How Custom Footwear Packaging Can Benefit Your Brand

Discover examples of custom shoebox packaging designs that have driven results for footwear companies.

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The right shoebox packaging design is essential for footwear companies. It affects everything from your customer’s unboxing experience to the amount of money you spend on freight costs.


In this highly competitive industry, more and more footwear brands are rethinking how they approach their packaging. A MarketWatch report estimates that the shoe packaging market will grow by 4.9% from 2021 to 2026.


The packaging design your footwear company uses will depend on what type of products you produce and how your shoes will be sold. For example, a shoebox that is designed to sit on a retail shelf will have different design requirements than a shoebox that is primarily being distributed through ecommerce channels. 


Whether you’re looking to improve sustainability performance, lower freight costs or reduce damage, there are innovative ways in which your brand’s footwear packaging can help you achieve your goals.

Eco-Friendly Shoebox Packaging Helps You Align With Consumer Demandhow custom footwear can benefit your brand 2.jpg

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to customers, brands and stakeholders. McKinsey reports that 60-70% of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for products that come with environmentally friendly packaging. As such, footwear companies have been on the lookout for innovative ways to make their packaging more sustainable. 


Improve sustainability by reducing materials

A global sportswear brand that sells products at thousands of retail stores worldwide was able to significantly improve the sustainability of their shoebox packaging by partnering with Billerud Managed Packaging. They implemented a new eco-friendly shoebox design that reduced the blank size of their shoeboxes by 15%. The outer dimensions of the shoebox remained the same, but the new structural design included a locking tab which reduced material usage compared to the original design.


This relatively minor change resulted in a reduction of carbon emissions by 651 tons annually. In addition, the new design saved 9,726 m3 of water per year. This new design also allowed the company to reduce their packaging waste

Custom Packaging Can Be Optimised for Ecommerce 

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When designing shoeboxes for ecommerce, it is especially important to focus on how the shoebox will be transported to customers. With ecommerce, your customers will be interacting not only with the retail packaging, but with the transport box or sleeve that the shoebox comes in. 


Before developing packaging for your ecommerce products, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • How are your shoeboxes being packed into transport packaging?
  • How is the product being shipped from the factory to the distribution center? How is it being shipped to customers? 
  • Is your structural design and material selection strong enough to withstand the ecommerce supply chain?
  • Are you creating a memorable unboxing experience with your customers? 
  • Is your packaging designed for easy return shipping? 


Design packaging with online sales in mind

Online footwear brand KURU was originally packaging their shoes inside of larger, inefficient transport boxes. Not only was this a waste of materials—it was also driving up air freight costs. When KURU partnered with Managed Packaging, they were able to implement a new footwear packaging design that incorporated a tray inside of a transport sleeve. The unsealed inner tray allowed for greater quality control, allowing workers to inspect the condition of the product and the packaging when fulfilling orders. 


Unlike traditional retail, ecommerce customers cannot simply bring their products to a store to return them. That’s why KURU’s new packaging design featured strategically placed tear and adhesive strips that allowed customers to return products in the original packaging. 


Creative Use of Shoebox Space Can Drive Freight Savingshow custom footwear can benefit your brand 4.jpg

Many footwear companies do not realize how space utilisation plays into mitigating rising freight costs. When your packaging is custom designed for your specific product, you are able to reduce the amount of empty space within each shoebox and can ship more products within a single container, thereby reducing the overall number of shipments necessary to fulfill your orders. This is an especially valuable aspect of custom packaging, as ocean freight costs are significantly up from pre-pandemic rates


Make the most of your container space

All too often, packaging becomes an afterthought for brands. When your shoe’s packaging is not well thought out, chances are you are not utilising space in the most efficient way.


Billerud helped a fashion shoe producer substantially reduce freight costs by creating a packaging design that made better use of container space. The Managed Packaging team designed new transport packaging in a variety of sizes, ensuring that each carton was optimised to fit a specific footwear product. This new transport packaging design saved the company $1.3 million in freight costs in the first year alone. 


Right-sizing your packaging not only helps you cut costs—it can also eliminate waste and improve your customer’s unboxing experience. 


Packaging Affects Your Brand Image how custom footwear can benefit your brand 5.jpg

Optimised packaging gives your footwear company the opportunity to strengthen your brand image and stand out above the competition. According to Goldstein Market Intelligence, approximately 44% of consumers say that the attractiveness of shoe packaging affects their purchasing decisions. 


Revamp your brand with a new shoebox design 

Consumer-friendly packaging design doesn’t need to be pricey. In fact, one sports shoe producer  was able to reduce packaging spend by 20% when they implemented an exclusive shoebox design. This new design was made from corrugated materials that were able to withstand the rigorous supply chain, keeping the products protected all the way from Asia to Europe and the U.S. 


What steps can your organisation take to improve the design of your footwear packaging? Some brands add custom packaging graphics or unique features that improve customer experience. For example, different types of water-based varnishes can be used to give your shoebox a matte, satin or glossy finish. Another way to make your shoebox stand out is to add an embossed logo or slogan to the exterior of the box. 


A trusted packaging partner can help you ensure that your custom design is able to be reproduced by your packaging suppliers. Quality assurance is crucial for maintaining color consistency and structural support as you mass produce your shoeboxes.


Reevaluate Your Brand’s Footwear Packaging 

If your footwear packaging contains difficult-to-recycle materials or is not strong enough to withstand damage before arriving to the customer, it could negatively impact your audience’s first impression of your brand. 


A trusted packaging partner such as Billerud Managed Packaging can help you redesign your shoebox packaging, adding efficiency to your packaging operations. We start by examining your existing packaging, uncovering opportunities for optimisations that can reduce freight costs, increase sustainability performance and create a better customer experience. 


Learn more about what goes into innovative footwear packaging with our infographic guide, “Designing the Perfect Shoebox.”

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