Opinion: eCommerce Packaging in Social Media Pt. 1

This week's opinion series is by designer and social media strategist, Rob Repta of Design Packaging, Inc.  As eCommerce gains steady ground with consumers, he shares 4 Tips to Creating Share-Worthy Experiences.

If you think your friends’ post of online purchases are another way to show off - think again. The perfectly styled image touting designer products complete with branded eCommerce packaging, creates free marketing for luxury brands like Barney’s and Mr. Porter. By creating a positive eCommerce packaging experience, the likelihood for that brand to be shared by consumers greatly increases. eCommerce is expected to outpace brick-and-mortar sales in the next few years, reaching $370 billion by 2017.  Web-enabled devices allow consumers instant access to social media platforms to share their delightful, or tragic unboxing experiences. Whatever the experience may be, it will directly affect the brand.

Here are four ways to come out ahead in the new economy of bricks and clicks:

 
 

 

You’re Worth It, Don’t Devalue

eCommerce packaging must meet two goals to be successful: product protection and price point validation. Brick and mortar stores envelop your senses as you enter, making an impression with strategically-placed branding experiences. Luxury cues can range from posh environments to fashionable sales associates; there are no overlooked details. However these cues are not available for eCommerce shoppers. The branded experiences of online purchases therefore begin online, and end in final brand experiences provided by the unboxing process. eCommerce packaging must deliver the same branded signature moments that reinforce the message of quality and luxury delivered in brick-and-mortar stores. An experience less than what is delivered in-store fragments the brand, and devalues the product purchased by potentially increasing product returns.

 

Size Does Matter

Box sizes set the expectation for the rest of the unboxing experience. It’s a turn-off to receiving a small item in a large package! We’ve all seen angry posts on wasteful packaging for its environmental impact. Storage costs, excessive packing materials, and gas consumption due to large parcel footprints are neither economical or eco-friendly. Being mindful of waste, strike the balance needed to contain, protect, and validate the product. Remember, the less you spend on shipping and storage costs, the more you can spend on the packaging design. 

 

Don’t Expose Yourself, Yet…

Immediately exposing the product to the consumer once the box is opened lacks mystique or a created sense of anticipation, it’s an eCommerce buzz-kill. Focusing only on visual design vs. a complete user experience, is what leads to underwhelming eCommerce experiences. Unboxing is a burlesque act. Take the audience through a journey and lead them to a grand finale worth sharing. Every pull of a satin ribbon, tug of a magnetic closure, or folding back of semi-transparent tissue paper creates a fantasy. Transport them beyond the unboxing process to a branded shareable experience. As always: edit, edit, edit. There’s a fine line between a layered unveiling process and over–packaging a product.

 

A Respectable Receipt

All touch points in the unboxing experience must receive the same level of respect as the product itself, including the receipt. Unfortunately many times receipts are printed out, crudely folded, and tossed into the brown corrugate shipper. During transit, it tosses and turns with no control over how it will be revealed to the consumer. It’s the equivalent to a sales associate throwing it in your face while moving on to the next customer. Instead, receipts must be the final layer in the unveiling process in the branded experience. Receipts should punctuate the final touch to the designed experience, in so much that the consumer shows it off online.

 

Brands need to wake up, and keep up by delivering a consistent eCommerce packaging experience both online and in-store. By using pictures, hashtags and 140 characters or less, consumers have a voice to document their brand experiences to the public. It’s not just about the website or how the box looks anymore, it’s about the impression formed in the consumer’s mind from the moment the box arrives on the doorstep to the moment they pull out the receipt. Noah Brier, named “social media innovator” by Business Weekly, states that a brand is what a company is in its consumer’s mind, not what the brand says about itself. Don’t fragment the brand by devaluing the product, make sure packaging is sized appropriately, create a memorable unveiling experience, and respect all aspects of eCommerce equally. This short list should get you on the road to insta-fame.

Leave a comment below and share your best (or worst) eCommerce packaging experiences!


By Rob Repta

Rob Repta is both Senior Designer and Social Media Strategist at Design Packaging Inc. in Scottsdale, Arizona. Together with Creative Director Evelio Mattos and the multi-talented creative team, provide clients with luxury and experimental packaging designs. Rob received his bachelor's degree from the Art Institute of Phoenix with honors and quickly became involved with the AIGA Arizona community, serving the board as Membership Director for two years. His favorite treats are French macarons with espresso (black), and juicy all-American burgers.