Ecommerce retail sales in the US hit a record high in Q4 2022 with sales worth $299.12 billion. Due to the ever-increasing number of online shoppers, competition is high and selection is limited.
In direct-to-consumer ecommerce, the shipping and packing of the goods is often the first tangible touchpoint and relationship with the customer, so these aspects need to be particularly well-executed.
Though the primary function of packaging is to protect products, when done right it is an opportunity to create a memorable unboxing experience for their customers that can lead to repeat purchases, brand recognition, and brand loyalty in the long run.
Wondering what the unboxing experience is all about, read on.
The Unboxing Experience
Packaging can be a theatre, it can create history - Steve Jobs
Unboxing is the act of a customer opening a package. The package, regardless of the quality of the product within, is an excellent chance for the brand to convey its values and establish an emotional connection with the buyer. How well a product is packaged and presented has a major impact on whether or not a customer will buy from the same brand again.
More than just a fad or an online trend the unboxing experience is a powerful marketing tool centered around packaging and includes both exterior and interior packaging. It also includes additional components such as gifts, brochures, and free samples among others. The intent is to bring the in-store shopping experience right to a customer’s doorstep.
Why does unboxing experience matter?
Delivering a positive unboxing experience is all about making the act of receiving and unpacking the delivery package fun and memorable. The idea is to make the experience more like opening a gift making unboxing a valuable touchpoint in the consumer experience journey.
Receiving the highly awaited package in gift-like packaging helps create a lasting impression and nudges the customer to make a repeat purchase. Creating a positive unboxing experience helps brands in unimaginable ways:
1) Helps drive customer loyalty: In today’s highly competitive environment customer loyalty is more important than ever. Delivering personalized customer experiences consistently is the key to driving customer loyalty.
No wonder brands use customer loyalty programs or online personalization for customer retention, but these are often complicated to implement and involve outside parties.
Creating positive unboxing experiences is comparatively a straightforward and easy retention strategy to implement. A well-packaged product boosts customers' sentiment of feeling valued which is a great way to make customers do repeat purchases.
2) Helps create a lasting first impression: It’s often said the “first impression is the last impression” and precisely so. D2C ecommerce brands have fewer touch-points with their customers in comparison to traditional brick-and-mortar brands.
Making an online purchase can often feel impersonal and it definitely lacks the excitement of walking into a store and touching things. However, putting a well-thought-out, organized, and aesthetically appealing package can stimulate the same experience for customers and leave a positive impression for a very long time.
3) An opportunity to share your brand story: Stories help build an emotional connection with your customers which in turn manifests into long-term relationships. The time a package gets delivered is a time when the customer is already engaged and has your full attention. This is the time to communicate your brand’s story and educate your customer on what it is that makes your brand stand out from the others.
Continue reading: An Intriguing New Approach to Brand Storytelling in Ecommerce
4) An opportunity to leverage content marketing: Over the last decade product unboxing videos, reels, and Instagram posts have become quite popular. A well-packaged product and a unique unboxing experience video are great ways to engage your customers on social media and kindle a desire to purchase your products for the sheer joy of experiencing a magical unboxing themselves.
In the process, you have a repository of quality content on various channels to create a distinct brand identity and generate awareness about your product.
Fun fact: Research suggests 70% of customers are likely to make a repeat purchase from brands delivering a positive unboxing experience.
How to make a great unboxing experience?
Here are 4 ideas that you can implement to make a great unboxing experience for your customers:
1) Personalizing the package
Packaging and making the product shine is one aspect of a great unboxing experience. But personalizing the package by adding thoughtful inserts elevates the entire experience.
It makes the recipient feel extra special and people tend to associate it with a celebrity-like status. Add an insert addressing the recipient by their first name like
- A handwritten note from the founder or CEO narrating the brand story
- A thank you note for making the purchase along with a discount coupon
- Personalized product recommendations
Including a handwritten note instantly builds a deep, emotional, and meaningful connection with your customers.
We like how The Balimarket a company specializing in selling towels includes a handwritten note addressing the customer by name in each of its packages.
2) Curate a unique and memorable experience
Another way is to curate a unique experience through your packaging. Which could be a unique design, incorporating sensory elements like colors, textures, and more.
Drunk Elephant is an innovative brand that sells bio-compatible hair and skin care. They ace the packaging game, instead of the boring brown corrugated boxes they use a sky-blue colored box for shipments which helps them stand out. The tape used to secure the box has the branding.
The box's interior is adorned with a bright and beautiful pattern that's a pleasure to look at. A beautiful playful envelope holds the slip with the package details, a thank you note, and an information booklet which is actually a coloring page.
The entire box is artfully designed with a stunning array of colors, certain to catch the eye and remain in the customer's mind for quite some time. In addition, you can get free samples of the product.
3) Use sustainable packaging
The population is growing by the day and natural resources are scarce. Protecting the environment in every possible way and minimizing our carbon footprint is the way forward.
A staggering 30% of customers are willing to pay more to brands that follow sustainable practices, and 37% prioritize sustainable practices when making a purchase. Sustainable and eco-friendly practices can help you as a brand stand above your competition.
Designing the unboxing experience with the intent to reduce the environmental footprint, in the long run, is becoming increasingly important to customers. Therefore, incorporating eco-friendly practices into the unboxing experience is a great way to show your brand's commitment to the environment.
