10 best packaging design software for every use case

packaging design software with comments alongside packaging design

In 2023, product packaging is experiencing a renaissance, with 7-in-10 customers saying packaging can influence their purchasing decision.

But between social media and sustainability, marketing managers and designers need to challenge outdated paradigms to help their products stand out from the crowd.

From exploring ideas to delivering final artwork for printing, packaging design software helps to speed up collaboration throughout every stage of the creative process. But before we dive into our roundup of the top tools, lets look at why packaging design is more important than ever.

The fast way to get feedback on packaging

Get clear and collaborative comments right on top of your packaging artwork.

Three reasons packaging design is more important than ever

Packaging design has always been crucial to product success. Packaging not only gives the first impression of a product, but also contributes to your brand management strategy

But, in 2023, there are a few factors in particular that you need to pay attention to.

1. Packaging has to be designed with social media in mind

In the past, your product packaging had to grab attention in the aisles and leap off the shelves.

Then came the e-commerce boom. And suddenly, your products didn’t just need to look good in a retail environment. They also needed to look great in those tiny thumbnails in your online image galleries.

But times have changed again. Now your product packaging has to be photogenic too. Today’s customers want products that they can photograph, share on social, and brag about to their friends.

Seth Rogen’s Houseplant cannabis packaging is a prime example of product packaging done right. How can you resist snapping them together, snapping a picture, and sharing them with your friends?

Want to see more like this? Check out our roundup of beautiful label designs.

Source: It’s Nice That

2. Shoppers want products with sustainable packaging

In 2023, climate change is on everyone’s agenda. And from tech to detergent, shoppers are expecting their product packaging to be carefully considered and climate conscious.

Check out this eco-friendly example from Sonos. Their custom packaging designs are so precise that there’s no need for plastic bags or padding. The speakers simply fit like a glove into the recyclable cardboard molds.

Learn more about the packaging design trends everyone’s talking about.

Source: Dieline

3. Customers are spoiled for choice

Try and think of a product category where you would have fewer than five competitors to choose from – or even 10! Not easy, right?

So what do you do when your customers have endless options to choose from? You stand out, of course, like this example from Help Remedies.

We’ve all seen those pharmaceutical packaging designs with mind-bending medical terms plastered on the front. (Cetirizine hydrochloride, anyone?) But by focusing on the symptom instead of the active ingredient, Help Remedies has immediately set its products apart from competitors on the shelves.

Source: Dieline

10 best product packaging design software  

How do I design my own product packaging and which software is best for packaging design? It should be clear by now that you should at least question your current packaging strategy. 

The next section will give you an overview of the best packaging design software to bring your creative ideas to life. And for more tips, check out our full guide on designing packaging labels.

1. Filestage – best software for packaging design reviews

Filestage is an approval software that’s used by global consumer goods companies like Capri-Sun and Who Gives A Crap. This packaging design software makes it easy to share, review, and discuss your product packaging designs with colleagues and external stakeholders. 

Here are a few ways Filestage helps with your packaging artwork reviews:

  • Set up project workflows to manage all your packaging assets and stakeholders in one place
  • Get fast and accurate feedback with point-and-click comments and annotations
  • Zoom in and rotate your designs to give feedback on every detail
  • Keep versions organized in one platform so you can easily see the history of your designs
  • Compare versions side by side to make sure everyone’s feedback has been met
  • Track approvals and change requests at a glance from your dashboard

Every reviewer can access the design without the need to log in. Then they can leave precise feedback via multiple comment and annotation tools making the overall design review process smoother. Since everyone leaves feedback on the same file, you can see and react to comments from other reviewers allowing collaboration in real-time.

Once the first round of feedback has been implemented, you can easily upload a new version of your packaging design, and each team member can give their approval. Plus, on the main dashboard, you can always keep an overview of all your files’ statuses. This way, Filestage makes the entire content review process easy and fast like never before.

The fast way to get feedback on packaging

Get clear and collaborative comments right on top of your packaging artwork.

2. 4PACK – for packaging workflow 


With 4PACK, designers and marketing managers can put the complete packaging design process onto a single platform. 

