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How important is packaging in eCommerce?

how important is packaging in ecommerce

How important is packaging in eCommerce?

No matter what kind of online business you are running, this question is integral to your operation. Why? Because packaging is far more than just a container for your products.

 
With the rapid expansion of eCommerce operations around the globe, consumers have never had more options for products or vendors to buy from. Yet there is one area that has remained lacking: a memorable customer experience.
 
In the past few years, we have seen what we might call the ‘Amazonisation’ of online retail. As businesses direct their focus towards broader product ranges and faster shipping times, the result is an increasingly standardised, one-size-fits-all eCommerce experience.
 
We can all agree that fast eCommerce shipping is a great selling point for online merchants. But in 2020, this has become a standard expectation for consumers. As such, it’s unlikely to be something that your brand will be remembered for.
 
This is where packaging can act as a sophisticated post-purchase marketing strategy for your brand. Not only can well-thought-out packaging delight your customer on arrival – it also massively increases your odds of repeat purchases.
 
To find out how your business can accomplish this, read on!
 

Why does a branded packaging strategy matter?

 
The answer is this question is a simple one: We are far more likely to remember a brand that uses its available collateral to tell us something about them. This suggests creativity and playfulness, and gives consumers more insight into a brand’s story.
 
Cosmetic brand Glossier’s packaging is a great example of this strategy at play. They take great care in making sure that their packages reflect their fresh and pared-back approach to beauty. From their signature pink hue to the branded hashtags printed on their boxes, this creates a cohesive and pleasing unboxing experience for customers.
 
So, it’s safe to say that leaving your packaging as an empty canvas is a huge wasted opportunity. A custom-branded effort makes you unique and shows that you care about creating positive customer interactions. Generic brown cardboard, on the other hand, tells your customer nothing about why they should shop with you again.
 

With this in mind, let’s look at some other reasons why packaging matters:

 
It makes your brand offerings more valuable. ‘Value’ can be a very difficult concept to define in retail. But a good rule of thumb is when a purchase is perceived as worth more than the sum of its parts. Packaging is an easy way to differentiate your brand and build loyalty with your customer base – it’s the ultimate personal touch that speaks of the care and attention to detail that goes into every order.
 
It makes for compelling content. Social media is a highly competitive space, and it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd. Attractively-packaged goods are a massive visual drawcard for prospective customers because they are a relative novelty in the world of eCommerce.
 
First impressions matter! This is last, but definitely not least. We will know that it’s very difficult to convince a customer to give your brand another try if they have an average (or bad) initial experience. Premium packaging is a great tool in your arsenal to help ensure positive interactions.
 

So, how do you create an eye-catching packaging experience for your customers to enjoy?

 

Step 1: Think about practicality

 
Before you start designing your dream packaging, hold fire: while aesthetics are important, your packaging still needs to do its job of protecting your products.
 
Whether you are shipping your goods domestically or internationally, your design needs to ensure that goods arrive in one piece. After all, there are few things more harmful to a brand image than having to replace damaged products!
 
For example, branded tissue paper is great for adding a luxury vibe to your packages, but it can also be used as a packing filler to help protect items in transit.
 
Cost is another important factor in packaging design. While custom-branded boxes look impressive and create anticipation in customers, high MOQs (Minimum Order Quantities) mean that they are an expensive investment for small businesses. There are much more affordable ways to brand external packaging and create recognition, such as using custom stickers or packing tape.
 
Moreover, it may be the case that you don’t need boxes at all. If you are a clothing and apparel brand like Little Chicago Clothing, compostable mailers are a great cost-effective option!
 

Step 2: What kind of mood do you want to create?

 
It’s easy to see why ‘unboxings’ were pioneered by the luxury end of the consumer market. High price points translate to high customer expectations, and a premium packaging experience is a great way to offer another level of value.
 
Whether it’s Chanel’s minimalist monochrome packaging or Tiffany’s iconic ‘blue box’, luxury brands are experts at channeling class and good taste into their branding.
 
But in 2020, packaging is a piece of theatre that is used by brands at every price point. In fact, as Dollar Shave Club shows, your packaging design can stress affordability and a no-frills approach to an industry that has traditionally been highly appearance-driven.
 
So, it’s important to give some thought to how you plan on communicating your brand story to your customers. Do you want to inspire creativity or playfulness? Or are you trying to channel a more minimalist chic? These questions will help to determine your final design.
 

Step 3: Choose a supplier

 
Naturally, this is one of the most important steps in the process. But it’s important to have other criteria besides cost. While adhering to a budget is important, there are other considerations that can shape which supplier is the best option for your business:
 
Compare the MOQs offered by suppliers. MOQs are usually higher from custom-branded packaging materials than generic stock, which can mean a very big upfront cost for your business. Seeking out a supplier with a low MOQ is much more affordable for small businesses, and gives much more flexibility in terms of creating seasonal or limited-edition designs.
 
Consider the sustainability of the packaging materials on offer. Businesses of every size have a responsibility to keep their environmental footprint as low as possible. In 2020, eco-friendliness has become an important consideration for consumers. When plastic pollution is a serious public concern, not respecting this could seriously impact your brand image!
 
Although packaging is something many businesses only think about in practical terms, we have shown that this is not only a missed branding opportunity, but a lost chance at post-purchase marketing. The moment of delivery is your last chance as a business to make a positive impression on your customer – so make the most of it!

Cathryn Strini

Cathy Strini is the Partner Marketing Manager at noissue. Their premium custom tissue paper is acid-free and FSC-certified as being socially and environmentally responsible in its production. Their low minimum order quantities and quick turnarounds mean that they are suited to help everyone, from small independent businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

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