Some ways to go the eco-friendly route are to use biodegradable packaging materials, reduce excess packaging, and use packaging that can be recycled and reused.
Seed Probiotics nails it when it comes to sustainable packaging. A clean and minimalistic packaging with the website URL on the opening flap and a plain box in their trademark green color.
The box as well as the labeling on the products is FSC certified. The products come in glass bottles instead of plastic and they use mycelium molds (mushroom roots) instead of foam or plastic to cushion the contents inside the box which can be decomposed in your home garden.
4) Tell a story through package design
The design of your packaging can make or break the unboxing experience and eventually impact your growth and sales. It can help create a favorable brand perception even for products you may not fathom, like cannabis and CBD hemp oil.
Charlotte’s Web by Stanley Brothers is into manufacturing high-quality hemp oil extract. They have worked hard towards creating a brand that’s perceived as safe, legal, and of high quality. The legal sellers of medicinal hemp oil have positioned themselves as a brand that works towards unlocking the healing power of botanicals and in turn helping people lead better lives.
The same story is carried forward in their packaging. Instead of using glaring reds and yellows associated with cannabis, they use bold and neutral shades, nature-inspired graphics, simple lines, and clean designs. Their boxes come with a message on the inside “enjoy this gift from mother nature” which reaffirms the users' belief in the healing power of nature and botanical produce.
Terms like a balm, health supplement, and gummies help in telling their narrative of health and medicine. The branding and packaging have consistency for their entire line of products.
Best unboxing experience examples from D2C brands
Mejuri is a family-run jewelry brand. As a brand, they strongly believe that jewelry is not just for gifting but also about investing in yourself.
Mejuri nails the personalization aspect by adding a handwritten name card insert for the person a particular piece of jewelry belongs. There is no plastic or bubble packaging, but a smooth high quality fabric pouch with the Mejuri branding to hold the jewelry.
The branded jewelry box and luxurious packaging make for a spectacular unwrapping experience.
2. BLUE APRON
Started in 2012 with a vision of “better living through better food” Blue Apron is a US-based meal kits company.
They provide responsibly-sourced meal cooking ingredients, and chef-designed meals, packed in the right portion size, with clear step-by-step instructions to prepare the meal. The meal boxes come in a recyclable carton with the branding clear and highlight on the box using their brand blue color. The ingredients are carefully packed with a complete recipe card and really tempting food.
Blue Apron is on a mission to switch to 100% recyclable packaging by 2025. The brand has a strong focus on minimizing food wastage and reducing the carbon footprint by using sustainable packaging options.
3. WARBY PARKER
Warby Parker is an eyewear brand manufacturing prescription glasses that customers can order online.
What makes them popular is the fact that they deliver glasses to your doorstep for trial and also arrange for the return pick-up absolutely free. And believe us when we say this, they are killing it with their packaging. They deliver fun and engaging unboxing experiences with their playful packaging and personalized note.
Warby Parker is hitting all the right notes with its packaging. An attractive black box with a fun reassuring message, a pop of color on the inside, a sturdy tray to keep those second pair of glass eyes safe, a guide on the lid explaining the process, and newspaper to pick the right pair.
ThirdLove is a US-based women-owned lingerie brand known for super-comfortable and custom-fit bras. However, it’s not just the quality they are known for ThirdLove also masters the art of delivering an exceptional unboxing experience.
ThirdLove uses eco-friendly packaging and also sends a personalized fit quiz and a branded keepsake box in the packaging.
Bombas is a socks brand with a mission. For every pair of socks, you buy they donate a pair of socks to the homeless.
They are not just popular for their incredible socks but also for their eco-friendly packaging and their mission. And, they are doing a brilliant job of communicating their mission through their packaging.
The package comes with a nice pop of color on the inside and on the outside, and it talks about the brand's mission. Within the main package is a sturdy, shiny, and attractive gift box. Bombas further elevates the unboxing experience by including a “Sock Drop” card that highlights the brand’s mission and values.
Measuring the impact of a positive unboxing experience
In ecommerce, a positive unboxing experience can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. Here are some ways to measure its impact:
1. Customer Feedback: One of the most direct ways to measure the impact of a positive unboxing experience is by collecting feedback from customers. You can do this through surveys or by asking customers to leave reviews.
Moda Tip: Ask specific questions about the packaging, presentation, and overall experience to gauge their level of satisfaction.
2. Return and Refund Rates: If customers are pleased with their unboxing experience, they are less likely to return the product or request a refund.
Moda Tip: Monitor your return and refund rates to see if they decrease after implementing changes to improve the unboxing experience.
3. Repeat Purchase Rate: A positive unboxing experience can increase the repeat purchase rate.
Moda Tip: Keep track of the percentage of customers who make more than one purchase to see if there is a correlation with the unboxing experience.
4. Social Media Engagement: Customers who are excited about their unboxing experience are likely to share it on social media.
Moda Tip: Keep an eye on social media platforms to see if customers are posting pictures or videos of their unboxing experience, and track the engagement on these posts.
Elevating the unboxing experience is an effective way to create a memorable, personalized, and sustainable experience for your customers. Creating a memorable unboxing experience can be many things for your brand:
- A way to stay ahead of the competition
- A way to attract new customers
- A way to retain existing customers