The packaging needs of an e-commerce store vary from those of a brick-and-mortar one. Product packaging might help something catch user attention while sitting on a shelf, but you must think about the boxes used to ship e-commerce orders, the packaging inside and the other inclusions you place in the box.
When people receive an order from your online store, is unboxing it an experience? You have an opportunity to make a positive impression. Make people want to order from you again or send others gifts from your digital inventory.
According to etailinsights, there are approximately 9.1 million online retailers globally, with 2.5 million in the United States. Over time, consumers have come to expect a certain experience when they order from e-commerce stores.
The pandemic forced many people to start ordering online who otherwise would not have. Growth in the e-commerce industry between 2020 and 2022 outpaced what experts previously predicated. The International Trade Commission reported a boost to 18% of market share–up from 13%–in 2020 with an upward trajectory for through at least 2024.
If you want to stand out from the other retailers in your industry, you must pay attention to small details such as packaging options. Here is how to create a positive experience for your customers:
Think about the items you sell. If they are fragile, you’ll want the strongest container possible. Items such as clothing can go in poly mailers, but don’t go cheap there either. You don’t want to send something in a package that will gather moisture or rip too easily.
Poly mailers are lightweight, reducing your shipping costs. They are also durable enough to withstand the abuses of shipping carriers while still protecting nonperishables and non fragile items.
Adding a brand logo or using a particular color package can make your shipments instantly recognizable to others. People get excited when they receive a black box with pink writing, because they know it’s from BoxyCharm. Fans of Marie Nicole Clothing get excited when the dusty rose poly mailer with their brand name on it arrives.
How can you make your packages stand out for users? The customer experience starts as soon as the item is in hand. Does your outer packaging create a positive first impression?
Depending on what you sell, you should make the inside of your package look beautiful, too. For example, you might wrap clothing in pretty tissue paper. If something is breakable or perishable, you’ll use other methods.
Brands such as Hello Fresh utilize frozen pads to keep food fresh en route. If you sell fragile items, you might wrap them carefully in multiple layers of bubble wrap and air pockets. Think through how the user unwraps the box when they open it.
The label on the outside of your package must be readable to machines and humans. You want to make sure the order arrives in a timely fashion. Many small businesses try to reduce their carbon footprints, so using a thermal label printer may reduce waste of paper postage where parts of the sheet aren’t used.
Around 70% of companies have carbon reduction goals and want to be more eco-friendly. People care about sustainability and keeping the environment green, so even small steps to reduce the amount of waste can make a difference and create a green-friendly image for your brand.
One of the best ways to bring customers back for follow-up orders is offering them incentives. Include some flyers about upcoming products the user might be interested in purchasing. Offer a discount coupon or free shipping on their next order.
Place promotional items on top of the product but inside any wrapping. This keeps them secure but makes them the first thing the user sees after unboxing.
People often want to check over their invoice and make sure they were charged correctly and all items arrived. With the supply chain issues of the last few years, people have had many items backordered or not arrive at all. People feel comfortable knowing what is and isn’t in the box.
It’s your choice if you place the invoice at the very top of your box or inside the wrapping. Placing it on top shows who the item came from, if it isn’t already clear from the shipping container. It also reiterates what the person ordered and prevents any misunderstandings.
Did someone place a larger order than normal? Include a note thanking them and letting them know how much you appreciate their business. For new customers, you might include a note that welcomes them to your company family and ask if they’d like to learn more. Include a QR code or a few links they can visit to learn about your products.
As an e-commerce company, you probably don’t want to put too much paper into the packaging. You may be trying to reduce the amount of paper you use. A small card with a QR code is the perfect solution that lets you get the message out without using as much paper.
Ideally, every time a customer opens a box you shipped to them, they’ll be excited and remember the event. Unfortunately, getting too fancy is also expensive. You may need to balance costs with packaging options. Can you use stickers rather than custom-printed boxes, for example? Maybe you can go with generic tissue paper or cut costs by going with lighter packing materials.
Look for ways to balance the cost of shipping items but still making the entire unboxing as exciting as possible. You want your customers to tell others about your products. The happier they are, the more likely they’ll share their finds with others. Packaging should be functional, exciting and cost-effective all at the same time.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.