The package design software allows you to structure and organize the ideation, concept development and launch phase. Users can integrate product information into the artwork, which minimizes errors and typos when creating product descriptions. With collaboration tools, you can give packaging suppliers access to your database, further streamlining operations across your supply chain. 

Streamlining processes is the main selling proposition of 4PACK, which means that some of the advanced design features available to render realistic 3D images might be behind the competition. Therefore, before committing to a paid subscription, you should make use of the trial version first. 

3. Adobe Dimension – creating fully customizable 3D designs

Adobe Dimension

Adobe Dimension is another creative tool from Adobe that helps your designer create customized 3D designs for boxes and cartons. Your design team has access to all the tools necessary to easily compose, adjust and render realistic 3D images. Plus, Adobe Dimensions offers plenty of carton and food packaging templates and mockups, saving your designers time when creating realistic packaging designs and solutions. 

Instead of organizing expensive photoshoots, you can create new scene layouts and photorealistic graphics for all your product images – no matter their shape or size. Having said this, as Adobe Dimension caters to those who do not make their own 3D designs, it still lags behind fully-fledged 3D animation tools. 

4. Box It Now – packaging design for non-designers

Box it now

“How do I design a package in Illustrator?” If you cannot answer this question, you might take a look at the tools of Box It Now. While most packaging software tools are made for designers, Box It Now is an easy-to-use desktop and tablet application that can be used by people with no design background and does not require extensive tutorials. 

This solution offers a free template library containing over 150 industry-standard styles for your boxes and cartons, which can be customized to your specific needs. Unfortunately, the number of FEFCO (European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers) designs is still relatively limited. 

5. Boxshot – product design and packaging software


Boxshot 5 is an advanced virtual photo studio software for 3D models that helps designers  display accurate and realistic images of boxes, cartons and products. As Boxshot 5 caters solely to designers, this software is not suitable for streamlining the supply chain and processes between organizations. 

Boxshot5 offers different preset packaging solutions and a free template library for a wide range of products, such as brochure design software. This means that the shape of your graphics is automatically adjusted to fit the packaging type and size. Additionally, composing tools help you stack, align and distribute scene objects to fit your projects. 

With free product and carton templates and mockups, this printing software allows you to render, animate, script, import and export your packaging print designs. 

6. Impact – specialized 3D packaging design software


Impact by Arden Software is a digital packaging design software with a track record of over three decades of success. In comparison to other modern packaging software, Impact is not a cloud-based solution, but an actual desktop application for Windows. This could have a negative impact on flexibility and cooperation features.

However, with Impact, all components, manufacturing layouts, and 3D models are linked together within the same project. In addition to providing a free design library, Impact can also facilitate the review and approval process. You can create virtual 3D samples and animated carton templates and mockups which can be shared easily with your customers.  

7. ManageArtworks – packaging design for pharma, food and cosmetics


ManageArtworks caters specifically to the pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics and personal care industries. This advanced cloud-based printing and package design software offers an Adobe Illustrator software plugin that allows users to pull text from ManageArtworks to the Illustrator application, thereby easily dragging and dropping text onto artwork instead of pasting it from documents. 

Basic design review and approval features enable designers to access annotations and remarks made by other artwork reviewers, even when opening the artwork in Adobe Illustrator. While most reviews of ManageArtworks are positive, some customers complain about glitches or a lack of simplicity of the user interface. 

8. printQ – packaging design workflow


PrintQ is a leading edge packaging and graphic design tool that can substantially improve your  graphic design process. Its advanced shape library allows you to make use of a wide range of ECMA (European Carton Makers Association) packages, which can be further customized through the addition of brand elements and labels. Within a matter of seconds, you will receive 3D preview models as well as PDF and CF2 files for production. This streamlines your packaging design workflow and enables you to produce better results. Most critics of PrintQ complain about its pricing model as well as unsatisfying customer service experiences. 

9. Strata –  packaging design tool catered to Adobe users


Strata offers a wide range of creative 3D package design software tools with a gentle learning curve, especially if you are already familiar with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Whether you need to create shelf displays with your labels or integrate your packaging with scene composition features, Strata has your needs covered. 

