Differentiate your brand and build a loyal customer base using your shipping parcel. This interactive guide shows how you can use creative design enhancements and innovative technologies on the inside and outside of your box.
For small businesses, brand differentiation and customer loyalty are key to growth. How can you differentiate your brand from that of the marketplace you’re using to sell? If a customer associates your products with that site’s brand rather than your own, how can you make them return customers? Creating standout packaging can help.1
While developing highly branded packaging can be expensive and time-consuming, there are more simple and affordable ways to let your business shine. Read on for five packaging ideas for the inside and outside of your shipping box that could set your business apart and help you win loyal customers.
This crafty solution puts your logo, icon or message onto boxes, bags and paper for less than the cost of printing customized boxes. Choose ink in one of your business’s colors, or something neutral that works with your packaging.
Use a decorative rubber stamp to…
- Place your branding on the box—like on the inside flaps—affordably
- Add a signature touch to paper elements in the box
- Brand your receipts, envelopes and thank-you cards
Stickers and Tape
Branded stickers add a little personalization to your parcel without breaking your budget. They’re also a great freebie for customers: throw in a branded sticker for them to keep, and they’ll remember your brand long after the box is gone.
You can also use custom tape as a decorative touch, forgoing the standard, clear packing variety. Print your stickers and tape with your logo or print a thank-you message on one or both.
Use stickers and tape to…
- Keep interior paper wrapping together
- Put a custom touch on a thank-you card
- Tease what’s inside the package
Want to make it easier for your customer to open your package? Incorporate a perforated tear strip in its design. Your customer will appreciate and remember the seamless experience. Tear strips are often seen when shipping flat items, like books, but can also be used to turn packaging into a useful container for the product. Think of a tissue box or pack of soda cans: each has a perforated tear strip that turns the carrying vessel into a simple storage device.
Use a tear strip to…
- Make a seamless opening experience
- Potentially save on packaging by using less for certain items
- Offer a convenient storage solution for your product
Depending on what fits your product, box sleeves can be decorative or functional additions to your interior box packaging. Think of basic box sleeves, which slide over an interior product box, like ribbons on wrapped gifts. Some sleeves are more like half-boxes that can be used to brand a less expensive, generic box. There are even detailed sleeves with trays that can slip together, creating a small box to hold a product within your shipping box.
Box sleeves can create a curated unboxing experience for a product or item, but aren’t recommended for use on your shipping boxes themselves. Use them within your parcel to enhance the presentation of your item.
Use a sleeve too…
- Add a decorative touch to a simple box
- Affordably place your brand on an item’s individual packaging
- Create a unique carrying case for your product
Making your customer feel personally appreciated is another way to differentiate your brand and potentially generate repeat customers. Beyond making your packaging recognizable and enjoyable, adding small touches can help connect your customers to your business so they keep them coming back.
Add personal touches, like…
- A handwritten or non-generic note, thanking them for their purchase
- Hand-wrapping their item using custom paper and branded stickers or tape
- Extra items, like free samples, stickers or other items that align with your brand message.2
Taking your packaging to the next level doesn’t have to mean custom-printed boxes, involved branding processes or other expensive additions. Instead, distill the spirit of your business into something personalized or creative that will make your delivery more memorable. With these low-effort touches, you can differentiate your business while earning the loyalty of your customers.
When a customer opens the product ordered from your business, you have a unique chance to capture their attention. In this moment, how do you impress them and win their repeat business?
Here’s where the unboxing experience comes into play. Unboxing, for the uninitiated, is a customer’s experience opening a product for the first time and removing it from the box. In recent years, customers have begun creating videos as they open up anticipated items and sharing them on social media. As of 2017, people spent at least 48.3 million hours watching unboxing videos on YouTube, often on their mobile phones.1
With a large—and growing—audience, the unboxing video has become increasingly valuable for retailers.2 Read on to learn what these videos can do for your business, as well as best practices for your packaging that can encourage customers to create their own.
