Each year, the number of people shopping online increases.
In the UK, we have the third largest eCommerce sector in the world, accounting for over £500 billion annually in sales.
As a result, this means there is a need for online businesses to access a wide range of packaging options in order to ship their products.
For years, this need was filled with cardboard boxes produced to standard sizes, resulting in a need for additional – and often excessive – fillers such as bubble wrap. Consumer trends, however, are changing, as are levels of environmental awareness, meaning traditional packaging methods are no longer acceptable.
Consequently, online businesses need to find more customer friendly packaging options. Here, we look at seven such customer-friendly packaging options:
- Package Size
The internet is full of customers commenting on the fact that their products were shipped in boxes that were much too big for the items inside. And, while seeing an Instagram post of someone sitting in a large box that was used to deliver a small bottle of shampoo can be funny, it’s actually quite frustrating for customers who are left having to get rid of the packaging.
Today, technology such as Box on Demand means that your packaging can be made to fit the products themselves, something customers will no doubt appreciate – especially if that packaging can fit through a letterbox.
- Pack Smartly
If customers order more than one item from you, think about how these can be packaged to reduce the amount of packaging you use and the risk of any damage. Can items be stored inside each other, for example, or can you use softer products to cushion those that are more breakable?
- Harmful Products
Most packaging is mass produced, meaning it may contain chemicals that can harm the environment or cause allergic reactions in humans. Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact chemicals can have and want products and packaging made from less harmful alternatives.
Look for customer friendly packaging options, therefore, that are made from these alternatives; you can buy plastic packaging made from corn starch, for example, or have boxes printed with soy ink, which is biodegradable.
- Environmental Impact
One of the main reasons’ customers don’t respond well to packaging that is too large for their order is the negative environmental impact they believe it has; even if the packaging can be recycled, today’s consumers are environmentally aware and will see this as wasteful.
Beyond this, however, your customers will want to know how sustainable your packaging is and the easiest way to let them know is to tell them by having it printed on the packaging – if it’s made of recycled materials for example – they’ll appreciate not having to search your website to find the answers to their questions.
- Excess Packaging
Excess packaging isn’t just bad for the environment; it’s bad for the customer, especially if it means they have to spend more time than is necessary for unwrapping your products. When it comes to customer friendly packaging, remember, anything beyond what you need to keep an order free from damage is probably too much and won’t be appreciated.
If anything, it is likely to lead to the customer getting frustrated as they try to pull off additional plastic wrapping or snip through plastic ties.
People tend to order more online during peak times such as Christmas, at which point they may well get overwhelmed by the number of plain brown boxes arriving on their doorstep. If they’ve ordered gifts for different family members, this can lead to frustrations if they don’t know what is in each box. And, while you won’t want to give the game away by not using any packaging (as Amazon did the other year), having your brand name printed on your packaging can go some way to letting them know just what is inside the box.
- Information Sharing
Depending on the products you sell and ship, there may be care instructions you need to share with customers. Making this clear and easy to find on a box or bag will go a long way to creating customer-friendly packaging, especially if it requires customers to do something as soon as their order arrives – storing it in a cool, dark, place, for example.
Packaging can be used to share information on other products that might be of interest too, or to thank customers for their order, something which will definitely be appreciated.