With Strata’s graphic toolkit “Design 3D CX 8” for Mac and PC, you can manipulate polygons, splines and primitives from scratch or insert existing 3D assets to the platform. Plus, you can easily apply complicated surface textures to produce photorealistic images. Although Strata receives generally positive feedback, some reviewers have complained about relatively long rendering times. 

10. TOPS Pro – for pallet and packaging print designs


With TOPS PRO, you have all the creative graphic design tools needed to design your packaging or pallets outline. You can optimize your virtual packaging design by including quantity, arrangement and product orientation as part of the design process. 

Additionally, TOPS PRO allows you to determine the most appropriate master carton size for maximum pallet layout efficiency. Furthermore, you can use this digital package design software to trim your box inventory and select the optimal shape of your existing boxes. However, keep in mind that TOPS PRO has an outdated interface and is not the most modern state-of-the-art software. 

What’s the best free packaging design software?

Packaging design software is pretty specialist, so most of the tools mentioned above only offer paid plans. But if you’re set on finding free software for your packaging design projects, here are two great options.

1. Figma – best free tool for bringing your packaging ideas to life

Figma is a versatile design tool that’s mostly used for websites and digital products. But it can also be a great option for product packaging.

The Free plan includes three projects, which is plenty to get you up and running. And to speed up your design process, you can search their Community for free design templates. You’ll be able to find various box layouts to suit all kinds of products.

2. Filestage – best free software for packaging approvals

Filestage is an all-in-one feedback and approval platform that helps you create a smooth packaging management process and deliver compliant labels across all your packaging projects.

The Free plan includes two active projects, where you can share unlimited files and versions with an unlimited number of reviewers. Your reviewers can zoom, rotate, and annotate to give clear and accurate feedback – all in one place.

The fast way to get feedback on packaging

Get clear and collaborative comments right on top of your packaging artwork.

Best practices for better packaging designs

When optimizing packaging print designs, a capable software tool is indispensable. Now we are going to review best practices of packaging design and shelf displays so that you can gather inspiration for your next project. 

Create unique packages that stand out

Even though this should be obvious, it is astonishing how many boring, standard packaging materials are still on the market in 2023. 

There are way too many examples that demonstrate that a marketing team did not put any emphasis on the packaging. It is important to realize that your packaging catches the attention of your customers and can be one of the main reasons whether they opt for your or your competitors’ products.

Just take a look at the marketing material of Halo Brewery. The packaging of their alcoholic beverages not only catches your attention, but its design is perfectly in line with the brand’s exotic recipes. 

Create unique packages that stand out example Halo Brewery

Engage your customers

Depending on the industry, there are multiple ways to actively engage your customers with your packaging ideas. 

For example, augmented reality (AR) solutions from companies such as blippAR help companies upsell their products. With blippAR, children can scan the QR code on Kellogg’s products to turn breakfast into a fun and interactive learning session. Through augmented reality, a cereal box can be transformed into an interactive jungle island hosting different mini video games. 

These games were created to enhance the hand-eye coordination as well as math and science skills of children. The campaign was launched on 16 million cereal boxes across four brands in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) region.

Engage your customers example Kellogg's

Upcycle your packaging

How can you create loyal customers? One way is to let them keep your packaging materials so that they are exposed to your brand on a daily basis. 

You can achieve this by adding value to your packages – this is where upcycling comes into play. Upcycling is not only a way to boost your marketing efforts, but also to save the environment and to reduce waste. Instead of throwing away your packaging, customers can become creative.

A very impressive upcycling example comes from Samsung’s TV packaging. The packaging box is imprinted with a dot matrix pattern as well as a QR code. After scanning the code, users can download a folding guide. The production template includes a lot of creative ideas for upcycling the box, including creating a newspaper stand, a tool box and even a cat house. 

Upcycle your packaging example Samsung


Packaging is about much more than just a paper box. You can be sure that a successful  packaging project will contribute to the top line of your business. We hope that we have  inspired you to boost and streamline your packaging design and content workflow. With the right packaging design software features, you can create unique, engaging and sustainable solutions to display your brand in the best possible way.