Increase Visibility and Reach
As a small or medium-sized business, increasing your reach leads to growth and success. Authentic unboxing videos are a visually-enticing way to spread the word about your product, directly from actual customers.
When someone receives your product in the mail and creates an unboxing video, your brand and product are shared with their entire network of friends and family. If the unboxing is particularly enjoyable—aesthetically pleasing and expertly curated—those friends and family members may want to experience it themselves by becoming customers.
Encourage Purchases from New Customers
A good unboxing video has the potential to persuade someone new to purchase your product. In fact, 39% of adults in the U.S. who use social media and had purchased beauty products in a specific period of time agreed that unboxing videos encouraged them to buy particular products.3
You can think of this peer-to-peer medium as an influential review of the experience of receiving your product rather than a straightforward product review. If your parcel is packed with their anticipation in mind, a customer’s unboxing video should be positive. On the other hand, an underwhelming or sloppy unboxing experience can drive potential customers away.
Test to See What Works
Not sure what packaging innovations will set your product or brand apart during the unboxing? Test it out. Ask a “beta” group of customers to create an unboxing video to share just with you. These videos will teach you what can be improved about the presentation and what draws people in. Plus, the exclusivity of being asked to create a video for your business could boost a customer’s perception of your brand.
What can you do to make your packaging stand out?
Tell Your Story
Let your brand’s personality sing for both new and returning customers. If your company touts sustainable responsibility or a connection to nature, make sure your packaging reflects that. If your business has a touching creation story, include a postcard with that information to reiterate it to your customers.
Brand Your Box
Make a good impression with your customers by presenting your products in thoughtfully designed boxes. Think of your product as a birthday gift, and the box that holds it as the pristine wrapping paper. Make a package that your customers will anticipate and be excited to open.
Monthly subscription boxes are often designed to fit the brand. One popular makeup sample box designs each month’s parcel to be printed with different colors and designs. Not only does this make for an attractive first-look before the unboxing, it has also inspired customers to collect and reuse their boxes.4
Some brands add messaging and designs inside the box, too, as a nice surprise when a customer first opens it up.
While having boxes printed with your logo, slogan or brand colors isn’t in the budget for every business, there are ways to get the same effect without the investment. Things like custom tape, hand-stamped designs and branded stickers can have the same effect.
Situate Your Product
Orchestrate an organized and appealing presentation of the item or items within the box. The first thing people want to see when they open a package is the product that they ordered, not layers of packing material or a receipt. Put the other necessities—receipts, return labels, instruction manuals—below the product, or in an envelope.
Think of unboxing a piece of technology, like a phone or tablet. When the item’s box is opened, the first thing a customer sees is what they ordered. Once they pick it up, plugs, instruction manuals, warranty paperwork and other accessories are revealed. They don’t distract from the initial experience.
Make It Personal
An important step in earning a loyal customer is establishing a connection between your brand and your buyer. Make customers feel appreciated and cared for, no matter the product. This care will keep them coming back.
How you establish this connection is entirely up to you. Choose something that fits with your brand ethos: personalize their box by noting who packed it on an inside flap; add a thank-you note, handwritten or personally signed; develop creative instructions with a strong brand voice that are tailored to that customer’s experience.
Give Something Extra
Add in a little something extra for your customers to elevate their experience and create a feeling of exclusivity.
Keep your freebies on brand: samples of products similar to those they bought, or things that would partner well together, like hand cream and gloves. You can also opt for coupons that encourage additional purchases, benefitting you and your customer.
Unboxing is a powerful experience for shoppers that can be incredibly rewarding for your brand. Building a positive connection with a customer before they even open your package can encourage positive reviews, social interactions and returning customers. Leverage these best practices as you develop the most effective packaging in your budget.
A weak returns process can cause chaos. Warehouses get flooded with products waiting to be sorted. Packages sit in limbo whether intact, damaged or expired all together. All the while, customers grow frustrated waiting for their returns to be processed and accounts to be credited.
