The Importance of Packaging in Ecommerce

January 9, 2014

Packaging a product specifically for delivery is a critical part of an ecommerce business. At its most basic level, packaging needs to ensure that orders are protected to minimise damage. A more advanced approach is to use the packaging to enhance the customer experience and to reinforce the company brand.

Conversely, poor packaging can result in an extra-long lead-time and a disappointed customer.

In an increasingly competitive etail market, with fewer product variations, your differentiator is often your customer’s overall retail experience. Market leaders understand the importance of developing customer loyalty, encouraging repeat purchases and minimising returns. They go to great lengths to ensure a flawless experience when the customer receives and opens their online order.

Some etailers, traditionally the niche players, invest an inordinate amount of time and money into the physical packaging of their products. YuppieChef, for example, currently packages every order in the following way: the product is wrapped in a layer of bubble wrap (if necessary) and in company-branded tissue paper; it is then placed in a box which contains a personalized, hand-written greeting card and the box is sealed with company-branded tape.

Other leading companies have different value propositions and offerings and this is reflected in their packaging choices. Generalists like Kalahari.com or Takealot package their products in a functional and cost-effective manner, with less concern for aesthetic appeal.

Look carefully at your target market and the nature of your business. If you are a niche player offering novel products it may be a good idea to invest in some value-add packaging, treating each order like a gift for the customer. Supplying this customised packaging has created a new and potentially lucrative revenue generator for warehousing and distribution firms such as Dotcom Distribution, one of the major warehousing and distribution firms in the United States. They have a dedicated packaging department that offers etailers the option of customised gift-wrapping and packaging of their products.

Whether you are an established etailer looking for market share, or a start-up ecommerce business, it is clearly worth paying attention to your packaging.