5 Tips for Ecommerce Packaging Success
Ecommerce businesses were wildly popular, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they've only grown in popularity since. Thanks to constant health concerns and lockdown restrictions, more people than ever turning to online shopping to fulfill their needs. In 2020 alone, worldwide retail ecommerce sales reached $4.28 trillion, and sales are expected to grow to $5.4 trillion in 2022. With numbers like that, it isn't hard to see the appeal of starting an online retail company, especially when there are templates out there to help you create your own site these days.
Of course, there's more to running an ecommerce company than your products and prices. Like any business, you have your service to think about, and this is where ecommerce packaging enters the picture. What is ecommerce packaging? It's your best opportunity to give your business a thoughtful, personal touch that can elevate the customer experience. Everyone has dealt with troublesome packaging at some point, whether they ordered merchandise online or picked it up from a brick and mortar retail store. You'll want to find a type of packaging that's easy to open but is still able to protect your products. In addition, custom packaging is a great way to boost your brand identity, and it even gives you greater control over your shipping costs.
Not everything should just be thrown in a cardboard box with some tissue paper or packing peanuts. You should also consider bubble mailers, poly mailers, or other shipping options for smaller products or ones that don't need as much protection. For example, a custom T-shirt isn't going to need the same level of protection as a piece of jewelry or other fragile items. In order to ensure happy customers and to inspire greater customer loyalty, you'll need to think carefully about your packaging and what kind of message it sends. Here are just five tips to help you with ecommerce packaging, so you can provide the best experience possible.
1. Find the right sizes for your packaging needs.
The first thing you should consider for your packaging is what sizes of containers you'll need. Cardboard is still the most popular choice for shipping, which makes sense considering that it doesn't weigh much, it's sturdy, and it can even be recycled. When it comes to heavier products or ones that need real protection, cardboard is likely the right packaging choice. If you sell items that need special protection, you might also consider a corrugated box, which is made up of multiple sheets of paperboard. The durability of each paperboard for these shipping boxes can be tweaked by your supplier to provide the exact level of protection you need.
One of the main things that can result in an unpleasant unboxing experience is if the shipping box is way too big for the product. Most people have likely gotten a medium-sized to large box in the mail before, wondered what it was, only to discover it was a container of hair gel or other small items that didn't call for such a major unboxing. In such a scenario, the shopper is left with a large box to break down, and they probably aren't happy with the experience.
Thinking about the right size for your e-commerce packaging applies to mailers and other packaging options as well. If a customer orders something small, like a USB drive, they'll likely see it as a downside if they have to cut through a lot of plastic that could have contained multiple USB drives. Finding the right size isn't just good for the customer, either. It saves you from having to stuff void materials like tissue paper and peanuts into every shipment.
2. Think about unique packaging materials.
This goes beyond branded packaging, although that's extremely important for your image as well. One of the easiest ways to stand out from the competition is to do something different that catches the customer's attention. This could be something as simple as using air pillows to ship fragile products instead of the normal fillers like tissue paper. Air pillows are better for both you and the customer. They're incredibly light, so you can save on freight costs simply by replacing paper and peanuts. They're also far less messy and are easier for customers to throw away compared to more traditional options.
Better inserts aren't the only way that your materials can improve your packaging. Many retail businesses have used a combination of unique materials and artwork to make creative customer experiences. Take a look at the Smirnoff Caipiroska Peelable Bottle, for example. Here, custom packaging was used to create paper with a similar texture to fruit, so customers could experience "peeling" the bottles to get to the fruity flavors inside. It may not seem like much, but creating a unique unboxing experience like this can go a long way toward building customer loyalty.
3. Show off that you're going green.
These days, sustainability is a serious concern for both brand owners and customers. Showing off your environmentally friendly packaging can be a great way to persuade environmentally conscious customers over to your business, if they're trying to decide between your ecommerce shop and a competitor. You can make it part of your branding, and even include stickers on your boxes, mailers, and envelopes that show off your dedication to sustainability.
Any company is always looking for ways to boost the ROI and lower costs, and eco-friendly containers help you with this by reducing waste costs and material costs, and companies that pursue environmentally friendly operations can see their ROI increase by up to 18%. If you really want to push your sustainability efforts, it's not enough to just change your own practices. You'll also want to make sure that all of your ecommerce boxes and other materials come from sustainable sources. The easiest way to do this is to simply use recycled materials in your packaging. Branding your containers with a recycling sticker is also a great way to inspire customers to be environmentally conscious as well, and it establishes your brand as a compassionate one that cares about its customers and the world.
4. Choose your shipping options carefully.
As an ecommerce brand owner, you have more to worry about than your products and packaging. You also have to think about your supply chain and logistics. One of the easiest ways to make all of your packing efforts for nothing is to rely on a fulfillment center that has difficulty shipping on time or a habit of delivering packages to the wrong location. The COVID-19 pandemic has, understandably, made fast shipping a difficult task to fulfill, and even Amazon Prime can no longer guarantee two-day shipping for many items. Still, you need to keep your supply chain as efficient as possible, and that means finding a fulfillment center that gets deliveries right, provides low cost shipping, and can still get your products to your customers in a timely manner.
This may seem like a tall order, but the USPS actually provides cheap and speedy shipment for packages ranging from small mailers to medium sized boxes. They also provide the cheapest options for overnight shipping, if that's something you want to pursue for your business. If you choose other couriers, like FedEx or UPS Ground, for large packages, then you'll need to choose one that offers excellent customer service in case something goes wrong with a shipment. You may even want to find one that lets you purchase parcel insurance when shipping expensive items. Some couriers offer tracking options, so customers can see where their parcels are, even if they haven't arrived by the estimated delivery date. The more insights and options you can provide your customers, the happier they'll be when your packages do arrive.
5. Make your packages return-friendly.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes things just go wrong with deliveries. Maybe the customer ordered some clothes that don't fit. Perhaps someone received one of your products as a gift, but they decided that it doesn't suit them. Whatever the reason, customers will sometimes need to ship items back, and a crucial part of your packaging efforts is making this as easy as possible. If a customer feels like returning your items is more trouble than it's worth, they'll be less likely to buy from you again in the future.
One of the best ways to make returns easy is to make your boxes, and other packaging solutions, easy to open and seal again. If a shopper has to completely rip apart your difficult packaging to get to the item in the first place, they'll have to supply their own container to ship it back, adding to the frustration. It's also extremely important to include an itemized receipt with every order, even if you've already distributed an electronic one. Having a physical receipt in the package saves customers from having to print their own and generally makes shipping the product back easier.
With so much competition out there, you have a lot to think about when it comes to running a successful ecommerce business. Providing the best packaging options from the start is a great way to show your customers that you truly value them, and it can help you stand out in a crowded industry.