Behind the Scenes - Packaging for a small business

Packaging is often one of those subjects that gets forgotten about during a launch or a new product rush - and it’s understandable that the main item that has been designed takes the most amount of work. Having said that, we all know first impressions do count, and packaging plays a vital role to give an excellent, lasting impression for the customer.

I think packaging as a small business is vital; it needs to impress visually and protect those valued goodies inside. Most small biz owners spend a lot of time presenting things in a beautiful way, and so the outside packaging, though not usually as pretty, is so important in making sure the goods reach their destination in the perfect condition they were when they left our studios.

I’ve been sticking to the same packaging methods since I opened up my Etsy shop a year and a half ago now, though it has been on my list to revamp at some point soon. I sell paper goods, so prints and cards are packaged firstly in cello bags, to keep them protected from any cardboard scratches or colour rub-off. Then I attach a business card, thank you card and a handwritten note, usually taped on to the front with washi tape. Finally, they’re slid into a cardboard backed envelope, addressed, sealed with more washi tape and decorated with two circular stickers. I love adding extra details like this to orders, and the handwritten note in particular makes the whole experience feel more personal. I want everyone who orders from my shop to know just how much their purchase means to me, and I want them to know that every item is made with love and sent with gratitude!

To date, most of my packaging has come from Amazon, and the envelopes that my products are shipped in are board backed. This provides some stability to the products inside, but it is thin card and one of my recurring worries when sending out prints is that they’ll get bent (despite the large Do Not Bend written on the front!)

When Lil Packaging got in touch offering me the chance to try some of their packaging, I jumped at the chance. I’m really drawn to the fact that it’s an independent family-run business, with everything designed and manufactured in-house.

I ordered these A-LTR envelopes (which fit A5 documents and maximises Royal Mail’s Letter size), F3 Flatpack envelopes (this fits my A4 prints and maximises Royal Mail’s large letter size), and finally, the SL3 Letterbox, which can be sent as large letter and fits in A4 items and my bulkier products, such as my thicker memo pads and multiple item orders.

These items are all from Lil Packaging’s main range, and their aim is to help independent e-commerce business owners grow. They have a heap of different products on their site, and one of my main concerns would be the prices. As small businesses, we don’t need a huge amount of packaging, because we often don’t have space to store it and a smaller budget. With most sites, there’s a large minimum order quantity and with eye-watering amounts! Lil Packaging doesn’t have this, meaning I could mix and match various different envelopes and order as little of each as needed. Don’t forget that prices exclude tax, so when you get to the basket summary it’s added before your order total on the right hand side, not on the standard basket view. Delivery was fast, and they use DPD which meant I had an hour time slot in which they were going to arrive which is really handy. Free postage over £25 also helps seal the deal, because any chance to reduce costs without impacting on the product is a huge bonus.

Having used the envelopes for multiple orders now, I have to say I am so impressed with the F3 envelopes and the SL3 letterboxes. The thickness of the card means I’m not worried at all about them bending or getting damaged while in the post. The corners are sturdy and hold their shape, so I know that they’re packaged in the safest way to get to their destination exactly as they were once they left me.

The A-LTR envelopes were thinner than I had expected, and I’d be wary sending out a small print in these without an additional backing board inserted for fear of it being bent. It works well for my stapled notebooks (though I’d use other envelopes for memo pads as these have no extra capacity for thicker items), but for thin items I think it lacks strength. Having spoken to the guys at Lil Packaging, the reason for the light weight is because they are made from Kraft material. It makes sense, because it means it helps with the Royal Mail letter tariff weight limit of 100g - so it saves money us money on postage by using a lighter material!

On all the envelopes, it’s a simple peel and seal to secure it closed, and the customer has an easy open tear off strip which feels very high end and means the item is less likely to be damaged or creased when opened. Overall the packaging is a bit more expensive than the board backed envelopes I’ve used before, but you can clearly see why.

Another thing to mention is something that’s become a prominent issue lately, particularly in the selling and community groups I’m in. Sustainability is obviously a huge concern and a lot of us are looking at reducing our eco-footprint. Compostable cello bags is something I’m considering, or even scrapping all together, once my current stock has been depleted. Single use plastics are something that individuals and businesses are becoming more aware of, and Lil Packaging are actually overhauling all of their plastic packaging, and converting all of their products to plastic-free, recyclable packaging in the near future - how cool is that?

I hope this insight to my packaging has been interesting, whether you’re a fellow small biz owner looking to upgrade or are a customer and are interested in the behind the scenes. I’ll certainly be using Lil Packaging in the future and I hope my review has been useful.

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Lil Packaging, but all thoughts and reviews are my own and not biased in any way.