Why an ecommerce packaging strategy is important for your brand

  • June 28, 2023
Cardboard package delivery at patio door

Ecommerce is climbing to the top of everyone’s agenda. Marketplace challenges now dictate that you ask if your product can withstand the vigorous distribution environment that comes with the omnichannel experience. With less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments and doorstep deliveries at an all-time high, it’s time to evaluate your packaging strategy to prepare for the thriving ecommerce market. Here are a few key reasons packaging plays a key role in ecommerce success.

Packaging and its role in ecommerce

Through ecommerce, packaging no longer promotes a sale through the first “moment of truth” in the online store. Packaging’s new role now delivers the product, brand and experience associated with purchasing a new product. Consumer habits are changing, and many shoppers research a product before clicking “add to cart.” Without ever stepping into a store, the sale is complete, and it’s time for the packaging to do the leg work.

With increased emphasis on home delivery, it’s imperative for the product to arrive at your customer’s doorstep intact and on time. A damaged product instantly blemishes your brand’s image. Designing the correct packaging system to protect your merchandise throughout the supply chain journey is challenging but crucial. Leaving customers with a damaged product opens a whole set of issues that fall squarely on the shoulders of your organization.

For starters, always consider the immediate impact on customer satisfaction or, in this case, dissatisfaction. Forcing your customer to repack an item, print a label and return the package to the company only to have nothing in the end is tedious and frustrating. It not only disappoints the customer but inconveniences them as well, something no organization can afford in today’s marketplace. With such a negative experience, who knows if the customer will want to purchase from your brand again?

Secondly, once the customer returns the product, the associated costs start to add up. These include labor costs for processing the return and disposing of the damaged product and its packaging. A single damaged product results in an unhappy customer, but a single bad review can cost your company additional clients. As your star rating begins to drop, so will your revenue stream.

Packaging testing standards and protocols such as ISTA 6 Amazon can help you test packaging performance and get ahead of any potential damage issues. Using this test protocol from the International Safe Transit Association and achieving Amazon’s certification can improve your shipping rates. It also assures that your packaging will withstand the distribution environment. Packaging design and material selection are crucial to this aspect of ecommerce. When you select a packaging strategy, it’s important to design for the environment in which your product will ship. Never choose appearance over performance; no good comes from a damaged product.

Using packaging to promote your brand’s values

Packaging has long promoted a brand’s identity and core values. Countless unique shapes and materials, high-quality printing and distinctive designs differentiate brands on shelves. But with ecommerce, much of the traditional advertising associated with primary packaging goes out the window. Now, transport packaging needs to be the difference between a one-time purchase and a forever customer.

Today’s conscious online shoppers take note of several factors that can help build a relationship with a brand. These factors include questions such as: Was the product optimally packed? Were the packing materials sustainable? How difficult was the package to open? Did the product arrive the way the customer anticipated? And lastly, was this process a positive experience? To express your brand’s core values to your customers, the packaging must deliver positive answers to all these questions.

Using sustainable materials in your packaging strategy tells customers that your company embraces ecofriendly practices. In addition to sustainable design, standard pack sizes will optimize your dimensional weight for ecommerce deliveries. It appeals to customers receiving your products while saving you money in shipping costs and warehouse space on the front end. Receiving a product in a shipping box that’s two to three times larger than the product itself can be confusing, and even unpleasant. Customers end up with a bunch of additional packaging that requires disposal.

With more retailers investing in omnichannel operations, maintaining customer loyalty is increasingly difficult. A single mishap can lead to lost opportunities as you establish a customer base. Use the multitude of available test protocol resources and seek the expertise of experienced packaging engineers to assess your packaging strategy. It will help you deliver a positive ecommerce experience that promotes brand loyalty and repeat customers.

— By Alex Turner

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