Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.
You’ve worked hard to optimize your website, simplify your shopping cart, offer free shipping, and so much more in an effort to improve a shopper's experience. But, customer expectations are pushing these solutions from competitive advantage to must-haves for business success.
If you want to stand out and secure a better chance at a repeat purchase, you need to ensure a great user experience for customers after they make a purchase which means taking your packaging to the next level.
It's no longer enough to hope that the packages you ship arrive on time and in one piece. The experience of opening that package — called unboxing — is now nearly as important as your price if you're hoping for a follow-up purchase.
The good news is that you can take all those personalization lessons you learned when optimizing your ecommerce website and apply them to your packaging.
Here are seven techniques to get you started.
1. Start With The Box
Personalization always begins with the box that your products come in, but this is one of the tougher things to consider. You want a box for your specific product that looks great and represents your brand, with colors, logos, and more.
The good news is that you may already have this with the packaging that your products use. However, if you don’t have products that are packaged individually, or if you’re creating a new kit, you might want a custom box designed to hold everything.
A good order fulfillment strategy includes finding a partner that can get your products to their destination safely, even if you have a special box. It’s doable and affordable.
Boxes can be pre-designed options that come in a variety of colors and are easy to open, up through a completely custom box that is designed to specifically hold your products and match your branding. Boxes outside of the normal tan that we all know — and often get from Amazon — can start around 50 cents per box to more than $20 per box.
Get the most out of your decision when you match the cost of your box to your overall pricing strategy.
Are you ready for the corny? Get ideas by thinking outside the box.
(Image via Martha Stewart on Pinterest)
Those boxes are wedding favors. It’s an unusual place to think about a shipping box, but the visuals are extremely important and helpful. You likely experience visually interesting items every day. If you need inspiration, check out window displays, hit up a fancy dinner and look at the plating, or even go to the local hipster spot and see how they showcase their wares.
We recommend you focus on the immediate packaging around your products when it comes to this type of customization.
In most cases, your products will then be packed inside of another standard shipping box, and customers expect this nesting when they get something in the mail. This allows you to ship in a box that won’t harm your image if the outside gets scuffed or dirty. Then, when the customer gets to your product, they can experience the true joy of unboxing.
If you’re not using a separate exterior box, then you’ll want to make sure the custom box you select is durable and has plenty of visuals that will outshine any potential marks or bumps.
2. Wrap Every Product
Personalization in ecommerce shipping is as much about the experience of opening an order as it is matching content to the individual who made the order. You want to curate an event that everyone will enjoy — and if you’re successful, you’ll make each customer feel special.
One of the best ways to start creating this joy is by wrapping everything you send, no matter how big or small. You can choose from a variety of options, just make sure they match your brand. So, colorful tissue can be great for health and wellness products, while butcher paper and heavy twine can give other products a more rugged feel.
You can get these and other materials printed with your logo and slogan, plus in your brand colors, to make the entire experience feel like a gift from your company. A nice finishing touch is a sticker to close or seal the tissue paper together, which also presents another beautiful place for your logo.
If you’ve found a perfect color for your box but don’t want to shell out even more to have your company name printed on it, consider using a special tape. Clear packaging tape is so 1990. Today, you can get all kinds of packaging tape in almost any color with plenty of affordable, custom printing options.
Seasonal wrapping is also a smart way to reinforce your holiday marketing efforts.
3. Try Exotic-Looking Materials
Think of the last Amazon package you ordered and how it arrived. Most likely, it came in a generic envelope or a brown cardboard box with some small printing on it. Inside, there was either no packing filler or a bag of air, as your products flopped around during transit.
You might have been excited about what was inside the box, but probably not about the experience of opening the box itself. In the same way, your customers might not like the same old box — and what defines “the same old box” is changing.
In the world of subscription boxes arriving each month, more people are opting for colors and something a little fancy. The good news for you is that this isn’t the standard yet, so you’ve got time to both establish a new baseline and figure out how things work, then get a little crazy.
Crazy here means choosing something that fits the look and feel of your products and company. Packaging that reflects your culture can get people excited about opening a package, potentially making them more likely to send your products to their friends and family.
P.S. Kleenex uses this tactic nearly every year with new, cool-looking boxes that proved to be a big hit. While the company usually sees an uptick of 60% in sales during cold and flu season, it reached a 100% sales increase in the summer of 2010 when it made boxes look like watermelons, oranges, and limes.
