Personalization: Why It’s Important for E-Commerce Packaging

It’s 2015, and retail e-commerce is doing better than ever. According to an estimate released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2014, total retail sales amounted to well over 4.5 trillion dollars, and retail e-commerce sales accounted for nearly 3 billion of that (approximately 6.3% over all). Between 2005 and 2013, e-commerce sales figures as part of a larger whole have nearly tripled (rising from 2.4%). We’ve seen a steady incline in both general and e-commerce retail sales—that trend will likey continue, as experts predict that “60% of U.S. retail sales will involve the web by 2017” (through either direct purchase or research purposes). With numbers that high, why does our e-commerce packaging still look like this?

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When a business has a storefront, it’s all about presentation. Workers are required to keep the site clean and operational at all times, and they must greet guests with a smile. Shelves are kept stocked and organized. Careful consideration is put into the look and feel of the store itself. Businesses understand that wowing their guests is good business. If what they are presented with is top of the line the whole way through, customers are more likely to come back.

Many business do bring their presentation beyond the storefront by spending thousands—or tens of thousands—of dollars on developing high class websites (web development is getting more affordable with the introduction of platforms that are designed to allow anyone to engineer their online presence, coding experience or not). Even if the customer is not physically present, steps can be taken to keep them coming back. A beautiful, easy to use site is a great start, but it doesn’t have to end there. Personalized e-commerce packaging is on the rise.

So why should a business bother doing this? If a customer is receiving a package, it’s clear they’ve already decided where they’d like to bring their business. Does it really matter how the package is presented? Technically, standard e-commerce packaging likely wouldn’t dissuade anyone from re-ordering from an online shop. They are used to seeing deliveries this way, after all. But fine tuning your presence from checkout to doorstep definitely won’t hurt.

Whenever I order something online, I’ll typically forget where it came from not long after,  unless it’s something branded. Even if custom packaging doesn’t work for you, the smallest acts can and will go a long way—for example, I’ve purchased several birthday presents from the artist Wednesday Wolf, who I haven’t forgotten about because he included a personalized message with my first order.

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For custom shipment packaging, look to a company like Loot Crate, “a monthly box of geek & gamer gear.” For a service like this, the unboxing is a big deal because the contents are a surprise. Having packaging like the above is a nice touch: pulling new loot out of a sleek, custom box is more exciting than ugly/standard shipping gear. I actually first found out about Loot Crate via Facebook when a friend posted a picture of his new crate, box and all. The packaging itself was clearly part of the excitement, and so it made it into the picture (while a normal box would have likely been discarded).

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There’s also Trunk Club, a service that matches clients with online personal stylists. They’ll build you a custom wardrobe, keeping in mind your style and preferences, and then ship it straight to your doorstep. The clothing is laid out nicely in the box upon arrival, and the exterior of the box itself looks great. Trunk Club also capitalizes on the custom note business—each crate contains a handwritten message from designer to recipient. Many clients not only return for more, but opt to work with the same stylist time after time because of the high level of personalization they’ve achieved (after all, over the years, stylists start to get a really great understanding of what their clients like and don’t like).

Like I said. Shipping presentation probably won’t dissuade anyone from re-ordering. They may just forget about you in the grand scheme of things. In an economy that will see a higher and higher prevalence in online ordering, personalization is the key to getting customers to remember why they decided to order from you in the first place.


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