An inefficient system not only slows operations, it can also cost a company money, by allowing products to depreciate, or perish, in the case of food products. Building a robust reverse logistics flow takes time, but with a few simple steps, any retailer can introduce efficiency into their operations. Here we outline five ways to optimize your returns.
Include a merchandise return label with your shipments.
Make your return experience more convenient by adding a return label to every outgoing package. This can help boost customer satisfaction without breaking the bank, as many return labels do not incur shipping costs until they are used.
Dedicate a space for returns in your warehouse and implement a three-bin system.
Return to supplier. Restock. Discard. By using these three sorting bins for returned merchandise, your warehouse can begin routing the packages in the right direction.
Integrate items from the “Restock” bin back into the stocking process.
Merchandise that can be sold again should enter your forward-moving flow as quickly as possible. Check your bins frequently to ensure that items ready to be restocked are scanned back into the system and made available for purchase.
Keep high-priority and fast-selling items in a buffer zone.
Designate a space for high-priority return items. That way, you won’t spend time moving them to their original storage location, allowing them to be picked for resale more quickly.
Ensure your packaging is sturdy enough to travel back safely.
Poor packaging leads to damage and even loss of merchandise. If you intend for your customers to use the original packaging when returning their purchase, make sure it can handle the wear. Invest in thicker cardboard boxes and tear-proof poly mailers to prevent issues down the line.
Every returns process presents opportunities for improvement. By keeping an eye on your processes’ pain points and introducing new strategies for efficiency, your company can streamline its operations and improve its outbound flow.
Since the start of the environmental movement, companies have been on the hunt for sustainable business solutions. Some have chosen to create energy-efficient products, while others set up shop in buildings with LEED certification, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Packaging has become one more viable option, allowing businesses to limit their carbon footprint on the world. Explore the variety of ecofriendly options on the market today.
Recycled Cardboard and Paper
These materials are made of corrugated cardboard boxes and paper recycled by consumers and larger industrial companies. Not only are they easily available, they are also biodegradable and non-toxic. By using their recycled forms, companies lessen their carbon footprint. The materials can also be recycled themselves. Businesses can work with packaging manufacturing companies to find environmentally friendly solutions made with a high proportion of recycled paper.
This green material can be used for limited-use products like take-out boxes, other food packaging and packing peanuts. Cornstarch peanuts can protect and support items when shipped and can fit almost any-size shipping container. They’re also biodegradable. When static-free organic cornstarch decomposes in water, it leaves no toxic waste. Numerous packaging companies offer this eco-friendly option.
“While there are many ways to help a business go green, packaging provides a number of eco-friendly options.”
Companies looking to move away from more harmful plastic materials can invest in a greener alternative. There are a number of different kinds of eco-friendly plastic packaging on the market today. Some are made from recycled polythene, which lessons greenhouse emissions by using less plastic in the manufacturing process. Others are completely degradable and decompose in landfills in the presence of light, heat and water.
Packaging Made with Mushrooms or Organic Materials
This sustainable material is made of mycelium, also known as mushroom roots. Using agricultural waste, companies are able to grow foam-like packaging. The fibers in the mushroom bind the waste creating a solid end product. Because this product is grown, it’s also highly customizable and perfect for any number of businesses. Not only is it non-toxic, this packaging is biodegradable, compostable and rapidly renewable.
Making the Right Decision
While there are many ways to help a business go green, packaging provides a number of eco-friendly options. Businesses can lessen their impact on the environment by starting an open dialogue with their current packaging providers. Many manufacturers and online retailers offer eco-friendly alternatives suitable for a multitude of applications and industries. Whatever the material—cornstarch, recycled paper, even mushrooms—a green packaging solution is available on the market today.
Product packaging sits at a critical intersection of marketing and shipping. It reflects the brand, promotes the product and contributes to the overall customer experience. It also protects the contents housed inside. Though it may seem like an afterthought, packaging design offers strategic benefits to a business. Here, we’ll discuss its hallmarks, then explore the newest design trends employed by companies today.
What Makes It So Important?
