Since the birth of eCommerce in 1991, packaging has slowly evolved to accommodate the new way people shop. The way customers buy online is different from the traditional retail experience.
The in-store environment is all about the product on display, the shelving, staging, and the customer’s sensory experience with the product(s) being sold.
In contrast, product selections online live in a 2D (and sometimes augmented 3D) world. Customers can’t touch, feel or try the product before making the buying decision. Packaging plays a minimal role in online product selection, although there are still unique ways to breakthrough and make your packaging have a statement.
However, an eCommerce-specific packaging design must endure the rugged journey from manufacturer to consumer. And, with the industry return rate hovering around 30%, it must also survive a round trip while still protecting its contents.
The right eCommerce packaging solutions must solve multiple issues. They include:
- Lowering the return rates by preventing shipping damages
- Reducing shipping costs by getting lighter and smaller
- Increasing brand identification
- Improving customer satisfaction
To find the solutions retailers must look at the two primary types of packaging for eCommerce.
Utility and Branded Packaging
Utility packaging, as the name implies, is the plain envelope or brown box that protects the inner contents during shipping.
Branded packaging surrounds the item and has the colorful graphics, logos, labels, and text.
Re-examining both types of packaging will uncover potential savings in manufacturing and shipping costs.
To help solve these issues, here are some solutions for eCommerce packaging.
6 Effective Packaging Solutions for Ecommerce
Packaging best practices are about doing more with less. Here are six of the most efficient ways for eCommerce retailers to handle their packaging needs.
1. Use Packaging That Fits The Product
Both the internal brand packaging and the utility packaging should be as tight as possible, reducing weight without compromising the product’s integrity. For example, online packages do not need a hanging tab like retail store packaging; it would just take more space and provide no additional value. Reducing the size also saves on materials and dimensional shipping charges.
2. Replace Rigid Packaging With Flexible
Sometimes a box or rigid plastic containers are not the best choices. Pack liquids in pouches rather than heavy plastic bottles. The bottles add unnecessary weight, and the cap adds height, creating the need for a taller box with more negative space.
When possible, fit smaller items inside of a mailer or courier bag rather than a cardboard box. Consumers want companies to use less packaging, so they don’t have to deal with as much waste.
For example, “32% of Americans want sustainable packaging options. With one in every four consumers interested in responsible purchasing, companies are incentivized to invest in environmentally friendly materials and waste reduction.”
National Fulfillment Services
By switching to flexible packaging, it reduces size, weight, waste and keeps shipping costs as low as possible.
3. Use Environmentally-Friendly Void Filler
Styrofoam peanuts, while useful, present an ecological problem when disposing of them. Consumers prefer environmentally safe alternatives.
Once the package has served its purpose, it enters the waste stream. To reduce the environmental footprint, companies like Dell and Amazon are turning to fast-growing materials like bamboo, wheat straw and mushroom roots (Gree) as a void filler.
Dell reports that by using these materials, it has eliminated 20 million pounds of packaging and reduced production costs by $18 million.
“Green” packaging is good for every company’s image and the environment.
4. Tape That Serves Triple Duty
The tape should do more than hold the package together, it’s valuable advertising real estate. By adding the company’s colors and logo, it performs the triple task of, sealing, strengthening, and branding. Consider using branded strapping tape to replace external strapping.
5. Packaging Branding That Stands Out
No rule says utility packaging must be dull, brown, and boring. Along with branded tape mentioned above, imprint the box with the company colors, or add branded stickers. Either way, everyone should be able to recognize the brand from a distance.
Although the branded packaging should be more compact than in-store packaging, it should have the same visual design. When the customer opens the box, there should be instant recognition.
6. Create a Memorable Unboxing Experience
Whenever a customer opens a box, the moment should have the same excitement as opening a special gift. Unboxing is an opportunity to build loyalty by exceeding expectations. Some ways to do this are:
- Inserting colorful tissue paper
- Adding a personalized thank you note
- Adding coupons, discounts or upsell offers
- Add a “bonus” gift or sample
Other ways to improve the customer experience are to ensure the package fits a standard mailbox and that it’s easy to open. The entire experience should make your customer feel special and want to buy more.
Understanding how consumers experience packaging is no longer optional; it is indispensable.
P&G chairman A.G. Lafley
Best Packaging Solutions and Design
The best packaging protects the item until the customer opens it. It must deliver a memorable customer experience at the lowest cost of material and shipping.
According to Target Marketing Magazine, “unboxing videos routinely take a few of the top 10 spots on most-viewed YouTube watchlists.” This is an incredible opportunity to promote your brand.