Christmas season is nearly here, a perfect time for giving packages, so let’s share our “unboxing experience”!
I’m sure almost everyone has had at least one “unboxing experience” when receiving a package they ordered online. Some had a fantastic experience, others may say, “it’s ok, it works,” and still others might think, “I won’t order anything else online or I’ll even send the package back.” That last experience is the worst-case scenario for an e-commerce business.
The unboxing experience is the first contact your customer has with your product. It is the moment of social engagement that replaces shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. When people buy a product at a brick-and-mortar location, they leave the store with a satisfied, happy feeling, package in hand. That feeling needs to be transferred to the moment at home when they unbox their online purchase for the first time.
Well, it’s easy to say, but from the packaging point of view, it is so much more than that.
First, the product must be placed in transport packaging that meets logistical requirements, and then the packaging has to keep the product protected during the transport. What that means is that the transport packaging (the box or the bag) needs to have, at the very least, a customer address label and shipment barcode.
Sometimes the transport packaging needs a customs clearance form attached, as well, if it’s being shipped in from overseas.
Finally, it needs to be properly sealed, both to protect the product and let your customer know that no one has opened the package.
In the end, what you’ll end up with is a package that looks like this picture below:
I think we’d all agree that this is not the “WOW” feeling we’d like to achieve, right? The feeling this package inspires is closer to, “Oops, how should I open it, without accidentally damaging the product inside?”
Plus, when you order online, you sometimes buy more than one item at a time. Most of the time, transport packaging will not be a perfect fit for the item you’ve bought. So to protect your product from trilling, dropping or any damages during transport and handling, cushions will be put inside the packaging. Cushioning comes in many forms, some more environment and user friendly than others.
But what you see in the pictures below is the last thing you’d expect when you open your package, isn’t it?
Customer expectations around receiving products they purchase online are:
- No damage on transport box or bag
- The more noticeable damage on the transport packaging, the more critically the customer will judge the product, and the less willing they will be to accept less-than-pristine
- Easy and visible indication of how to open the transport packaging
- A positive surprise, the “WOW” effect when opening the box/bag
- The greater the “WOW” effect, the higher the chance of a repeat order.
- After removing the product, the packaging materials are easily disposable
- Some customers also take the environmental friendliness of the packaging into consideration
- In most cases, what that translates into is the customer’s feeling that the product is over packed and excessive use of packaging and/or cushioning material is damaging to the environment.
Most e-commerce companies want:
- To be able to deliver the product to the customer in good condition
- Although the e-commerce company depends on the third party who takes care of the transport/distribution to deliver the product to the customer, the first-line responsibility to pack the product properly still lies with the e-commerce company.
- No returned goods due to damaged packaging and damaged product
- Positive feedback from customers
- A higher chance of returning customers – results in repeat orders.
- Cost efficient
- Branding opportunity
- Environmentally friendly
With all these conditions, can the reality still align with expectations?
Yes, it can.
By using some examples, I’ll explain step-by-step how to improve your e-commerce packaging.
This packaging has achieved the “WOW” effect by:
- Using the cushion material as wrapping paper and adding ribbon and a tag for that finishing touch.
- The brand name is placed inside the box (round yellow sticker). When the MOQ (minimum quantity order) is more than 10,000 pieces, direct printing on the box could be cheaper, but placing a sticker might still be a better alternative, it creates flexibility to communicate.
- Since most of the materials, except the ribbon, are paper based, this could be considered environmentally friendly packaging. It’s also customer friendly, since the ribbon can be easily separated, and the rest of the packaging can be recycled.
This packaging achieves the “WOW” effect by:
- Paying attention to the whole package, the wrapping paper is colour matchedto the “thank you” card.
- All parts of the packaging can be purchased as standard packaging materials from a packaging wholesaler, so you don’t need to invest in buying a large quantity directly. Good solution for start-ups.
- All materials are paper based, so it is consumer and environmentally friendly.
If your business allows you to create customised packaging, that’s the best option for branding and customer satisfaction. Take this piece of packaging, for example:
- They’ve taken full advantage of every opportunity to communicate with and engage their customers.
The example below is a less fancy solution, but it still manages to achieve that “WOW” effect the customer expects:
- All necessary icons for logistical handling have been printed directly onto the box.
- The boxes inside communicate important information to the customers.
- The cushion provides necessary protection and the black colour enhances the sense that it’s a high-quality product.
The same “WOW” effect can be created by using bags, as well. Here are some great examples:
In all these examples, there’s enough space for the customer address sticker and space for the customs clearance bag, if needed.
The bottom line is that proper packaging will pay off in the end.
So which one will you choose?
Let start sharing your “unboxing experience” and let me know if you could use some help improving your product packaging to find that “WOW” effect that you and your customers are looking for.