Build your brand and create a memorable and shareable unboxing experience for your customers with creative (and effective!) packaging design.
Visions of pretty packages wrapped with satin bows, accompanied by sweet surprises and handwritten thank you notes, were on my mind the minute I first opened the FOXY OXIE Shop. Although the shop has been in operation since 2013, it wasn't until the past few months that I finally mustered up the courage to sort out what FOXY OXIE packaging should look like.
Granted, it wasn't until recently that the shop officially expanded beyond instant downloads and digital files, and part of the reluctancy to expand was that I simply could not imagine having the necessary time and resources to offer printed products. It just seemed like an impossible task for a one-woman operation with earnings that did not allow splurging on customized boxes, envelopes, ribbons, labels, tags, package inserts and all the other small but significant details that make up what is known as a branded packaging experience.
The fact that I am finally doing it, and sharing my knowledge with others, is such a major milestone for me – definitely a cause for celebration!
You may be asking, why does it matter?
Why can't I just put things in a FedEx envelope, print out an invoice, and send it on its merry way?
Why go to such extraordinary lengths to create this memorable experience for customers, when most (if not all) of the packaging is thrown away minutes within its arrival?
A big part of building a long-term, sustainable brand is repeat customers. It's a well-known fact – much like the fact that it's almost always less expensive to convince a current customer to purchase again than to find a new customer.
A recent survey from Dotcom Distribution shows that 52 percent of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from an online merchant that delivers premium packaging. In that same study, Dotcom also found that nearly 4 in 10 consumers would share an image of an online order via social media if it came in a unique package.
"The value of premium packaging extends far beyond the customer experience into residual marketing effects. The experience goes beyond the online order to when the customer actually opens the beautifully wrapped package and shares that experience across social networks. That act of online and social recommendations drives loyalty from your customers and promotes brand awareness." - Maria Haggerty, CEO of Dotcom Distribution
People have an innate desire to share their positive experiences with others, which is why it's so necessary to be thoughtful in the selection of packaging and shipping materials and deliberate in the presentation of our products.
As I already mentioned in an earlier branding post, effective branding builds customer loyalty, and in turn, drives growth, whether that means more website traffic, increased social media shares, expanded clientele or higher sales. As a result, we must be deliberate in creating a branded customer experience from the moment the client first comes into contact with our brand to the moment they are finally holding your product in their hands.
The elements of a well-designed branded packaging and unboxing experience are numerous, and by no means does anyone expect you to include everything – unless, of course, your budget allows that. However, understanding each element can help you decide which ones deliver the most value for your customers. Keep it simple but effective, is what I always say; being strategic in the packaging elements that you choose can go a long way in creating a better and more memorable experience for your customers.
Focus on functionality.
When it comes to packaging, my first and foremost priority is to ensure that the product arrives in tip-top shape. No amount of pretty satin bows, personalized labels or handwritten thank you notes can compensate if the product arrives bent, with missing parts, smeared or otherwise damaged.
While not the most glamorous, elements like backing boards, stay-flat mailers and cellophane bags are important in delivering a high-quality customer experience.
The outermost package, whether it's a box or an envelope, is your first opportunity to create that special experience for the customer. A high-quality, completely customized box in your specific brand colors is the best way to go, but oftentimes, customizations such as these come with quite a price tag. The least expensive options are simple, kraft brown packages, with white ones being a close second; customize the experience by adding a brand label, or a logo sticker, or by stamping your logo with a custom-made rubber stamp.
However you choose to customize the less expensive package, make sure the cost of the additional elements does not surpass what it would cost to simply order a totally customized box; oftentimes, in our cost-conscious efforts to find the best solution, we end up spending far more on the alternative while thinking we're getting a good deal.
Always, always, always add "PLEASE DO NOT BEND," "FRAGILE" or "PLEASE HANDLE WITH CARE" to the package, making sure to include the "please," as mailmen and delivery personnel are people with feelings, just like you and me.
Show off your flair.
These next elements are by no means necessary; however, they are guaranteed to have a wow effect on the customer.
Wrapping your products in tissue paper adds a level of mystery and excitement to the unboxing experience. Some options to consider here are using custom printed tissue paper or finding tissue paper that matches your brand colors.
If sending a box rather than an envelope, consider adding cushioning. What typically comes to mind when we hear "fillers" are styrofoam packing peanuts, foam inserts, air pillows or bubble wrap; however, none of these are visually appealing, nor do they aid in creating an unforgettable customer experience. Some alternatives are excelsior, metallic crinkle paper, or if you're a luxury lifestyle brand like Jo Malone, then you can cushion your products with a bed of freshly cut red roses.
If adding some sort of thank you note, consider slipping it into a high-quality, linen envelope for that extra oomph. While you're at it, include a custom liner in your brand colors as a pleasant surprise. Personally, I'm excited to put my calligraphy skills to use in my packaging, as I plan to hand letter the customer's name on the envelope. Little touches such as these ensure a personal, one-of-a-kind customer experience.
Don't forget your fun promotional pieces.
Remember, keeping a current customer is far easier and less expensive than finding a potential customer and converting him or her into a current customer. When sending out an order, be sure to maximize this direct contact with the customer by including a few fun promotional pieces.
Whether it's a humorous thank you card with your social media information on the back, or a "discount off your next purchase" postcard, consider adding some sort of branded printed piece that prompts the customer to share his or her experience with others, make another purchase, or both!
Do you remember any of your own memorable unboxing experiences? Does elaborate packaging, in fact, encourage you to share your purchase on social media?
If you're a small business owner, what are your thoughts on packaging design? What does your own packaging consist of?
Tune in next week as I share some of my favorite resources (and deals!) for packaging supplies.