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How the ‘unboxing experience’ could make or break your eCommerce start-up

The dramatic move towards eCommerce in the retail markets has left many established brands struggling with the need to be flexible in such a changing market place. As a result this has left a gap in the online market that new eCommerce start-ups are rushing to fill.

The online customer demands much more than many of the big brands are offering and this is an opportunity for smaller businesses to fulfil customer expectations. There are many areas of customers’ online buying experience that can be improved, one of which is the packaging that online orders are delivered in and the “unboxing experience”.

The importance of online-offline brand match

We all know that brand messaging needs to be consistent wherever it appears, that’s why it is so important to make sure that the online and offline branding conveys the same message.

A recent example of this was obvious, when an expensive bridesmaid dress was ordered online. What happened after the checkout button was pressed was pretty dismal. The dress  was ordered from a well-known retail brand that the bridesmaid had trusted for years. Their in-store experience was impeccable and it was one of the first stores she visited on entering a shopping centre. In actual fact nothing really went wrong for a few days, the excitement built as the delivery date drew nearer, and on the promised day, nothing happened, the parcel did not arrive.  However the parcel did turn up the next day. Or rather a battered looking mailing bag turned up that was scuffed and torn in the corner. After looking at the bag in apprehension she struggled to tear open the top and anxiously peered down to see her £800 dress screwed up in the bottom.

A faithful customer who had put a life-time of trust into a brand , had her £800 dress packaged and delivered in a 10p plastic mailing bag.

High Street brands spend £millions on tangible brand experience such as storefronts and in-store product displays, yet with an eCommerce order the tangible brand experience is just as important. When a customer places an order online the packaging is the first tangible experience that the customer has of a brand. Up to that point the buying experience has mostly, if not all, been digital.

eCommerce packaging boxes – a very powerful tool

The packaging boxes that online orders are delivered in are one of the most powerful tools that can be used to perfect the customers’ buying experience. If you run an eCommerce start-up you can differentiate your online store and beat the big boys by giving customers that extra WOW factor that puts your brand name on the tip of your customers tongues (or nowadays at the tip of their ‘social media’ fingers)

Here’s a few interesting figures:

  • “A third of customers would share a picture of an online purchase on social media if was packaged in a unique, branded or gift-like box.”
  • “74% of 18-25 year olds are likely to share a picture of a product on social media, with 88% of these posting to Facebook.”
  • “52% of people are likely to make repeat purchases from an online shop that delivered their order in premium packaging.”
  • “Google data shows that 1 in 5 consumers have watched an unboxing video and 76% of those watched it while researching a product”
  • “A great Unboxing Experience can cost as little as 15p, it’s worth every penny!”

(Results of research by carried out by Dotcom Distribution and Datec Packaging)

How to unleash the power of eCommerce packaging

First consider the atmosphere your brand and website portray. Is it vintage looking or modern? Do you want to portray luxury or affordability? By looking at your main theme you can choose the basic materials to base your packaging on, here are a few pointers:

  • Vintage Look: Using a recycled brown cardboard gives a great vintage look to parcels, packaging materials like brown paper, string, and handwritten notes all add to the vintage appearance of a parcel.
  • Modern Look: Corrugated board with white paper on both sides gives a clean smart modern look that can be coupled with printed tissue paper, stickers, and printed leaflets.
  • Premium Look: Coloured boxes with a flood colour print that matches the brand adds a premium look and feel to eCommerce boxes. Also consider adding a matching colour tissue paper and gold or silver foil blocking.

Secondly, think about what happens when a customer receives their parcel. Take the customer on a journey through the unboxing experience by creating unboxing stages with a message at each stage. For example:

  • Print a message next to the tear open strip which builds excitement.
  • Cover the contents of the box using an internal cover flap with a personalised thank you message.
  • Wrap each of your items with tissue and seal with a personalised sticker.

The third stage is the big opportunity, the customer has opened the box and been WOW’ed by a fantastic box opening experience that is the best they have ever seen. Now is your chance to encourage your customer to share your brand. The simplest way is to ask them to snap a pic and share it with friends on social media, but here are a few other ideas:

  • Build a ‘wall of fame’ on your website to entice them to share photos of their purchases with your social media channels.
  • Encourage customers to join with other fans in a competition.
  • Create a referral scheme and ask them to refer a friend.

The fourth question to focus your attention on is what more can you entice customer with? You’ve really impressed them with the unboxing experience and they’ve shared photos on social media, so now you need to think about getting the next sale. What about doing some of these?

  • Give them a discount voucher that they can give to a friend or use on their next purchase.
  • Drop in a few free samples of something else that they might like to try.
  • Pop a brochure of your product range in so they can flick through when they have a few spare minutes.
  • Got some spare stock that you want to move on? Offer some ‘special offer’ items to customers to make them feel special and help you free up some space.

This is just a handful of ways in which packaging can be transformed to mirror an online brand and make customers feel special. If all this sounds expensive just start with little bits that you can afford and build it up as budget grows. It is surprising how little it does cost to make that extra special delivery.

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