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Custom Packaging - Shopify Webinar Transcribed

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Gwen: Hello everyone and welcome to Shopify Academy’s Live Workshop. My name is Gwen and I work on the Shopify education team as a course producer. Today you are here for Product Packaging 101: How to Choose the Best the Best Packaging for Your Business featuring Phillip Akhsar. Hello Phillip! How are you doing today?

Phillip: Hey Gwen, thanks so much for having me.

Gwen: We are absolutely excited that you are here! We can see amazing people joining the call right now. We had over two thousand people sign up for this today and this is absolutely live, thank you to everyone who has been able to join the call live, or if you’re watching this in the replay--thank you so much for watching! I know Phillip is super excited to teach you today.

Phillip: Yes, thank you, thanks everyone for attending. This is so amazing!

Gwen: We are going to get started into the content in just a moment, but while folks are coming online, let’s take a moment to get connected. We want to know a little bit about you. Share in the question section where in the world are you today? You’ll see on the right hand side of your screen, there is a question mark bubble, that’s where you can share where in the world you are coming from today. And so Phillip, where in the world are you today?

Phillip: Shout out to the Bay area! Uh, I’m actually in the Bay area, I’m in San Francisco right now.

Gwen: Fantastic! I’m in Toronto, Canada and this is so great having these live trainings where we can connect with people anywhere in the world. This is really fun! I’m seeing that people are sharing where they are coming from--we see Columbia Philadelphia Houston, Texas Atlanta St. Charles, Canada Maryland L.A. New Jersey North Carolina Florida Another Toronto, Canada New York Nigeria Massachusetts Jacksonville, Florida Mexico London Ventura California Seattle ParisVegas Vermont I could go all day! France, Ottawa,!

Phillip: Quick interjection, we ship to all of those locations, so you’ve all come to the right spot! It’s great to hear.

Gwen: Absolutely! We are so excited that you are all here today, everyone. Okay… let’s go to the next slide. Here is what you can expect today, everyone. We’re going to start, we’re going to welcome you here. We will share with you a little about Phillip, give some context about you’re going to learn from today. Phillip is going to share the goal of today’s live training; he is going to share with you a little about Arka Packaging, his company so that you have more context about his work and how and why he is an industry leader in his space. He’s also going to share four reasons why packaging really matters, and also four steps to create branded unboxing experience. Then, at the end, we’re going to have a Q&A because we know that we’re all here live, you have questions and we’re going to try to answer as many questions as possible in this time today. If we go to the next slide, that will be perfect. I just quickly looked through the people sharing where they’re coming from and I saw a few more: Estonia, Ireland--I already got the question, Phillip, do you ship to Ireland?

Phillip: Yes, yes, we ship to Ireland.

Gwen: Perfect, one question answered!

Phillip: Nice.

Gwen: Okay, so how can you participate today? How do you get the most out of really being here? Throughout the training at any time feel free to share questions right where you shared where you’re coming from in the world. That is the best place to get your questions answered is in that question box. There is also the ability to “raise your hand,” but we are not using that functionality for today’s training. Just share your questions. Also, we’re going to start off with some polls. We want to know where you are in your entrepreneurial journey so that Phillip can also answer questions knowing who here is a full time entrepreneur, who’s not, what industry are you in, those kinds of questions. We also highly encourage you to take notes and if you want to share any learning moments or valuable takeaways, please feel free to use #shopifyacademy or tag @shopfiy or @arkapackaging. We appreciate anything you learn and share, we really appreciate it! We’re going to start with a poll, because that’s fun! Let’s start with “What industry are you in?” In just a few moments, you will see a question pop up on your screen that shares “What industry are you in?” Phillip, I’m curious, in your experience and in your work, what industry do you find that you work with the most?

Phillip: Beauty and apparel. Right now, I’m seeing that that’s dominating the polls, so far. I see that everyone will get answers later, but I see right now that it is “Fashion and Apparel” and “Health and Beauty.” This is our sweet spot, it’s a lot of the type of people that come through, the entrepreneurs and businesses that need packaging. I think we can all agree, whether we work in this industry or not, as a consumer having some sort of branding tied to those industries is highly relevant. I’m glad that everyone is here to invest in their business and get educated on this topic. There you have it, “Fashion and Apparel”/”Health and Beauty.”

Gwen: Absolutely, “Fashion and Apparel” followed by “Other,” okay… And these different industries were taken from our Shopify content marketing blog. These are some of the most popular categories we find for people who read our Shopify blog. Phillip, I see that “Other” is pretty popular. What would you say is a kind of “Other” industry that you work with in your job, or in your role.

Phillip: It could be electronics, like beauty apparel electronics. It could be also food of some type, like they are selling baked goods or some sort of beverage that they can sell online. We have a lot of places like that that come through, but top three that dominate are Beauty, Apparel, and Electronics, in that order.

Gwen: Absolutely, let’s do one more poll. Just so you know how many people on the live training today are actually using branded packaging. In just a moment you will see on your screen a simple yes or no for “Are you using branded packaging yet?” Phillip, if you could just clarify what is branded packaging?

Phillip: Yeah, absolutely. It is any sort of not-just-a-brown-box shipping the product out your door. It’s some sort of, either it is the insignia of your logo, or color themes of your own branding in some fashion on the package that your product is sent and delivered in. That can be considered branded packaging and right now I see that roughly one third is at yes and two thirds is at no [on the poll]. Whether you have or have not started, this will be educational for you, so thank you for attending!

