Posted on December 30, 2020 by Dennis Salazar

Top Five 2021 Trends in DTC, E-commerce Packaging

Packaging Trends for 2021

One year ago, no one could have envisioned how painful 2020 was going to be for many people and businesses. At the same time, no one could have guessed the explosive growth we all witnessed in e-commerce. The year-end numbers are not in, but I believe the increase will be in the high teens to lower twenties percent range.

As a leader in DTC green and branded packaging, we are confident this growth will continue through 2021 and we have identified five trends that are not going to change. In fact, we think they will be more important than ever before due to the sheer volume of packaging that will be consumed in the coming year. Here is what we anticipate:

1.The “unboxing experience” will become even more important.

In 2020 we have seen so many e-commerce start-ups and retail brick and mortar stores expanding into the Direct to Consumer (DTC) market. This trend will continue at breakneck speed, making it more important to stand out in the crowd. Your unboxing experience is a lot more than looking good, it must be unique, memorable, and hopefully result in that much coveted Instagram or Facebook moment.

Ta-Da Box. See video.Our brand-new Ta-Da box is a perfect example of what people will be looking for in 2021. Check out this post link and watch the video for something you have probably never seen before. If you already have a design you like, we can help you make it better at a lower cost thanks to our decades of experience, thousands of customers, and millions of boxes.

2.Eco-friendly packaging will continue being near the top of the list in terms of importance.

We have been producing green packaging since 2007. With the demand for sustainable packaging growing yearly, 2021 will be no different. With the renewed interest in protecting the environment and the new political climate, we are confident that demand will increase. Whether your concern is recycled content or recyclability, reusability or compostability, few companies have the experience we do to help you accomplish your green packaging objectives without sacrificing cost or esthetics.

3.Corrugated cost reduction tactics will become even more important.

The whopping 9%, fourth quarter corrugated industry price increase was probably overdue (no increase since spring 2018) but now there are rumors of a 2021 price increase as well. Whether that increase materializes or not, reducing corrugated costs will be at the top of everyone’s to do list. Reviewing order patterns, right sizing and box styles should all be reviewed to look for potential savings opportunities. After thirteen years, we can confidently tell you that over a third of the people who contact us are paying more for their packaging than they should.

4. Companies will be reviewing how their packaging designs are impacting their fulfillment costs.

Unique packaging delivers a great unboxing expereinceThe vast majority of our customers and clients do not do their own packing and shipping. Most utilize a 3PL, fulfillment operation, co-packer, or other third-party company to store, pick, pack, and ship their products. During the 2020 rush period, capacities were tested and in some cases were maxed out, in part because of the time required by some packaging designs, primarily inserts.

Taking a closer look at “add on” or extra costs from your packing partner may lead you to reviewing your packaging design. Purchasing a custom insert for $.40 is not a great deal if the co-packer is charging you an additional dollar for forming and installing it into your box. There must be a better way and we can usually determine what that is.

5. Inbound and outbound packaging shipping costs will be a major factor in overall costs.

You probably noticed the sharp increase in trucking costs and the impact it had on your inbound shipments during 2020. Undoubtedly you also saw the increase in outbound shipping costs to your customers via UPS, USPS, and FedEx. Remember, there is no free lunch and there is no free shipping, because you know those very real costs are built into the price you pay. None of these costs are going to be reduced immediately when the calendar turns to 2021. It is a great time to look at those shipping/freight costs to determine the best way to control or minimize them.

If all of this seems overwhelming, it is not when you work with the right packaging partner. Experience helps us correct issues and, in many cases, multiple corrections can be made at the same time.

For example, rightsizing a box with greener materials can make your packaging more sustainable AND lower in unit cost. It will also reduce both shipping and trucking costs so an additional savings may be realized. Redesigning your internal (insert) packaging can help reduce your fulfillment costs, and ordering in larger quantities will reduce your box cost while your shipping costs are minimized.

You see, it all works together and that has been our approach from the beginning in 2007. We look at customer’s applications and usage in their entirety, not just a price per box. “Fill in the attached spread sheet with your price” may seem like an efficient way to lower your box costs but we can assure you, you are leaving big money on the table.

If you want to do it right, call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us at One of our very experienced people will be glad to help you review your goals and needs, at no cost and absolutely no obligation. Can we help you dramatically reduce your costs while improving your quality and sustainability? Probably. There is only one way to find out.

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