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Top Challenges of eCommerce Packaging

If you’re like most consumers, chances are you buy many of your items – from food to electronics – online. The eCommerce market has expanded tremendously in the last few years and is only going to continue to grow. In fact, according to CNBC, on Black Friday this year brick and mortar sales decreased by 6%, while eCommerce sales hit $7.4 billion – an all-time high. Brands have started to capitalize on this upward trend, however, the eCommerce process differs from that of brick and mortar retail outlets. This means businesses will face unique packaging challenges when entering the eCommerce market.

Challenge One: Durable & Eco-Friendly Packaging

In the eCommerce world, business will need to take extra precautions to ensure that the packaging is durable and will protect the product. eCommerce involves more touchpoints – which means more opportunities for a product to get damaged. As a result, eCommerce packaging can require more durable packaging than traditional packages, which in turn, can call for an increased amount of materials. While this can better protect a package, brands must keep sustainability and waste reduction in mind. Sustainable packaging is becoming increasingly important to consumers and impacts purchasing behavior. Therefore, excess packaging materials can turn off buyers and even push them towards competitor brands.

In order to maintain customer loyalty, it is important to find the optimal balance of protecting the product without being wasteful with materials. Using thicker paperboard and reducing quantity of filler paper is a good option. Other brands are switching out certain materials for more environmentally-friendly materials, such as post consumer waste paper, recycled content, or material that is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified.

Photo Credits: Cristina Chapman

Challenge 2: Creating a Positive and Memorable Unboxing Experience

When shopping at a traditional brick and mortar store, a consumer browses shelves occupied by a select number of brands. If no brand loyalty is held by the consumer, one way they may choose a brand is if the product’s packaging stands out to them amongst the other brands on the shelf. However, in the eCommerce realm, the number of competitors is virtually unlimited, as there are no physical boundaries in place. Furthermore, when it comes to eCommerce, consumer expectations are elevated. They expect all retailers to provide the same level of service as a major e-retailer.  With a larger, more intense competitive pool, it is vital to make a packaging design that is memorable. However, with shelves being obsolete, how do brands stand out?

In eCommerce, the unboxing process is the first time a consumer will interact with your product – on-shelf presence no longer applies. In fact, the consumer may never see the secondary packaging until the product arrives at their door, so it’s important to make a positive first impression that also meets the consumer’s expectations. A pleasant unboxing experience where consumers receive, open, and engage with your product’s primary and secondary packaging is memorable to the customer. A seamless or fun experience increases the customer’s engagement with the product and can, in turn, increase loyalty in your brand.

Additionally, a product presentation that looks clean, neat, and shows that the product has been packed securely and with care will elicit a positive response from the consumer. Putting inserts for the product, creating structured boxes with folds that open, or using paper trays are great ways to convey this.

Photo Credits: Perfectly Posh

Challenge 3: Making Sure The Physical Product Meets Online Expectations

Since consumers don’t physically hold your product until it is delivered to them, they will have certain expectations of your product solely based on what they see online. Therefore, you must make sure that your product matches the consumer’s expectation of the product when it is delivered. If your product does not meet their expectations, they can be disappointed in the product and reluctant to purchase from your company again in the future.

A way to make sure expectations are met is by promoting your product both online and in the tangible world. Concept stores that tell your brand’s story with eye-catching displays can give consumers an accurate sense of what your company offers and bridge the gap between expectations based on what they see online and your product’s actual performance.

Break Into The eCommerce Market Successfully With JohnsByrne

With the eCommerce market growing exponentially, it’s important not to fall behind on the trends. Packaging designers who have not yet done so should consider breaking into eCommerce and look into what can be done in order to flourish in this market.

If you are looking to make sure that your packaging is memorable and suitable for eCommerce, contact our packaging experts at JohnsByrne. We can work with you and come up with a personalized strategy that is in line with your brand and your consumers’ mindset.

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