Gwen: We are just sharing our poll results. We have 62% say “no, we are not using branded packaging yet.” Phillip, you are probably so excited to help share with people why it’s valuable to do that. For “yes” we’re at 38%. Maybe if you said yes, you’re wanting to learn how to optimize or you want to evolve your branded packaging. Whether you have it yet or you don’t, you’re absolutely in the right place to learn. I’d love to move on to the next slide and just share a quick intro about Phillip. You know he’s here, you know he’s obsessed with branded packaging and helping you create the best packaging for your small business, but who is Phillip? That is the real question. To share a quick bio [reading off slide]: “Phillip is a YC and 500 startups alumnus. A bay-area native, he moved south to San Luis Obispo to study Industrial Engineering at Cal Poly. He sourced packaging at companies like Boeing and Silicon Valley startups like iCracked before starting his own.” He is also going to share with you later in this presentation some amazing brands he’s working with on their packaging. Alright, Phillip, we’d love for you to take it away and share your presentation, share your goal of today. I am going to be in the background taking a look at the questions and finding the best ones for the Q&A.

Phillip: Sounds great, thanks Gwen for passing the baton. To everyone who’s attending, thank you for coming in and trying to better your business. This is an investment, to take things to the next step or optimize what you already have. To be more specific, the goal today is to [reading the slide] “find and understand the right packaging for your products.” We want you to be your own packaging expert. The same why Shopify empowers you to create your own beautiful online store and start your business, Arka enables you to express your brand without the need to deal with offline manufacturers and slow moving paperwork. In other words, the conventional process is inaccessible to any business ordering less than five thousand orders a month, and everyone has to start somewhere. With that, a great place to start is with free! If you are U.S. based, you can pop into your local U.S.P.S. and get boxes for free. You’ll be tied to using U.S.P.S. as a carrier when you ship out your products, but at least you didn’t have to pay for your packaging and that’s completely fine to start out that way. However, this is our bread and butter and it’s mostly what we want to talk about today: customized packaging at low volumes. Check out through the site or fill out an inquiry through a form, and we have your back, it’s very easy. We’ll get into that a little more later. So, free, dollars, and cents--cents being to-date, at Arka we specialize in custom boxes where we can offer them at low quantities to small businesses without setup costs that can be as high as $1000 per color of print. These are costs you would NOT incur with us. We’re super excited about introducing stock packaging to our community -- this is really big because we know that small businesses cannot afford $2-$4 per customized box. Plus, with this we’ll not only be able to offer you more competitive pricing in the new line, but also ease of mind knowing that you’re dealing with ethical, eco-friendly, and inclusive business.

Phillip: About us. So the ethos inside of our company is that we’re here to serve. If we do that well, we will have an enduring business. The advice I’m going to share with you, you’ll know it’s not just us pushing our product to you, but us equipping you with the necessary tools to make the best decision for your business. As with all things in life, your mileage may vary. This is more of a “flex” slide to show that we’ve worked with businesses that generate $100,000 to $137 billion per year. I’m sure you can guess which ones those are [listed on the slide]. The names on here some of you will recognize. Google and Mattel, they only ordered between 300-500 boxes. Think about that, Google and Mattel only ordered 300-500 boxes--even at their scale and their budget, they can’t go to a manufacturer to get 150 boxes made because this is not how the packaging industry works. Enter Arka. With us, you can order as few as ten boxes or 10,000. It doesn’t matter. Just to make it painfully obvious, there are so many shopping platforms and we know that Shopify dominates the commerce space as a leading host site for nearly a million stores. We’re grateful that Shopify chose us as a partner and that we have the perfect ecosystem. With a platform as powerful as Shopify, you can design your store, you can procure your products, you can transact, you can get a shipping label. With Arka as a partner, you can get packaging. Humble brag, we are the only ones in the app store that as an essential part of your in-house fulfillment needs. Check this out: a ticket from a decade plus veteran who’s source packaging that is a brutal process, lots of back and forth, much of it historically offline. It can take several weeks to months. As you can see on your screen, we distilled all that into just a few clicks. This is actually what it looks like on our website, arka.com, or the plugin we have through the Shopify app store. Step one is you select the type of box (mailer or shipper); step two is the size, and you can request a custom size; step three is the material, do you want a brown or white box with different branding on it? And then there’s quantity and you’re basically done. The only thing left to do is the branding portion, with that we have a design tool for our customers to add color, text, images. It’s as easy as designing and buying a t-shirt online. It’s very simple. We are a merchant-first business, so with each design our customers create, we have a dedicated designer to create a proof or even help to finalize the designs on their end. Essentially, we want to create creative boxes as much as you do. I know all too well that an in-house designer is not too common, so please reach out and we can point you in the right direction.

