Posted on April 6, 2021 by Dennis Salazar

E-commerce packaging: the difference between structural designers and graphic designers’ work

If you are planning to create a DTC box for your new or existing e-commerce business, you will likely utilize a graphic designer as well as a structural designer to produce a great looking and effective, e-commerce shipping container.

Graphic Designers for Shippable Packaging

Some of our best friends and contacts we have in the industry are graphic designers. I am talking about professional designers with some level of packaging experience, not the nephew who does this “on the side” of his other part time job. Many graphic designers are exceptionally talented and specialize in digital work for web sites, web stores, etc. However, some graphic designers have never done any packaging work, or artwork for flexographic direct-to-corrugated printing. It is indeed different. Not everything done digitally can be done when it comes to box printing.

DTC box by Salazar PackagingWe can print e-commerce boxes using the primary three different processes: flexographic, digital, or offset. Each has advantages and challenges, so a graphic designer familiar with all three can develop artwork to fit the process being used, or the artwork will determine which print method can be used to print it.

Bottom line is – in most cases, a graphic artist’s only or primary concern is how it looks when complete. That is not criticism at all, that is what a graphic artist does. We are always quick to tell clients and customers we are not graphic artists/designers, but we have along the way, discovered what works and prints well, and what does not. For example, not all colors look good on natural kraft corrugated board and we can tell you which ones to avoid. We can help our customer and the designer create artwork that is printable and cost effective in every way.

Structural Designers for Shippable Packaging    

Internal protective packaging for jars and bottles.Structural packaging is what we do. What do we focus on? Everything else beyond the esthetics of packaging design. Here are a few of the many questions we ask ourselves and our clients when creating a DTC box:

  1. How many boxes do you need? Everything has an MOQ. In some cases, this may help direct how the box is designed and how it is printed.
  2. What is the product being shipped and how fragile is it? Does it require protective internal packaging?
  3. Do you want the product protected, displayed to the consumer, or both?
  4. Who is doing the actual packing? If it is a 3PL or contract packer/shipper, the ease of assembly is critical to the decision-making process.
  5. How is it being shipped to the customer? Who is paying for shipping, you (the client) or the customer? Have you double checked your shipping cost?

That last item regarding shipping costs may strike you as unusual for us to ask, but you will learn that in many cases, the shipping cost is far more costly than the packaging used to ship it. Would you spend an extra $.25 to save over $2.00 for every package shipped? We know where and when those opportunities are available to you.

Another DTC box: upside down money tree packaging by Salazar PackagingWe understand that your costs go far beyond the price of a custom insert or shipping box. Shipping costs in and out, storage costs, and assembly costs which are often overlooked can add up to a substantial hit to your bottom line. Our goal is always to help create the best packaging possible at the lowest possible overall cost. After millions of boxes created, we think we are rather good on the structural design side and if you seek a great graphic artist, we know several of them. Let us know and we will gladly share the names of those we have worked with in the past and have done outstanding work with us.

If you are still not sure which way you want to go, talk with us. There is no cost or charge for an application analysis so perhaps we can help you satisfy ALL your e-commerce packaging objectives. You can call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us at

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