The Top Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Custom Packaging Inserts

A study says that the product packaging design services market was valued at $24.63 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach $32.42 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4%. This growth is influenced by the rising demand for sustainable packaging and increasing e-commerce sales. Custom packaging inserts are pivotal in modern logistics, safeguarding products during transit and enhancing brand experience. 

At CEF box, we specialize in designing these inserts to optimize product security and elevate your brand's image through thoughtful and practical packaging solutions. Through meticulous design that ensures a secure fit, thoughtful material choices, and consistent branding, companies can guarantee product integrity and customer satisfaction. 

This guide explores essential considerations and common pitfalls to avoid when designing custom packaging inserts. It provides insights into how strategic design choices can elevate brand differentiation and deliver exceptional customer experiences in today's competitive marketplace.

Understanding the Purpose of Packaging Inserts

The primary purpose of packaging inserts is to protect the product during shipping and handling. They provide cushioning and support, ensuring that items remain intact and undamaged despite the conditions they face during transit. Enhancing the customer experience is another crucial purpose. Thoughtfully designed inserts can transform unboxing into a delightful and memorable event, boosting customer satisfaction and encouraging positive reviews and repeat purchases. 

Additionally, packaging inserts serve as a powerful branding and marketing tool. They offer an extra touchpoint for reinforcing brand identity and delivering marketing messages, helping to create a cohesive and impactful brand experience that resonates with customers.

Read More: Packaging Inserts Vs. Traditional Marketing Flyers | A Cost-Benefit Analysis

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Importance of Effective Design in Packaging Inserts

Did you know businesses that use packaging inserts see increased customer retention, with repeat customers growing the business sustainably? Designing effective packaging inserts is critical for protecting products during shipping by absorbing shocks and vibrations, ensuring items remain secure and undamaged from dispatch to delivery. 


A tech company might use custom foam inserts to securely hold delicate electronics in place, preventing them from shifting or breaking during transit. These inserts enhance protection and elevate the unboxing experience, providing customers with a satisfying and memorable interaction with the brand. Thoughtful design can reinforce brand identity through custom messaging and logos, fostering brand recognition and customer loyalty. Moreover, well-designed inserts contribute to cost efficiency by reducing returns and optimizing packaging space, ultimately lowering business shipping costs.

Read More: The Power of Upselling and Cross-Selling With Packaging Inserts

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Common Mistakes in Designing Custom Packaging Inserts

Incorrect Measurements

Incorrect measurements in custom packaging inserts can have critical implications. Misjudging dimensions may result in inserts that do not fit securely within the packaging, leading to movement during transit and potential damage to the product. Variations in product sizes must be noticed, as this can result in inserts that are either too loose, failing to provide sufficient protection, or too tight, complicating assembly for the end-user. Ensuring precise measurements is crucial to maintaining product integrity and customer satisfaction, minimizing the risk of damage, and providing a smooth user experience during unpacking and assembly.


Consider a cosmetic brand that produces lipsticks in various sizes. If the packaging inserts are not designed to accommodate these size differences, smaller lipstick tubes might fit too loosely in their inserts. This could cause them to move around during shipping, increasing the risk of breakage or other damage. On the other hand, inserts that are too tight for larger lipstick sizes could make it difficult for customers to remove the products smoothly, potentially damaging the lipstick during retrieval.

Choosing Inappropriate Materials

Choosing inappropriate materials for packaging inserts can significantly impact product protection and user experience. Overlooking factors such as material strength and durability may lead to inserts that need to adequately support the product's weight, potentially causing breakage during shipping. Additionally, mismatched materials can result in inserts that are either too flimsy, compromising protection, or excessively robust, unnecessarily increasing costs without enhancing safety. Therefore, meticulous material selection is essential to ensure inserts provide optimal support, protect products effectively, and maintain overall customer satisfaction.


Imagine a company designing packaging inserts for delicate ceramic figurines using rigid plastic materials. Despite being durable, these inserts lack flexibility and shock-absorbing properties. During transit, the ceramic figurines are subjected to vibrations and impacts, which the inserts fail to mitigate. As a result, the figurines arrive at their destination with chips and fractures, disappointing customers and increasing return rates. This oversight highlights the importance of selecting materials that provide adequate cushioning and protection tailored to the fragility of the products being shipped.

Poor Design and Layout

Poor design choices in packaging inserts can complicate assembly and diminish user experience by introducing complexity and confusion. Complex folding patterns or unclear assembly instructions can frustrate users, leading to difficulties in proper placement within the packaging. These issues delay assembly, increase the risk of errors, and reduce overall satisfaction with the product packaging. Therefore, prioritizing clear, intuitive design in packaging inserts is crucial to ensuring smooth assembly processes and enhancing user satisfaction.


