A brand is more than its products. A brand is its shops, shopping music, the staff. Even the store smells. As long as we don’t have any holographic sellers or scented screens yet, these sensory sensations are difficult to translate into the online store. As a result, the importance of good packaging, the last physical link between brand and consumer, is growing.
This importance is further underlined by research by the American fulfillment company DotCom Distribution. This led one survey among 650 online consumers to conclude that nearly 40 percent of them share a photo of unique packaging online. No less than 90 percent keeps a so-called branded packaging or reuses it.
Enough reason to take a look at the trends and best practices in e-commerce packaging.
A trend that stands head and shoulders above the others: e-commerce packaging is getting greener. This means an environmentally friendly filling, less plastic and especially less ‘sent air’. Special packaging machines that cut boxes to size help, or algorithms that indicate the right box for each order content. And for those who also want to go green: fill your boxes with reindeer moss, just like accessory brand Coto.
This trend will continue as the European government increasingly monitors the ecological impact of packaging. An additional incentive in the US is the announcement by both FedEx and UPS to also include volume when calculating shipping costs, making shipping large packages up to 37 percent more expensive. The end of the era ‘USB stick in moving box format’?
QR codes have been bridging the gap between physical and digital for years. No wonder we regularly see them on (e-commerce) packages. For example, A postal company launched a QR stamp last year that allows the sender to leave a video message for the recipient. An idea that translates well into online retail,e.g. for online gift sellers.
The fact that the package is slowly replacing the shopping bag does not mean that recognisability is unnecessary. On the contrary. Standing out from the growing pile of brown boxes just gets more important. This is already possible with printing in one color; environmentally friendly and economical. A striking packing tape also works wonders. Please note: not every product is suitable for flamboyant packaging. Sellers of valuable products therefore often choose discreet packaging to prevent theft.
4. 3D Packaging
More and more types of available packaging machines are coming onto the market. Previously, these machines were mainly aimed at the larger e-commerce parties and were tailor-made. At the moment there are also machines available that can be used for small e-commerce parties. The packaging machines used by e-commerce parties usually only have the option of making the packaging different in height. At the moment there are also machines available that can adjust the package at the 3D level. But these machines are still very expensive and not well developed.
There are also developments in the software field. There are several software products on the market that help pack multi-item orders efficiently.
It is not just machines and software, the packaging itself is also being developed further and further. Various parties have developed reusable packaging, both crates, and bags. The advantage is that these packaging can be used several times in the process. The sector is currently experimenting with these packaging. There is also a lot of innovation in the field of materials. For example thinner plastics, a higher percentage of recyclate in the shipping bags and a focus on mono materials.
5. Mailbox format
T-shirts, smartphone cases, books. All products that easily fit through the letterbox. Still, many online retailers choose to turn this into a parcel post. This is because Track & Trace information is available for parcel posts, which strengthens their position when a customer claims not to have received anything. The disadvantage is that parcel post is significantly more expensive than a ‘bus package’.
To help the online retailer of small items, postal companies are now introducing the Letterbox Package. The convenience and lower costs of letterbox mail, but with the certainty of Track & Trace.
6. The unboxing experience
A beautiful black box. An invoice in golden letters. The fragrance of perfume when you unfold the tissue paper. Scotch & Soda does not give the customer a boring package. This is a clear trend among lifestyle brands. Because without a chic shop, without atmospheric music and a seller, you have to find other ways to convey your brand experience to the consumer.
Perhaps the most revolutionary design in this list is this Roller Express packaging. The round packaging ensures that clothes reach consumer wrinkle-free, making them ideal for dresses and suits. The question is whether transporters are happy with the packaging: for the time being you pay a ‘tube surcharge’ for round objects because they are difficult to sort by machine …
8. Food: fresh and safe
The forecasts are clear: online sales of food and drink will grow enormously in the coming years. This goes hand in hand with the innovation that we now see around the packaging of bottles and fresh goods. Take the BottleBully; a box that keeps wine bottles whole using air cushions all around. Less innovative, but just as effective are the frozen water bottles that Amazon uses to keep products fresh.
Fresh goods can also be ordered online and delivered. Just by parcel post. Online meat seller Beef & Steak uses the cooling elements for this. These gradually release their temperature, allowing frozen products to last up to three days. Long enough even to show a collection point for the rib-eyes and rump steaks delivery. And to round off the circle with the first trend: Beef & Steak collects the fresh packaging used so that it can be used again.
The days when a small product is shipped in a huge box are over. More and more consumers are becoming aware of reuse and recycling. But this does not only apply to consumers, more and more companies are also actively offering customized packaging and counteracting too much packaging. I hope these 8 packaging tips will help you with your e-commerce business.
Vikram Rana is Marketing Manager at LiftnGift and has served as the Head of Conversion Marketing at Planet Web Solution. He’s an expert in inbound marketing and lead generation.