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What ECommerce Companies Need to Know About Custom Packaging

Jake Rheude

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Custom packaging is where eCommerce fulfillment meets marketing. Creative and fun packaging, tape, or even infill expresses your brand persona that your online customers will appreciate every time they receive an order. Your packaging can display your brand’s flair for color, innovative design, or commitment to eco-friendly eCommerce.

Red Stag Fulfillment helps its clients meet a variety of custom fulfillment needs.

custom packaging

Types of custom packaging

Most of the time, eCommerce companies choose custom packaging for marketing and branding. In rare cases, businesses use custom packaging to protect a fragile item during shipping. Here are the types of custom packaging.

Boxes and mailers

The most common custom packaging is a branded box, so your customer doesn’t have to decipher the shipping label to know what’s inside. However, if your products need specialized shipping boxes, that will also qualify as custom packaging. At Red Stag Fulfillment, we provide 32 ECT boxes, which can withstand 32 pounds of pressure to the edges of the box, and jiffy mailers.

eCommerce packaging - tape


You can also get custom tape. Custom tape options include branded tape that displays your logo or business name or any type of tape that is different from the standard product used by your order fulfillment company. For example, Red Stag Fulfillment uses water-activated tape. If you wanted plastic tape to seal your boxes or extra tape along the edges (H taping), that would be a custom packaging request.


You might also want a particular type of infill. Custom infill can include a specific kind of infill that differs from the standard products supplied by the 3PL to make your packaging more eco-friendly or provide extra protection for fragile items. Branded infill is a less common type of custom packaging. Earth-friendly kraft paper infill is standard at Red Stag Fulfillment. Wrapping individual products in kraft paper or adding bubble wrap are two examples of custom infill.

shipping fragile items

Overboxing vs. manufacturer’s packaging

For large items, like many of the products that Red Stag Fulfillment works with, there are two packaging options: overboxing or manufacturer’s packaging. In most cases, our clients choose to add an overbox to protect the item during shipping. However, for some products, the manufacturer’s packaging is sturdy enough to ship without an overbox.

Ultimately, the costs of overboxing vs. the manufacturer’s packaging evens out. You might have to pay extra to get a sturdier box from the manufacturer but, if you don’t, you’ll pay for an overbox when the item ships. 

For large products that typically ship one to a box, ship-worthy manufacturer’s packaging can be an excellent choice. The factory box gives you built-in branded packaging. Plus, order processing moves more quickly when products can be simply labeled and shipped without additional packaging.

However, there are reasons you might want to stick with overboxing to ship your orders safely. If you sell high-value products, such as electronics, a plain overbox can disguise what’s inside the box and thus discourage theft. And, if your manufacturer doesn’t stock heavier packaging, the cost and delay of adding custom boxes to the manufacturing process might not be worth it.


Why is there an extra charge for custom packaging?

Most custom packaging services incur an extra fulfillment charge. That’s because they require additional labor, space, or unique materials. The per-package charge is often small, so you may decide that the additional amount is marketing dollars well-spent. And, if you want to keep custom packaging costs low, the following section has some ideas for efficient and cost-effective ways to deploy your custom packaging strategy.

Strategies for implementing custom packaging services

Custom packaging can present a challenge for fulfillment operations because it may interrupt the flow at the packing station. The strategy you choose for your custom packaging can affect the cost and success of your program.

Add custom elements at the packing station

If you have custom boxes, infill, or tape, they could be placed at the packing stations. The packers would use your branded packing materials to ship your orders instead of the standard boxes. However, this isn’t the most efficient approach. 

Packing station space is limited, so it may be challenging to find a spot for multiple sizes of special boxes. The challenge multiplies if several clients have custom packaging. Plus, placing custom materials at the packing station can slow down fulfillment because the packer has to stop the line and switch materials every time an order requiring custom packing comes through.

Fortunately, there are other options, including a simple solution that expands your options for custom packaging.

Picking and packing inside the Red Stag fulfillment warehouse

Reserve a packing station solely for your products

If your orders represent a large portion of the volume for your 3PL, it might make sense to have your own packing station. The station would be stocked solely with your custom and branded packing materials, and all your orders would get processed at that station. 

Expect to pay extra for this option. A dedicated packing station can be pricey, but it might be worth it if your order volume is high enough. 

Use kitting and custom SKUs to add custom packaging

Kitting is a simple and elegant solution to many fulfillment challenges, including custom packaging. Custom boxes, infill, and even tape can get their own SKUs and spots on the shelf. When an order comes in, the custom packaging SKU gets added to the pick list. You pay a small picking fee for the packaging and your order sails through the packing station and onto the shipping dock.

Another way that kitting can improve packaging is through pre-packaging. For example, if you sell a ceramic mug that needs to be individually wrapped in kraft paper or bubble wrap, a warehouse kitter can pre-wrap your mugs. Then, when someone orders a mug, it’s ready to go in the box and ship safely. Once again, the packing line moves quickly since the custom packaging is already in place. You could even put the mugs in individual boxes for extra protection.

At Red Stag Fulfillment, we have seen the many ways that kitting can enhance logistics. We view kitting as an essential value-added service for our clients. 

“We can do anything for our clients in kitting, packaging-wise,” says Sam Hughett, Red Stag Fulfillment’s Knoxville Site Manager. Kitting opens up a wide array of custom packaging opportunities while keeping your fulfillment affordable.

How to solve the most common packaging issue

The most common packaging fail, especially for large and heavy items, is the box bursting in transit. The key is to have enough infill in the box to act as a shock absorber and not to over-fill the box. 

“You always want to have the right-sized box to save on shipping,” Hughett says. “But if it’s too right-sized, it might cause the box to burst open in transit.”

If a client’s packaging is consistently failing, RSF will step in to help out. “Once we see reoccurring damage, we ask for pictures,” Hughett says. Then Red Stag uses the photos to uncover the problem and develop solutions with the client.

custom packaging

The one thing you must include on your custom boxes

Custom packaging can do many things: enhance your brand recognition, contribute to delight on receiving the package, and protect your products. 

However, it can be easy to forget one essential element: a bar code. Bar codes on boxes carry information about the box dimensions. RSF uses the information embedded in the codes to pass on accurate package information to the carrier. 

If you pack your orders in custom boxes or ship in the manufacturer’s packaging, make sure the box includes a bar code that’s legibly printed to be readable by a scanner. If the code is missing or unreadable, your 3PL will have to re-bar code the box.

custom packaging

How Red Stag Fulfillment can meet your custom packaging needs

Every detail of your fulfillment operations is critical, from inbound receiving to warehouse services to pick and pack fulfillment to same-day shipping. At Red Stag Fulfillment, we pay attention to all the small details, including same-day shipping and zero shrinkage. Our fulfillment guarantees assure you of top-notch service. But we go beyond those guarantees every day to help our clients find the best fulfillment solutions for their businesses. And that includes custom packaging.

What are your custom packaging needs? Give us a shout — we’d love to talk them over with you.

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