Suppose a company designs packaging inserts for delicate glassware with intricate folding patterns to maximize protection. However, the assembly instructions could be more explicit, making it easier for customers to position the glassware securely within the packaging. As a result, some users struggle with folding, leading to frustration and potential damage to the fragile items during unpacking. This example illustrates how straightforward and intuitive design in packaging inserts is essential to ensuring smooth assembly and protecting products effectively.

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Lack of Branding Consistency

Inconsistencies in branding across packaging inserts can dilute brand identity and confuse consumers. When inserts deviate from the brand's established visual style, logo usage, or color palette, it creates a disjointed experience. This inconsistency makes it harder for consumers to recognize and remember the brand, potentially affecting brand loyalty. Clear and consistent branding in packaging inserts is crucial for reinforcing brand recognition, building trust, and maintaining a cohesive brand image that resonates with consumers effectively.


Imagine a coffee brand introducing new packaging inserts for its premium beans with a different logo placement and color scheme than its usual design. Customers receiving these packs may find the branding unfamiliar and disconnected from what they expect. This inconsistency can confuse consumers, making it harder for them to recognize the product as part of their trusted coffee brand. Such deviations in branding across inserts can weaken brand identity and impact customer loyalty. Therefore, ensuring consistent and recognizable branding across all packaging elements is crucial for maintaining brand integrity and customer trust.

Ignoring Cost Efficiency

Neglecting cost efficiency in packaging insert design and production can lead to unnecessary expenses. Overspending on materials, complex designs, or inefficient production processes can inflate costs without corresponding benefits. Prioritizing cost-effective strategies is crucial to managing expenses while maintaining quality and functionality in packaging inserts. This approach supports sustainable practices by minimizing waste and resource use, contributing to long-term business profitability.


Imagine a startup producing packaging inserts for artisanal candles, opting for intricate, custom designs that require expensive production processes. Despite the inserts' visual appeal, these high production costs strain the company's budget and reduce profit margins. This oversight in cost efficiency limits their competitive pricing in the market. Prioritizing cost-effective materials and simpler designs could have maintained quality while ensuring profitability and sustainability in their packaging strategy. Therefore, focusing on cost efficiency is crucial for effectively balancing quality and expenses in packaging insert design.

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Inadequate Testing

Skipping thorough testing procedures for packaging inserts can result in usability and durability issues. With proper testing, inserts may withstand shipping and handling, leading to potential damage or poor product protection. This oversight can also overlook assembly difficulties or usability concerns, impacting customer satisfaction. Comprehensive testing ensures inserts meet quality standards, perform reliably, and enhance product integrity during distribution.


A company designs inserts for delicate glassware without conducting prototypes or stress tests. During shipping, the inserts fail to cushion the glassware adequately against vibrations and impacts, resulting in damaged items upon arrival. This oversight can lead to customer dissatisfaction and increased returns. Proper testing could have identified these issues early, ensuring the inserts meet durability standards and protect products effectively. Therefore, comprehensive testing is crucial to prevent such problems, maintain customer satisfaction, and uphold product integrity.

Failure to Incorporate Sustainability

Ignoring sustainability in packaging insert design can damage brand reputation and deter eco-conscious consumers. Not using recyclable materials or reducing packaging waste can lead to criticism and loss of consumer trust. Prioritizing sustainable practices, like using biodegradable materials and minimizing packaging, is crucial for improving brand image and attracting environmentally aware consumers.


Imagine a company launches packaging inserts for its new line of skincare products, opting for plastic materials that are not recyclable. Despite the product's popularity, environmentally conscious customers criticize the brand for its unsustainable packaging. The excessive plastic waste generated from these inserts further alienates eco-conscious consumers who prioritize sustainability in their purchasing decisions.

Read More: How Custom Packaging Makes Your Business Stand Out

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Strategies to Avoid These Mistakes

Accurate Measurement Techniques

Employ digital calipers and 3D modeling software for complex shapes to ensure precise measurements. Extensively use prototypes and mock-ups to verify fit and functionality across different product variations.


Imagine a company launching a line of premium smartphones and needing perfectly fitting packaging inserts. They use digital calipers to measure each phone model precisely, ensuring the inserts fit securely. Using 3D modeling software, they create virtual prototypes to visualize how each phone will fit snugly within the packaging. Extensive testing with prototypes and mock-ups confirms the inserts' fit and functionality across various phone sizes and configurations. This meticulous approach protects the phones during shipping and ensures a smooth unboxing experience for customers, highlighting the brand's dedication to precision and quality.

