It’s tempting to think that only the product counts in eCommerce. But that’s not the case. Everything from the first click on your website to the delivery of the item on your customer’s doorstep is part of the customer experience. And those experiences decide whether or not shoppers come back for more.
For those who have spent a lot of time in the eCommerce world, it’s no secret that customer retention is the key to serious financial success. That makes it extra important to make sure experiences are good enough to keep customers loyal.
However, eCommerce store owners have only a few touchpoints to differentiate. One of the most important touchpoints of all is custom packaging and the unboxing experiences provided by it.
In this article, we’re going to talk about why custom packaging is so important, how it creates a memorable unboxing experience, and why both are essential to customer retention.
Why Custom Packaging Matters
What exactly is it about custom packaging that really makes a difference to customers, though? There are a few elements to this.
First Impressions: Imagine placing an order that you’re really excited about, to the point where you’re just watching the tracking information as it updates. Then, when it arrives, it shows up in a plain, brown box.
Packaging is often the first physical touchpoint between your brand and the customer. Sending products in a boring box is like a weak handshake. Thoughtful packaging, on the other hand, leaves a great first impression.
Brand Identity: People are primed to gather a ton of information from colors, shapes, and symbols, all of which packaging is designed to communicate very quickly. That means your packaging is your best chance to show off your brand’s image, values, overarching message, AKA your brand voice.
A beautifully designed package showcases not just the quality of the product inside but also mirrors the ethos and heart behind your brand. In a world where people are more likely to think they bought a product from Amazon or Etsy, packaging allows you to remind shoppers that they are actually buying from a smaller, more personal company.
Tactile Experience: One significant disadvantage eCommerce has against brick-and-mortar stores is the lack of tactile experience. Customers cannot touch, feel, or try products online.
Custom packaging bridges this sensory gap. The sensation of unboxing, the texture of the box, and even the subtle sounds it might produce bring back a tangible element otherwise absent in eCommerce.
The Role of Unboxing In eCommerce
As eCommerce has grown in popularity, so too has unboxing culture. You can see this all over YouTube and TikTok, where videos of people opening packages can receive thousands of views.
But what’s actually going on here? As it turns out, unboxing works on a number of levels.
Building Anticipation: Influencers and consumers alike are capturing their unboxing moments. It’s no longer about just the product but the journey of revealing what’s inside. Unboxing, in a way, is a form of theater. So you have to put on a good show!
Customer Engagement & Loyalty: Who doesn’t like unwrapping gifts? Thoughtful eCommerce unboxing experience design can bring that feeling up on demand.
Customers, when delighted, are more likely to become repeat buyers, share their positive experiences online, and spread the word. People unbox plain brown boxes every single day and forget about them. If you can hold people’s attention for just a minute or two with an attractive packaging design, your odds of retaining customers go dramatically up. Not to mention the likelihood of them sharing a picture of their unboxing as part of their review or even posting it to social media as a form of UGC!
Unboxing & CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization): Beyond the initial appeal, the benefits of a stellar unboxing experience seep into post-purchase actions as well. Customers who feel valued through meticulous packaging are more likely to leave positive reviews and refer the brand to their friends. Moreover, the perceived value and care associated with premium packaging can lower return rates as customers feel more satisfied with their purchase.
Pro Tip: Check out our recent webinar, Post-Purchase Strategies to Boost Retention, where we chat with industry experts on how to create a post-purchase funnel that delights.
With this in mind, the following section lists a few ways that unboxing can be used to retain customers and even optimize conversion rates.
Using Custom Packaging for Conversion Rate Optimization & Customer Retention
Custom packaging is a CRO tool, plain and simple. A memorable unboxing experience can bump up average order value (AOV) and can keep people coming back for more, increasing customer lifetime value (LTV) as well. Combined, these metrics can lead to what all eCommerce companies are ultimately after increased sales and higher profits.
Here are a few tips on how you can use custom packaging to this end.
If you use Justuno, you already know that personalization is king. With the assistance of CRO tools, businesses can experiment with and analyze responses to various personalized packaging designs. By tailoring your packaging to resonate with distinct customer segments, you’re not just shipping a product but delivering an experience that speaks to the recipient.
People care about this. It’s not an accident that Starbucks writes your name on your venti almond milk mocha!
Consumers, in general, care more about eco-friendly packaging than ever before. If you’re going for a great unboxing experience, consider eliminating single-use plastic and opting for biodegradable materials like colorful cardboard and paper with soy-based ink. It looks great, it’s not expensive, and your eco-conscious customers will notice it and speak well of you as a result.
Check out this example below from Cadence, a travel container company that includes a pack of wildflower seeds in their custom packaging!
You never know what people will like until you experiment. After you create your first round of custom packaging, collect feedback and analyze it. Then, pivot, refine, and evolve. If you improve your packaging in the eyes of customers by 1% every week, it will be unimaginably better within a year’s time.
Not only that, but you’ll get a deeper understanding of your customers and what they value/what they don’t. You can use that zero-party data to inform other parts of your business, investing in areas that will drive the most impact for your target audience.
Final Thoughts On Custom Packaging & Unboxing
There are a million ways to bring customers to your eCommerce store. SEO. Ads. Influencer deals. And all those things are important for making sales!
But when it comes to keeping customers around, nothing can compete with the tangibility of custom packaging. Good packaging is the difference between a good product to buy and a must-have experience that people want to share.
The line between the physical and virtual is blurrier than it’s ever been. Shipping experiences are what tether online transactions to real day-to-day impacts. That’s why custom packaging is so important for reinforcing brand value, trust, and loyalty. It’s why the small details really matter.
Remember – packaging is the only marketing tool with a 100% open rate. Use it wisely!
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Brandon Rollins is the Director of Marketing at Fulfillrite. His main areas of expertise are online marketing and supply chain management.