Standard Packaging vs. Frustration-Free Packaging

Standard vs frustration-free packaging

There are a few different types of packaging for e-commerce businesses, but the most common are standard packaging and frustration-free packaging (FFP). There are some distinct differences between the two, and in this article, we’ll explore those differences and explain the many benefits frustration-free packaging can offer you in today’s e-commerce landscape.

Table of Contents

What Is Standard Packaging?

You might think all packaging is the same, but standard packaging refers to a distinct type of packaging used in traditional retail. This packaging includes the use of boxes that are often oversized and use additional packaging materials, like paper or Styrofoam. The products may not fit nicely inside the boxes, meaning you’ll need to use excess materials and may face an increased risk of damage during shipping.

Standard packaging is also often more difficult to open compared to frustration-free packaging. To open a standard package, you might need to use knives, scissors or other tools to break through the materials. You will likely encounter wire ties, plastic zip ties and plastic clamshells, in addition to other non-recyclable materials.

Requirements for Frustration-Free Packaging

Frustration-free packaging is a packaging initiative from Amazon that originated as a program to decrease the amount of packaging used in online retail shopping and shipping. Since 2015, Amazon reports this program has helped them reduce the weight of their outbound packages by 33% and eliminated around 900,000 tons of packaging materials.

While this program originates from Amazon, e-commerce retailers can use frustration-free packaging whether they sell through Amazon or not. There are four main requirements to consider for frustration-free packaging:

  1. Recyclable: To qualify for this program, retailers need to use 100% recyclable material in their packaging. Packaging should also be recyclable after opening.
  2. Ready to ship: Packaging should be ready to ship in the original packaging, so there’s no need for more packaging. However, should the customer request Amazon packaging, it is available at no extra cost.
  3. Easy to open: Frustration-free packages should include no extra, unnecessary packaging. Additionally, it should not require tools to open the packaging.
  4. Designed for consumers: One of the main aspects to consider is if the package is something consumers would want to receive. Without some of the extra elements, this packaging is easy to open and protective of products.

Benefits of Frustration-Free Packaging

Frustration-free packaging has many benefits for e-commerce retailers. While the FFP program is mostly used by Amazon, retailers that don’t sell on that platform can still benefit greatly from this packaging type. Learn more about the benefits of frustration-free packaging below:

Ease of Use

Standard packaging has many pitfalls, including complicated packaging materials like zip ties or excess paper and non-recyclable materials. Frustration-free packaging is very simple to use and understand. It makes packaging products easier and quicker, while also making them easier for customers to dispose of.

Another benefit of frustration-free packaging includes its smaller size, so it takes up less space in warehouses and on trucks for transportation. The smaller sizes also make packaging quicker and easier.

Less Damage

Frustration-free packaging for paint cans

One of the major pitfalls of standard packaging is the threat of damage to the product because of ill-fitting packaging materials. Frustration-free packaging reduces damage to products because there is less room for the item to get jostled around inside the box. This type of packaging is built for the size of the item to keep it secure.

Damage to products can have a larger impact on your company’s reputation. When items arrive to your customers damaged or broken, it can impact their experience. They might be more inclined to leave a negative review or refrain from purchasing from your company again.

Cost Savings

Frustration-free packaging is extremely cost-effective for a few different reasons, including:

  • Lower labor costs: Standard packaging is often bulky and takes longer to pack and move. Frustration-free packaging helps reduce labor costs as workers can be more efficient.
  • Reduced shipping costs: Most shipping carriers base their shipping costs on weight. With less packaging, frustration-free packaging can reduce the cost of shipping your items, benefiting you and your customers.
  • Fewer damaged products: Another contributing factor to cost savings is that it reduces the frequency of damaged products, which can also help limit returns and negative reviews.
  • More efficient warehouses: When you can increase worker efficiency and ship products out more quickly, your entire warehouse will benefit from more efficiency.


Decreasing the amount of packaging on products also improves your sustainability. Using fewer packaging materials is better for the environment because it reduces the number of materials entering landfills each year. Biodegradable and recyclable materials are also good for the environment because they break down or can be repurposed for other uses. Sustainability-minded customers will also appreciate these eco-friendly efforts.

Frustration-Free Packaging vs. Standard Packaging Comparison

When comparing frustration-free packaging and standard packaging, you’ll want to look closely at these four main factors:

  • Protection
  • Sustainability
  • Simplicity
  • Design

While frustration-free packaging offers superior protection, that isn’t to say standard packaging doesn’t offer protection or will always results in damaged products.

As far as sustainability goes, standard packaging has no requirements. Frustration-free packaging needs to be made of recyclable materials and be recycled after its use. Standard packaging also has no requirements on the ease of opening or use, while that’s an important tenant of frustration-free packaging, which does not utilize things like wire ties and separate packaging tools.

Furthermore, unlike standard packaging, frustration-free packaging is created with the consumer in mind. Certain barriers like packaging materials and size can impact a customer’s experience with your products. If they can’t open their item easily, have to wade through tons of layers of packaging or find their items damaged due to poor packing, they’ll have a more negative view of your brand. Frustration-free packaging places the customer experience at the forefront.

Choose frustration-free packaging

Great Expectations

Great Expectations is more than a tagline, it is an attitude. At Great Northern, customer challenges are met by an undying spirit to doing what others can’t or won’t. It’s in our DNA. And it is what our customers have come to expect with Great Northern.

How can we exceed your expectations?

Agent Chat With an Expert