Packaging Insights

How branded packaging improves the eCommerce customer experience and builds brand loyalty.

September 5, 2022
minute read
eCommerce branded packaging with black tissue paper custom printed with "Revere" in white ink

One of the most exciting parts of online shopping is, of course, receiving your package. Not only that, when some combination of freebies such as thank you cards, coupons, and other marketing materials are included in your delivery, receiving even the most mundane necessities can feel like you've just received a gift.

That special feeling created by those extra touches in the box doesn't just happen by accident. It's up to brands to make their packaging impressive to customers, and packaging branding can be the make-or-break difference in attracting and retaining customers.

In spring 2022, Reuters reported, "U.S. consumer spending on e-commerce is expected to hit a record $1 trillion this year thanks to the pandemic-driven shift to online shopping." Brands should work to distinguish themselves from the growing competition in this market. Are you delivering your brand when delivering your products?

You might be surprised by how easy and cost-effective it is to implement a premium packaging solution that will strengthen your business. In this article, we'll explore how to execute a compelling unboxing experience that will wow customers and keep them coming back for more.

What does it mean to build brand loyalty?

No matter what business you're in, retaining customers is essential for your brand's health and longevity. Building relationships with your customers helps to create long-term brand ambassadors that support and promote your products. For digital retailers, building that customer relationship comes with unique challenges. For starters, it's much more difficult to make a sale.

"... in the world of online shopping, the brand-customer relationship must begin well before the point of sale… U.S. digital retailers see less than 3% of all website visits convert into sales. That is a big discrepancy from brick-and-mortar retailers, which see conversion rates of 20% to 40%."

Source: Forbes

A graph showing 3% conversion rate for eCommerce compared to 20%-40% for in-store retail
eCommerce conversion rates are much lower than in-store retail

It's no surprise that luxury brands invest in their online presence and customer experience. When you're trying to attract and retain customers online, that first point of contact is typically an advertisement, your social media account, or your website (where you ultimately want customers to land and make a purchase).

"The three most important strategic priorities for luxury goods and services companies in 2021 were website enhancements, content marketing, and influencer marketing."

Source: Luxury Daily

Each sale is valuable, so creating a loyal customer is even more so. Thankfully, there are ways to increase the odds in your favor, and building brand recognition is the first step in fostering that connection and setting you up for continued success.

What makes a loyal customer? A convenient and premium experience.

Today's online shoppers have a wide variety of options when it comes to shopping, and businesses need to cater to the needs of these consumers to make the sale. As we discussed earlier, digital retailers have more difficulty attracting customers than brick-and-mortar retailers.

So what are some unique ways we can improve the eCommerce customer experience and create brand loyalty?

  • Offer free and easy returns
  • Make sure you're delivering quality products from your digital store to your customer's door
  • Invest in branded packaging that reflects your online and in-store brand experience
  • Don't sacrifice sustainability

Offer free shipping and forgiving return policies.

Shipping and return policies are crucial in eCommerce. Amazon Prime's promise of 2-day free shipping with certain Prime-eligible goods set the bar for the level of service and convenience that you can receive from an eCommerce shopping experience nearly two decades ago, and it continues to inform best practices for online merchants.

Research shows that a consumer is far less likely to shop with a business if a return isn't free or easy to complete. There's also the website Zappos, which has proven that offering free returns dramatically affects spending (in a positive way). Customers that feel at ease with purchasing an item sight unseen will spend significantly more.

"... the rewards of adopting the Zappos model of free-return shopping can boost customer spending up to 357 percent."

Source: CNBC

These adjustments can bring convenience and peace of mind to your customers. They're significant steps to building a loyal customer base.

Deliver quality products and an excellent presentation.

When a customer lands on your website, make sure you're presenting them with high-quality photography and an easy shopping experience. In fact, improving the quality of your photos can help boost your sales. Think of the last time you ordered something online, did the image impact your buying decision?

An example of high-quality product photography compared to low-quality
Which sweater are you more inclined to purchase?

Having a great product isn't the only way a brand becomes successful. Companies pour plenty of precious time and resources into advertising their products, and excellent packaging and successful marketing go hand-in-hand. A product's packaging and presentation in-store or online make it stand out so that customers will be interested enough to put it in their cart. Whether it's coordinating colors, standout typefaces, or eye-catching logos, branding gives your product a unique feel that helps it get noticed.

Online shoppers miss the chance to inspect the product in real life before purchasing. Whether through high-quality imagery, influencer marketing, or customer reviews – a mixture of visuals and word-of-mouth recommendations is what these consumers have to rely on before making a purchase.

"95% of consumers are influenced by online reviews for their purchase."

Source: Retail Insider

In eCommerce, the packaging is crucial to make that initial connection with a potential customer. In fact, showing off product packaging on social media through unboxing has become a commonplace method that brands use to catch consumers' attention. Appealing visuals and consistent branding will help you stand out from the crowd and give your customers a sense of luxury.

Chanel unboxing video featuring branded packaging
Unboxing videos typically show off packaging – make sure to deliver that luxury experience

First impressions are everything, and in eCommerce, you get a chance for two:

  • when the customer makes the purchase
  • when the customer receives their purchase

If your website is full of great images, bright colors, and other exciting visuals, but you're mailing products in plain kraft packaging or plastic air pillows, are you delivering the same brand experience that initially landed you the sale?

Personalize with premium packaging.

Tissue paper is lighter than cardstock and other paper options. As the cost of pulp continues to rise, saving money on shipping weight is important. The materials and shipping needed to include fun bonus items such as thank you cards and other marketing collateral can be costly.

Thanks to the custom print options at Seaman Paper, businesses can combine the helpful information on these items with tissue void fill for a premium packaging presentation. Print informative details such as QR codes on your branded tissue paper, and you won't have to sacrifice the benefits of extra in-box collateral. Lightweight tissue in your brand colors is also more personalized and visually appealing, which creates an association with your brand and high quality.

Seaman Paper branded packaging with QR codes and sustainability messaging
Custom print your brand messaging on your packaging

The possibility of a return also decreases drastically with premium packaging. Nobody enjoys going through the trouble of returning an item, even if the process is relatively simple. Avoiding as many returns as possible means you've improved the shopping experience and paved the way for repeat purchases.

Consumers prefer sustainable packaging.

The eighth annual eCommerce consumer study from Dotcom Distribution revealed that "two in three online shoppers cite eco-friendly packaging as the environmental factor most likely to shop with a brand," more than product samples, notes, and other freebies.

Avoid confusion about your company's commitment to sustainability by switching your void fill to tissue. Whether it's the space-saving alternative to crinkle paper, SpiroPack, or classic custom tissue in one of our 68 FSC® certified colors – Seaman Paper has a sustainable solution for you that customers will recognize and respond to.

"Most Americans agree that the design of a product's packaging (72%) and the materials used to package a product (67%) often influence their purchase decisions when selecting which products to buy. For two thirds, paper and cardboard packaging makes a product more attractive than other packaging materials (67%), and a similar proportion agrees that paper and cardboard packaging makes products seem premium or high quality (63%)."

Source: Two Sides

Final Thoughts

So, once you attract your customer and make that online sale, how do you achieve brand loyalty? You must continue delivering your online experience to where your customers are – at home!

Investing in your eCommerce packaging design helps build on that first impression from when they hit your website, social media account, or advertisement. When you bring that brand experience from your digital store to your customer's door, you create a lasting connection and stay top of mind.

Online transactions are built on a large amount of trust. Don't disappoint your customer with packaging that doesn't deliver.