Ecommerce packaging is what helps your product get from your hands to your customer’s hands in good condition, but functionality isn’t the only thing it can offer. Your packaging can tell your brand’s story, foster real connections with your customers, and make a massive splash for a first time buyer. All it takes is a little thinking outside of the box—and inside of it, too.
When we talk about ecommerce packaging, we’re referring to the packaging used to ship your products directly to your online customers and everything adjacent to it, like its design, filler material, and content. Anything that is wrapped around your product to move it from point A to point B.
Ecommerce packaging, from a logistical standpoint, is the difference between your product being scattered in pieces across the UPS truck or safely in the hands of your customer, but in 2021, it’s so much more than that.
Aside from protecting your product, ecommerce packaging can be its own advertisement or the ticket that sells a new customer on your brand so they come back for more. It’s no longer just a means to an end: it’s a visceral, brand-crafted experience as well as a critical first impression.
Ecommerce brands have the unique challenge of only being able to provide consumers with a sticky, physical experience after they’ve made their purchase online. That can sometimes make it hard for a consumer to feel seen by and connected to your brand. This is something that comes more easily to brick and mortar stores, as a customer can physically hold a product before buying.
Because they’re able to utilize physical space, brick and mortar stores have a much wider range of opportunity to provide an engaging experience for their customers than ecommerce businesses. They can create elaborate product displays in their storefronts and windows, for example, or eye-catching in-store signage and shelving. Brick and mortar stores also have the advantage of providing customers with the chance to physically interact with and observe a product before they purchase. Ecommerce stores aren’t able to offer the same luxury, which is what makes ecommerce packaging so pivotal.
Ecommerce packaging gives your brand an additional physical touchpoint to engage and delight shoppers. When done right, it enriches the buying experience, lowers return rates, makes your customer feel like they and their product are cared for, and helps your brand stand out from the competition. Your packaging might be the last touchpoint in a customer’s journey or the tipping point for lifelong customer loyalty. (Seriously.)
As silly as it sounds, your packaging can be a walking advertisement. Whether you choose to dropship, work with FBA, or take a more traditional approach, by using branded imagery on the shipping box or specialty brand-emblazoned shipping tape you are putting your name in front of every person who touches the box–from the warehouse to the front door.
Ecommerce packaging comes in an assortment of shapes and sizes, but there are some fairly standard packaging types that most brands use: utility packaging and branded packaging.
corrugated boxes are the most common type of packaging because of their light weight—which doesn’t add to the shipping cost—their sturdiness, and their recyclability. This is essentially your standard cardboard box, just with a little extra layering to keep everything inside extra protected from shocks, moisture, and temperature changes.
padded mailers are envelopes with extra protection built inside of them so that they can safely and snugly carry small and delicate products, like books, jewelry, or handcrafted goods. Padded mailers are often reinforced with extra bubble wrap and paper, but keep in mind that this can add to the cost as well as be less eco-friendly.
bags and envelopes, specifically reinforced bags and envelopes like Tyvek envelopes, poly mailers, or plastic mailer bags, are best used for shipping items that are small and lightweight, but not so delicate they need padding for protection. Most standard shipping bags are strong, versatile, cost-effective, waterproof, and they’re easy to store. Bags and envelopes work great for products like clothing items.
custom packaging refers to boxes and protective material that are custom fit for your product, optimizing your shipping, cutting down on much of the cost of fulfillment, and eliminating waste. Almost every industry can benefit from custom packaging. Food and beverage, health, and beauty products are just a few. When we say “custom” product packaging, we’re also referring to stylized packaging, like a box, bag, tape, or filler with your brand’s logo on it or inside of it.
The ecommerce packaging you use depends entirely upon the needs of your business as well as the needs of your product, but there are several factors that are especially important to consider.
Of particular importance is weight and appearance. Ecommerce packaging that’s too heavy or too big will cost you an arm and a leg to ship, whereas ecommerce packaging that’s too light might not offer enough protection. Appearance and weight directly impact how your product ships, which is why many brands opt for custom packaging.
It’s also important to keep in mind what kind of product you’re shipping. If it’s a perishable good, you may need a specialty box to make sure your product keeps. If it’s a fragile good, protection is king.
For luxury or high-end brands, the appearance of ecommerce packaging can be as important as the product. A plain padded mailer might do the job for another business, but it may feel cheap and also diminish consumer trust if it’s coming from a brand that’s shipping something like expensive jewelry. The care that goes into ecommerce packaging (or the lack thereof) is a direct reflection of your brand, and that’s important to keep in mind. Think about Apple—their packaging is as sleek and minimal as their products.
Another thing to consider is sustainability. Customers prefer eco-friendly packaging, and if you’re a brand whose core identity centers on sustainability, it’s critical that your ecommerce packaging follows suit. Packages like corrugated boxes are easily recyclable, which makes them a great option. On the flipside, a padded envelope or corrugated box with loads of bubble wrap or styrofoam packing peanuts inside is not so eco-friendly and will reflect poorly on your brand.
As with other facets of your business, you’ll want to determine your budget for ecommerce packaging based on how much value said packaging will add for your business.
Ecommerce packaging can be the cherry on top of your customer experience, and there are lots of creative ways that you can leverage it.
Many businesses use their packaging as extra real estate for their branding. Rather than shipping their product in a plain cardboard box, a brand may ship a container with their logo on the outside or on the tape, making it instantly more memorable to shoppers.
Another way brands leverage their ecommerce packaging is by making the actual act of unboxing an experience that consumers can get hyped about. All you need to do to learn the value of unboxing is run a quick YouTube search.
Unboxing or “haul” videos consistently rank high in popularity on YouTube, and they drive large amounts of traffic through other influencer platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Consumers crave unboxing experiences, and they’re no longer a differentiator, but a must for your brand.
A good unboxing experience incorporates personalized touches like notes, colorful tissue paper, stickers, coupons, or bonus goodies that add an element of surprise. Thoughtful touches like these tell your brand story, and they also increase the delight your customer feels when they receive their package. Unboxing is a great way to drive brand loyalty and leave a great first impression.
Your packaging doesn’t only add to the value of your product when it’s in the customer’s hands. You can also leverage it for web imagery to increase customer excitement and give them an idea of what they can expect to receive when they order.
You don’t necessarily need custom packaging—it’s certainly not the entry price to have a product shipped—but custom packaging is an increasingly appealing option for brands because of how it optimizes and personalizes the shipping experience. Custom packaging takes a forgettable delivery experience and makes it a standout.
When it comes to creating a beautiful package that your customers will love, Pattern’s got you covered. Our team of creatives and designers work from the ground up to create powerful customer experiences with your brand, providing you with the tools and perspective you need to make a thoughtful, memorable shipping experience for your customers. We’re confident we can help design your ecommerce packaging for success. In fact, we’ve even won awards for it. Ready to up your customer experience?
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Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.
If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.
At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.
Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.
DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.
Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.
Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.
So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.
Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.
So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.
As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.
The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).
As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter.
It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.
Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.