How to Package Your Products: Online vs. Offline Sales
These days, more and more companies are selling online and offline products. However, this hybrid approach can make packaging even more challenging than before!
Here’s what you need to know to conquer this challenge and come up with the best packaging solutions for your new business venture:
The Shift Toward Online Sales
The shift toward online sales is undeniable, with global ecommerce sales expected to hit $4.2 trillion this year. Other statistics further demonstrate that online sales are necessary and are here to stay.
For example, 93.5% of global internet users have purchased products online, and 74% of U.S. consumers say they will continue to shop online instead of in stores even after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is the Retail Model Still Relevant?
The meteoric rise of the ecommerce industry has many asking if the retail model is still relevant. And while the COVID-19 certainly hurt the retail industry, it has managed to make a comeback as cases drop and restrictions are lifted.
At the same time, retail stores are likely going to have to make changes to keep up with ecommerce and changing consumer demands.
Can You Use a Hybrid Model With Both Online and Offline Sales?
In a world where customers shop both online and in-person, can brands use a hybrid model to get the best of both worlds essentially?
Absolutely! In fact, a hybrid model is actually ideal in 2022 as customer actions and preferences continue to shift as we exit the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hybrid model is so effective that it has taken hold in unexpected industries. Take the automobile industry, for instance. Just a few years ago, buying a car online without test driving it or even seeing it beforehand would be unthinkable.
However, online companies started popping up and have traditionally forced retail companies to reconsider and adopt a hybrid approach to compete better.
The clothing industry is another good example. The basic assumption was that you had to try on clothes before buying them in the past. However, thanks to online companies who started offering great return and exchange policies, if something didn’t fit, that's no longer the case.
These days, most retail clothing stores also have an online store so that their customers can choose how they want to shop.
What Is the Purpose of Retail Packaging
As you can see, the retail and the ecommerce model are completely different and require different packaging solutions. But before we get into exactly what that means for your packaging, let’s first discuss the purpose of retail packaging:
The primary purpose of retail packaging is to attract the attention of potential customers. Since retail packaging often has to compete alongside numerous competitors, it’s important to stand out from the crowd with eye-catching packaging designs.
Another purpose of retail packaging is to demonstrate the function and purpose of the product. Retail packaging should make it clear what a product looks like, how it works, and how customers can benefit from it. You can do this by using clear packaging where the product is visible or by including a little how-to guide on packaging.
Finally, retail packaging is designed to inform potential customers and provide them with all the information they need to feel confident about purchasing the product. Depending on your product and industry, you may want to include nutrition information, association marks, product endorsements, etc.
What Is the Purpose of Ecommerce Packaging?
Ecommerce packaging, on the other hand, should be designed for protection, promotion, and profit instead of attraction, demonstration, and information. Let’s dive deeper into what this means for ecommerce packaging:
The primary purpose of ecommerce packaging is to protect the product throughout the shipping process. Packages go through multiple sets of hands during the shipping process and are often thrown around. So to protect the product from breakage or damages before it even reaches the customer, the packaging needs to be strong, durable, and protective.
Many businesses tend to neglect the promotion potential for ecommerce packaging since it doesn’t necessarily play a role in a customer’s initial purchasing decision. However, ecommerce packaging does play a role in the overall customer experience, which is reason enough for brands to take it seriously.
Last but not least, ecommerce packaging should be profit-minded. In an online world where consumers now largely expect services like two-day free shipping, businesses often have to eat some of that higher cost themselves to secure a sale. This means that businesses have to maximize profits in other areas, like the packaging.
Ecommerce packaging should be compact and lightweight since shipping fees are charged based on size and weight to maximize profits. For this reason, packaging products like corrugated cardboard boxes and poly mailers are popular choices for ecommerce brands.
7 Factors to Consider for Both Retail and Ecommerce Packaging
While retail and ecommerce packaging have their differences, they have similarities as well. Keep these seven factors in mind when choosing and designing both your ecommerce and retail packaging products:
1. Packaging Material
Perhaps the most important aspect of your packaging is the material. In the retail industry, packaging is typically made of plastic, cardboard, or even metal in the retail industry. In the ecommerce industry, some common packaging materials include corrugated cardboard and polyurethane.
2. Packaging Shape
In terms of packaging shape, retail packaging may come in more exciting and unique shapes in order to stand out on the shelves. Ecommerce packaging usually comes in more uniform shapes and sizes like rectangles and squares to avoid higher shipping charges for irregularly shaped packages.
3. Packaging Size
Packaging size is key in both retail and ecommerce. In retail, you want your packaging to be compact to avoid taking up too much shelf space. At the same time, you don’t want your product to disappear on the shelf completely.
In ecommerce, you want your packaging to be as small as possible to cut down on shipping costs that are charged based on package size. Just keep in mind that packages that are too small could actually result in damaged products.
