Whether you’re a relatively small business or an established SME, the world of ecommerce is competitive and ever growing. So how can you stand out? You can start by not overlooking the importance of packaging.
Packaging often gets overlooked because when you have a great product, you might feel like that’s enough. How it gets to the consumer is just a formality, right?
Well, not always and definitely not when it comes to rising above your competitors. For example, if you’re selling candles that are quite similar to another brand and your products arrive in a brown box but your competitor’s arrives in a branded box, carefully wrapped in coloured tissue paper, with a handwritten note on how much the customer’s purchase means to them… I think I’d know where I’d go next time I needed a candle!
And with over 90,000 people type "unboxing" into YouTube every month, the process of slowly opening a parcel can be really exciting for customers. Who doesn’t want to feel like a kid at Christmas?
So let’s get inspired by looking at some of the best brands that make packaging almost as important as the product and how you can use your packaging design to increase your sales.
Brands that Get Packaging Right
Tiffany & Co’s Iconic Blue Box
If you know nothing about jewellery, maybe you’ve not even seen the Audrey Hepburn classic, there’s a good chance you’re still aware of Tiffany’s simple yet iconic branding.
Tiffany’s signature blue means that as soon as someone receives one of their jewellery boxes, they know right away that they’re about to receive some luxury bling. The excitement of seeing the box might even be better than the gift inside, but it’s all about igniting that feeling before you even reach the product.
The key to succeeding as a luxury brand - staying recognisable and making the consumer feel special. Every blue box is the same and yet you feel like the only person in the world when you receive one.
Top Take: While we know most small businesses don’t have the worldwide recognition of Tiffany & Co (yet!), this is just a large-scale example of how to make your product packaging memorable with something as simple as the consistency of colour.
NYC Spaghetti by Alex Creamer
Ever bought a product just for the packaging alone? We think Alex Creamer’s NYC Spaghetti design would be one of those purchases.
You might be thinking why would you buy this spaghetti when you can get a packet from your local supermarket for about 30p? But the simple answer is because it’s different and so fun that you almost forget the actual product is just pasta.
The NYC Spaghetti was only a concept and yet it featured in several packaging books and blogs, which just proves its genius!
Top Take: Your packaging should be an extension of your product. No matter what you’re selling, have you thought about how you could package it in a different way to how everyone else is? It doesn’t always have to be groundbreaking but a little scratch on the surface can go a long way.
Stripped Back Practicality from Polu
Reusable coffee cup company, Polu, was created based on finding a more eco-friendly solution to coffee culture. As self-proclaimed ‘Eco-Warriors and Zero-Wasters’, it’s important that the company’s packaging reflects their mission - so it wouldn’t be very cohesive to wrap their products in loads of plastic packaging!
Polu’s simple cardboard boxes hit the mark.
As the coffee cups come in a variety of colours, the company uses white ink on natural coloured cardboard to stay on brand without getting lost in the variety of their product designs. With the waves at the bottom giving a nod to the company’s mission to clean the ocean.
Top Take: Packaging doesn’t need to be complex. Eco friendly packaging is important to a lot of consumers so stripping things back for the sake of the environment could be a real selling point for your business. And it’s important that your packaging always reflects your brand’s values. Read how to make your packaging more sustainable.
Happy Socks Happy Boxes
If you’ve never bought the sock-lover in your life a pair of Happy Socks for Christmas, then you’re missing out - they’re a go to gift!
The best thing about Happy Socks’ packaging is it reflects the contents perfectly. Putting the pattern of the socks on each box shows that the company knows their customers really well. Someone who is willing to wear such an outlandish pair of socks, is going to appreciate and be drawn to the most bright and colourful packaging.
Our favourite is this kids pizza socks box. Note how the sock company includes images of the packaging in their product pictures, and why not when the outer case is so good?
Top Take: Happy Socks emphasise the significance of consistency. Their patterned sock boxes show that nothing is done by halves in their company and say ‘if you like the box, just wait until you see what’s inside’. Knowing your audience is vital and exciting your customers before they even open the package can be a really great trick to have them revisit your store.
Cadbury’s Personalised Products
We all know someone who simply loves chocolate and Cadbury’s is a classic - who doesn’t like it?
The thing about Cadbury is it’s always been recognisable for the rich purple colour and 2 glasses pouring milk. That’s been the same for nearly 2 centuries. So when thinking about how they could optimise their packaging without losing that strong branding, Cadbury made it simple by offering personalisation.
One research report by Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that offer personalised experiences. It makes sense then, why the chocolate selling giant created the same great products, with the option to add names, messages and pictures to the packaging.
Top Take: Just because packaging is normally thrown away, doesn’t mean consumers should want to bin it. Offering a custom packaging option will make your customer’s feel like your product is a gift within another gift, and they’ll really value the entire receiving experience.
What We’ve Learnt
At the end of the day it’s all about branding, branding, branding.
Everything you include in the package, from the product to the paper it’s wrapped in, to a business card or personalised message right out to the box, should be branded where possible.
Think colours, typography, shapes, textures, fonts, the order you pack your parcel in…
How do your orders reflect your brand on the other side? Have you made that experience of opening up your items as exciting as it possibly can be?
If a person has purchased a product from you it’s because they either need or want it, so every bit about the parcel they receive should remind them of that. Whether that’s by stripping back your design to show off your sustainable packaging or going hard on the colours and patterns to remind them how exciting it is to receive one of your products.
3 Quick Ways to Personalise Your Packaging
1. Include a Handwritten Note
We appreciate this isn’t for those who have a high volume of orders to low staff ratio because let’s face it, handwritten notes are time consuming! But there are a few ways you can get around it:
- Handwrite a generic message that can be used in all packages - Ted Baker’s 'Love, Ted x' does the trick - scan it in and print copies. It’s kind of cheating but it still adds that extra charm to an order.
- Include a message card and just write the receiver’s name at the top, ‘To Amy’, or end with ‘Thanks Amy!’ Just those 2 handwritten words could make the recipient feel extra special.
- Only offer handwritten notes as part of a deluxe package or personalised gift box option - this means you don’t have to commit to it every time but the option is there for those who are willing to pay for the unboxing experience.
Offering freebies in your product package may seem out of reach if your business doesn’t have cash to spare, but where most small businesses fall down is by thinking freebies need to be large or significant to have a positive impact.
Consider what you’re selling. If it’s stationary, could you include some free branded stickers? Selling garden accessories, could you throw in a free pack of seeds? Clothing? How about a free hair scrunchie?
And if you want to be clever, you can put a limit on your freebies - e.g. the first 30 orders of the month get a free X.
It’s all about the little things and making sure the buyer feels appreciated. It’s important to get across the message of ‘here’s a freebie for you because we are grateful for your custom’. That personal touch is what keeps customers revisiting your store.
3. Use Unboxing Videos
On YouTube there are almost 40 unboxing videos with over 10 million views, showing that people don’t want to just see the end product.
Have you thought about how you can make your unboxing experience unique? You probably spend so much time packaging parcels, it’s a good idea to sit down and open one up to see your items from a consumer lens.
Once you make the unpacking process special, you could then:
- gift one of your products to an influencer
- include a video of a friend opening up one of your packages on your website
- reverse it and show the packaging process on your social media
This allows your customers to share the excitement and anticipation of opening a gift, before they even order it themselves. And remember to keep the video authentic and natural - that’s the charm of unboxing!
If you think you’ve got your packaging sorted, unboxing videos can highlight the high quality of the packaging and the delivery process.If you think you’ve got your packaging sorted, unboxing videos can highlight the high quality of the packaging and the delivery process.
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