Packaging is one thing that you take for granted until you launch your own business and choose the right packaging materials for your products. The wrong packaging material could lead to products getting damaged during shipping. 

The right packaging material could help establish your brand image and even act as a marketing tool. So how can you determine the right option for your products, brand, customers, and budget? Here’s everything you need to know.  

Consider These 6 Packaging Material Options

Generally speaking, there are six main packaging options to consider for shipping. Here’s what you need to know about each of them so that you can choose the best packaging material for shipping. 

1. Paperboard Boxes

A paperboard box is a lightweight packaging material that’s made from wood or recycled paper. These materials are then bleached and cut into different shapes depending on your packaging needs. 

While solid bleached sulfate (SBS) paperboard is bright white, there’s also coated unbleached kraft (KBS) paperboard available that’s a natural brown color and really shows off the packaging’s recycled nature. However, kraft may not be as moisture-resistant as the SBS alternative, so this is something to consider if you’re shipping food products that require moisture protection. 

2. Corrugated Boxes

A corrugated box, while still lightweight, is thicker and more durable than paperboard. Corrugated cardboard boxes are likely what comes to mind when you think about a traditional shipping box. 

This is because corrugated material is more protective. It contains three layers—an inner layer, outer layer, and middle layer made up of recycled “fluted” material arranged in a wave pattern. 

This middle layer gives the packaging its strength and rigidity so that it’s not easily punctured, folded, or otherwise damaged during the shipping process. 

There are also different types of corrugated material to consider depending on the weight of your products and the level of protection required. 

3. Plastic Boxes

A plastic box is another lightweight option that doesn’t involve paper or cardboard at all. Instead, it’s all plastic which means that it’s relatively flexible yet still durable. Plastic boxes are also protective in that they can insulate products and protect them from moisture and other issues that would affect paper packaging materials. 

Furthermore, plastic boxes really allow you to show off your products since they are on full display rather than hidden behind the packaging. This packaging option can help customers make purchasing decisions since they know what they’re getting. 

4. Rigid Boxes

A rigid box is a special type of box that cannot be easily broken down or collapsed, unlike traditional paperboard or corrugated material. Instead, these boxes are designed to be rigid and often hold high-end products like cell phones, computers, and tablets since they are extremely durable. These boxes also often hold luxury products since this packaging material is expensive and usually comes with premium products. 

5. Chipboard Boxes

On the other hand, a chipboard box is an extremely thin and lightweight paperboard. Since chipboard is made out of reclaimed paper stock, it’s easily cut, folded, and formed. Furthermore, it’s also a cost-effective packaging material so long as your products are lightweight as well. 

6. Poly Bags

Finally, a poly bag is a plastic pouch that is able to house a wide variety of lightweight and non-fragile items. These pouches are inexpensive to ship and store since they are so thin and light. At the same time, they are durable and protective since they are difficult to puncture and are fully sealed. As a result, poly bags are another cost-effective packaging material so long as your products aren’t fragile. 

How To Choose the Best Packaging Material

Now that you know what your options are, it’s time to choose one! Here are some things to keep in mind when making your decision so that you end up with the best possible packaging material.

Consider the Products

When choosing the best packaging material, you first need to consider your products. For instance, food items might require different types of packaging that offer more protection. Fragile items also require protective packaging that offers insulation from what’s often a rough shipping process. Finally, heavy items require strong packaging that won’t easily break from the weight. 

Consider Your Brand

You also need to consider your brand when choosing your packaging material. For instance, are you trying to give off a high-end feel? If so, then you need to choose high-end packaging like rigid boxes rather than kraft paperboard. 

On the other hand, if you’re more of a “natural” and “eco-friendly” brand, then your packaging needs to reflect that as well by incorporating both recycled and recyclable packaging materials that show your dedication to the environment. 

Consider Your Customers

Of course, you also need to consider your customers when choosing your packaging material. Do your customers need to see your product in order to buy it? If so, you should consider using clear plastic packaging. On the other hand, would your customers enjoy the mystery and intrigue of unboxing your product? 

Consider Your Budget

Finally, you need to consider your budget since packaging can get expensive! There are also extra costs to consider in addition to the per-unit cost. 

For instance, some packaging types require a design to be made to cut the packaging material and print on it. These components will need to be paid for upfront and a one-time fee. 

On the other hand, you also need to consider storage and shopping costs associated with the packaging material you choose. Heavier packaging types will translate into higher shipping costs. Larger and thicker packaging types that take up more room will translate into higher storage costs. 

If you’re looking to save money on packaging at the end of the day, you should consider poly bags or paperboard boxes if possible. On the other hand, if cost isn’t really a concern, you may want to consider rigid boxes for a more high-end and luxury feel. 

Packaging Material Extras You Should Consider

In addition to the main packaging materials, there are also packaging extras you may want to consider to ensure that your products are well-prepared for the shipping journey. This is especially true if you have fragile items that require extra protection. 

For instance, there’s bubble wrap that pads the contents of the packaging and prevents damage. There are also custom packaging inserts that you can design to specifically fit your products and keep them in place along the way. 

You can use filler paper to provide your products with a bit of extra cushion and make the unboxing experience more interesting for your customers. Another component to add to the unboxing experience is tissue paper to make the customer feel like they’re unwrapping a present. A lot of these extras can be customized to match your brand image. 

Box Genie’s Thoughts on Choosing Packaging Materials

Now you’re ready to make your final packaging material decision! If you need any help or inspiration along the way, visit Box Genie

We have several customized packaging options available that you can create from scratch or from a template. Box Genie also has packaging experts that stand ready to answer all of your packaging questions. 



  1. The Power of Sustainable Packaging | Forbes
  2. 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Reduce Packaging Costs | Entrepreneur
  3. Product Packaging: Design Examples + Unboxing Tips (2021) | Shopify

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