Phillip: Let’s go into “4 Reasons Why Product Packaging Matters.” I’d love to get behind this data. It turns out that the bit of extra cost for branded packaging goes a long way. The cost of customer acquisition has gone up, which makes retention that much more valuable. Let’s dive in! According to recently released Dot Com distributions report, 40% of online shoppers stated that they are more likely to purchase from a retailer that offers premium packaging--you’re just more likely to buy that product versus something else. They will probably go with the one with better packaging. A whopping 68% of online shoppers reported that branded packaging makes the brand seem more upscale. It creates the sense of special treatment. That same type of messaging can be skewed if you got something like a Rolex watch in a plain brown box with tissue paper. That does not coincide with the product itself. Whereas if you have something upscale, something nice, it makes your product seem more nice, as well. In that regard, it’s just branding tapping into psychology and common sense. 61% said that branded aesthetics get them more excited about receiving and opening a package. Your product gets associated with excitement. I think we’ve all been there, when we order something online and the box arrives and you see it and you get excited! You know what’s in store for you. We call this “the doorstep experience” at Arka and it’s almost like foreplay for your brand, engaging with the customer. Almost 50% said that the branding reinforces that the product was worth the cost, decreasing rates of buyers remorse. This is a funny one, think about it. You’re less likely for someone to have buyers remorse when you have nice packaging. In that regard, they’ll make the purchase and then look back and say, “worth it!” Branded packaging has a huge effect on retention rates and brand advocacy. You can create brand ambassadors simply by creating branded packaging to encourage it.

Phillip: As a recap, here’s why you will see effective results after putting effort towards branded packaging, in regards to [reading slide]: Retention Rates, Brand Advocate, Brand Awareness, and Customer Loyalty. All of this essentially goes under retention. Again, with the world of e-commerce becoming more competitive with the cost of customer acquisition going up, you need to have retention on your side. This is such a simple, easy, and obvious impactful way to do it when you have branded packaging.

Phillip: 4 Steps to Create Memorable Unboxing Experience. First off, Artwork, step one. This slide is to tell you the specifics of what you’ll need to get a box design on the artwork side. Brand colors and logos can be enough, you don’t need to make your packaging look crazy. I’ve had so many people ask in previous webinars when they message in and they want this foil stamp box with a ribbon and a magnetic enclosure. We can do that, that’s actually a box we made for Neiman Marcus. The difference between a long tail ecommerce store on Shopify and Neiman Marcus can be a large disparity and you don’t want to spend all your money right out of the gate. The simpler, the better. Just be directionally correct in what you design and how you brand your packaging and we can guide you along the way so you’re not breaking the bank. To get technical, we specify that 300DPI is needed for the boxes to come out looking crisp, but don’t worry, a dedicated designer on our team can help you with that. If you don’t have brand colors or logos, try Fiverr, Upwork, or other apps on the Shopify store that can guide you. One in particular is hatchful.com, your digital logo designer. Step two is the box type. These two are the most common styles of boxes for ecommerce. The one on the left, we call BAE (Beauty, Apparel, Electronics) and the one on the right we call BB (Books and Bottles). We have a sturdier box on the right to ship heavy products and then have the classic box that comes to mind when you think of getting something in the mail, like a subscription box. When looking at this slide, you should ask yourself “What would work best for my product?” From there, we can optimize the size for shipping and what works best for you and your business. As you know, the less area you ship, the better. I’m throwing in a third option--cartons. Cartons make sense for primary packaging, meaning they would go inside either the mailer or the shipper. They do not stand alone. I repeat, the carton--the one on the far right--you cannot ship it by itself. It’s the same material as a cereal box. If you ship multiple products, you can compartmentalize them inside your shippable boxes for fun. Adding an extra layer can mean you do not have to design different inserts everytime you ship different products in a mailer or shipper. Just put them inside of a carton, and we can make those fully branded for you as well.

Phillip: Stock boxes. This is still something we’re very excited about. We’re going to take a step backward here because not everyone is ready for branded packaging, and that is totally okay. We’ve got you covered in this category as well. Stock boxes are unbranded mailers or shippers you can still use to safely ship your products. They are great because they’re a pathway into branded packaging while saving you money. If you want to get branded stickers or branded tape or even stamps, and slap that on an unbranded stock box, that is a great way to start.

Phillip: Step three: Shipping. You should at least talk to us about getting your boxes optimized for shipping. Real quick, before your brain goes bonkers on this slide, don’t get too bogged down by it. It’s simply here to show you that there is mathematical proof behind costs that are associated with packaging and we can optimize for ecommerce. To summarize, shipping costs are determined by three things: weight (up to 70 pounds of Priority mail), Dimensions, and Distance. It’s worth optimizing your packaging for cubic measurements if you can. There’s a lot of information on this online as it is public info. But feel free to message us if you want more help with this, as well.

Phillip: Timeline. This is an overview slide of what we can get done for you in the time it takes for our platform and have your boxes in hand. Please have your timeline set so that there are no surprises. Some people come to us and say this is what they want and they want it tomorrow, other people want their boxes in ninety days. Either way, just know that Arka can streamline this process in just ten days and you can order as few as ten boxes.

Phillip: Branded Packaging. This is a quick display slide of branded boxes and your branded options. All the packaging you see here has an MOQ (minimum order quantity) of just ten boxes. As you can see, we have some shippers and mailers here, we have cartons which will either be put in a store or in a mailer or shipper box. You have full exterior print examples: some simplistic black on craft boxes; this goes back to a very important point, what your customers would like to see. Are you customers new mothers? Millennials? Vegans? Having that in mind, what do you think they would want?

