bamboo packaging
  • Mushroom packaging
  • Seaweed packaging
  • Paper mailing bags

What about custom packaging for small businesses?

As the name suggests, custom packaging is essentially designing packaging around your products needs from scratch. This means creating a brand-new box specifically for each and every one of your packaging contents and presentation.

What are the advantages of custom packaging for small businesses?

Custom packaging is now a lot more cost-effective for small businesses, this means that the small businesses that use custom packaging are seeing a huge advantage for business growth. Many business owners underestimate the marketing and business potential which custom packaging has to offer. For small businesses in particular, custom packaging can be a powerful marketing tool which enables you to stand out in a crowded market, increase your brand awareness and maximise your customers' experience and first impressions.

By investing in custom packaging, small businesses are reassured that their products will arrive with their customers exactly how they should and undamaged. Receiving negative feedback, reviews or social media posts about damaged products or packaging can be detrimental to a small businesses reputation. Therefore, by purchasing custom packaging you are not only protecting your products, but protecting your business reputation and working towards gaining a loyal customer base.

What challenges are there with custom packaging?

Poor packaging choices can lead to lower sales, reduced product quality and higher costs. It is important to consider how your supplier is addressing these top challenges of product packaging.

  • Sustainability
    Sustainability in packaging is even more important now with a world overwhelmed by pollution. Companies today must become more aware of how their packaging affects the environment. Sustainable packaging that uses fewer raw materials, produces less waste and encourages recycling is the way of the future.

    How do we address this?

    Operating sustainably and providing environmental-friendly packaging has always been something we’ve felt passionate about. We’ve always been dedicated to ensuring we operate under the utmost ethical principles when it comes to the environment and providing sustainable solutions to packaging.

    Make the change your customers are looking for today and get custom, eco-friendly packaging you can be proud of. All of our corrugated cardboard packaging solutions can be custom-made to your specific needs. We are also FSC certified.

  • Recognition
    Consumers must know what your product is from the packaging alone. Making the package design or graphics too similar to another product could create confusion.

    How do we address this?

    Many of our customers continue to trust us to deliver quality custom cardboard packaging solutions for their brands. Our experienced team will work with you from concept to completion, delivering the perfect custom packaging designed just for your product.

    Whatever your custom packaging needs, the team at Belmont will offer the ideal solution… and if you’re not sure exactly what you need, just have a chat with us. We make custom packaging that stands out for all the right reasons.

  • Packaging waste
    One of the biggest problems consumers and companies face is the overabundance of packaging used for shipping goods ordered online.
    When dealing with e-commerce shipping boxes, you want a package that maintains brand recognition without damaging the product.

    How do we address this?
    Custom packaging can help reduce packaging waste. Instead of finding the closest box size for your needs, a custom box can be properly sized to reflect the dimensions of the product it's protecting. This benefits your packaging strategy in plenty of ways:

    - Packaging waste is reduced thanks to a smaller box size.
    - Manufacturing costs are lower thanks to better use of corrugated board space.
    - Damage is less likely internally thanks to your product being more secure during delivery.
    - Dimensional shipping costs are less excessive thanks to a smaller box footprint.

Chapter 3: Designing packaging for small businesses

How to design small business packaging

What makes a great small business packaging design?

  • Packaging designs which resonate with their target audience
  • Include all the key information clearly
  • Are consistent with the brand image, message and values
  • Have a unique design that stands out from the competition

For example, we helped Nummy a Vegan Brownie postal service design custom packaging which upgraded their company as a premium brand.
There was a desire for more premium packaging that was going to complement the amazing baked doughnuts, tarts, and other delicious vegan treats on offer.

Nummy were very happy with the finished product. To begin with, the company placed an order for 3,000 boxes. They were delighted with the customer service they received, as well as the finished product. In fact, Nummy was so happy with the design that they have returned for more!

View the finished packaging design

What are the main considerations when designing packaging for a small business?

When designing packaging for your small business it is important to consider some of the following…

  • The colour of your packaging
    Colour is a hugely powerful communication tool that can influence moods, actions and reactions. Marketing research has also shown that colour can provoke impulse purchases, whilst others can have a negative reaction and lead to losing sales. Therefore it is important to consider the colour you choose for your packaging, successfully owning a colour is a big deal and this can provide an enormous competitive advantage in terms of making your packaging stand out.

  • Consider your customers
    It is important to think like your customers, put yourself in their shoes and think how would they feel when they saw your packaging, how would they feel holding your packaging and how would they feel opening or unboxing your products. Think about their age, gender, level of education, even things like what motivates them to buy. Thinking like this will help you appeal to your target market successfully and as a result should increase sales.

  • Align your design with your branding
    For a small business it is important to be consistent with your messaging and brand image. Therefore, when designing your packaging it is important that it aligns with your branding, message and ethos. For example, if your marketing message is based around simplicity and minimalism, but your design is full of extremely loud and bright colours then this doesn’t match up.

    It is important to know what your brand message stands for. Does it stand for luxury? Value? Wellness? And have you chosen a colour and design which also stands for those values.

  • Customer behaviour
    Another key consideration is customer behaviour and knowing how your customers will interact with your packaging. For example if you are an e-commerce fashion company, this sector is well-known for consumers returning products. Therefore, it may be beneficial for you to incorporate a self-sealing and returnable strip to your custom packaging.

    Are your customers and target audience well known for sharing images online? You may want to add a gloss-finish to your box to make it more aesthetically pleasing to encourage customers to share online.

Where to find small business packaging ideas
Just a simple search on the internet will provide you with a vast amount of creative packaging ideas for small businesses. Here are just some of the sources we would suggest for small business packaging ideas.

How to turn your small business packaging idea into a reality

You need packaging that captures the imagination and resonates with your brand and its values.

Our experienced team of designers will consider all your requirements from concept to completion. Using our state of the art equipment and software, we can work with you to create an innovative and functional subscription box, shelf-ready, retail-ready or transit packaging solution for your product.

We provide corrugated packaging solutions for many different sectors, including but not limited to, footwear and fashion, food and drink and health and beauty.

How it works

  1. Typically, customers send samples of product required to be packaged or a picture with full measurements.
  2. We'll provide a quote based on the quantity required with a breakdown of costings.
  3. Supply your artwork or work with our skilled design team to create imaginative and innovative packaging, unique to your products!
  4. We'll pop you over a plain sample of your packaging for you to approve.
  5. Once you've approved your packaging, we'll manufacture and deliver your beautifully finished packaging

Next Steps
We hope you enjoyed this guide and it helps you turn your product packaging ideas from a dream into a reality. If you need help getting your packaging designed and manufactured, why not get in touch with us and we’ll be more than happy to help.