Packaging for Cross-Border Trade

Packaging might seem like the most mundane part of an ecommerce business. A cardboard box, some packing material and proper labeling is all one needs to bring goods to destination. But if you want to venture into the world international trade, you will have to contend with a more competitive market and different client expectations.

If you’re thinking of braving the vast waters of cross-border trade, you should keep in mind that it’s a big ocean out there. International shipping can be demanding, both from a logistical and cultural point of view, so knowing the region where you are shipping to might give you a competitive edge.


The Unboxing Trend

Today, shoppers love to unpack their products. It might not be popular in your country, but a quick search on YouTube should give you an idea of how important “unboxing” is to many buyers.

According to a Google study, unboxing videos have received 57% more views in 2014 than in previous years, and uploads of such videos have increased by 50%. Unwrapping newly purchased items is now part of the “experience” of buying new products.

Leading the pack, and possibly the forebearer of this trend, is Apple with its legendary product packaging. To compete, companies are becoming evermore creative in giving shoppers that initial “wow” effect. A perfect example of this can be seen in the Apple-looking packaging of OnePlus smartphones, or the painstaking ingenuity put behind this creative phone manual packaging demonstration by Vitamins Design.

Something as simple as having a creative way of boxing or wrapping your products, or using nonstandard packing material, is all you need to standout from the crowd. And if you’re lucky, your product might go viral in a YouTube unboxing video!


Additional Products

In the US, it’s common practice to include additional, promotional items in boxes – things clients did not expect to receive, like bumper stickers or promotional pens. is known for such little extras by regularly including organic tea for tasting, promotional pens, or something as unexpected as a promotional (high quality!) clothesline clip in its boxes.

Most promotional items are cheap and make a lasting impression, both to foreign buyers accustomed to such gestures or those new to altruism in e-commerce, so do yourself a favor and get some promotional items. Give your clients more than they expect. It will pay itself off in the long run, especially if your competition hasn’t ascribed to the practice.

Tip: If you don’t have the budget to produce your own promotional material, you can partner with another company to include its samples in your packages.


Proper Packaging

Now that you are sending packages across borders, they are bound to take more of a beating during the trip. Make sure you properly secure items inside boxed. The following useful Acer video shows how to package delicate items to keep them safe during transportation.


The general idea:

  • Don’t leave too much empty space in your boxes
  • Don’t fill up that space with too much packing material
  • Pick the right box sizes for your products
  • Use a decent amount of bubble wrap
  • Use padded envelopes for sharp edges or odd shapes
  • Make sure any outer containers are strong enough for their contents
  • Fragile items shouldn’t touch either each other, or the side of the container.
  • Use companies like Uline to package your items if need be
  • Use a ‘FRAGILE’ sticker, if necessary

Maximizing box space doesn’t only protect your items. Small packages are cheaper to ship. Now that you are selling abroad, you will have to contend with higher shipping costs. Cross-border traders might have to reassess their boxing practices to keep packages as compact and light as possible to avoid higher international shipping rates





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