Phillip: Accessories. Lastly, don’t sleep on accessories: fillers, inserts, tissue paper. Stay fit, but please do not ask for packaging peanuts. Nobody likes those. If you ask, we will hang up on the phone. Here we have crinkle paper, tissue paper, and insert cards. They are simple add ons that can provide that exciting unboxing experience. Remember who your customers are--do they prefer eco-friendly products? Then perhaps craft with one simple sheet of tissue paper will do that trick. Remember, if you still have questions about the box you’re looking for, that’s totally fine, you can always reach out to us to brainstorm some ideas that optimize on sizing and shipping for you. Honestly, your success is our success. We want to get you in business and keep it thriving. This is actually one of our customers, Burgundy Fox, they found us through Shopify and we’ve been with them through countless box design iterations. They’re a subscription box company for premium lingerie. They’ve simplified their packaging fluff into simple white mailers. Feel free to talk shop with us at support@arka.com. Thank you.

Gwen: Awesome! Great job, Phillip. If you could go back one slide for just one second, perfect! I’ve been monitoring the questions and have had some awesome questions come in. If anyone on the call or online did not submit questions, I highly recommend that you do. We’re watching them like a hawk to try to get as many of them answered as possible. Anything else you wanted to say before we dive into questions, Phillip? Or are you ready to take them on?

Phillip: I’m ready to take them on! What I would say is, if people are going to be asking questions, I would argue that this is just as important as the presentation itself, to hear other people’s answers. Please stay tuned.

Gwen: That’s a good point. Even if there’s a specific questions someone asks about, like I saw a question come in about “what should I ship my Teddy Bear in?” You might not be shipping Teddy Bears, but you’re shipping something soft, or maybe Phillip’s answer helps guide you to the right answer for you. Maybe we should just start with that.

Phillip: I would love to answer that. I can’t leave them hanging with that!

Gwen: Monica asked.

Phillip: Hi Monica! To not assume that maybe the Teddy Bear does not have porcelain face or ears, I know that sometimes Teddy Bears can have that. I would treat it similar to an apparel box, something like a mailer, depending on what size and how many Teddys you’re putting in there, a mailer would be perfectly fine. The difference between the mailer and the shipper, a mailer is a 32ECT (Edge Crush Test)--the long and short of it is that it is an ecommerce optimized material. It’s the lightest you can get a box at a certain level of sturdiness. You don’t have to pay too much to ship it and you’re not sacrificing any of the sturdiness that comes with the box. That would be perfect for that, whereas heavier products like bottles or books, you would want to put in a shipper which is a B-Flute box which is a little bit thicker.

Gwen: Was it called ETC? Edge?

Phillip: ECT, Edge Crush Test. We have that in our FAQ. You can feel free to message us. We have blog articles all about it, but essentially Edge Crush Test is similar to if you’re shipping a product and if you’ve ever shipped a bag in a box and you see that the corners are getting pushed out by whatever is inside of the box, that is damaging it, that is the test that they do on the material to make sure it’s sturdy enough for shipping.

Gwen: Oh, amazing! So another theme, I’ve seen a question like this come up a few times is about sustainability. I just saw a question come in from Belinda, Anthony, Olga, and a few other folks on this call. Belinda is asking “Sustainability is the most important part of my brand, what are all the things about packaging or branding that your company does that is sustainable, that you can help--”

Phillip: Recycled material and recyclable material is what goes into our packaging. Soy based inks, but not just that. When looking for a vendor, whether it’s Arka or someone else, if your were to have a relationship, I would ask you to not just grill them on the material itself, but how about the facility and the processes that take place into the production of your packaging. You know, and these are examples of what we do, do they have a certain percentage of solar above the facility to actually run the machines? These are massive, village-sized machines. They’re absolute transformers that are just spitting out cardboard left and right. That’s great and all if the material is recyclable, but is there a filtration in the effluence of the ink and water that has the effluent come out cleaner than when it entered the system? Ours does. These are important questions to ask your facility. Hold them to an iso standard for how--maybe I’m just geeking out on this, my background is in industrial engineering, so I had to do facility monitoring for Boeing and other businesses I worked at, even as an intern--are the practices up to snuff at the facility itself? We’ll be releasing, maybe in the future, if we do another video, we would have footage of our facility. If you can ask that of your vendor, or if they’re local, get a tour. That is something that could put you at ease regarding sustainability. We have facilities on both coasts of the United States and in the middle and we ship internationally. If you’re in the Bay area, southern Florida, or if you’re somewhere in the Midwest, we can find a tour for you. Or you can wait for the footage to come out and we’ll show you how the processes work. This is very important! If you are into sustainability, don’t just focus on the material, focus on the process as well.

Gwen: Excellent! For today’s live call, Phillip is going to answer as much as he can. I work on the Shopify Academy team and we’re always looking for new courses to create. If you would love to see Phillip teach a course with us, or if there’s aspects of today that you didn’t get answers to, please write to us at academy@shopify.com. This is obviously a very complex and challenging topic and we want to make sure we dive into it and do it justice. It’s hard to do this in just an hour, but we’re doing well, I think, so far! A question came in, “do you also make bags for retail locations?”

Phillip: Yes, we do. Through our site, you will see that the self-checkout service and branding is specifically for boxes, but please keep in mind that we can make any type of packaging for any type of product, depending on your volumes. If you want to get bags branded, there would be a specific MOQ involved. If you wanted to get poly bags branded, there’s a specific MOQ. It really just depends on how many you need. Retail bags, like a Nordstrom bag or a brown bag with some branding, like one color, you would need to buy 150 as a minimum. Whereas the boxes are simply ten and you can do that through the website. If there’s anything outside of that, please message us at support@arka.com or submit an inquiry through the site. Be as specific as you can and we can help you out.

