The number of items sent from e-commerce brands received a major boost during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating frenzied demand as billions of packages were sent during the 2020 holiday season alone. The ever-growing demand for e-commerce products means that the small parcel market is expected to grow to a yearly average of 220 to 262 billion packages by 2026. That’s more than double the 103 billion sent in 2019. While these numbers are impressive, they tend to overshadow what people see when the package is delivered to their doorstep. More often than not, customers receive a bland cardboard box. That may not seem like a big deal at first. But as Miriam Brafman, founder, and CEO of Packlane explains, failure to use custom boxes can quickly become a major issue for e-commerce brands.
Standing out from the competition
One of the best reasons to customize your packaging is that it instantly helps your brand stand out,” Brafman says. “A bright, colorful box with your branding makes the simple act of unboxing an exciting experience for your customers. Infusing your box with images, colors and text allow you to turn the simple act of opening a package into a branded moment. It makes the experience so much more memorable and interesting than another bland cardboard box — and it’s something that will help your brand stand out.” A custom box allows brands to play into the psychology of colors. The psychology of color is well-documented, and e-commerce businesses can use information about their target audience to make color selections that excite and delight their customers. The way a shipment box looks can set expectations for them to enjoy the products inside, already helping the brand stand out in a positive way. This can be especially important for subscription boxes, in which customers receive orders on a monthly — or even weekly — basis. “We receive so many packages each month, that they can start to blur together after a while,” Brafman says. “When you customize your boxes, customers instantly recognize your brand the moment they see it on their doorstep.”
Protect your shipments
Like it or not, standard boxes aren’t always well-suited for your e-commerce shipments. Order return rates tend to be much higher for e-commerce brands than for in-store purchases, and shipping is often to blame. According to research from SaleCycle, 80.2 percent of online returns are attributed to a product that is damaged or broken.
“If your box isn’t properly sized for your shipment, items are naturally going to get jostled around and broken — especially when shippers aren’t always as careful as they should be,” Brafman notes.
“With a custom box, you can select dimensions that will keep your items snug and secure. You can also select more durable corrugated cardboard with a greater thickness for added protection. The appropriate packaging can make all the difference in ensuring that your items are still in great shape when they reach a customer’s doorstep”.
With most e-commerce brands offering free returns in an effort to compete with Amazon, finding ways to minimize returns is crucial for maintaining profitability. E-commerce retailers typically shoulder the costs of return shipping themselves — and these costs can quickly add up when replacing damaged items. In this case, a custom-fitted box could protect your bottom line.
Help the environment
Today’s customers and businesses are more conscious of their impact on the environment than ever before. At the same time, there is no denying that e-commerce brands use a lot of cardboard to ship out their products. Like it or not, much of this cardboard contributes to waste instead of getting recycled.
Fortunately, the use of custom boxes can help e-commerce brands reduce their environmental impact. As Brafman explains, “Our company has started offering shipping boxes made completely from recycled and recyclable materials. Reducing waste isn’t just the responsibility of the customer. The business needs to set the tone by taking steps to reduce its impact on the environment. Every effort makes a difference.”
Using recycled and recyclable materials don’t just help the planet — it can also enhance a company’s profits. Barron reports that globally, over 70 percent of customers say they are willing to spend more money to buy from eco-friendly brands. More than 50 percent of North American shoppers are “ready to change their shopping habits to reduce the negative impact on the environment.”
By emphasizing your brand’s commitment to this cause in packaging and other areas, you can gain the support of like-minded customers.
The small details
The use of custom boxes is a relatively small detail in the grand scheme of your e-commerce business. But as Brafman notes, those small details are what may ultimately matter most
“It’s the little things in life that we tend to focus on or remember. How you package your products is your final opportunity to create a memorable experience for your customer. Your packaging sends a message, and it’s one that could influence whether they decide to buy from you again in the future.”
As you find ways to make packaging a more fully integrated part of your broader buyer experience, your e-commerce brand can better satisfy and retain customers.