4. Packaging Color
Packaging color is used to communicate with consumers and evoke certain feelings. It might make more sense in retail to include bright and strong colors like red and yellow to draw the eye to that specific product.
In ecommerce, you have more freedom to choose your colors based on your brand personality and existing color scheme.
5. Packaging Visuals
All types of packaging should include clear visuals featuring the brand name and logo. However, non-transparent retail packaging may need to include images of the actual product so that the consumer can see what the product looks like. With ecommerce packaging, the customer has already bought the product based on what they saw online, so there’s no need to use the same visuals in this context.
6. Packaging Durability
Again, all types of packaging need to be durable to a certain extent. That being said, ecommerce packaging needs to prioritize durability over everything else since it’s being shipped and has to survive that entire process.
Retail packaging needs to be somewhat durable; however, the customer is the one responsible for its safe transportation, so they’re likely to be more careful than a shipping provider would be.
7. Packaging Extras
Finally, packaging extras play a role in both retail and ecommerce packaging for protective and interactive purposes. Packaging inserts made from foam or cardboard are common in retail and ecommerce packaging to protect contents.
Fillers like packing peanuts, shredded paper, and air pillows are seen more with ecommerce packaging.
5 Best Practices for Retail Packaging
- Show off your product
- Know your competitors
- Get creative
- Portray value
- Tell a story
Here are five best practices for retail packaging to help you design something that’s attractive, demonstrative, and informative:
1. Show Off Your Product
When you’re trying to compete in retail, you really need to show off your product the best way that you can. You may have the best product out there, but if you can’t show that to consumers, you aren’t going to get any sales. The best way to do this is with transparent packaging or if that’s not possible, by featuring large, high-quality photos of the product on the packaging.
2. Know Your Competitors
Speaking of competing in retail, you also need to know your competitors. Take a trip to the store and check out who you’re competing against and what their packaging looks like.
Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer who’s walking down the aisle and think about what they’d be drawn to versus what they’d overlook.
3. Get Creative
That’s not to say that you should base your retail packaging on your competitors. In fact, it’s really quite the opposite. Feel free to get creative and do something completely different with your packaging that will grab the attention of consumers and pique their interest.
4. Portray Value
Your packaging says a lot about your product — including its value. When a consumer is contemplating a purchase, they will consider the quality of your packaging to represent the quality of the product. So if you want to charge high prices for a high-quality product, you’ll also need to use high-end packaging.
5. Tell a Story
You never know what will be the deciding factor for a consumer when they’re considering a purchase, which is why telling your story on your packaging is always a good idea. Telling your story on your packaging can help you establish an initial connection with the consumer by seeming accessible and relatable.
5 Best Practices for Ecommerce Packaging
- Prioritize protection
- Choose the right size
- Go custom
- Create an unboxing experience
- Go green
Here are five best practices for ecommerce packaging to help you design something protective, promotional, and affordable:
1. Prioritize Protection
As you know, protection should be the number one priority for ecommerce packaging. But what does this actually look like in practice? Instead of choosing a flimsy paperboard box, you choose a sturdy corrugated cardboard box. Instead of simply throwing your products into the box, you use custom product inserts and filler.
2. Choose the Right Size
You also need to choose the right size for your ecommerce packaging. You want to achieve a snug fit that doesn’t provide much room for movement. Box Genie knows that achieving the right fit for your products can be challenging, which is why they offer custom packaging sizes. Simply enter your ideal interior measurements, and Box Genie will make it just for you.
3. Go Custom
Size isn’t the only aspect of ecommerce packaging that you can customize with Box Genie. Box Genie allows you to customize nearly every aspect of your packaging, from paper type to printing options and design. Simply send in your existing packaging design or use Box Genie’s design studio to visualize and create your own without using any fancy software.
4. Create an Unboxing Experience
Consumers are craving an exciting unboxing experience these days, and as an ecommerce company, you need to give it to them. Start with a custom mailer box that’s thoughtfully designed with your brand logo, colors, and fonts.
Then, include custom product inserts for a more high-end feel. Finally, make it personal with a handwritten note or a printed coupon to use on their next purchase.
5. Go Green
Consumers are also looking to go green, so your packaging needs to do the same. Corrugated cardboard packaging is extremely eco-friendly as it can be recycled up to seven times. So do your part to save the environment and potentially win over some customers simultaneously.
Whether you’re hopping on the ecommerce train or are trying to break into retail for the first time, Box Genie can help with customized packaging solutions.
Reach out to our packaging experts today for personalized assistance.
20 Ecommerce Statistics: Online Shopping in 2022 | Fit Small Business
3 Powerful Steps to Write Your Brand Story | Inc.
Most Consumers Want Sustainable Products and Packaging | Business News Daily
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