Gwen: Excellent. Another question that came in a few times, and I know you touched on it when you were saying no to the packing peanuts. There have been a few questions, if you could go into more detail with your experience with the value of people to provide that written “thank you” card or stickers or something inside the box.

Phillip: I could go on and on about this. In all seriousness, the high-level reasoning is that the future of retail is targeting an economy of one. All these online stores that are coming together are becoming more and more niche, more specialized and personalized. What’s the best way to do that? You can’t just say, “I’m niche, I’m personalized.” You need to be niche and specialized and personalized! There’s so many ways you can do that -- with your branding, or you can do that, like you said, with a handwritten note. You know, many businesses got started that way, even Reddit. I remember this story from Reddit. One of their founders actually invested in Arka and they said that the first few people who were coming through, they would just send handwritten notes and it made all the difference! There are services out there, realistically if you want to do this at scale, that will do handwritten notes for you, if you think that this is just not feasible in your work schedule. You can have people do that for you. That effort in itself is still worth something. Just going that extra step and engaging with your customers as a business. This is something that we try to follow very seriously. This can set you apart from everyone else and can continue that brand loyalty because you show that you care.

Gwen: Absolutely. One question came up, I know in ecommerce there’s so many acronyms - like MOQ.

Phillip: Minimum Order Quantity. This is just the minimum you can order. On our website, the MOQ for boxes is ten.

Gwen: Perfect. There’s been a lot of questions about bubble mailers. Can you make them? A question from Juliet, she works for a supplement company and boxes aren’t the optimum way to ship their bottles, but the bubble mailers seem to offer success. What are your thoughts?

Phillip: Sure. I would argue that it just comes down to a matter of preference. A high quality product just does not come in a bag. Period. At least if that is what you’re trying to convey. But again, it depends on your audience. That’s why I said are they millennials, mothers, vegans--who are they? If you do want something to come off as premium, put it in a branded box. Bubble mailers are something we can help you with. As mentioned before, if you go to support@arka.com or submit an inquiry through the site and be as specific as possible, we can help you with that type of packaging, bubble mailers being one of them. That’s a fine way to ship something. It’s just a matter of where are you in the packaging evolution process. I don’t want to turn down those who are trying to send bags and saying not to boxes because of what they can afford. If that’s the case, stick with bags! But if you’re shipping a ton of volume and you’re still choosing to do bags, it’s time to level up. Again, it’s just a matter of evolution. Don’t skip parts if you don’t have to. Stick with bags as long as economically possible. If you think you can exchange x% of costs for y% of retention or some sort of brand loyalty boost, then experiment with it at the very least. That’s why we’re here. You can order as little as ten because we’ve had a lot of companies come to us and say “Yeah, I’m going to order ten boxes, but we’re pretty good on bags, and then they come back and order 90,000 boxes from us! On the other side, they come in and they try boxes and they say “This is just not for us, can you give us more bubble mailers? Like a better deal on bubble mailers?” And I’ll say, “Sure!” Don’t stop experimenting though, the technology has gotten to a place where it does allow for low MOQ, now that we all know what that acronym means, and it’s fairly forgiving to do experiments, so go for it!

Gwen: Awesome. Something fun I just saw came in from Collita which is about packing peanuts, your favorite thing in the world, her’s are made from cornstarch and then they can just wash them down the drain. I did not know that was a thing.

Phillip: That’s a thing! You can actually do cornstarch inserts, as well. I would assume that they are the same material as the packing peanuts. It was really weird. We once had a manufacturing location of the cornstarch inserts. He was like, “You don’t believe me?” and then he took a bite out of it. It just dissolved, it was crazy. It was the weirdest thing, I said, “Alright, I believe you.” Whatever works, good on you, if you like those cornstarch packing peanuts.

Gwen: One thing I meant to ask you, as well, was do you actually make the branded extras that you put into the boxes? You make that as well?

Phillip: Absolutely. We won’t physically make the styrofoam. Everybody, please stay away from styrofoam! We make the corrugated inserts. But if you need a foam mold, we outsource that to a facility that we will get a better deal because we will do that at high volume. You would need to order high volume for something like that. I would recommend sticking with corrugated inserts, or cartons as I have mentioned earlier in the presentation, to create an extra layer of the branding experience. Cartons are solid. I actually recommend cartons the best, because then you can just tetris all your products inside of the box instead of worrying about stuffing things around to make it fit.

Gwen: I guess would you say that if people have specific questions, if you also make this or that for the inserts or this kind of packing, just reach out to support?

Phillip: Yes, support@arka.com.

Gwen: If you guys are like, “What’s the name of his company again?” www.arka.com is the place to go! This is not in anyway an affiliate, we’re just trying to share as much helpful information as possible.

Phillip: We’re on the Shopify app store, as well. If you type in “packaging” or “Arka,” it will plug right into your store.

Gwen: Ok, there’s so many questions! Let’s see if there’s one that seems like it hasn’t been asked before.

Phillip: There’s a lot of questions here!

Gwen: Yes!

Phillip: This is rad! This is so cool!

