The way consumers shop has been evolving for some time now. The steady pivot away from brick-and-mortar shopping to online purchasing has accelerated significantly this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to research by Deloitte, e-commerce shopping has grown 68% compared to last year and now represents 40% of all retail purchases. This trend in consumer preferences presents both challenges and opportunities for online retailers.
In this post, we’ll explore the importance of e-commerce packaging and the role that it plays in connecting retail brands with consumers. We’ll cover the most common types of e-commerce packaging and share five tips to make yours stand out. Finally, we’ll wrap up with some inspiration from four top-shelf companies that are taking full advantage of the opportunities that innovative product packaging presents.
What is E-commerce Packaging?
E-commerce packaging is packaging that conforms to the requirements of online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and others. In general, an e-commerce package must conform to parameters involving package size, space efficiency, and durability. These requirements may differ from what brick-and-mortar retailers require because e-commerce products must be packaged to endure the grueling journey from the fulfillment center to the consumer’s doorstep. E-commerce packaging size and space efficiency guidelines ensure the online retailer’s warehouse space is maximized.
Types of E-commerce Packaging
There are a number of ways to package products for e-commerce applications. The right choice for your products will largely depend on what you’re selling. Here are three of the most common e-commerce packaging materials and their applications.
- Corrugated cardboard — The most indestructible of all e-commerce packaging materials, corrugated cardboard can take quite a beating while protecting its precious contents. Double- and triple-walled boxes are the most common way to package and ship e-commerce orders. They’re ideal for shipping just about anything that’s likely to break if it sustains a hard impact.
- Padded mailers — This material is ideal for products that are unlikely to break on impact but need a little extra padding. Think books, jewelry, or clothing. Padded envelopes are cheaper to produce and cost less to ship than corrugated boxes.
- Poly mailers — The lightest and cheapest of all e-commerce packaging, plastic mailers provide very little protection during the shipping process. If you’re selling clothing, fabrics, or something else that can be bent and flexed without damaging the product, their very low production and shipping costs make poly mailers hard to beat.
Benefits of Great E-commerce Packaging
E-commerce packaging extends far beyond just adhering to the technical specs of each online retailer. The online shopping experience has reduced the number of touchpoints brands have with consumers. As a result, product packaging now plays an outsized role in marketing efforts.
Strategically packaging your product to make a lasting impression on consumers is an invaluable way to build brand loyalty. Creating a memorable unboxing experience presents an easy opportunity to differentiate your brand from competitors. By weaving in high-end touches, custom-designed packaging, or surprise add-ons, you can build a following and the opportunities for repeat sales that come with it.
5 E-commerce Packaging Tips
E-commerce sales provide almost unlimited options for creating memorable packaging experiences. From boutique packaging options to customized packing insert cards, the sky’s the limit.
1. Use Your Packaging To Tell Your Brand’s Story
Your e-commerce packaging can serve as a canvas to educate consumers about what your company stands for. Use your box and other packaging elements to convey your unique message.
2. Creatively Brand Unexpected Packaging Elements
Think beyond the box. Packaging tape, tissue paper, shredded filler, and inserts can all be tailor-made to fit your brand. If your budget doesn’t allow for branding all of your e-commerce packaging, determine which elements offer the most bang for your buck and customize them in unique, creative ways.
3. Use Innovative, Sustainable Packaging
Sustainability sells. Consider creating e-commerce packaging that’s eco-friendly. Whether you choose to use 100% recycled cardboard or bioplastics for your poly mailer, be sure to emphasize how your packaging goes light on the planet.
For certain high-end products, creating packaging that’s too pretty to toss is an easy win. Product packaging with a second life as a decorative storage container extends your advertising reach far beyond the life of the product it originally held.
4. Connect With Consumers for Product Reviews
Online product reviews are the lifeblood of e-commerce retailers. Potential customers regularly rely on these as a trusted source of information when making purchasing decisions. Consider using an insert or sticker to ask for a favorable review on the platform your prospective customers frequent. Make it easy by listing the website URL along with the ask.
5. Use Custom Inserts To Add Value
When the consumer is opening your box, they’re a captive audience. Keep their attention longer by including stickers, coupons, or an informational brochure describing your product’s unique value proposition. Customized packing inserts are relatively inexpensive to produce and, when used creatively, can punch far above their weight.
Examples of Great E-commerce Packaging
Here are four of our favorite examples of companies using e-commerce packaging to its highest potential.
- Warby Parker — A nationally-known purveyor of budget-friendly, cutting-edge eyewear, Warby Parker’s e-commerce packaging is designed to delight. Whimsical messages like “Good Things Await You” are printed on the exterior packaging and help to build anticipation. Simple, concise directions printed on the inside of the box ensures a well-oiled experience.
- Jeni’s Ice Cream — If the concept of mail-order, artisan ice cream wasn’t exciting enough on its own, Jeni’s Fabulous Splendid Ice Creams has an unboxing experience to match. Their box sports a colorful, logoed exterior with two packaging insert cards. The first one is a customized thank you note, and the second is a visually appealing product description that goes into depth on what makes their product exceptional.
- Thank God It’s Natural — This well-known body care products company has successfully created a strong connection between its branding and its packaging. Thank God It’s Natural’s e-commerce packaging opens up to reveal a black box with crinkle paper.
- Tiesta Tea — This tea brand is energetic and festive, and its e-commerce packaging shows it. Fun branded tape on the outside of Tiesta Tea’s shipping box gets customers excited to open the package. Inside, teas can be seen through a clear window in the primary packaging, inviting customers to go ahead and enjoy a cup.
How Does Your Packaging Present Your Brand?
E-commerce packaging is one of the most effective avenues brands have for building loyalty with online consumers. By strategically packaging products in ways that appeal to the target audience, brands create a new, powerful touchpoint that they can leverage to increase consumer engagement and the likelihood of repeat, future sales.
If you have any questions about labels and product packaging, don’t hesitate to contact the Experience Team by phone or Live Chat! Our team is ready to serve your business with care and excellence.
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- Beginners Guide to Packaging and Labeling
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