Why Product Packaging is Important for E-commerce in 2020

23 September 2020 • 7 min read

Product packaging is the final touchpoint with your customer. It’s your last line of marketing, and nailing it often means returning customers. Your packaging is a physical manifestation of your brand. Sure, packaging’s primary utility is to protect the product, but it can also get your brand message across and win you more customers.

In the Instagram age, appearance and experience is key. While some customers are looking for an unboxing experience, like Secretlab provides, some customers can be swayed by even a small amount of clever or intuitive package branding. Many retailers are selling the same products, so providing unique packaging allows you to connect emotionally with your customers.

Let’s look at how e-commerce businesses can nail their product packaging and win more customers, using some relevant examples.

Packaging provides an emotional connection

Like all good forms of marketing, product packaging should trigger an emotional reaction in your customers. It’s the transition from the digital to the physical for online customers so understanding how to translate the experience form your site into your product packaging can trigger a positive emotional response.

Research has shown that consumers form their impression of a brand within 7 seconds and it is very hard to then change this opinion. While your website may have won them over in the first place, when the package is received it starts a new relationship between you and your customer and you’ve got 7 seconds to make it count.

“Research has shown that nearly as many consumers (10%) consider a product’s packaging almost as important as the brand itself (12%).” (GWP Group)

So the customer places almost equal weight on what your brand is telling them and what your packaging shows them. That means it’s essential that you land on a positive interaction when your customer first opens that box or parcel.

Source: Karl Lagerfeld 

Taking Karl Lagerfeld as an example, we see the white and black graphic charter on the packaging when the customer receives the package. The design is pure and chic and even if you don’t know the brand, you already can imagine the quality of the products is high. Thus, their packaging is a true reflection of their brand personality. The experience for the customer is then rewarding and cohesive.

Source: Sezane

Sezane is a 100% French brand, with simple products and a very natural and chic universe. For orders, worldwide customers receive a packaging with pastel colors and the word “Merci” or “Thank you” to continue in line with their communication strategy. They’re thanking customers for their business and creating a connection with them by letting the customer know their business is appreciated. It’s a small gesture, but it works.

On the other side of the coin, you can find some pretty bad ideas for packaging in this article. You don’t want to infuriate your customers – simple packing and branding is often the way to go.

Packaging is often the subject of debate. While environmentally conscious people want as little as possible or fully recyclable, manufacturers complain that they don’t want their products to begin to decompose during transport, in the store, or to simply get stolen. But do we really need fruit that is individually wrapped in plastic? Or do we really need an XL cardboard box for only one small product? We’ll look at that more later.

For your brand to strike an emotional chord, your product’s packaging should reflect your brand’s identity. Don’t neglect the physical just because you are selling products online, customers feel the packaging is as important as the brand itself.

Increase customer retention with personalization

“It has also been reported that online sellers / businesses that pay due attention to their packaging report, on average, a 30% increase in consumer interest.” (GWP Group)

Good packaging encourages repeat purchases and buyer intent. Going that extra bit to show the customer that this experience is personal to them can win you a lot of repeat business.

In today’s world of pandemic blues and frequent home deliveries, almost everyone is used to receiving packages. Daring to be different and creating a more unique experience can turn a curious customer into an advocate.

Good packaging is a surprise and delight tactic where you go above and beyond the customer’s expectations. This kind of activity will drive customer loyalty and increase your brand’s exposure as happy customers will often share their experience through a variety of ways such as word of mouth, online reviews, or social media.

A small printed message addressed directly to the customer can also be an effective way to tell them all about your business. You have their attention, make the best of it.

Social proof brings brand awareness

People like to share things that look nice and Instagram is the perfect social network for that. Your customers likely use this social network so sending them items that can be shared can win you some followers and customers.

Unboxing videos or similar preview-style content for what people have received is popular on Instagram. Consumer culture is big on Instagram with brands being tagged and hashtagged on a daily basis. If you’re just getting started on the social network, read our guide to increasing sales on Instagram.

The people who unbox on Instagram are usually influencers who have a lot of subscribers, but everyone likes to share images of nice things they receive. Good packaging can capitalize on this and even include messages like “share a picture and tag us @companyname on Instagram” on your packaging can encourage activity. You can even take it  step further and offer a voucher or prize in exchange for the social content.

Encourage social sharing of these kinds of images with your appealing packaging. Either make it clear that your social profiles are active or offer an incentive for sharing images. Customers won’t want to tag a brand that has inactive profiles or a low following in general.

Use your packaging to tell a story that will naturally lead to someone posting something on social media and always think about the journey you can bring your customers on. From webstore to delivery to social media and eventually a repeat purchase. That should be the ultimate goal with your bespoke packaging.

Be environmentally-conscious

Some customers want eco-friendly packaging these days. With growing concerns about the environment, people are becoming more conscious of the amount of packaging needed for products.

However, the choice of packaging should be consistent with your brand and your values. It might not be relevant for all businesses though. For example, if you sell organic or vegan products, then avoiding plastic, polystyrene, and other packaging that is toxic to the planet will make your customers happy. It is very important that you are in line with your values and the expectations of your consumers.

Here’s an example by Puma where they package their shoes in a reusable bag:

“But as more people continue to do their shopping online, many consumers are also becoming aware of product packaging. As a result, their demand for eco-friendly options are growing and companies are having to consider ways to incorporate materials and methods that have less of an impact on the planet.” (Sufio)

We are in a society that’s currently experiencing a great change in its way of consumer behaviour and preserving the planet at the same time. All this should be taken into account because packaging is the voice of your brand.

It is therefore important to try and surprise and delight your customers, respect your brand identity, and also to pay attention to your ecological footprint.