A detailed guide to primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging for exports

Understand the importance of the three levels of product packaging - primary, secondary & tertiary packaging and know the role of packaging in export trade.
primary packaging
A key part of managing a business is product packaging. It not only keeps your products safe till it reaches customers, but also increases brand awareness. This is even more critical in international trade as products are shipped across the world for longer durations.

There are three main levels of packaging – primary, secondary and tertiary packaging. Each level of packaging serves a specific purpose and is used for different scenarios. Thus, it is important to find the right level of packaging that best suits your products and international shipping mode.

What is primary packaging?

Primary packaging is the first layer of packaging that separates the customer from the product. It usually carries the packaging designs and labels used to trigger interest and recall among customers. Primary packaging is also known as consumer packaging or retail packaging.

Examples of primary packaging

Some primary packaging examples are:
• Blister packs for pharmaceutical pills
• Aluminium cans for soft drinks
• Bottles for beverages
• Tubes for toothpaste
• Vials for vaccines
• Plastic wrappers for candy and chocolate

What are the uses of primary packaging?

The primary packaging is integral in creating a strong appeal among customersconsumers. Here are some key uses of primary packaging:
• Acts as the first layer of defense
• Creates brand value among consumers
• Increases functional use of the product

What is secondary packaging?

After primary, secondary packaging is the next layer. The main purpose of secondary packaging is to create a strong impact on the retail shelves and make it easier to handle the product from the warehouse to the store and beyond. It is also known as grouped or display packaging as it is made to display multiple units of products.

Examples of secondary packaging

Secondary packaging can be used as shelf-ready packaging or counter-top display units depending on the end-use and functionality of the product. Some secondary packaging examples are as follows:
• Plastic ring to hold a consistent number of cans together
• Cardboard box for storing primary product
• Plastic box to store the primary product
• Shrink wrap to hold products like PET bottles

What are the uses of secondary packaging?

Secondary packaging plays an essential role in storing and transporting the product. In addition, it created an additional layer of defence for the primary product. Some key uses of secondary packaging are as follows:
• An additional layer of defense
• Enables ease of storage & display

What is tertiary packaging?

Often referred to as bulk or transit packaging, tertiary packaging is the last layer of packaging. It is used to transport large quantities of secondary units into a single unit, making it easier to load and unload between warehouses and retail stores. The main purpose of the tertiary packaging is to enable safe and fast movement of large quantities of the primary product along with secondary packaging between the manufacturer and the retailer. It is also known as transit packaging or bulk packaging.

Examples of tertiary packaging

Some key tertiary packaging examples are:
• Shipping crates
• Shipping boxes
• Pallets with elastic bands

What are the uses of tertiary packaging?

Tertiary packaging is mainly used to transport products from the manufacturer to the retailer in large quantities with ease. Some key tertiary packaging uses are:
• Transport large quantities of end products
• Enables safe storage at the warehouse and retailer’s store
icon: Amazon prime box

Role of primary, secondary and tertiary packaging in exports

All three-packaging systems are used to ship products, according to the needs and use of the exporter, from the production line to the consumer. As each level represents a different scale, understanding the three levels of packaging eases the export process. It also ensures safety and efficiency of international logistics. Protect your products from damage and ensure safety at all levels by selecting the most efficient packaging system.

Amazon offers assistance in shipment, inventory management and packaging of goods through its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program.
Amazon FBA

Ship hassle-free with Amazon FBA

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service that allows businesses to outsource order fulfillment to Amazon. Businesses send products to Amazon fulfillment centers and when a customer places an order, we pick, pack and ship the order. We also provide customer service and process returns for those orders. When you choose FBA to dropship your products, here’s what you get:

- Amazon stores your products in the Amazon fulfilment center.
- Amazon handles quick delivery to destinations across the globe with the Prime shipping option.
- Amazon offers 24/7 customer service
- Amazon FBA takes care of the returns
- Amazon FBA notifies you when you need to restock the products (if needed).

To simplify the export logistics process further, Amazon Global Logistics ship directly to international fulfillment centers in USA, UK, UAE, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between primary & secondary packaging?
Primary packaging, also known as retail or consumer packaging, closely protects the products. Whereas secondary packaging is used to hold multiple products together – for instance, in a carton.
What is the difference between secondary & tertiary packaging?
Secondary packaging contains multiple items of a single Stock Keeping Unit (SKU). It is designed to carry and store designated quantities of primary containers. Tertiary packaging is used for shipping, thus ensuring full protection of the product.
What is the difference between primary & tertiary packaging?
Primary packaging acts as the first layer of packaging to retailers. Tertiary packaging is used for shipping, thus ensuring full protection of the product. Due to their size, form and high product quantity, they are generally not meant to be seen directly by consumers.
Published on July 28, 2022.

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*Map not to scale. The map has been used for design and representational purpose only, it does not depict the geographical boundaries of the country. These do not conform to the external boundaries of India recognized by the Survey of India.

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