Empty gift boxes

Gift boxes and their evolution

Easy gift wrapping options from Amazon have led to a common holiday season sight: a Christmas tree where every single present is one of half a dozen standardized Amazon gift bagsIn an effort to stand out, gift-givers are increasingly buying empty gift boxes instead.

Online brands have been offering to ship wrapped gifts for a long time, but some, including Amazon, have partially switched from putting them in boxes to using gift bags instead. Putting an existing product in a separate gift box means adding space to a shipment without adding much revenue, so boxes end up being un-economic as shipping costs rise.


The process of constructing and wrapping boxes that can come in non-standard sizes is a slow and labor-intensive process that can cause delays at fulfillment centers during the peak shopping season. Some online retailers price gift wrapping at roughly breakeven, viewing it as a nice-to-have feature that drives incremental sales; others price it higher, knowing that last-minute shoppers will pay a premium to know that their gifting plans are fully taken care of. And some retailers offer wrapping that includes a logo, meaning that the gift is also an ad. This pricing creates a wedge where separately-purchased gift boxes can be a good deal.


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