Selecting the Right Materials

Conduct thorough research into material properties and consult with suppliers to select materials that balance strength, durability, and environmental impact. For example, opting for recycled cardboard with sufficient thickness can provide both eco-friendly benefits and adequate product protection.


Imagine a company designing packaging inserts for kitchen appliances. They conduct thorough research into material properties and consult suppliers to select recycled cardboard with adequate thickness. This choice balances strength, durability, and environmental impact, providing robust protection during transit while aligning with sustainability goals. These inserts effectively secure the appliances, reducing packaging waste and demonstrating a commitment to eco-friendly practices in their packaging strategy.

Effective Design Principles

In a 2018 survey, 72% of American consumers stated that their purchase decisions were influenced by a product’s packaging design, while 67% said the packaging materials were. Simplify designs to streamline assembly and enhance user experience. Incorporate feedback from design reviews to optimize layouts for intuitive use. For instance, ensure inserts are designed for easy insertion and removal from packaging without compromising protection.


Imagine a company launching a line of smart home devices and focusing on making their packaging inserts user-friendly. Based on feedback, they simplify their designs to ensure easy assembly and a seamless unboxing experience. By optimizing the layout, they make it effortless for customers to insert and remove the devices from the packaging without compromising on protection. This thoughtful approach simplifies the setup process and delights customers with a smooth and intuitive unboxing experience, reinforcing the brand's commitment to user satisfaction.

Maintaining Branding Consistency

Develop comprehensive brand guidelines that dictate color schemes, fonts, and logo placement across all packaging materials. Regularly review and update these guidelines to ensure consistency in branding elements across different product lines and packaging formats.


Imagine a new company introducing a range of organic skincare products. They're keen on creating a strong, recognizable brand immediately. So, they set up clear brand guidelines that cover everything from colors and fonts to where their logo goes on the packaging. Regularly checking and updating these guidelines ensures that the brand's look stays consistent, whether it's a moisturizer jar or a cleanser bottle. This helps customers easily spot their products and builds trust by showing a commitment to quality and coherence across all their skincare offerings.

Balancing Cost and Quality

Plan budgets that account for design complexity and material costs. Optimize designs for mass production to achieve economies of scale without sacrificing insert quality. For example, streamline designs to reduce material waste and production time while maintaining product integrity.


Imagine a company launching a line of premium headphones and planning their packaging inserts. They meticulously plan their budget to accommodate design complexity and material costs. By optimizing the insert designs for mass production, they streamline the layout to reduce material waste and production time while ensuring the inserts maintain high-quality standards. This approach allows them to achieve economies of scale, lowering overall production costs without compromising on the integrity and protection of the headphones during shipping and handling.

Comprehensive Testing Procedures

Create prototypes early in the design process to test for fit, durability, and usability. Conduct real-world testing scenarios to simulate shipping and handling conditions. Gather feedback from users to identify and address potential issues before full-scale production.


A company developing packaging inserts for high-end cameras creates prototypes early in the design phase. These prototypes undergo real-world testing to simulate shipping conditions and user handling. After gathering feedback from photographers and distributors, they identify and resolve fit, durability, or usability issues before finalizing production. This thorough testing ensures that the inserts effectively protect the cameras during transit while meeting customer expectations for ease of use and reliability.

Embracing Sustainability

Prioritize recyclable and biodegradable materials in packaging insert design. Design inserts to minimize environmental impact by reducing material use and promoting recycling. Highlight sustainable practices in branding to resonate with environmentally conscious consumers and enhance brand reputation.


Imagine a company designing packaging inserts for a new line of sustainable home products. They focus on using recyclable and biodegradable materials to minimize their environmental footprint. By opting for lightweight materials and promoting recycling, they reduce waste and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. Highlighting these sustainable practices in their branding helps the company build a reputation for environmental responsibility, showing customers their commitment to sustainable packaging solutions. This approach not only enhances their brand image but also aligns with the values of eco-conscious consumers who seek products that prioritize environmental sustainability.

Read More: Eco-Friendly Packaging Impacts and Sustainable Solutions

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, the practical design of custom packaging inserts is crucial for ensuring product integrity and delivering exceptional customer experiences. At Chefbox, we go beyond conventional packaging solutions by integrating innovative design principles, rigorous testing procedures, and sustainable practices. Our commitment to quality and attention to detail enable us to create inserts that protect your products during shipping and resonate with your customers on a deeper level. By choosing Cef Box for your packaging insert needs, you're choosing reliability, creativity, and a partner dedicated to enhancing your brand's packaging strategy.

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Source: cefBox

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