In the world of ecommerce, shipments act as non-virtual bridges between brands and customers. Apart from delivering the purchased product, the first thing to catch an eye of current and prospective buyers is the manner in which the shipment content is packed. This, in essence, makes the packaging act as the first and foremost ambassador of your brand, whose immediate perception can be a make it-or-break-it moment in securing the customer’s loyalty. As ecommerce packaging establishes itself as one of the key pieces in the UX puzzle, you’ll need to find a way to meet the customer’s demands and prevent losing your shirt in this process. Let us look at some of the ways in which the well-known brands managed to strike a balance between these two and offer genuinely innovative ecommerce packaging solutions.
Blending Tradition and Visuals: the Case of Amazon
Ecommerce giant Amazon was among some of the first companies to identify key differences separating packaging designs for ecommerce and physical retail stores. Brent Nelson, Amazon’s senior manager for Customer Packaging Experience (CPEX), says that simply applying design philosophies aimed at brick-and-mortar retail will not cut it in the ecommerce world. According to him, packaging that serves to draw the attention of customers who frequent retail outlets is marked by focusing on features that have no place in the world of ecommerce. These boil down to oversized boxes, features aimed at preventing thefts and the use of expensive aesthetics in design approach.
Considering that more than a third of online shoppers say that the use of branded packaging has an impact on their perception of a brand or retailer, Amazon focused its efforts on offering so-called Frustration-Free packaging, which is specifically designed for ecommerce. Unlike its traditional counterpart, Frustration-Free packaging offers sturdy product protection while removing excess plastic layers and the need to use knives for opening. As a bonus, Amazon made sure to inform its ecologically minded customers that the packaging is 100% recyclable, without the use of excess materials. To further strengthen the impression that the company stands firmly behind this type of packaging, it also comes with a logo indicating that the package has passed industry testing and Amazon certification.
Amazon did not stop at this: in an attempt to diversify visual identity of its packaging, the company has allowed for third-party advertisements to be displayed on its boxes, like they did with their Minions-themed shipping boxes. Going down this path allowed Amazon to retain traditional features associated with its packages (being eco-friendly and sturdy) while offering a refreshed visual identity.
Going Personal with Packaging
Trunk Club company recognized the need to deliver packaging as a means to entice customers to make repeat purchases. This effort is corroborated by research showing that 52 percent of shoppers are willing to buy again from an ecommerce retailer that offers customized packaging. At the Trunk Club, they decided to base their approach on the idea of combining personal stylist services with online clothing shopping. Based on genuine “thinking outside the box” on their part, they opted for delivering their products to customers in trunk-shaped customized containers with handles, which accentuates exclusivity associated with the brand.
As the box is not sufficient to offer full brand-focused customer experience, the trunk packages come together with a handwritten message about specific products, authored by the shopper’s personal stylist. This helps customers experience feelings of delight at receiving special treatment that comes to be associated with the brand itself. An important aspect of this is not only the package’s visual distinctiveness, but rather personalization of UX that comes in form of special written notes that constitute an integral part of the packaging.
Unboxing videos have become widely popular [Image Credit: Screenshot]
Attractive ecommerce packaging benefits from the proliferation of YouTube “unboxing” videos in which the users record themselves while unboxing items that they bought or received. This brought the packaging business a new level of exposure among huge audience whose numbers amounted to 1.3 million in 2014 alone.
As some of these videos featuring Trunk Club products pack more than 100,000 views, you can safely say that the company surely counts on converting these viewers into customers as 62 percent of people view unboxing videos on YouTube when researching a particular product for purchase. At the same time, once converted, 37 percent of these buyers are likely to share information on purchases with family and friends on social media, creating a reserve army of future buyers for your brand.
Image Credit: Screenshot
Trunk Club did away with traditional boxes and included personalized handwritten messages for its customers
Make Each Purchase Feel like a Birthday Gift
Making the packaging experience unique does not rest only on its visuals, as one of its key components involves offering customers additional value in form of gifts or free samples of products.
Johnny Cupcakes is a popular clothing brand, self-described as the “world’s first t-shirt bakery”. Their approach to customer packaging experience relies both on this motto and personalization of each shipment by offering gifts to its buyers as an integral part of the packaging. For starters, their approach plays on customers’ positive associations related to fresh cakes and bakery products, which they want to elicit in response to their fashion products as well. That is the reason why their products come packaged in ice cream cartons, Chinese food takeout containers or cupcake mix boxes which are bound to make their customers smile.
In addition to distinctive packaging design, the company made its packaging a platform for delivering additional value to its customers. This is implemented by inserting small gifts for customers as part of their package. They can be totally unrelated to the content of the package and sometimes include a pack of batteries or even doll parts. Blogger Nikki Mueller described her experience with Johnny Cupcakes when she received the package containing ordered t-shirt, as well as a small assortment of gifts in form of ziplocs, Power Rangers card, breath mints and a button. This goes in line with the brand’s focus on making each purchase feels as if customers receive birthday gifts, while the uniqueness of the selection of presents is bound to provoke discussions about them, thus spreading the word about the company and its products.
Packaging design has become an indispensable segment of e-retailers’ brand building efforts. Considering that it is the first stop on the customer’s path of “going physical” with a brand, numerous ecommerce companies have focused not only on making its visuals unique, but also on personalizing customer experience and offering them additional value. The devil is really in the detail and nurturing it as your brand’s little helper will make Christmas come early for your business.