Ecommerce is taking up more of the retail market with every passing year. So if brands wish to see their businesses flourish, low standards of packaging design cannot factor into the equation.
Packaging may seem like an afterthought to some, but 58% of the 2,000 respondents surveyed for Sealed Air said that if they received a damaged or broken product from an online store, they would consider purchasing from a competitor or simply refuse to purchase from the same retailer in the future. So, as demand for online shopping increases, so does the need for superior packaging solutions.
Here are five up-and-coming ecommerce packaging trends to look out for in the year ahead.
1. Frustration-free CPEX (Customer Packaging Experience)
Packaging must be able to perform its basic function and should be optimized to house products safely and securely. Since Amazon represents the pinnacle of ecommerce, it comes as no surprise that its internal packaging protocols are also worthy of note.
Taking careful consideration for customers’ experiences of their packaging, in an interview with Packaging Digest, Amazon's senior manager of worldwide packaging, Brent Nelson, explained that Amazon’s Certification Guidelines state the need for sellers to optimize their packaging to suit ecommerce:
“Packaging designed for brick-and-mortar retail is in many cases not optimal for online fulfillment. Packaging designed to stand out on a retail shelf is often oversized, with expensive ‘romance’ design aesthetics, redundant features to prevent theft, and not capable of surviving the journey to the customer.”
Take a look at some of the tips over at Amazon’s frustration-free packaging homepage for more advice.
NEXT: Unique design features
2. Unique design features
Unique packaging designs elevate a brand in the eyes of the consumer. These can be functional or purely decorative; the effect is to make the process of receiving a parcel more exciting for the customer.
For instance, adding augmented reality (AR) features to packaging creates a highly immersive user experience (UX) for customers, which can, in turn, make a brand more memorable. For products with a short lifespan in particular, AR packaging connects brands and customers on a deeper level.
Absolut Vodka, for example, teamed up with app makers Shazam to create a wealth of creative content, supplying smartphone customers with exclusive drink recipes and social media content. This increased brand advocacy by bringing in an element of audience participation.
NEXT: Big Data design optimization
3. Big Data design optimization
Optimizing packaging infrastructure with ecommerce storage in mind could help with organization and efficiency in large fulfillment warehouses.
For example, the addition of bar codes or RFID tags helps speed up the process of picking and packing from shelves. From a design perspective, too, altering color schemes to visually sort products by “type,” or including written descriptions of the package’s contents on multiple sides of the box, can help items to be identified and stored more conveniently.
Packaging analytics data can also be gathered to increase efficiency at all stages of packaging development, from design to fulfillment. Analyzing unit measurements on a large scale can help pinpoint inefficiencies in the manufacturing process, as well as audience feedback signals, flagging the fact that they may be experiencing wrap rage upon receiving your products in the mail, for example.
NEXT: Personalized packaging
4. Personalized packaging
Good packaging should raise levels of customer satisfaction, enhancing the buying experience and bridging the gap between online and traditional retail shopping. Luxury brands have been providing premium packaging options for decades, but thanks to personalization software developments in the last few years, this experience can be integrated in an affordable way for businesses of all sizes and types.
For example, packing slips, invoices and receipts can be auto-generated with customer personalization through use of apps, simulating a closer relationship between consumer and producer. You should also consider how packaging utility and branding contribute to the unboxing experience.
NEXT: Sustainable and/or reusable materials
5. Sustainable and/or reusable materials
Consumer demand for environmentally friendly packaging is set to expand to any and all types of ecommerce products. Whether you explore recycled material options or redesign packages to fit your products as snugly and securely as possible, sustainable, slimlined packaging appeals to 86% of the 4,000 customers surveyed for Bridgestone Americas and Firestone Complete Auto Care.
Multipurpose, space-saving and reusable designs are another up-and-coming trend for ecommerce brands. Pizza Hut last year introduced DJ Pizza Box, a packaging design that doubles up as portable DJ decks, featuring a crossfader, volume and cue buttons (helped along with bluetooth connectivity).
When considering the (sometimes short) lifespan of a product, providing reusable packaging gives brands the opportunity to have their products showcased in a user’s home a long time after the product itself has been consumed.
There are many facets to building your ecommerce brand’s reputation and packaging plays an important role in maintaining high customer service standards. So we can expect to see lots of smart, sustainable, easy-on-the-eye packaging concepts being developed by online retailers in the years to come.
Victoria Greene is a brand marketing consultant and freelance writer. She has her own blog at VictoriaEcommerce where she likes to offer advice to companies looking to elevate their ecommerce brands.