In our previous article, we described the key drivers of ecommerce packaging and the three main stakeholders in the value chains. Today, we will focus on e-consumers and how to create a memorable unboxing experience.
We will first redefine where the term comes from. Then, we will identify how ecommerce packaging plays a crucial role during all ‘Moments Of Truth’. Finally we can make assumption about the key future trends.
Please enjoy reading the piece, along with some wonderful examples of how our European teams have already started to create compelling packaging designs.
1. Memorable unboxing experience – Why and when?
“If companies want to increase their profile, specifically on social media, they must invest in the box as much as the product.”
A memorable unboxing experience occurs when a consumer is so inspired by the packaging and the visual impact of a product they have bought online, they want to share it on social media. The ways consumers interact with ecommerce packaging – how they receive it, open it and engage with it – provide a big opportunity for brands, and can even help them go viral.
But when did this new trend appear in the digital world? What is its evolution and how can we explain it?
According to Google trends, people have been talking about their “unboxing experiences” for many years, but the term became widespread in 2008, as the “Unboxing Ceremony of Nokia E61” was the first to be recorded and published on youtube.
Since then, the trend has grown to reach a peak in 2014, before stabilizing until 2019, and decreasing slightly in the last two years (probably due to Covid’s impact). However, most years there are substantial peaks in the month leading up to Christmas.
Our role is then to co-create with our customers memorable unboxing experiences. How? By identifying the best opportunities to increase brand loyalty across the different Moments Of Truth. As we looked at in our previous article (hyperlink to the articles of the partners), these are shown below:
2. Memorable unboxing experience – A vehicle of brand image and message
“If you were a customer who ordered something online, which is going to make you feel more valued: your purchase arriving in a generic cardboard box, or in attractive, bespoke packaging?”
Online purchasing is a completely different experience to shopping in physical premises. All of the touchpoints within the customer’s journey are changed, with ecommerce packaging replacing the role of traditional primary packaging.
Let’s start with the arrival at the doorstep, which marks the start of the Second Moment Of Truth.
At this stage, the ecommerce packaging is the first thing a customer sees, and is therefore responsible for carrying a brand’s key messages, including its sustainability policy.
In the below example, developed by the Blue Box Partners’ Alliance, the packaging design generates a great first impression.
It provides fantastic incentive to open, and promises to deliver a memorable unboxing experience. According to Dotcom Distribution, 40% of online shoppers would share an image of their purchase on social media if it came in branded packaging.
3. Memorable unboxing experience – The Ultimate Moment of Truth or the way to go viral!
A great unboxing experience is like the cherry on the cake: the final thing that makes something perfect!
Ecommerce packaging can prolong the consumer’s exposure to a brand’s vison and allow a wider scope for positioning and storytelling.
As they open the box, consumers will continue their journey, offering the brand further opportunity to display coherent and homogeneous messages.
At the same time, brands can propose additional services, and further information on how to reuse their packaging.
In the first example, parents can build a baby mobile for their children:
This is similar to Amazon’s initiative in July 2020, “Less packaging, more smiles” which encouraged consumers to upcycle the boxes into pet houses and robot costumes.
Or this example below, where online shoppers are invited to reuse the box to sell items of clothing on vinted!
In both these examples, you can clearly see that packaging design enhances the brand narratives. It is not just “a box”, but a chance to take customers on a journey, which is vital for inspiring repeat business. And, according to Forbes, acquiring new customers can cost up to five times more than retaining your existing base.
Let’s continue with other sustainable features.
4. Ecommmerce packaging – Reusability and returnability features to ease sustainable behaviours
The next example raises curiosity and awareness of after-use recycling possibilities. Research shows 62% of online shoppers are more likely to purchase from brands using sustainable packaging.
Moreover, “Returnability” features are key: they simplified life for the consumer by using glue tapes to reclose and resend the original product.
These examples, all made out of corrugated cardboard, a mono-material solution that enhances recycling rates (hyperlink – previous article).
Using sustainable products and communicating about it allows brands to cultivate an image of strong ethics and social responsibility. It has become a global concern, clearly shown by an increase in searching results of 140% within the last 12 months (Source: Google trends).
Finally, as we discussed at the beginning of the article, the concept of the “unboxing experience” started with electronic products. Let’s close the loop with another example from that industry.
First of all, consumers today are equipped with more electronic devices than ever before. The average UK household owns 9.16 devices. Secondly, society is increasingly concerned by the impact of so many electronic devices on the environment.
Therefore, we are seeing a huge demand for reconditioned products that are delivered online. To avoid shipping the original box inside a new box, we can offer a packaging design solution with a retention system that overcomes logistic strains while minimising resources and void.
To conclude, Packaging design has become a powerful tool that can have an impact throughout the customer journey. Not only does it help to engage and inform consumers, it can help to retain them too.
As a result, packaging plays an important role throughout the act of purchasing, where consumers are influenced not only by a product, but by the entire memorable unboxing experience – resulting in the Ultimate Moment of Truth.
Seduced by unexpected extra offers or benefits within the ecommerce packaging, the consumer will be keen to share the moment with others, creating viral content that will increase eWOM (e-Word Of Mouth), and become the Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT) for another consumer looking online for the same or a similar product.
What can we expect for the future ecommerce packaging?
As technology continues to evolve, and advancements such as AR (Augmented Reality) or IoT (Internet of Things) become commonplace, the concept of a memorable unboxing experience becomes even more important. Companies will need their brand perception to evolve alongside their products, and packaging design has a crucial part to play in promoting both consumer engagement and sustainability.