What Is Retail Packaging?


a person holds a krispy kreme doughnuts box up to the camera

Retail packaging plays a pivotal role in the world of commerce, shaping the presentation, perception, and, ultimately, the purchasing of products. “Retail ready” packaging is an $18Bn market in the US alone. Boutique shops and big box retailers alike are putting more emphasis on providing their customers with higher-level packaging and a more memorable unboxing experience.

But what is retail packaging? In essence, retail packaging is the art and science of crafting an enticing external appearance for products, whether they are displayed on store shelves or featured on online platforms. It involves a careful blend of visual appeal, informative content, and brand identity.

This essential facet of marketing not only safeguards products during transit but also influences consumer behavior, making it a fundamental element in today’s competitive retail landscape.

Packaging Design as a Marketing Tool

Packaging design is a powerful marketing tool, attracting customers and enhancing brand recognition. Well-designed packaging creates a memorable unboxing experience, leaving a lasting impression on customers.

By using visually appealing graphics, colors, and typography, businesses can create packaging solutions that not only protect the product but also serve as a marketing medium, effectively communicating the brand’s identity and values.

The message and the design should work harmoniously. One good example of this is the deodorant brand Native. The contents of the deodorant are all natural. The packaging is simple with a “down to earth” design. The whole point is to be natural and earth-friendly from the inside out.

an example of retail packaging from native deodorant showing the product surrounded coconuts and other natural items

Functionality vs Uniqueness

Retail packaging serves a dual purpose, balancing functionality with uniqueness in a competitive market. Manufacturers must consider what makes sense for their specific product by considering the store’s requirements and the consumer experience. Products should display easily on shelves without taking up too much space. At the same time, they must also catch the eye and stand out among similar items.

Many products end up in identical packaging in consumers’ homes, like olive oil, shampoo, or baked goods. Part of the challenge for many companies lies in designing distinctive packaging that will remain eye-catching even after the initial purchase.

Other products will have consumers discard packaging materials immediately. For those with retail shops or eCommerce sites, there’s room for flexibility, allowing for creative packaging solutions that align with the brand’s identity.

Additionally, some eCommerce stores prioritize convenient returns, prompting them to design packaging that ensures both a memorable unboxing experience and hassle-free repackaging for returns. Striking the right balance between functionality and uniqueness is vital to making a lasting impression.

Types of Retail Packaging

Retail packaging comes in various forms tailored to specific products and consumer needs. Custom retail packaging, which includes personalized designs and sizes, is designed to meet the unique requirements of different products. Some packages can be made from sturdy materials, ensuring the products are well-protected during transportation and storage.

Many retailers use blister and clamshell packaging for small consumer goods, electronics, and pharmaceutical products. Blister packaging comprises a transparent plastic cavity that securely holds the product, providing visibility and protection. Clamshell packaging, on the other hand, includes two hinged halves that enclose the product, offering a high level of security and tamper resistance.

examples of different products in blister retail packaging

Furthermore, retail packaging for perishable goods, such as food and beverages, requires special attention to ensure product freshness and safety. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum packaging are techniques employed to extend the shelf life of perishable items by controlling the atmosphere inside the package.

One significant trend is minimalist packaging, which focuses on simplicity and functionality. Minimalist packaging eliminates unnecessary elements and excess materials, emphasizing a clean and sleek design. This approach not only appeals to the modern, minimalist aesthetic but also aligns with eco-friendly practices by reducing waste and using fewer resources.

Eco-Friendly Retail Packaging 

Eco-friendly retail packaging has become an essential factor in the packaging industry. Businesses increasingly adopt environmentally friendly practices using recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable materials in their packaging solutions. In one survey, 47% of respondents from retail companies said that they switched to more sustainable packaging since the pandemic.

Eco-friendly packaging not only aligns with consumer values but also reduces the overall environmental impact. As consumers become more environmentally conscious, brands that create packaging with minimal ecological footprint stand out and appeal to a broader customer base.