Gwen: There is 20% of the people who joined the call who were not in Health or Beauty or Fashion. We had a question from Shawnsa who’s asking, “Do you make refrigerated packaging for food delivery?”

Phillip: Hi Shawnsa! You know, we have a pretty big team of facilities that we work with. Here’s the thing, just message us and if we can’t make it, we’ll point you in the right direction of someone who can. For something like refrigerated packaging, that is something we try not to focus on unless it’s a pretty massive order. I would almost argue that you should do the same as well. I would more so argue that you maybe stick to unbranded refrigerated bags if you are starting small, small meaning like under 10,000 a month. You don’t need to go the branded route yet; we can put the material inside for you, so that you can still have some kind of branding experience. This presentation is not just about the branding experience or saving money, it’s really about both. If you can find an economical way to have both of those things happen at once, then my recommendation would be to get generic refrigerated bags and have a really nice experience when someone opens up the bag, a nice material that they can read on your product and what it is to be a customer of yours.

Gwen: Who are your favorite brands right now? Have you ordered anything recently and just been wowed by the unboxing experience?

Phillip: Me personally?

Gwen: Yes.

Phillip: You know what is funny and ironic about that -- it’s like Tony Hsieh (sorry for name dropping one of our investors), you know, he’s the guy with a massive shoe empire. He has four pairs of shoes. Similar to me, I am not a huge buyer. I’m a lover of design and a lover of understanding the interaction between consumer and a business. I will look at that in detail and sometimes I’ll just order something for the experience, to see what it is like, more so than me being a huge shopper. I am actually not a huge shopper. But I think that a lot of companies that come through our site, I’m really fascinated by because they can do so much with just a simple design. We were touching on this a little bit yesterday when we were checking on the site; if you get to the design part and you just button mash and check out, we’ll be able to help you with the design after that. Some people just grab a theme or colors from their Shopify store and a logo and they slap it on, and it makes a world of difference! A box can look so pretty with just a logo and a color. It’s really all you need to set yourself apart. It doesn’t cost any extra money to have a patternized design or a one-color design. It’s totally up to you and I encourage people to experiment with that so they can be someone’s favorite unboxing experience.

Gwen: I think everyone should reflect on their own favorite unboxing experience opening packages, and also perhaps ordering a few boxes from competitors and see what the experience is like and maybe how you can do it differently or better. That’s the fun part, I think. One question from Allison is, “Do you offer volume discounts?”

Phillip: Yes, absolutely. Allison, of course! I encourage you to check out the site. There’s just a sliding scale where you’re at x-dollars at ten units and as you increase the scale, the price goes down. If there’s something that goes beyond the pricing on the site, support@arka.com or submit an inquiry and tell us how many you need. You will see that discount take place. This is so wild! There’s still like 500 people still watching!

Gwen: We appreciate you all! We have a question from Scott, “What do you recommend if someone is ordering multiple products--example, 2 tees and a jacket and a hat--multiple boxes or layering?”

Phillip: That’s a great question, and it’s a question we get a lot. If you’re already using multiple boxes, let’s optimize for one or two. It’s honestly just going to come down to a simple math problem. If you have three different boxes and you’re buying 100 of each, and the pricing for that is $3.00 per box, but you’re able to do just 300 of one sized box and the pricing of that box would probably go down (volume discount of a specific size), but it’s not too drastically offset by the shipping cost because sometimes you end up shipping it in a bigger box than you need to. Then just look at your average orders. I hate to make you do homework, but Scott, you should do your homework here and see how much would it cost you to ship everything in the bigger of the boxes that you have. Sometimes if all you have is a tee in the bigger box that you are sending out the door, how many small boxes would you need to make that work? Does that make sense? You just need to see how much it will cost you. Do an apples-to-apples comparison, it’s something you could whip up on a napkin, really, if you have your numbers down--which everybody should because they’re awesome entrepreneurs who exist on Shopify.

Gwen: When you say “having your numbers,” do you mean numbers for shipping?

Phillip: Yeah, like how much it would cost to ship a 10x8x4 box versus the 9x6x3 box that you’re shipping. If you’re shipping 100 of the ten inch versus 100 of the nine inch, what’s the cost difference? If I was to do 200 of the ten inch and the price went down because I’m ordering more by volume of a specific size, then what is the cost difference there? If you notice that it makes more sense economically to buy the bigger box and just ship with that one box, that one size fits all box, then do that.

Gwen: So it is about doing the math, write it all down, trial and error.

Phillip: We’re happy to help with all that, by the way. People ask us that all the time. They say, “this is what we’re doing now,” and we just give them the pricing for the two, and you just let us know what the shipping costs are for each. We’ll check your math if you want. It shouldn’t be too difficult.

Gwen: That’s a great offer! A lot of entrepreneurs do not come from a math background. I have a question for you, and this is for anyone who is shipping something that is “outside the box” -- you know, something that is a very bizarre shape. Carrie sells wooden swords and because of the dimensions, their shipping costs are high. They would like to move toward branded packaging, do you have any suggestions to move toward branding for packages like this?

Phillip: I would ask her what her volumes are and if her volumes are under 2000, then maybe she should continue shipping in a long, rectangular box, which is what I’m assuming she ships things in, using branded tape.

Gwen: Do you make branded tape? Sorry if you already mentioned that.

Phillip: We do.

Gwen: You do. Excellent!

