Unbox your business: The e-commerce packaging consumers want

As the offering of internet retailers reaches ever higher levels of maturity, so too do consumer demands for transparency, engagement, and improved products and services.

Yet whilst digital businesses are well practiced in adapting to customer needs across their online touchpoints, consumer expectations have risen beyond the digital.

Aided by the rise of social media, offline touchpoints for e-commerce retailers now carry a greater weight in influencing brand engagement and consumer satisfaction than ever before.

The post purchase and delivery touchpoints are at the forefront of this significant change in consumer mindset. Meaning the role of packaging in customer journeys is growing.

Close to 50% of customers state that packaging doesn't live up to the quality of the ordered product ¹

The overlooked touchpoint

Shipment packaging is an all too often overlooked touchpoint. With product delivery and packaging being many e-retailers’ only physical and emotional connection with consumers, it’s surprising to see that nearly half feel packaging doesn’t match their expectations of product or brand.

The importance of social media in influencing brand awareness and purchasing decisions makes the lack of consideration to this touchpoint even more detrimental. 49% of consumers share a shopping experience via social media, in the form of social posts, reviews or recommendations ². And 95% of these believe packaging affects the purchasing experience ².

Many brick-and-mortar retailers have implemented quality and engaging packaging as a core touchpoint of their buyer’s experience. It’s time for e-retailers to do the same.

How to exceed consumer expectations with packaging 

The Consumer Packaging Chain covers 5 key post purchase touchpoints: From the customer’s first glimpse of the package to unboxing and finally, its disposal. Each touchpoint carries weight in consumer expectation and the opportunity to build brand loyalty.

By considering the Consumer Packaging Chain during your packaging procurement processes, your business should be able to create memorable shopping experiences offline in a cost effective manner.

The Consumer Packaging Chain – an opportunity to build brand loyalty

The consumer packaging chain

1.  First impressions

With the number one desire among customers being better packaging design ³, visual impressions are vital in reducing initial consumer critique. Communicate this need to your current or prospecting suppliers to ensure you receive the expected quality.

  • Does the packaging style reflect the quality of your product?
  • Does the supplier understand the desired print and/or material quality?

Tip - Many suppliers provide support in cardboard qualities, optimal printing methods, and other finishes based on your requirements.

2. Carrying the box

Packaging that is difficult to carry is another reason for dissatisfaction among consumers.

  • Would an alternative carton style or a handle improve the ergonomics?
  • Would a slim box design allow for mail delivery to home?

Tip - Discuss this option with your supplier. Some box constructions even have integrated handles. Certain slim box designs can be carried with one hand or fit in a bag.

3. Unboxing the product

If executed well the unboxing experience will excite your customers! It will strengthen brand loyalty and may provide you with free marketing in the form of positive reviews and social posts.

  • How easy and intuitive is opening the package?
  • What impression is your packaging giving when unboxed? And how would you like it to be?
  • What role should graphical design and print play in the unboxing experience

Tip - If you don't already have a complete sketch of your desired design, you can ask your supplier to provide one before ordering. A supplier with digital printing capabilities may even be able to provide you with a printed sample before placing the order.

4. Returning the product

Customers expect the return process to be simple and visible, with the same packaging being used for both the delivery and return process.

  • Can the packaging be easily opened without causing structural damage?
  • Can the packaging be resealed?

Tip - Mailer boxes utilise a lid with self locking flaps, similar to a shoe box. These are ideal e-commerce boxes thanks to the easy access and resealing.

5. Recycle

Not only has consumer desire to recycle packaging increased, so too has their expectation for easy-to-recycle packaging made from sustainable materials. Studies show that consumers prefer paper based packaging materials which are among the most recycled materials

  • What materials are used in the packaging and are they recyclable?
  • Is the packaging made of one material or many components?

Tip - Consider using sustainable packaging materials. Mono-materials such as paper based packaging and fillers makes recycling easier. Most box suppliers produce corrugated board inserts, reducing the number of suppliers in your Packaging Chain.

E-commerce packaging is all about your customer

Whilst there are many important business-facing factors for your company to consider when sourcing packaging, such as logistics costs, e-commerce packaging should consider the customer first.

We recommend reviewing the Consumer Packaging Chain and how it applies to your customer. And remember, the needs of customers are constantly changing, so be sure to review this on a regular basis.

You can learn more about common e-commerce business packaging needs here.

1. Stora Enso 2017. E-commerce packaging: What consumers think and what e-tailors want. 2. Jabil. 2017. 2017 Trends in e-Commerce Packaging. https://www. slideshare.net/JabilCircuitInc/2017-trends-in-ecommerce-packaging. 3. Stora Enso ViewPoint on Millenials, Stora Enso ViewPoint on e-commerce and Stora Enso Study.