Designing Strategic Labels for Your E-Commerce Products

There’s no looking back: e-commerce’s steady march towards relevance is picking up steam and it’s time to get your product packaging as online-ready as possible. In fact, forecasters are saying that e-commerce sales will account for 23% of all retail sales as early as 2025. So, are your e-commerce labels designed to drive sales, build your brand, and protect you from e-commerce’s bigger risks?

There are several considerations that factor into designing the most strategic e-commerce labels. And we’re going to share them here.


Do your labels work when they’re viewed in thumbnails?

The first reality of e-commerce is this: you need to think small to make a big impact. Shoppers are going to be viewing your product at a very small scale—thumbnail small! The vast majority of your customers are going to use their smartphones to make their purchases. Do your labels work at this scale? And by “work”, we mean: grabbing attention and conveying important information.


  • Consider the role that colour plays in your label. You need to choose fewer colours; complex and busy designs look muddy online. And use the ones that are proven to inspire the feelings your products are linked with. (Here’s a guide we like.)
  • Keep it simple. Minimalism really does work better for e-commerce.
  • Really zero in on the information (e.g., “keto”, “sustainably farmed”, etc.) that is most important to your customers and limit your front labels to sharing those details.

Will your labels stand up to rough shipping and handling?

The fact is e-commerce products endure much rougher treatment en route to the customer than brick-and-mortar retail products do. They are warehoused and handled multiple times on much more chaotic and lengthy journeys to customers around the world. E-commerce product packaging needs to stand up to dramatic temperature changes, indelicate treatment, and a whole other host of challenging factors. Plus…a full 20% of e-commerce products are returned, meaning they will make the whole journey two times over. That’s why durability is key.


  • Pick an especially robust material for your labels.
  • Consider waterproofing them.
  • Ensure your adhesive is strong enough to prevent peeling.
  • Protect your labels from abrasions with elements like lamination.

Will your labels protect you from unnecessary losses?

 As we’ve already emphasized, the e-commerce fulfillment process is complicated, and losses can happen easily. Products can go missing. Customers can falsely claim that their orders never arrived.

And then there’s the risk of counterfeiting. It’s becoming quite a big problem on online platforms.

Technology has made the incredible complexity of e-commerce possible, so you want to use technology to protect yourself from the risks of all this complexity. There are a few measures you can take in your label design to protect yourself.


  • Use tracking labels with barcodes so that you know where your product is at all times.
  • Use security labels to prove the authenticity of your products.

Do your labels reflect the priorities of your e-commerce customers?

E-commerce customers skew young: Millennials and—increasingly—Gen Z folks. And we know that younger demographics are more values-driven than other demographics. So, what are your values and how can you feature them without overwhelming your label design?


  • Of all the brand values that younger shoppers are likely to resonate with, sustainability tops the list. If your products are eco-friendly in any way, display that.
  • If you have certifications that prove your company values, include them (e.g., Fair Trade).

E-commerce is an exciting world, but it’s also a complex one, with considerations we never faced in brick-and-mortar retail. We hope this guide has alerted you to some of the key factors that will make an e-commerce product label really work for your business. If you have any questions at all, please reach out! We love helping our clients succeed online.




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