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The Ultimate Guide to Designing Retail Packaging in 2021

Author: Elizabeth Max

Retail packaging is an important factor in a business's success. It can be the difference between whether or not someone buys your product and how much they are willing to spend on it.

There are many steps in retail packaging design, including choosing a design that will resonate with customers, color schemes, printing methods, branding elements like logos and fonts, finishing, all of which should be considered before starting the design process.

  • Be Familiar with the Packaging Layers
  • Select the Apt Packaging for Your Products
  • Consider Your Printing Options
  • Plan Your Structural Design
  • Assess Your Retail Packaging Design
  • Convey Your Product Message Clearly
  • Be Honest & Clear with Your Retail Packaging
  • Evaluate your retail box design

What is Retail Packaging?

The term "Retail Packaging" refers to the box that contains a product and is offered for sale. It is designed specifically for selling your goods at retail stores.

The main purpose of it is to make it easy for customers who buy products directly off the shelf. It can also be referred to as Point-of-Purchase (POP) marketing materials, which are items like shopping baskets and displays found on store shelves.

5 Major Steps in Retail Box Packaging Design

The designing is always the fun part of the packaging. You can narrate your brand’s story through a unique packaging design. We will discuss the points that will help you create an impact look for your brand.

1: Be Familiar with the Packaging Layers

It is significant to learn that there are three layers of standard packaging:

  • Inner
  • Outer
  • Product

These are important and play a decisive factor in making your custom design packaging for retail products unique.

Inner Packaging: This is important for keeping your products securely in the packaging. You can include foam sheets, packaging peanuts, or other stuff to protect your items during shipment. You can also use the same to keep your products fresh and original.

Outer Packaging: It is vital as it plays an integral role in grabbing a customer’s attention. It is also effective in keeping your product safe against tampering elements.

Product Packaging: It is the overall packaging in which your products are sent, which are labeled and customized accordingly.

You can use either one or all three to tell your brand’s story effectively.

2: Select the Apt Packaging for Your Products

A plethora of packaging options is available for your product in the market. However, you must consider several things while choosing your packaging type, such as:

  • Product: It is the main element of your entire packaging. You have to understand what you are selling, whether it is fluids or some techs. You have to select the packaging accordingly.
  • Rivalry: With a can of beans, you are just one among many. But with your own jar or box, consumers will see how unique and creative you really are. Choose to stand out from the crowd by choosing what container holds your favorite soya bean product in it. The point is to stand different from your competitors.
  • Budget: When it comes to designing your packaging, you have a lot of options: do you want something that will reflect the high-quality nature of what’s inside? Or are budget and practicality more up your alley? Again, the key is knowing who the customers for this product might be.

3: Consider Your Printing Options

When you have decided on the final design, it is time to find a printer. This is an essential step in any project. You need to know about your options and prices before anything else happens.

After all, printing takes up most of what you spend. So, knowing how much money this will cost you from the beginning is really helpful for budgeting purposes too.

As always, start with research because there are lots of printers out there who offer different packages at various price points depending on where they are located or their niche markets.

Following are a few of the points you need to consider prior to your retail packaging ideas:

  • Dieline: It just takes a little creativity and some paper to create your own custom packaging. If you happen to have access to a printer, they can provide the dieline template that our designers are already using to print on boxes or labels.
  • File Submission: This is the best way to make sure your printer has all of the files they need for printing. Vector file? Layered? Cut-lines required or not, and in what format? It would be best to ask whether you can provide a mockup in PNG or JPG formats prior to printing.
  • Color Preferences: The color of your design is going to be a major factor in the type and quality of the printer you choose. Some printers will allow for custom colors, but others may only offer limited palettes.
  • Printing: The type of printer your organization chooses from can greatly impact the quality and amount you order. Offset printers are capable of printing more than just one copy at once, which means less time waiting to get copies back in hand.

4: Plan Your Structural Design

Again, ask yourself who will be purchasing your product and from they are buying them. Gather such information to plan your packaging’s structural design.

How do you want your product to be remembered? Is it the elegant design of the packaging that caught their eye, or is it because they just had a great customer service experience with one of your team members?

You may have attractive images of your product in action and an exciting review from a satisfied client. However, if nobody remembers anything about your package, then all those other pieces are for nothing.

One way to engage your customers is by informing them of the one absolute most important thing that they need. This is what you should focus on and highlight in your product's color scheme.

For example, you could show a section on the website that is dedicated to explaining how your product works. You might also have an infographic or video showing off what makes it so great and why people should buy one too.

5: Assess Your Retail Packaging Design

Before you invest in expensive materials and begin to create your packaging design, it is important to check that the package will be effective.

There are several different things that need careful consideration before starting work on a new retail pack:

Convey Your Product Message Clearly

To make your product stand out from the crowd is by making sure you create a unique and identifiable packaging that looks nothing like anything else on store shelves. If it does not look distinct, buyers will be too afraid of wasting their money on something they cannot identify with.

Be Honest & Clear with Your Retail Packaging

When it comes to packaging, the content should be an accurate representation of what is inside. For example, if you put a picture on your package that does not showcase your product's ingredients or features, then customers will not get their money's worth and might never buy from you again.

Consider 3D Packaging Designs

The difference between a flat design and 3D can be hard to decipher, but it is an important distinction. Designers should provide you with both of these files when working on your project so that they are aware of the correct dimensions for printing before sending them off for production.

A good designer will also help you spot any potential problems by constructing their own mockups from paper or cardboard boxes. Check the Best 3D Packaging Design Softwares list to create innovative 3d designs.

Opt for Sustainable Packaging

For every product you make, the packaging can have limitless uses with eco-friendly Kraft packaging. Consider if your package is reusable or repurposable and what that would do for you. It leaves a great impression on the customers, and they return to you for future purchases.

Consider the Final Packaging Look

You want your product to stand out. But how? Shelf impact is the thing that will get you ways in the saturated retail market. You have to know how it is going to be visible to the customers.

Once you have a plan for where the most important information should be placed on packaging, go and see what other products are shelved next to yours in order to get an idea of color schemes that work well together with multiple colors or one main color scheme.

This will give customers more context about why their purchase is so valuable. Go for market research and check how it will help your brand.


In the end, it is essential to remember that, in the design process, it's not about what you want your retail packaging to look like but instead how customers see and interpret it.

It is important to make sure that the packaging design comes across as professional and consistent in order to relay a strong brand message about your product.

A lot goes into the design process of packaging for retail products, so it is essential to have a solid plan from start to finish, which this article provides.