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The Importance of Packaging for E-Commerce

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

When you go to a retail store, you browse through items on a shelf, select what you want, purchase it from a friendly and helpful clerk, and walk away with a bag full of goods. 

Do you ever stop to look at the cheap plastic bag or plain brown parcel you leave the store with?  Probably not.

The reason is because you received what you needed in the way of customer experience from the décor of the shop and the sales associate you interacted with.  The packaging for your items simply wasn’t the most important part of the transaction.  But the same cannot be said for companies that conduct business online.  E-commerce has neither the personal interaction nor the storefront that brick-and-mortar operations use as an interface with consumers.  So they have to make up for it in other ways.  And one of the most important means of connecting with your customers is through your packaging.

As a start-up, it can be tempting to cut costs wherever possible.  After all, you’d rather spend money on making the product great rather than the packaging that houses it.  The problem is, just as sales clerks provide the first point of contact for a retail location, your packaging is the first impression customers have of your product.  In short, if the customer starts out disappointed, it may not matter how great your product is.  You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “You had me at hello.”  This is a mantra you should adopt for your business.  When the customer opens a box with your package inside, they should be wowed right out of the starting gate.

So how do you accomplish this “wow” factor?  You’ll first want to consider the overall goals and aesthetics of your company.  If, for example, you sell used computer parts, you may want a design that speaks to the modern technology you’re dealing with (and the demographic that’s likely to buy from you).  You should design packaging that is both utilitarian (to protect the sensitive parts you’re shipping) and visually appealing.  Design a logo and apply it to the packaging, but keep it simple, streamlined, and geared towards your base.

If, on the other hand, you are selling your personal artwork or crafts, you’ll probably want to take a different approach.  Certainly the packaging should remain functional; art can be just as delicate as the tiniest microchip or flimsiest motherboard.  However, you could use tissue or batting for cushion instead of, say, bubble wrap.  And you can place your items in appealing and decorative boxes with more of an organic than a geometric feel to the design.  You should make your package so appealing that the customer will actually hesitate to open it, marveling at the artistry of the arrangement.

The point is, you want to put a little of your brand magic into every piece of your package, not just the product.  Customers should feel your hand in every detail and recognize the quality of your label, regardless of whether they’re handling the item they purchased or the package it came in.  By making your packaging fit in as part of an integrated whole, you’re going to show consumers that your brand is synonymous with quality and care.  That’s a pretty good place for any business to start.


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