While advertisements, emails and social media feeds are traditional routes to building brand loyalty and converting customers, packaging can play that very same role. At a glance, it is a physical, tactile ad for the product and an opportunity to make a lasting first impression. Once the product is purchased, packaging has the potential to become something more. In the era of the “unboxing experience,” it has the ability to wow consumers and set a company apart from its competition. Great packaging can even inspire customers to post positive reviews on social media.
When it comes to shipping, packaging design takes on a whole new meaning. More than a promotional piece, packaging serves as a protective element. It prevents damage to the product and, in some cases, boosts its shelf life. It also affects a business’s bottom line. The more efficient the design, the less material used and less money spent. The content, dimensions and structure of a product’s packaging affect product margins, shipping costs and operations. The smartest companies settle on designs that strike a balance between marketing value and cost.
Today’s Packaging Trends
A few design principles have risen to the top in recent years. Whether driven by the flood of information consumers encounter every day, the benefits of geometric packaging or the ethics of eco-responsibility, these are the most prevalent examples on the market today:
Consumers are constantly inundated by a cacophony of messages, whether online, on television or in print. To rise above the din, brands have opted to take a basic approach to their packaging design. This minimal style communicates only the most vital information. Though it makes for a less flashy unboxing experience, the effects can still be charming, not to mention cost-effective. The hallmark of this packaging is a pared-down design, with only the most important details printed on the bottle. Containers feature a hint of branding but are otherwise left unadorned.
This packaging trend focuses on the simplicity of shapes. Patterns and structures take center stage here. Utilizing containers with sparse graphics and bare-bones branding allows companies to limit design costs without sacrificing style. By using a few specific forms of packaging, these businesses can also settle on the optimal shipping containers in terms of size and price.
Brands set on building sustainable business models have turned to packaging to achieve their goals. Working with recycled materials, these companies can draw eco-friendly customers and limit environmental waste. Using less packaging also allows them to manage profit margins and mitigate shipping costs, unless, of course, the package size is large enough to be subject to dimensional weight pricing. The less material the packages use, the lower the weight of each parcel, the lower the shipping cost. A number of companies utilize this simplified packaging concept, creating plain, uniform designs that help conserve natural resources.
When done right, packaging can serve more than a physical function. A well-designed experience can excite customers, enhance marketing efforts and lower a company’s bottom line. Good packaging has the power to strengthen a business, not just protect its products.
Your shipping processes can have a major impact on your bottom line. Get tips and strategies to boost efficiency, conduct invoice audits, and more.
The holidays present countless opportunities for businesses to meet their bottom lines. They also present countless opportunities for pitfalls. Inefficient warehouse systems, confusing communications and incorrect packaging can prevent companies, both small and large, from making their year-end fiscal goals. Read on for tips to help you tackle the lucrative days ahead.
Quick Tip 1: Talk to Your Supplier
It’s critical for your business to have stock going in and out in a timely manner. Work with your shipping provider to confirm pick-up schedules, communicate changes in business hours and identify peak volume days. That way, your warehouse will know what to expect.
Quick Tip 2: Evaluate Your Warehouse Systems
Make sure your warehouse is logically organized. Place “bundle” items in the same area for easy picking and packing, and set aside room for dramatic influxes of shipments. Finally, inspect your technology so that it’s running smoothly.
Quick Tip 3: Simplify Your New Hire Onboarding Process
The more confusing the training process, the less productive your workers will be. Talk to permanent and returning staff to tweak your onboarding process for clarity and effectiveness.
Quick Tip 4: Use the Right Size Packaging
With dimensional weight pricing, both the weight and size of the packaging affects the ultimate shipping price. As more transportation companies use this pricing method, businesses should diversify the types of packaging they use. Consider Padded Paks, Poly mailers or other packaging in lieu of boxes. In most cases, the smaller the package, the lower the shipping cost.
Quick Tip 5: Communicate with Your Customers Clearly
Take your holiday communications to task. Look through last year’s customer complaints to fix the wording of return policies, shipping timelines and Christmas cut-off dates. Your language should be uniform across every channel.