Packaging 101: The Complete Guide

Britt Martin, Arka's Partnerships lead, blends e-commerce expertise with sustainability advocacy, nurturing startups as a Founder in Residence at NYU.

What is Secondary Packaging? 5 Key Benefits

What is secondary packaging? Well, secondary packaging is another layer of packaging in addition to primary packaging. The purpose of this is to ensure product safety, protection, and efficiency. Secondary packaging is important because it reduces product damage and maintains the items' quality.

Here are some more advantages of secondary packaging:

• Protection and safety: Secondary packaging provides safety and protection against damage. This is particularly important for high-value and breakable products like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices.

Product visibility and branding: Many companies that use secondary packaging for their products utilize the packaging as a form of branding. This provides product visibility and connection for the consumer. Secondary packaging allows for the product to be presented in an aesthetically-pleasing way.

Convenience and functionality: Secondary packaging is much more convenient in the long run because it protects against damage and prevents any issues down the line. It preserves the quality of the product and therefore allows for full functionality, which is ideal for the consumer.

Differentiation and marketing: Secondary packaging is a great way for businesses to market their products effectively. Also, it’s a way for businesses to differentiate themselves from other competitors within the same market.

Enhanced customer experience: Secondary packaging provides customers with an enhanced customer experience. Customers can enjoy the beauty of buying the product, unveiling it like a special present and using it as soon as the packaging opens.

secondary packaging for tsara

Credits: Studio 318 India, Vinay Pittampally

Challenges and Considerations of Secondary Packaging

While there are some advantages of using secondary packaging, there are challenges and considerations to take into account:

Supply chain collaboration: Using primary and secondary packaging solutions might mean making use of different supply chains. This could be tricky, so supply chains must collaborate effectively.

Regulatory compliance: When using any type of packaging for your products, it’s important to ensure that they are compliant with the standards and regulations within your industry. Secondary packaging should be regulatory-compliant and safe to use for your products, and this includes using the correct packaging for different types of products and ensuring that packaging is marked properly with the right symbols.

Space optimization: Because of the nature of secondary packaging and its design, it can take up a lot of space. Depending on your business and needs, this might not always be conducive.

Cost efficiency: Because you might need to use different supply chains for primary and secondary packaging, it might be challenging to factor in cost efficiency, so designing and obtaining secondary packaging might not always be cost-effective.

6 Types of Secondary Packaging

Here are some different types of secondary packaging.

Corrugated Boxes

Corrugated boxes are similar to cardboard boxes, but the difference is that corrugated boxes are made up of an inside layer, an outer layer, and a middle layer of material, and they are normally much more durable.

corrugated box

Credits: CURVD®

Shrink Wrap

Shrink wrap is a polymer plastic film used to cover over products. It’s typically used for grocery products, such as fruit, vegetables and tinned foods and it shrinks tightly over the goods it covers.

shrink wrap

Credits: Stream Peak

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is a plastic material with ‘bubbles’ that pop if you squeeze them! They are typically used for wrapping fragile and breakable items, such as mugs, plates, vases, and other glass items.

bubble wrap

Credits: Wander Fleur

Clamshell Packaging

Clamshell packaging is a container that is designed with two halves that are joined together by a hinge. Clamshell packaging comes in different forms and is commonly used for food products such as fruits, vegetables, and hot takeaway meals.

clamshell packaging

Credits: Shillington Education

Pallets and Unit Load Bases

A pallet is a wooden flat transport structure used for supporting goods, while a unit load base is a storage and transport unit normally placed on a pallet to ensure efficient handling.


Credits: Jordan Koons

Custom Tape and Adhesives

Custom tape and adhesives are used to secure packaging and keep it firmly intact. This is commonly used for cardboard and corrugated boxes.

custom tape by Arka

Designing Effective Secondary Packaging

Here’s a guide on how to design effective secondary packaging:

• Material selection: Ultimately, the whole purpose of using secondary packaging is to provide extra protection, safety, and quality for your products. So, take this into consideration when selecting the right materials for your packaging. For example, if you are packaging fragile items, you might consider using plastic bubble wrap. You might want to use corrugated boxes if you run a removal and storage company. For food items, shrink-wrapping might be your best bet.

