It's easy to get caught up in the marketing appeal of your packaging. Does it meet the wow factor that elevates the unpacking experience? Does it convey the right tone for your brand? What about the color? Don't forget to save some room for important questions involving durability and effectivity when it comes to the packaging's primary function, which is protecting your product so it's a good surprise when the customer opens it.
If you've ever opened a package to find broken contents, you know how it feels. Let's spare your customers that particular misery by finding the right packing materials that not only look great but protect the product.
Your budget range needs to take into account the minimum you have to spend versus the elements you'd like to include for branding purposes. We'll talk about the importance of travel and material in detail in a minute, but let's zoom out to consider the big things that impact your budget first.
If you have a product that sells for $500, expending some cash on glitzy materials is expected. Glass and natural fibers convey a high-end appeal but cost more to produce and complicate transportation. There's also a high probability of scratching or breakage, which cheapens the perceived value of the brand.
For e-tailers looking for more cost-effective options, food-grade cardboard is fairly affordable and offers reasonable protection against crushing. It's also very flexible, so design options are endless. Plastic isn't eco-friendly unless it's recyclable. If you have to go this route, you can encourage users to recycle and use that as a selling point.
The bottom line is that you have to find the balance between creative marketing elements and what you need to spend to guarantee a pristine product gets to the client.
Once the design elements are accounted for, you can concentrate on function. An amazing design does three things:
- Tells consumers it was made for them
- Shows them the value of a product that travels well
- Lets them know they can trust you to deliver other products they need in the future
How the package will be traveling is a huge consideration. Packages shipped by air or freight are typically stable layer upon layer. If your product is perishable or is sensitive to warm temperatures, the package has to be conducive to the type of traveling it's likely to see.
Whether you choose FedEx, USPS or UPS impacts the protection level you'll need to make sure your product arrives unharmed, with the USPS being the least reliable.
There are endless possibilities for material choices but here are some of the most popular with the considerations for choosing each.
- Shrink Films packaging is light and ideal printing on the outside of the wrapping.
- Flexible films protect dairy, food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other items.
- Paperboard is white chipboard used in cartons and trays. It hold printing well and is most commonly used for food, dairy, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, hardware and other items.
- Corrugated cardboard is flexible and very sturdy. It's used to transport heavy or fragile produce and shipping cartons. It's also a favorite used by subscription boxes.
The transportation method can impact your package size, especially if you're using freight or pallets. In either case, you'll need consistently sized packages to maximize space and keep damage to a minimum.
Size your packaging so it's proportional to the product. Have you ever gotten a large box for a tiny product from Amazon? Annoying, isn't it? Therefore, if your product comes in four sizes and you can get creative to use two packaging size, it worth doing so for consistency and aesthetics.
As mentioned before, the expectation of the person opening the package affects your packaging decisions. If your e-tail business sells high-end subscription boxes, you need pretty packaging that also fits and protects the contents. If you sell discount jewelry, clear, no-frills packaging might be sufficient. Other common categories are:
- High-end vs low-end price points
- Commodity vs connoisseur goods
- Fashionista vs functional expectation
Most of this should be evident from your marketing or your business plan if you're an emerging startup, but it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with all the possibilities in preparations for future growth opportunities.
Keep your ear to the ground regarding customer reactions to your prototype and tweak the design from their.
If you sell computers, then leaving a product-sized box with an Apple logo on someone's doorstep isn't likely to endear you to the customer who never gets it. Factor in the chance of an item being intercepted and design your packaged to compensate. The pretty computer box can be placed in an unbranded plain cardboard box that won't tempt likely thieves.
Whether you have an expensive or inexpensive product, branding on the packaging is essential (even if you have to camouflage it for delivery). However, you don't have to spend the same amount on the packaging. Sometimes it has to impress, other times it just needs to get there. This is one area where you'll need feedback from both your sales and marketing experts. Packaging is so important to your brand image that it's worthwhile to dedicate some of your marketing budget to package testing to ensure you're going to get the reaction you're hoping for.
Packaging makes a difference for the customer so it also impacts your bottom line. Make sure you're using the best materials you can afford for the product being shipped, remembering that not all products are created equal. Gather feedback from the holidays when you're likely to be shipping a lot of product. Use the slower period after the New Year to reflect on the changes you'll need to make.
Your clients will notice that you've responded to their feedback, and a great unboxing experience is sure to boost your sales in 2019.
For other tips and tricks regarding packaging and order management, we recommend that you check out our ultimate guide to order management.