Phillip: Again, this is something that needs to be submitted through an inquiry or a support request. You will not see it as customizable on the site yet. We are building things up. For that, I would use branded tape, so if you need branded tape, hit us up. Our minimum is like 30 rolls of tape, which I’m sure will last you a few shipments, depending on if you ship a few hundred a month. That should be fine. Sweet product, by the way! I would love to connect to see the product. What do they look like? Can we do a shoutout to her store?

Gwen: I don’t have her store name, I just have her name.

Phillip: Ok, you will email me at phillip@arka.com. I want to see those swords.

Gwen: Excellent.

Phillip: Hopefully she sends me an email.

Gwen: Well, this is very fun! If anyone was here for the last webinar with Vivien Kay, she also just jumped online to say “Hello” and to send good vibes to all of us. Hello Vivien! So fun! Another question that has come in, it actually came in at the exact same time from Karen and Julia, they are wondering if you offer samples. Could you send out one box to people?

Phillip: Yeah. We do that. Essentially, in that regard, we’re going to have boxes that are branded with Arka, not with your personalized brand, and we can send those to people who ask. We also do a pilot of samples, so if you want your own branding on them, we would want to know when you need boxes by and do you approve the pricing of that number of boxes that you need at a given point. If you say “Yes, this makes sense to me,” then we will say, “Here are some free boxes.” If you move forward with an order in a reasonable time horizon, then you’ll never have to pay for those samples. If you get the boxes, but you decide to use bags instead, then we would charge you for the samples after the fact. We trust you and we keep a good relationship with people who order samples from us. We try to keep everyone honest.

Gwen: Excellent, let’s see. We have a question from Israel who is asking, “I have a small bottling company. I don’t know if this has already been asked, however, does Arka customize the inside with spacers for each bottle?”

Phillip: Yeah, inserts, sure.

Gwen: Are spacers something different?

Phillip: I think she means inserts. Doesn’t she? I would imagine bottles plural in a box, individual bottles needing to be designed--yeah, I think she means inserts. Otherwise, I don’t know, what is a spacer? I would love for someone else to answer.

Gwen: I feel like when you go into this world of product packaging, there’s so much lingo that you have to learn. Is there anywhere you’d recommend for people to go to learn the lingo so that when they reach out to you, they can speak the language.

Phillip: I’m not even joking--our blog. I’m not just pushing our blog. Before you even asked that question, when you said “there is so much lingo,” I was just going to jump in and say “Hey, the first thing we focus on, before product fit -- and this is a testament to our team for pushing this on us, specifically our COO--shout out to our COO for saying, before product market fit, how about language market fit? If there are so many other people in the space who can produce packaging for you that do not provide language market fit--they’ll be throwing at you 32ECTMOQ without giving you any sort of explanation, like corrugated. What’s corrugated? All these words that aren’t crazy technical, it’s not rocket science, it’s just a mystery. How else would I know what the heck this is without working in the field for ten years? If you want to get educated on what these words mean and what the lingo is, and if you want to learn more about what we’ve discussed today and what we discuss with our customers, then just check out Arka’s blog. Go to our website and click on blog. www.arka.com. Click on blog and you’ll see everything. I’m pretty sure it’s arka.com/blog. We have all sorts of material on that, and it’s also in our FAQ. Not a lot of companies talk about what DPI and ECT and MOQ--all of these phrases, it’s normal for you to scratch your head. It’s not expected of you, nor should it be! It should be expected of businesses like Arka to have a proper language market fit so that when someone is engaging with us, they at least speak our language. I’m glad you asked that, that’s a great question.

Gwen: I’m glad that you have empathy and awareness for that. A lot of people become entrepreneurs or ecommerce entrepreneurs, for every aspect of their business, there’s all these different terms. Do you want to learn SEO or Facebook marketing or packaging--there's an entirely new lingo to learn. If you are an entrepreneur, you have to be open and willing to learn.

Phillip: Yeah!

Gwen: That is very important! I just see a fun comment from Nika, she says “I really like this company. Thank you Phillip for helping with a topic that brings me so much anxiety.

Phillip: I hope we’ve eased some of that anxiety and you’re always welcome to message us at support@arka.com even if you just want to vent to us, or talk about your day, or any other anxiety. We’ll help! We’re not accredited to help, but at least we can help with that anxiety at least when it comes to packaging.

Gwen: We have a couple more minutes left, possibly time for two or three more questions. I’m just curious, you speak a lot at events, you’re out there, people are always asking you a ton of questions, what is the top question that you find most people ask you? Or that people just have no awareness of in this space?

Phillip: It’s something that I just lightly touched on before, it’s just over optimizing for packaging. There’s two sides of the spectrum. There’s people say, “Why would I ever pay more than ten cents a box when I can get boxes from China or just a brown box for life? So that’s a no-no and it’s also a no-no if you’re right out of the gate trying to get that foil stamped ribboned enclosure box. You really have to know your users, first of all, I think that’s universal advice for any business or anyone who just opens their mouth. Who are you talking to? Who are you engaging with? The most frequently asked question is, “Should I get this iPhone box? Can I get this Apple packaging for my ten sales a month bracelet company?” We say “No! You should definitely not go in that direction. You should just go to U.S.P.S. and ship in a flat rate mailer. You can use us for branded tape to close it shut if you want.” Start simple. Simple is better. If there’s one takeaway for today it’s that simpler is better. Focus on your product, let us worry about packaging. You focus on your product. That’s where you’re the expert, truly. If you were to deploy resource to anything it’s having a good product and we’ll help with the customer experience via packaging.

