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Sometimes, customers appreciate a bit of discretion when ordering products online. By selecting discreet shipping at checkout, they’re able to ensure that nobody can guess what’s inside, thanks to plain, unassuming packaging. 

We might assume discretion is only required when a customer wants to order something naughty. But in reality that isn’t the case; there are many reasons why somebody might opt for discreet shipping. 

In this article, we’re going to provide an overview of what discreet shipping is, why people might opt to use it, and how eCommerce brands can implement discreet shipping effectively. 

Defining discreet shipping

Discreet shipping refers to a shipping method where the contents of a package are not disclosed or apparent from the outside packaging. 

This practice ensures privacy and confidentiality, particularly for sensitive, personal, or private items. The outer packaging is typically plain and unmarked, lacking any logos, labels, or descriptions that might reveal the nature of the contents inside.

Discreet shipping is commonly used for products like adult toys, medical supplies, or any items buyers may wish to keep private. It aims to provide a comfortable and secure shopping experience by protecting the customer’s privacy from the moment of purchase to delivery.

The need for discreet shipping 

Privacy is important, even if it’s harder to come by these days. That said, eCommerce brands can offer their customers some privacy by offering them discreet shipping options at checkout. 

Social stigma 

While customers may seek privacy for their online purchases for many reasons, in many instances  it’s because of the social stigma associated with certain products, which can lead to anxiety about the nature of the product being revealed to neighbours or the carrier staff that are handling their order in transit. 

It can be reassuring to customers when they know that only themselves and the company they’re buying from know what’s inside the box. An additional layer of anonymity can boost the confidence of your customers and make them more likely to make a purchase from you, especially if the products in question are sensitive. 


The desire for discreet shipping isn’t solely driven by perceived social stigma, though. Sometimes, customers are buying gifts for loved ones within their household, and so discreet shipping ensures that loved ones won’t have the surprise ruined if they’re the one to answer the door. 

Luxury items 

Additionally, discreet shipping might be appropriate if the contents of the parcel are expensive. Blatantly obvious packaging for luxury or expensive goods like jewellery and electronics might encourage the attention of thieves. Concealing those items within unassuming packaging will make them less likely to stand out. 

Key elements of discreet shipping 

For shipments to be categorised as truly discrete, they’ll need to tick a few boxes. You’ll need to do more than simply place an item in a plain cardboard box if you want to give your customers full peace of mind. 


The foundational element of discreet shipping is the packaging. There should be nothing about the size, shape, or appearance of the packaging that could allude to what’s inside. 

Similarly, there should be nothing on the packaging that could give an indication of where the product came from. That means no logos or other brand identifiers, like fonts, images, or colours. 


While labelling is required to ensure carriers can deliver parcels safely and accurately, there’s a chance that they can reveal sensitive information about the nature of the product within if not implemented correctly. 

For example, labels often include your company name, so it’s important to opt for an alternative, generic company name, especially if you’re a well-known company, or your company name gives an idea about the products you sell. This should also apply to the returns information.

If you outsource fulfilment to a 3PL, this issue is easily resolved as they send and receive returned orders on your behalf. 

Carrier instructions 

To give customers more flexibility about where their orders are left if they aren’t in to receive, consider choosing carrier partners that allow your customers to give them specific instructions on where to leave parcels.

Some carriers might default to leaving parcels on the doorstep or with a neighbour, which could cause anxiety if the contents inside are of a sensitive nature. If your customer is able to tell them exactly where to leave the parcel, such as in the recycling bin or in the shed, it gives them one less thing to worry about. 

Discreet shipping pitfalls you should watch out for 

While discreet shipping is pretty straightforward to implement, you should watch out for a couple of things that might trip you up.

Don’t sacrifice a great unboxing experience 

A significant part of the customer experience today is the excitement they feel when unboxing a parcel. The unboxing experience is a real differentiator between a good and great business, and the memorability of the unboxing can be what makes you stand out from the competition.

Creating fantastic unboxing experiences can be a little more difficult when you’re shipping orders in a plain, and let’s be frank, boring cardboard box. So, you’ll need to make more of an effort with the interior packaging and inserts. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative with what you put inside the box and make your customer forget it turned up in an uninspired cube of cardboard. 

Be careful about billing 

There’s little point in putting effort into discreet shipping solutions if your customers get caught out on their bank statements!

Remember that most customers are ordering discreetly because they’d rather nobody else know what they’ve bought. When billing customers, opt to use the same strategy as you would for labelling, that is, consider using a generic name to do your billing. 

This will prevent anxiety from your customers about being judged from organisations who might have access to their bank statements, like banks or government agencies. 

Implement discreet shipping with J&J Global Fulfilment

Here at J&J, we work with a range of eCommerce brands who have discreet shipping options either as standard or that is selectable at checkout. 

As a global order fulfilment service, we have a range of unbranded, discreet packaging options that will enable your customers to buy sensitive items with zero stress. We also use our name on the labels, meaning they’ll never jeopardise your customers’ right to privacy. 

You can even give our packing team direct instructions for packaging your orders via our award-winning order management platform, ControlPort™ . 

For more information about our global fulfilment and discreet shipping solutions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team to organise a no-obligation consultation.

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