So, what’s an exotic material? Try these:
- Maps and paper printed like maps for that adventure feeling.
- Twine and yarn for earthy items that feel natural and like going up the country.
- Butcher paper, especially in rich tones, gives things a rugged and manly feel.
- Glitter makes almost anything magical, so why not try some glitter glue or iridescent packaging films
- Gold and aluminum foil also stand out well for a hint of luxury.
We dig the packaging that Supermoon Bakehouse uses for its in-store sales and deliveries.
4. Choose a Smart Filler
Foam packing peanuts are terrible. Almost no one likes them, and they’re incredibly hard to get rid of, plus they can’t be recycled. Using packing peanuts is a surefire way to annoy any environmentally conscious shopper you have.
Filler around your products can include more of the tissue paper that you used above to directly wrap your package, as well as crinkle paper that gives an extra aesthetic boost. It’s fun to touch and play with, while also providing some protection.
If you need a little bit of cushion, consider items like Excelsior packing materials. It absorbs shock fairly well and can also give your products a specific feeling. We’ve seen it paired well with wooden boxes for a variety of BBQ items and sauces, jerky, garden supplies, and much more. This wood wool option comes in a variety of colors and weights to help you have the protection you need.
Filler is about branding, so be smart and match it to your style. This is also a long-tail play as you’re tapping into the unboxing phenomena (worth billions of views on YouTube for toys alone) and can enhance your overall appeal to potential buyers who hear about you through the grapevine.
5. Add Names When Possible
Today’s smart warehouse systems generate a variety of labels and printouts for each order. This will include shipping labels for the exterior of your box as well as order summaries, gift receipts, and invoices.
Each of these options has a chance to use the name of the recipient. Having someone’s name makes the package feel a little more personal, and it's incredibly simple. You can take this to the next level if you pair the order information with additional stickers and labels.
Simply printing “For Amy” on the sticker and using that to seal the tissue paper may add a little to your cost, but it goes a long way for that customer to feel like you care about them and are taking time to make sure their personal experience is a good one.
Or, as Accenture’s research puts it, 56% of people are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name.
People will love this, but you definitely need a “gift” option to check if you do it.
All types of personalization like this need a way for the customer to note that they’re buying a gift or sending something that they don’t want information included. Sometimes it can be a surprise package or they’re ordering for someone else, or they might be embarrassed about an order.
Amazon has been a dominant player in the bedroom toys department for quite some time, even allowing its Alexa to control a few via voice command starting this year. People might like the discreet nature of its boxes for these purchases. If you might be in a similar boat, remember to give your customers a way that you can publicly protect their privacy.
6. Match Promotions to Products
Personalization is a major craze because it creates a connection between you and your customer. It helps your customer feel like you “get” them. Part of that understanding is responding to what they need and want.
You have a perfect opportunity to do this in your box with any offer or promotion you provide. Create a list of promotions and the products or orders they match, and then put this into your warehouse system. That way, you’re always sending out a relevant bonus for your customers.
Free trials and samples related to the main product ordered can boost additional sales from existing customers by as much as 600%. The closer they match the current order, the more likely they are to be used and lead to that sale bump.
If you’re not sure how to pair or have a more general offering, you can still provide discount coupons in each order. One of the best ways to do this is to print that coupon on the back of a business card for someone in your customer service department. This gives your customers someone to contact if they have a problem and creates a personal concierge atmosphere that can make every customer feel special and appreciated.
7. Say “Thank You”
Appreciation is another core part of personalization. Making someone feel appreciated is an intimate experience and builds that connection you’re after with the personalization effort.
One of the best ways is to write a thank you note. Custom, handwritten notes can be difficult to scale once you’re out of the start-up phase, but they do make a significant impact.
If you’re too large for a long note each time, create a nice looking printed page that a worker can write the name of the person on top of before sticking it in the box. Your order system should generate that name on its labels, so it’s a quick and simple step. Plus, these longer letters can tell the customer a little more about your company and your values, which can help to build trust and the personal connection as well.
Tom Hopkins, the author of How to Master the Art of Selling, has recommended this tactic for years. In his sales training, he suggests writing 5 to 10 notes will significantly increase sales — hitting an average of around one additional sale per 10 notes.
Expressing gratitude is a very personal gesture that can happen with any store experience, whether online or in person. It’s a wonderful way to wrap up your efforts and a smart tool to include in everything that leaves your doors.