Product Packaging: Exceed Customer Expectations to Gain Loyal Followers and Repeat Business

The buying experience doesn’t end once your customer clicks the order button. To grow your business through repeat customers and their referrals, you should extend the process through the entire product experience, starting at the moment they open your package. 

At a minimum, shoppers expect to receive the right order, on time, in good condition. But meeting the minimum expectations won’t help you be remembered. 

If you want to connect with your buyers and turn them into loyal followers, you need to wow them with an exceptional and unique unboxing experience.  This can make the difference between customers who leave five-star reviews and refer you to their friends, and those that silently disappear.

And if you sell a subscription box, the last thing you want is for your customers to get bored and unsubscribe!  High-quality, unique packaging is a great way to keep your customers engaged, delight them with each unboxing experience, and help them fall in love with your brand even more over time.

Four Ways to Improve Product Packaging for Your Online Store

1. Put Your Brand on the Shipping Box

When a package arrives in the mail, most adults feel a tiny bit like a kid on their birthday. Customers look forward to having their shipment arrive, opening their package, and revealing their purchase. It’s an adventure!

But, when opening a birthday gift, don’t you look for the tag to see who it’s from before you open it? Your customer wants to know the package is from you, so tie your brand into their excitement by putting your name right on the outside of the box.

photo of Teabento packaging - a blue box with their logo on the center
Image ©

Teabento, for example, has a creative box design in their brand colors, with their logo prominently displayed on the front.  There’s no question as to who the box is from!

Several companies offer affordable, customized mailers and shipping boxes online. You can specify the design with your name and logo, and pricing usually depends on how many you order.

If you can’t justify purchasing customized boxes or envelopes, here are a few other ways to affix your brand on the outer package:

  • Stickers and Mailing Labels – Logo stickers are fairly inexpensive and you can place them anywhere on the box so your customer instantly recognizes that the package is from you. 
  • Customized Stamps – Design a stamp with your name and logo, large enough to make an impact. Use ink in your brand’s primary color and you have an instant, customized box.
  • Colorful Tape – Instead of using clear packing tape, use decorative tape in your brand’s color, or customized with your logo or company name.

The point is to help your customer experience instant brand recognition and to create excitement for the next step – unpacking the goods. This is a form of customer service, because you’re reducing confusion and replacing it with clarity. Rather than a “What’s this?” moment on the doorstep, they instead feel the elation of “It’s here!”

2. Pair Design with Function

Functional packaging is essential to efficient cost control and the customer experience. Every piece of packing material should have a purpose.

Don’t use a large box with a lot of filler if you can use a padded mailer instead. Environmentally-conscious customers will notice if their package contains wasteful or excessive material.

If you ship breakable or perishable items, you have an obvious functional goal that should be your first concern – protect the product. 

Here are a few tips:

  • Choose the right size box.  A box that’s too large makes it easier for your item to shift and break in transit.
  • Don’t skimp on the bubble wrap.  Wrap the product itself and pad the box so it can’t move around.
  • Use a “Special Handling Fragile” label.  This alerts your shipping carrier that the contents of the box are breakable.
  • Use waterproof bags for liquids.  You may also want to consider double-sealing them so they don’t spill in the box.
  • Invest in shrink wrap.  Plastic and shrink wrap are great ways to keep your products from being damaged by rain, spills, or other liquids.
  • Ship cold items in insulated packaging.  Proper, insulated foam containers are available for ice cream, seafood, and other products that must be kept cold.
  • Look into dry ice or cold packs.  You definitely don’t want your food to melt or reach unsafe temperatures.
photo of Zana packaging with some products wrapped in plastic
Photo ©

Zana uses plastic wrap to protect their products from damage during shipping.  It’s just one piece of their packaging process that ensures everything arrives safe and sound.

You may also want to consider purchasing insurance on your product or using priority shipping methods that come with built-in insurance in case anything does happen en-route to your customers.

How you layer the items in their protective packaging can also produce a pleasing presentation for the customer when they unbox their order.

Research has shown that 40% of consumers would share an image of a package if they found it interesting. Additionally, 52% of consumers say that would make a repeat purchase if they received the product in a premium package. 

Unique, beautiful packaging creates a positive feeling for your customers that they’ll associate with your brand. 

