Ecommerce Packaging: How To Deliver An Amazing Unboxing Experience

Ecommerce packaging is one of the underused assets in your toolbox.

In fact, I once heard someone say that your package is the only asset with a 100% open rate. And in a world where it’s so hard to get someone’s attention through channels like email marketing, a 100% open rate is significant to say the least. 

The question is, how can you maximize that experience?

What can you do with your packaging to build brand AND drive revenue?

These are really big questions that can drive your business forward while also being pretty simple to implement. So if you want a low stress way of growing your brand, it starts here.

Let’s start with the basics first, though.

What Is Ecommerce Packaging?

You know when you order something online from a business and you get shipped a box with the product you ordered, plus maybe some additional stuff? That’s ecommerce packaging.

Every ecommerce business uses packaging to ship their products.

It’s just that some invest in their packaging and others do not.

The reason why you should care is pretty straightforward though. It’s the first real, offline experience a paying customer will have with your business. And while you might think all that matters is that your product works, the truth is that we’re not rational creatures.

Great ecommerce packaging can have a direct effect on how your product is perceived.

In other words, cheap ecommerce packaging can even make an expensive product feel cheap. While luxurious ecommerce packaging can even make a cheap product feel expensive. It doesn’t have to make sense, but that’s how people are wired.

Presentation matters.

Particularly because this perception can lead to higher pricing, better product reviews, repeat purchases, and word of mouth distribution via social media. Much of this is super hard to track, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that it doesn’t move the needle. It does.

You just have to stop and think about what would influence that kind of behavior.

Ecommerce Packaging Design

Read most articles online about ecommerce packaging design and they’ll tell you that first impressions count, hence why the design is so important. But that’s only partially true.

Great ecommerce packaging design actually uses the AIDA model.

You want creative that captures your attention, drives your interests, increases your desire, and finally leads to a concrete action. One great example of this is luxurious packaging made with fine wood, contains a story-based insert, and samples of another product.

In addition to AIDA, you want something that reinforces your positioning.

This means packaging that clearly differentiates you from the rest of the market, even if it only a few words on the box. But ideally, it’s everything from the box to the actual product packaging. In other words, you want to use positioning statements, 

All in all, ecommerce packaging design is more than just looking good.

It’s about using “functional design” tactics to produce packaging that directly drives business results. So if improving your packaging doesn’t improve your bottom line numbers, you’re doing something wrong. Then, and only then, does “looking good” matter. 

Ecommerce Packaging Inserts

Chances are, you’ve seen plenty of packages with little papers and stuff inside.

Those little papers are called “inserts”.

And these ecommerce packaging inserts are usually there to serve as either a call to action to buy something else or content that reinforces what you just bought. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you can get both. Slightly tongue-in-cheek there.

If you’re a brand new ecommerce business, you can skip inserts. 

But if you’re a growing ecommerce brand, you need them.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, will look at your insert. Plus, the cost to include one is usually so cheap, it makes it such an easy opportunity to market to your hottest customers. Because the best customer is the one who just bought something from you.

Here’s what you don’t want to do though…

You don’t want to send a cheap flyer or send a “branded message”. 

You need to think like an old school direct mail marketer and send something that both congratulates your customer for buying and then drives to their next potential purchase through the use of an irresistible offer and a scarcity/urgency. Just make sure it’s designed nicely by a graphic designer so it doesn’t literally look like one of those cheap flyers.

As for how many inserts…

Typically, I would recommend 1 promotional insert in your package. The reason is that having one strong CTA is usually better than having multiple. Particularly if you want to promote a specific offer for strategic reasons and need the most attention possible on that offer.

Ecommerce Packaging Trends

When it’s time to start designing your package, it helps to look at trends.

That’s because trends usually means changes in the ecommerce industry. People don’t just start using certain colors or make insert choices for no reason. 

And right now, that trend includes…

Modern design
Minimalist packaging
Pastel colors
Sans-serif fonts

In other words, more and more ecommerce packages are trying to look more upscale. Not necessarily luxury, but more “masstige”. The reason is that these brands want to charge more for their products, so the packaging has to reflect that.

The best part about this trend is that it isn’t necessarily more expensive.

In fact, in some cases it’s even a little cheaper than old school packaging trends.

Yet, at the same time, it drives your brand’s positioning as a high-end brand. Just look at the packaging of almost every DTC darling, from Hims/Hers to Atoms and more. They all have a similar air between them because this type of packaging just flat out works.

You can’t really go wrong with this trend.

One more trend you can use to upgrade today’s latest ecommerce packaging designs is to use internal designs. This is how the box looks like once it’s opened. Almost always, the flaps are covered with very simple designs and brand logos to make the entire box feel like you just entered an entire new world.

It’s an experience, which is ultimately the goal of packaging.

Deliver an experience that customers can’t help but talk about online.

Best Ecommerce Packaging Examples

There are some ecommerce brands that just do an amazing job with their packaging. Here are some of them…

Ecommerce Packaging Solutions

There are a ton of ecommerce packaging solutions, but for the most part, there are 3 routes I would recommend.

First, for completely new brands that are trying to bootstrap. You don’t have to worry so much about having perfect packaging. Almost always, you can just use something basic like a poly mailer and a sticker of your logo to do the job. You need to save money at all costs at this stage, so stay super lean.

Second, for older brands, you can use a service like Packlane. Basically, they let you create your own custom, branded boxes. This is huge as it means you can do everything we talked about today and more to really give your brand the edge.

Lastly, for advanced brands, I would look into Lumi. Originally, they focused on custom packaging. These days, they help with your entire supply chain. In fact, they’ve recently helped Empathy Wins, a DTC wine brand started by Gary Vaynerchuk, with their entire packaging and supply chain. So if they’re good enough for Gary, they’re good enough for you.

Once you decide on an an ecommerce packaging solution, then all you need left is to hire a 3PL to handle your logistical needs.

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