For example, La Colombe Coffee uses biodegradable bags for their beans, 100% recycled paper boxing, and plant-based ink. Even if you’re a local vendor like a food truck, using paper instead of plastic or styrofoam will send a positive message to your customers. 

Product Information and Consumer Trust

According to a recent Gallup poll, consumer trust has been on a downward trend in recent years. One way retailers can combat this trend is through messaging and product information on their retail packaging. It typically includes essential details such as product name, description, ingredients/materials, usage instructions, and safety warnings. Precise and accurate product information is crucial for consumer trust and confidence. 

Providing as much information as possible about products helps immensely in gaining customers’ trust. Packaging can be used to lead customers to additional info, too. Many retailers now put QR codes on retail packaging, which sends curious shoppers to websites explaining more about company practices, product origins, and more.

When customers can access comprehensive information about the product they purchase, it builds brand loyalty and encourages repeat purchases.

Creating Memorable Unboxing Experiences

Memorable unboxing experiences are essential for creating a positive brand association. Businesses achieve this by incorporating creative and visually appealing packaging designs.

Unboxing a product has a massive impact on consumer behavior. Videos on TikTok have generated billions of views. Simply put, people consider the experience of opening up retail packaging as central to the purchasing decision.

The packaging should not only protect the product but also evoke emotions and excitement during the unboxing process. Brands that create a memorable unboxing experience will more likely leave a lasting impression on customers.

a shopper holds up a box of skincare products

The Future of Retail Packaging 

Technology will play a pivotal role in transforming the future of retail packaging. RFID technology is revolutionizing supply chains and enhancing customer experiences. With RFID tags embedded in packaging, businesses can track products in real-time, ensuring efficient inventory management and reducing instances of theft or loss.

Moreover, integrating modern technologies enables personalized shopping experiences, where retailers can gather valuable data about consumer preferences and behavior. This data-driven approach allows for highly tailored and customized packaging solutions catering to individual tastes and needs.

In the competitive retail landscape, businesses must understand the importance of retail packaging as a marketing tool. Creating packaging solutions that are not only visually appealing but also environmentally responsible ensures a positive impact on both consumers and the planet.

Retail packaging and POS systems are interconnected components that streamline various aspects of retail operations. Seamlessly integrating packaging-related data into retail POS systems enhances inventory management, pricing accuracy, and checkout efficiency.

This integration ultimately contributes to a more efficient and customer-friendly retail experience. To learn more about KORONA POS retail solutions, click the link below!

FAQs: Retail Packaging

What is the meaning of retail packaging?

Retail packaging refers to the process of designing and creating the external appearance of a product for display and sale in stores or online platforms. It is a strategic tool to attract consumers by communicating essential information about the product, ensuring its protection, and enhancing its visual appeal. Effective retail packaging not only conveys the product’s features and benefits but also contributes to brand recognition and influences purchasing decisions.

What is an example of retail packaging?

An example of retail packaging is the vibrant, logo-emblazoned box containing a new pair of running shoes featuring appealing graphics, size information, and benefits highlighted on the exterior. Inside, the shoes are nestled within tissue paper and shoe inserts, ensuring their shape and quality during display and transportation. This packaging not only protects the product but also showcases the brand’s identity and key selling points, enhancing the overall shopping experience for customers.

What’s the difference between simplified packaging and retail packaging?

Retail packaging offers several benefits, including enhanced product visibility and attractiveness, which can draw customers’ attention and encourage purchases. It also serves as a powerful marketing tool, conveying essential product information, brand identity, and promotional messages to potential buyers. Additionally, effective retail packaging protects the product, ensuring it reaches consumers in optimal condition, thereby building trust and satisfaction among customers.

About the Author

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Shane Ortale

As a history enthusiast, Shane loves reading and writing. He blogs about small businessmarketing and cloud based POS. He is also an avid bird watcher, and Liverpool FC fan.