eCommerce has emerged as a lifeline for numerous brands in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside various digitalization initiatives, eCommerce has empowered companies to maintain operations and cater to consumers during the peak of the pandemic.

Now, as businesses contemplate their next moves in eCommerce, one aspect that is gaining significant attention is packaging—specifically, how brands can leverage their eCommerce packaging to delight consumers and offer a distinctive shopping experience that fosters engagement and enduring brand loyalty.

Ben Ginesi, European Sales Manager for Digital Corrugated Packaging at Domino Printing Sciences (Domino), elucidates the role of Digital Printing in opening up new possibilities for brands to craft innovative and visually captivating eCommerce packaging. This approach not only enhances the consumer experience but also contributes to broader brand awareness and marketing endeavors.

Ben Ginesi

The changing eCommerce market

Throughout the pandemic, eCommerce emerged as one of the most potent sales channels for retailers, experiencing a global online product sales surge of 26% in 2020, as per Euromonitor International research. The most substantial growth was witnessed in the food and drink sector, which expanded by 53%, translating to over USD 80 billion in absolute value growth. Projections indicate ongoing acceleration in online sales growth, with digital sales expected to contribute over half of the absolute value growth in the global retail sector from 2020 to 2025, reaching USD 1.36 trillion.

While eCommerce sales are on the rise overall, the competition among brands is intense as they vie to capitalize on the opportunity. This prompts questions about how to stand out and engage consumers in a way that cultivates a positive brand experience, prompting reviews, recommendations, and repeat sales. The moment a consumer receives the product they purchased becomes crucial—it’s the moment they will remember and share on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Gone are the days when the primary role of the corrugated box in packaging was simply to transport a product from point A to point B without damage. Times have changed, and eCommerce packaging now offers brands a new avenue to distinguish themselves and connect with consumers. Engaging, consumer-centric packaging can create an unboxing experience that amplifies a brand’s narrative, supports broader marketing initiatives, and provides a contemporary, personalized consumer experience during product delivery.

The unboxing experience – eCommerce Packaging

The concept of offering an extravagant, refined, and inventive unboxing experience is not novel. Luxury retailers in upscale sectors such as high-end fashion, jewelry, consumer electronics, and automotive have been providing this experience for at least the past decade. Similarly, the practice of documenting and sharing unboxing experiences online is not recent—the initial unboxing video surfaced in 2006, featuring the Nokia E61 cell phone on Yahoo Tech. However, the challenge in the past revolved around the cost and accessibility of printing technology, restricting participation to only the most luxurious brands.

Traditionally, flexographic printing systems stood as the sole options for printing on corrugated boxes. This method tends to be more costly for small batches due to increased resource and tooling needs, coupled with lengthy setup times and the necessity for new plates whenever a change in graphics occurs. Consequently, flexo is generally suitable for high-volume printing or reserved for high-margin brands willing to absorb the expenses of a short print run.

In today’s landscape, the expanding availability of Digital Printing technology enables smaller brands and those operating within industries with tight profit margins (e.g., food and beverage) to also compete and offer an innovative experience for contemporary eCommerce shoppers. Digital printing brings flexibility, plate-free operation, and minimal setup time, eliminating previous constraints such as cost and minimum print runs, thus enabling the creation of engaging eCommerce packaging.

Technology leads the way

Through digital printing, brands gain the ability to infuse seasonality, loyalty programs, and broader marketing initiatives into their product packaging. Short print runs, ranging from 100 to 10,000 pieces, can be efficiently produced at a competitive price. An illustrative example is Vibrant Forest Brewery in the UK’s New Forest National Park, which embraced digital printing to craft an attractive and colorful limited edition gift pack of beers in celebration of its 10th anniversary, marking the occasion with creativity and flair.

Digital printing also provides an avenue for creating a more personalized experience for recipients. PostmanPooch, for instance, offers personalized mail delivery of gift boxes for pet dogs, allowing customization by breed and occasion (e.g., Christmas and birthdays). The brand actively promotes shoppers’ unboxing experiences on its website by referencing Instagram posts and published reviews, underscoring the potential impact of an engaging unboxing experience.

Small batch printing facilitated by digital printing empowers brands to seize control of the consumer experience. Messages printed on boxes can directly encourage consumers to share their feedback online, while printed 2D codes on boxes serve as a means to provide additional product information, promote loyalty schemes, and further incentivize social sharing. This phenomenon is observable across various social media platforms, where consumers document their product unboxing experiences. Notably, platforms like YouTube host entire channels dedicated to product reviews and unboxing.

In addition to these consumer-centric advantages, digital printing also brings substantial environmental benefits. Overcoming challenges related to excess waste from minimum print runs in traditional flexographic systems, digital printing allows brands to produce smaller print runs as needed. Moreover, the creation of specific branding for eCommerce packaging can effectively reduce the overall packaging footprint of a brand. Formerly, a retail version of a product might have been delivered to consumers in a plain brown box for logistical purposes. Now, the traditional outer brown box can be transformed into part of a visually creative unboxing experience, minimizing non-essential packaging.


The era of exclusive short-run, creatively personalized packaging is no longer limited to luxury brands. Digital printing opens up a significant opportunity for direct-to-consumer and eCommerce brands across all industries, offering the potential to elevate the consumer experience and establish a more personalized connection with individuals.

The combination of unboxing, personalization, and innovative consumer marketing, engagement, and packaging approaches has the power to cultivate consumer relationships in a manner that fosters repeat business, strengthens consumer loyalty, and contributes to enhanced brand awareness.

Digital printing is democratizing this potential for brands, and businesses are just beginning to explore the myriad possibilities. For those brands yet to explore digital printing for eCommerce packaging, the current juncture presents an opportune moment to reassess existing consumer experience and engagement strategies and make the transition to the digital realm.

Postman Pooch packaging

Want To Learn More?

Make an enquiry

Make an enquiry