Did you know that your product packaging can be more than just functional protection for whatever is inside?

If you’re still using generic poly bags or plain boxes, listen up; there is a better way to use product packaging and inserts so that they actually enhance your brand. Your packaging can be used to help drive more sales and even promote more reviews for your products.

Of course, as with anything on Amazon, you need to play by the rules. There are certain things that aren’t acceptable, even if you think they would present a great promotional opportunity.

Here’s what you need to know about making the most of product packaging and inserts:

Create your own inserts – get our quick guide here

Your product packaging

Packaging 101

First of all, you need to be familiar with Amazon’s packaging and prep requirements which they lay out for all goods. This is important because Amazon reserves the right to refuse entry to any goods which don’t meet their requirements. If you find yourself facing a refused shipment, it can damage your relationship with Amazon, plus it’s an expensive exercise for you!

Your second consideration is the overall quality of your packaging. It’s the only thing between your product and the potential damage caused by the outside world along the journey. Poor packaging means damaged products, which in turn can lead to negative reviews and sub-standard seller metrics with Amazon. You’ll need to use your best judgment within their guidelines.

Your packaging can also leave the customer with an impression of your business, good or bad. Cheap and tacky packaging might leave them thinking, well, cheap and tacky! You only have to do a quick Google search for “packaging fails” to come up with several examples of companies whose terrible packaging choices won’t be winning them any customers.

At the opposite end of this, excessive packaging can be wasteful and costly. This is another thing you’ll see people complain about online – why was this tiny item sent in this enormous box with so much packing material? You’re paying for all that packaging, the environment doesn’t like it, and your socially conscious customers don’t either.

Lastly, in this “101” section, you need to determine how and where your products are going to be packaged in their “for sale” state. Will you arrange with your supplier to do this? Will you do it yourself on receipt of the products? Or, will you use Amazon’s FBA prep service? For our money, it saves a lot of time and potential dollars to have your goods packaged by the supplier, but of course, this will depend on your packaging choice being available too.

Packaging as marketing

If you’re still using plain packaging, it might be time to think again. Product packaging can be an excellent branding strategy, particularly for anyone who is developing their own brand or private label.

In fact, if you’re really wanting to develop your own brand, then registering it through the Amazon Brand Registry will be an important step for you. Part of their requirements is that you must be able to show them images of the product and packaging that show the trademarked brand name. If it’s not on your product, then it must be on your packaging.

Successfully registering your brand will mean that you own the listing for the product. No one else will be able to modify it and you are the holder of the buy box. This means more control in your hands and the ability to use legal means to ward off any hijackers.

Good packaging and branding help you to stand out among other sellers. Your packaging can help you create a “premium” feel, or even charge a higher price. Consider these examples I found when searching for barbecue tool sets. Both sets contain the same set of three utensils (although crafted slightly differently), but the packaged one is over three times the price. Did the seller pay three times more for the product? Probably not.

Product packaging

Product packaging

You can see how having good packaging would be a great strategy, particularly if you sell products that might be gifted. People do look for things that are well-presented when buying gifts. High-quality photos of your packaged products can help you to stand out in search results. (The example of the packaged barbecue tools above is a good strategy for photos because the photo manages to show what is in the box at the same time)

Product packaging helps to convey the idea of “high quality.” Think about what happens when you’re standing in a shop and faced with a few different options for a product type that you would like – you tend to drift toward one with attractive packaging, right?

Branding on packaging

Branding on your packaging and/or product is a requirement for Amazon Brand Registry, but it also makes good sense overall if you’re building a brand. You want something that will be recognizable, and preferably something that will come up easily in a Google search if a customer were to type in your brand name.

What about including your website URL? Here’s what Amazon says under “prohibited activities”:

“Any attempt to circumvent the established Amazon sales process or to divert Amazon users to another website or sales process is prohibited. Specifically, any advertisements, marketing messages (special offers) or “calls to action” that lead, prompt, or encourage Amazon users to leave the Amazon website are prohibited. This may include the use of email or the inclusion of hyperlinks, URLs, or web addresses within any seller-generated confirmation email messages or any product/listing description fields.”

In practice, including a web address on packaging tends to be a bit of a grey area that gets kicked around with relative frequency in the seller forums. It’s probably fair to say that most of us who have ordered products off Amazon have received branded boxes with a URL on the outside from time to time.

Are you “circumventing Amazon’s sales process?” One suggestion that many people make is that if the web address is purely a customer service site and not another ecommerce site, then it should be within the rules.

The “safe” path, however, would be to include all of your branding elements except for your web address. If you’ve chosen a distinctive name, it should come up and lead people to other channels you have when they Google anyway.

Think of ways to use your packaging to help your brand stand out. Yes, it will cost you more than a poly bag, but it can be the difference in establishing yourself as a “premium” brand. There are plenty of examples of companies who use packaging to stand out, such as the Dollar Shave Club image below:

Product packaging

Source: Pinterest

Product inserts

You will have gathered from that last section that, nope, you’re not allowed to use product inserts to “divert” customers from Amazon either. This means no discount coupons offered in return for a review (incentivized reviews are prohibited), no directing customers to your website and no upsell offers. In fact;

So, what can you do to make product inserts useful? You can use them as a tool to encourage feedback through Amazon’s channels for doing so. For example, a Jungle Scout article shows this insert, which is included with some barbecue gloves:

Product packaging

Not only is it within the rules by directing customers only to Amazon, but it explains exactly how to get them there. This can encourage reviews from satisfied customers, while directing unsatisfied customers to get in touch before potentially leaving a negative review.

You can include your brand name and logo on these inserts, as long as they don’t include a website with them. This can be another way to get your brand in front of people.

Get our quick guide to creating your own inserts here

Final thoughts

Product packaging can be a good strategy to help boost your brand. It can help you to stand out among competitors, to create a “premium” impression of your brand, and to pass Amazon’s requirements for brand registry.

Many sellers begin by using cheaper ways to package products, such as poly bags and plain packaging, but branded packaging can help to grow the image of your brand. You may even find that you can charge more because the packaging helps to promote a higher-quality appearance.

It’s something to crunch the numbers over anyway. Better packaging might cost you more, but what if you can make a lot more sales? Either way, look for opportunities to grow the visibility of your brand, and consider inserts as a strategy too.

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