Gwen: What is the sweet spot when people reach out to you? Say I’m just starting my business and I’m wondering, should I invest packaging right out of the gate or wait until I start getting sales to reach out to you? Is there a certain really good time to reach out to work with a company like yours?

Phillip: That’s a great question. It’s probably two-fold. If you’re just starting out, you have no money, you have no revenue. Go with U.S.P.S. If you’re just starting out and maybe you raised a little, or you have the friends and family cushion, then you could spend a couple bucks per box, then you’re ready. If you just need ten boxes, you’re ready to use us. There’s no tooling involved or any sort of set up. Again, this is another language market fit, what does “tooling” mean? In that regard, for our low volumes, we use a process called digital print. Digital print is literally a giant HP printer the size of nine dining room tables that sprays ink on cardboard, then a giant cookie-cutter comes out and punches everything out. That’s the type of technology we’ve leveraged to allow you to get just ten boxes.

Gwen: That’s fantastic.

Phillip: Or if you’re someone who’s already shipped product, and they’ve gone the U.S.P.S. route, they’ve gone the unprinted route, and they say, “You know, I ship a couple hundred a month, why not try something branded?” It’s never too late to try us, and it’s really never too early. You can be too early in buying the Apple box, you don’t need that. That’s the only thing I would say. If you need just stock, hit us up. That is something we’re very excited about that we’re starting now, plain stock boxes. It’s better than going to ULine, it’s less expensive. And we’re ethical. You want to talk about sustainable, let’s talk about how we’re ethical, too!

Gwen: That’s absolutely amazing. It’s one of the main things that you care so much about being sustainable and an ethical company. That’s so inspiring to know. Thank you for that! We have a question from Joy, she is asking “How are custom mailers mailed? I never understood since where does the shipping mailer go? Is there an outer package?”

Phillip: Do you mean by mailers, do you think she means the custom box mailer? I’ll just answer both questions. If you mean from facility to you, they’re shipped flat. They’re shipped like a deck of cards in a card case. They’re essentially put in a bigger, outer shipper. Like a deck of cards, they’re shipped flat to you and you can fold them. We have instructions online and on our YouTube page on how to fold a box that comes that way. Then if you are shipping them from a fulfillment center, you just slap a label wherever when it’s folded into a box and send it. To recap, from us to you, like a deck of cards. From you to your customer, folded like a regular box with a label slapped on.

Gwen: We have a fun comment from Scott. He was asking earlier about if you have multiple products, should you put them in one box or two boxes. He says, “LOL It’s going to be hard to separate ourselves now that everyone will have Arka packaging.” That’s fun!

Phillip: We’re just leveling the playing field, Scott. We’re just leveling the playing field, that’s all.

Gwen: Yes! That’s fantastic! We’re going to have to wrap up unless I see one more-- also if you didn’t get your question answered, you’re very specific questions, Phillip is being very generous and saying, “Reach out at support@arka.com and his team would love to help you.” From the moment we connected, he’s been so passionate about product packaging. It is undeniable! After our first call I was like “product packaging is so interesting!”

Phillip: I know, right?

Gwen: Yes.

Phillip: Such a dry topic ends up being fun, I’m glad we’re able to do that together. It’s thanks to you guys, as well, and not just you at Shopify, we still have about 400 people on the call and we’re literally about to shut it off. Thanks everyone, if I may interrupt and say, thanks everyone for being so supportive of this! I would just be on the other line talking to Gwen if you weren’t here, so thanks for showing up!

Gwen: Amazing! I guess we can go to the next slide now, and a reminder that if you want to learn from Phillip again, please write to us at academy@shopify.com. This is our first time collaborating and working together; he has worked with Shopify and been on the Shopify ecosystem for awhile, but teaching with us on Shopify Academy is new. We want to know, do you want a full course on product packaging and the branded box experience? Let us know because we want to make it for you if it’s something you would like to take. Also, just to share, we are incredibly passionate about creating free education to help you start and grow your business. Head to www.shopify.com/academy where you, I believe, found out about this latest webinar and our latest course is the SEO Training for Beginners. In two weeks, we’re going to have the instructor come on and teach an SEO Training for Beginners Live Workshop so you can get your questions answered from here. It’s going to be really, really fun! Today has been absolutely awesome! Phillip, I want to thank you so much for your time today and getting prepared and teaching everyone--I know we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg regarding your knowledge of this space, so are there any final words of wisdom, as we head to the final slide, that you would like to share with people about this topic?

Phillip: Yeah, email academy@shopify.com so I can go into all the nitty gritty details that you guys need. Remember to keep it simple, especially when you’re starting out. Don’t over optimize, focus on your product, talk to your users, and let us worry about the packaging.

Gwen: Excellent! Okay, we’re going to sign off now and I want to say again, thank you to everybody for sticking around, this has been amazing. If you came in a bit late, we have been recording this entire session so we’re going to be sending the replay, we highly encourage you to watch it again. There’s probably some acronyms that you missed the first time that you’ll pick up the second time. You can also go to Phillip’s blog www.arka.com/blog for more.

Phillip: Thank you so much. Thanks everyone, thanks Gwen.

Gwen: Thanks everyone!

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