Moving from online seller to online brand; the unboxing experience

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If you compare the difference between ordering from ebay, Amazon and your favourite brand’s own online store, you will notice more thought, precision and creativity being put into packaging today than in the past. We’re not talking of course about the product packaging, but the all-important delivery packaging.


Why think more about delivery packaging?


Successful brand owners recognise that it’s all about delivering a consumer experience that goes beyond satisfactory and efficient, to become visually stimulating, tactile and memorable.


In the same way that you would wrap a gift, to enhance the act of giving and the specialness of the gift itself, online sellers now think about how they can move a basic and functional purchase to a special experience by having their delivery packaging custom designed. In the past, avoiding expensive damages was a key concern, however today you should add to this the importance of the customer’s unboxing experience.


Ask yourself how many of your online purchases are for non-essential articles (as opposed to routine, functional essentials, bought in distress or out of convenience). Whilst online grocery or DIY repairs might be mainly routine, most other online purchases are not for very basic goods, but are for non-essentials goods. This means that there is an emotional influence to the majority of our online purchasing.


Self-treating, and self-gifting is a huge motivator behind many consumer online purchases. People buy things because they like them and they make them feel good. They want fast delivery, because of the feeling of anticipation and need for instant gratification. Importantly, they also want to feel good about how they arrive, and enjoy the unboxing experience.


This is why online brand owners think very closely today about their delivery experience, with delivery packaging being a key component of this.


How the packaging experience differentiates brand from ‘seller’


If we compare the experience from purchasing from a well-known luxury brand, we can see how online companies use packaging to remain strong, even in the face of fierce price competition from alternative brands or sellers. In our previous article, we looked at how eBay, Amazon and a branded store provide very different experiences, even beyond the checkout stage.


In summary, the eBay purchase was as described. It came in the post and arrived taped up in a blue postal bag. Everything was in good condition once opened, and when it arrived it was clear it was from eBay however the name of the seller had been forgotten.


Amazon DeliveryThe Amazon purchase arrived promptly with Prime by a delivery driver in the standard Amazon packaging. This was tidy and functional, with Prime branding on the tape and an easy to open strip. The items inside were in perfect condition, however nothing stood out about the experience. It was entirely functional and very satisfactory.


The well known brand’s online store was different. Ordering online and tracking the journey of the parcel was easy, which then arrived by courier. The parcel needed to be signed for, giving the impression the company cared about their product. The transit box was durable and functional, and although quite plain it had the logo and handing information printed on it. Inside the box though the parcel began to stand out. There was a nicely textured inner box with gold edging, and a tasteful print. The logo had also been embossed, and the box had been wrapped in matching decorative ribbon. This gave a completely different unboxing experience to the customer, which was exciting and memorable.


Thinking brand and customer journey


Unboxing ExperienceSo the successful online brand owner does more than deliver on-time, as expected. They understand the motivations for purchase and add important sensory elements to their brand delivery, then they map the whole brand experience to find ways of creating special moments. Of course, this will include the unboxing experience.


So, rather than end the experience at checkout and order acknowledgement, great brand developers also think about:

  • Saying thank you, showing we care, and reaffirming your great decision to buy our brand
  • Delivering better and more personally than by second class mail
  • Using outer packaging that is not just functional, but marks the start of the physical brand delivery
  • Adds box-in-box, internal print and other sensory elements to create a memorable unboxing experience
  • Adding a surprise or unexpected ‘wow’ factor to the unboxing experience, such as samples and freebies
  • How underlying motives to purchase (such as self-gifting) can be delivered through the customer’s interaction with packaging


By creating these special moments, the online marketer elevates the brand delivery above the routine and functional ‘as expected’ marketplace sellers, to a memorable, rewarding and enjoyable experience. In doing so, they are reaffirming brand values, making it memorable and building potential loyalty.


Economics of creating the brand unboxing experience


For multichannel brands, the online channel is normally higher margin, because there is no bricks and mortar investment in stores and creating the in-store experience. For pure direct businesses, the online customer is cheaper to service than traditional mail order, because they do not need you to invest in big catalogues. Brands with distributors now sell direct to the consumer online, and so can pocket the normal margin plus the distributor margin.


However, with this higher margin comes less interaction, theatre and branded presence. No stores, no sales staff, no touch and feel, plus no catalogues may weaken the overall brand experience, unless marketers look to the unboxing experience and other opportunities to strengthen this connection.


If a basic packaging and carrier delivery costs £6 for a £75 order, then investing in an unboxing experience might add £1 to this. On the face of it, this is going to dilute the online margin very slightly, but that is still adding less cost than stores or catalogues and delivering a better margin than other channels. Additional repeat sales created by the strengthened brand relationship, samples and repeat or recommendation offers within the unboxing experience could repay this investment many times over.


How to design your unboxing experience and become a stronger brand


The first step is to talk to us (or your packaging adviser) about your brand, customers, and the kind of experience you are trying to create. Your logo and other designs are important cues to incorporate, as well as the product dimensions and protective requirements.


Starting with the outer box, there are options with style, material and print that can set your parcel apart from the rest. You don’t have to stick to a plain brown box with a standard document holder when you could switch to a white printed box with a customised document wallet for only a small additional cost (perhaps 20 per cent more). Within the total delivery cost, the box is only a very small proportion, so an upgrade is not a big investment at all.


cost-effective-packaging-davpackNext, the important box-in-box experience can be created from specially-designed or standard die cut styles, printed externally and/or internally. Different materials, finishes and embossing are options that can be explored. If your quantities and budget are limited, then it can still be possible to use coloured or printed packaging with labels and other printed material. Your packaging advisor can guide you through some suggestions, e.g. how to adapt a standard postal box to create your own brand unboxing experience.


Dressing tape, tissue paper and ribbon can be custom printed to enhance the branded unboxing experience. The tape and ribbon are especially useful to dress up standard boxes, if you are using small quantities, on a budget, or learning as a start-up business.


Little extras, such as sample boxes, in-box compartments or cards can be created.


Davpack can help you to do this, on a small or large scale, as your business needs.


New, revolutionary solutions for small and young brands!


If you are a relatively small or young company, you may have been told by a traditional packaging supplier that you must order large minimum quantities of printed and custom packaging. However, this requires a big cash outlay and lots of storage space, which is often impractical and can be a barrier to growing your brand.


The good news is that thanks to the digital print revolution, you can customise small quantities of packaging yourself with no need for expensive printing or cutting tools. A couple of hundred printed boxes or a few rolls of printed dressing tape or ribbon are practical and affordable. This is a very recent development, and delivered with unique in-house technology.


So in moving from online seller to online brand, the limitation is no longer about the size of your company and reaching critical mass, but how creative you can be with designing your brand’s special moments. The unboxing experience could be fundamental to building your brand, and one of the most important steps to success.


Why not talk to us about matching your brand with our unique, cost-effective in-house solutions to create something special and memorable for your brand and customers?

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Sarah Hickson

With more than seven years experience as a member of the Davpack sales team, there are few who know more about the range of packaging materials we sell than Sarah. She recently left the company to become a full-time mother, but still maintains regular contact with her former colleagues. As well as sharing her own accumulated wisdom and experience on the blog, Sarah is looking forward to passing on stories from the front line of packaging sales. Davpack

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