Structural integrity: Your secondary packaging solution needs to be designed with the product in mind. For example, the type of secondary packaging that you use for tinned food that comes available in a multipack will be different from the type of secondary packaging that you use to ship out a smartphone. So, you have to ensure that the design of the packaging fits with the correct item.

secondary packaging for lipstick

Credits: Studio 318 India, Vinay Pittampally

Branding and visual appeal: Using secondary packaging is a great way to appeal to your customer, and you can add your brand’s fonts and colors. It’s also a great way to add an aesthetic touch to your product because secondary packaging enhances the ‘feel’ of the product and a customer’s experience.

Sustainability and eco-friendliness: With sustainability and eco-friendliness on the agenda for many businesses, selecting the right secondary packaging for your items is important. Opt for materials that are reusable, compostable, recyclable and biodegradable. Sustainable packaging can enhance your brand's image.

Efficient handling and logistics: The secondary packaging option that you select for your goods need to be one that can be efficiently handled as part of the transportation and shipping process. Select an option that is conducive to the process. Select secondary packaging that is easy and efficient to handle. It will be easy to ship and transport.

5 Successful Secondary Packaging Examples

Here are some excellent and successful secondary packaging examples.

Apple's iPhone Packaging

Apple’s iPhone is one of the most popular smartphones on the market and is used by many people globally. Its packaging is also very desirable, and the brand utilizes secondary packaging by using two-stack plastic trays and an outer box, as well as using mostly fiber-based packaging.


Credits: Apple / Cupertino

Coca-Cola's Contour Bottle

Coca-Cola is pretty iconic for its contour bottle, which has a history of its own. First established in 1915, the contour bottle was created to help the brand stand out and to help consumers recognize the brand. It was quite innovative and distinctive at the time.

Coca-Cola Contour Bottle

Credits: T BA design studio

Amazon's Frustration-Free Packaging

Amazon’s certified frustration free packaging offers simplicity, reduces packaging size, helps the supply chain, prevents product damage, saves on costs and offers an eco-friendly solution. This type of packaging is recyclable and makes it easier for the customer to enjoy the experience of unveiling the product.

amazon frustration free packaging

Credits: Anirudh

Tiffany & Co.'s Blue Box

Since its debut in the mid-1800s, Tiffany has become iconic for its signature Blue Box, representing the brand’s values of possibility, dreams, and love. Its beloved design holds the most precious items for loved ones and adds a touch of elegance, class, and luxury.

At Arka, we create the most luxurious custom jewelry boxes that are eco-friendly and sustainable. We will help to create an unforgettable unboxing experience for your customers.

tiffany blue box packaging

Credits: Behance, Heaz

McDonald's Happy Meal Packaging

The McDonald’s Happy Meal is a special box that most kids enjoy and its packaging is pretty cool! As well as coming equipped with a toy for a child to play with, it is a great secondary packaging option because it preserves the food within it and keeps the food, drink, and toys together in one box.

McDonald's Happy Meal Packaging

Credits: Caitlin Choo

Final Thoughts

Secondary packaging is a type of packaging that is used with primary packaging to provide extra protection and safety from potential damage to goods. In addition, it helps maintain the product's quality and enhance the customer’s experience. There are numerous benefits and different types of secondary packaging and it’s a solution that you should definitely explore for your business.

At Arka, we have custom packaging solutions for any niche; whether you need custom shipping boxes or custom lash boxes, we are here to help. Get in touch with us today and let’s create the perfect packaging for your brand together!

FAQs on Secondary Packaging

Here are some frequently asked questions about secondary packaging.

What is the difference between primary and secondary packaging?

Primary packaging is the main packaging used for the product. Secondary packaging is an additional layer of packaging that protects the product.

Are there any regulations for secondary packaging?

Yes. Every country has different laws and regulations regarding packaging, so ensure that you research and take this into account. Packaging and its materials need to be suitable for storing and transporting products, especially for items that are perishable, such as food and beverages. Depending on the type of material used, there are special rules that apply, for example, for plastic. Packaging must also be clearly marked with the right symbols.

How does secondary packaging contribute to reducing product damage during transit?

Secondary packaging secures the product and keeps it in place to prevent damage. This stops the product from becoming loose and bouncing around during transit, which can affect the quality of the product and cause damage.

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