To achieve lasting e-commerce success, businesses must master every step of their operations – including the not-so-glamorous steps like packaging. Many merchants underestimate how critical good packaging is. But prioritizing it can help to set your business up for success. The right packaging helps you keep costs down. It also helps to create a more positive delivery experience for your customers.
Your main packaging priority should always be to protect your products during shipping. Each package takes an epic journey – from your fulfillment centre to the delivery carrier and, finally, to the shopper. Your parcels will be handled by various people in different environments, some automated, which means you’ll want your product to be as protected as possible to avoid damage.
Pack smart and prepare for volume peaks
On the surface, packaging is a simple mechanical process. The product is placed in a box, protective cushioning is added (if needed), the box is taped closed, and a shipping label is applied. While it’s important to have a simple, clear packaging process in place, you can always step up your game. Here are some suggestions to improve your packaging strategy.
Familiarize yourself with different types of packaging.
There are a variety of packaging options to choose from, like polybags, bubble mailers, and boxes – just to name a few. There are also many types of void fillers for delicate shipments – like bubble wrap, air pillows, plain paper, foam and even popcorn. Research the different materials, shapes, and sizes available and make an informed decision about the best fit for your products. If you’re looking for advice, the experts at packaging companies like The Packaging Company and Uline can guide you.
Minimize your bells and whistles. Try to avoid placing a box inside another box, or using a box when a bubble envelope will do the trick. Unnecessary additions will drive up the cost of shipping.
Stock an assortment of boxes. The number of different boxes you stock for shipping should depend on how diverse your products are. If you sell a variety of different-sized products, three or four different boxes should be enough to cover your needs. If you sell just one product, you might get away with two sizes – including a larger box for shipments of multiple items. The key is to have an optimal mix of boxes that minimizes the empty space for as many of your products as possible.
Be prepared for order spikes. Depending on what you sell, your business might experience peak order periods throughout the year. You may also see order spikes when a sale performs better than anticipated. Be prepared for unexpectedly high demand by having a few weeks’ worth of boxes on hand. Stocking enough boxes will help you avoid shipping delays that disappoint your customers.
The right packaging is crucial in the final mile
A thorough understanding of your delivery partner’s pricing and infrastructure can reduce your costs while making sure that your products arrive in peak condition to your customers. Here are a few ways that choosing the right packaging makes a big impact on the final mile:
It minimizes shipping fees. Carriers calculate shipping fees based on more than just how far a package is going. Box dimensions and weight impact your costs as well. Minimizing the empty space in your packages will help you offset shipping costs. But never compromise the inside protection of your shipment with fillers.
It enables a successful delivery. Understanding your carrier’s dimensions and the specifications of its delivery infrastructure increases the odds of a successful first delivery. Many shoppers receive packages in condominium lobby boxes, community mailboxes or parcel lockers – so ensuring your packaging fits into these helps prevent your customer from having to make a trip to pick up their order.
It makes unboxing an experience. Enhance and personalize your shipments by incorporating a branded element into your packaging, such as colourful tissues inside the package, that will surprise and delight your customers. This addition may take more steps and add to your packaging process cost, but it can be an important differentiator for your business that will keep your brand top of mind with shoppers.
Documenting the unboxing experience has become a huge social media trend in recent years. “People actually record themselves opening their packages and they put it on social media – it’s the craziest thing,” says Olivia Pietersen, e-commerce business manager at The Packaging Company.
Your packaging strategy can, and should, evolve
A merchant’s packaging strategy isn’t set in stone. It can, and should, evolve as the business matures. The box you used a year or two ago may need to be swapped for another one with higher-quality material, or perhaps replaced with custom packaging during an important season or holiday period for your business. As you continue to craft and improve your strategy, remember to think about how it can help you optimize costs, protect your product, and enhance your customers’ shopping experience.