Importance of Packaging: eCommerce Packaging Vs Retail


Packaging has been a critical aspect of retail marketing for many years. Product differentiation can be effectively achieved through packaging, and a product package that wows the consumer can lead to increased sales and an edge over the competition.

When it comes to ecommerce, the role of packaging changes. Purchasing decisions are not based on the size, color, shape, or words that are on a package. Instead, consumers shop based almost purely on their needs and wants, with some influence coming from marketing, reviews, and product influencers.

While packaging is no longer the most important aspect of the purchasing decision, it still factors heavily into customer satisfaction. Companies that understand the importance of packaging, even in an ecommerce model, will have the opportunity to increase satisfaction and create brand loyalty.


Packaging Still Matters Once It’s in the Consumer’s Hands

Unboxing a new package from an ecommerce transaction will be the first time that a consumer interacts with a product and brand. This unboxing is critically important and can even have a psychological influence on how much enjoyment the consumer gets from a product.

Products that are packaged in plain and primarily utilitarian packaging will not provide a sense of excitement or enjoyment during the first point of interaction. Businesses only need to take a look at the phenomenon of unboxing to see how important this first interaction can be to consumers.

Reinforcing a brand through packaging helps consumers to create a positive association with your brand. Graphics that grab attention on store shelves should still be used in goods that will be primarily distributed through an ecommerce platform. Online sales create a new channel for reaching customers and driving sales, but it’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking that this eliminates the need for attractive packaging.

When designing a package, the sales channel is largely irrelevant. A positive first impression should be the primary consideration. Does the packaging feature strong imagery and useful information? Are high quality materials and graphics used? Is the package functional and easy to open? Is the package attractive and suitable for display within a home (essential for collectible items)?


Technical Considerations to Be Made When Packaging for the ecommerce Model

Some technical considerations will need to be made to ensure that packaging reaches consumers in pristine condition. Crush testing and ink rub testing will need to be performed to ensure that packaging can make it through the distribution process unscathed. Retail packages for store shelves are typically palletized with tens, hundreds, or thousands of units. Ecommerce packages may be sent individually, with sometimes no protection other than a plain cardboard box, bubble wrap, or a simple plastic polymer courier bag. Packaging not only needs to protect a product in transit, but it should also remain presentable upon delivery.

Memorable, attractive, and brand-defining packaging can create customer loyalty and allow for positive experiences. Focusing on ecommerce can provide a number of benefits, but it does not eliminate the need for high quality packaging. Businesses that develop a strong packaging strategy can differentiate themselves in the multi-billion-dollar ecommerce market today.