Five ways to brighten up your packaging while remaining functional:

  1. Use colorful tissue paper in your brand’s colors or get customized tissue with your name or logo.
  2. Insert customized or colorful bubble wrap and bubble wrap mailers to keep your fragile items safe.
  3. Apply customized stickers to seal tissue paper or wrapping.
  4. Use thermal mailers and box liners for perishable products.
  5. Include colorful fillers like crinkled paper, Kraft paper, peanuts, and vermiculite (for shipping bottled liquids), which keep products from moving around during shipping
photo of Fairy Loot packaging - a box filled with books, cards, flowers, sparkles, and more
Photo ©

Fairy Loot does a spectacular job creating a magical experience with their boxes!  They use sparkles, flowers, and other mystical fillers that are on-brand and a pleasant surprise for customers. 

Should you always use colorful inside packaging? Not necessarily. 

You should remain true to your brand. If you sell organic products and promote eco-friendly practices, then your packaging should reflect that. Choose green or natural-colored paper. 

If you sell luxury watches, then the packaging should reflect the high-end nature of these products.

And if your products are fun and whimsical, then yes, pour on the color.

Do your best to select shipping and packing materials that reflect your brand and company culture. Your customers will form an opinion about you and your products from their unboxing experience. Make sure it’s the right one.

3. Use Product Packaging for Additional Marketing

The easiest people to convert through marketing are existing customers. It costs far less to motivate a current customer to buy again than it does to acquire a new customer. 

You can begin that process with your product packaging. Here are a few ideas you can implement, again at very low additional cost.

  1. Add a packing slip – Every order should have one, but make yours brand-specific by including your company name and logo and using the same font and colors.
  2. Incorporate an information card, brochure, or sales letter – Introduce a new product, ask for feedback, or send time-sensitive offers exclusively for that customer.
  3. Use direct response marketing – Include trackable, specific calls to action like coupon codes, phone numbers, or an Instagram photo contest.
  4. Include a link to your website – You could target specific buyers with a customized landing page or simply link to your home page. 
  5. Encourage sharing on social media – Link to your Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook accounts.

Again, because these customers just bought your product and are excited to open it, they will very likely look at every single item you send them.

You will never have a more captive audience than in this moment. Use it!

Lebelik recently shared this video of their packing process on Instagram.  You’ll notice that not only is each item carefully protected and packaged, but marketing materials are also included and are obvious as soon as customers open the box.  Plus, they even throw in a few sparkles! 

View this post on Instagram

Our favorite part is the SPARKLES! At lebelik, there’s nothing we love doing more than wrapping your beautiful gifts in box full of magic ⭐

A post shared by Lebelik (@lebelik_com) on

The marketing materials you include in your packaging should be an extension of your website and online store. You want to connect with your buyer through careful marketing, so they become a repeat shopper and a loyal customer. Make it easy for them to engage with you and purchase again.

4. Deepen Your Customer Service Experience

Make your customer feel special by personalizing their order. Include a handwritten note, signed by you, and use their name. They’ll recognize you took the time to personalize their order and that you appreciate them. 

photo of l'affinage packaging with a handwritten note on top
Image ©

L’affinage takes that extra step by tucking a handwritten thank you note into the box.  The personalization goes a long way in connecting with their customers and creating loyalty and trust. 

Anticipate any questions they might have by adding an information sheet for each product with instructions, return policies and procedures, guarantees, warranties, and answers to common questions you receive from customers. 

And, make sure to include contact information. Share your customer service telephone number and email address in case they have any questions.

You want to alleviate any objections your customer may have after ordering the product. Anticipating and answering all their questions will reinforce that they made the right decision.

Give something away – everyone loves to get free stuff. Show your appreciation with a gift they weren’t expecting. Insert a coupon for a discount on their next purchase.   

This is also a way to introduce customers to a complementary product line. If you ship candy, including a sample of a different flavor may help if the customer doesn’t like what they originally ordered. Instead of never returning, they may love the sample flavor and order that next time! 

Let’s say you have a wine subscription box tailored for women, but you also have a whiskey subscription box for men. You might include a whiskey sample pack in some wine orders and pick up new subscribers for your whiskey line. 

Lastly, always thank customers for their business. Even a nicely-designed but mass-printed thank you card beats sending nothing but an invoice in your box. 

Exceed Your Customer’s Expectations with Product Packaging

By thinking beyond the point of purchase and through the moment your customers receive and open their packages, you can take advantage of extra opportunities to delight and turn them into loyal followers. 

The eCommerce stores that grow naturally and quickly are the ones that let their customers market on their behalf. Product packaging, if done correctly, can be a wonderful way to encourage the kinds of actions that will multiply your marketing efforts. Go the extra mile with your packaging and your customers will reward your efforts!

Original article written by Dan Magill >

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