E-Commerce Strategy: The Power of the Unboxing Experience

Posted on November 29, 2018

E-commerce tends to be somewhat impersonal. It is that way by nature. The close person-to-person interaction is one clear advantage traditional brick-and-mortar retail has held over online competitors.

There are ways around that, though, and savvy e-commerce businesses are quickly figuring that out. The workarounds revolve around providing an exceptional and unique customer experience to go along with the convenience of online shopping.

One way to achieve that is by giving customers a surprisingly fulfilling experience while unboxing the products they’ve purchased. At this point, most consumers expect nothing more than a cardboard box with some packing peanuts or crumpled cardboard paper. But if your brand is giving buyers something more during that unboxing process, you have a great chance at standing out and building toward that all-important customer lifetime value.

We asked several experts who have first-hand experience deploying unique unboxing strategies to give us their perspective on what works best. Here’s what they had to say:

Mark Velarga, Director of Marketing at PakFactory

PakFactory is a custom packaging agency offering everything from consultation and design to delivery. With facilities and affiliates across North America and Asia, PakFactory is regularly providing unboxing recommendations to its e-commerce clients. Here’s what the director of marketing at PakFactory, Mark Velarga, had to say about enhancing the unboxing experience:

There are many ways you can personalize an online shopping experience through packaging. Custom printed packaging has become a very popular choice for many e-commerce businesses to provide a unique experience online. You can change your print from season to season or you can ship out different packaging based on different types of products (subscription type businesses). Another way is by inserting thank you notes and exclusive deals based on different customer segments. Tissue paper with a sticker label to wrap the products is also a good way to show the “personalized gifting” experience to your customers. 

Lastly, you can also dig deeper and look into the sensory elements and the structure of your packaging. If you want to completely blow your customer’s mind, you can opt for special coatings (foil stamping, embossing, soft-touch coating) to provide an enhanced feel to their experience. You can also add sounds such as magnetic closures or Velcro. Lastly, the structure of your packaging can make a big difference in their overall unboxing journey. You can hire a structural engineer to create custom structures for your boxes, or more cost-effectively, use mailer boxes with flaps. 

Creating the best-personalized unboxing experience all comes down to fully understanding your customers and designing your packaging according to their taste and behavior. 

Bea Tanese, Media Outreach Specialist at ShipMonk

ShipMonk is a third-party logistics company that provides multi-channel order fulfillment services and inventory management software to e-commerce companies. The business recently made the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies. Here’s what ShipMonk’s media outreach specialist, Bea Tanese, had to say about enhancing the unboxing experience:

I work at a fulfillment center, so I am always impressed by the small businesses who make it their mission to go above and beyond with customer service, which to me includes the customization of the unpacking experience for their own customers. There are a variety of ways in which this can be achieved, each more creative than the next. Here are a few ideas that are popular with our own customers:

  1. Custom boxes
  2. Promotional inserts and business cards that thank the customer and offer discounts for the next purchase
  3. Custom pouches or storage, especially for smaller items such as jewelry
  4. Stickers and “bonus items” for every order
  5. With subscription boxes, it is also common to see colorful crinkle and tissue paper

And, of course, never underestimate efficient, fast shipping of the correct SKUs and quantities, making sure that the packages are delivered safe and sound.

Matt Baglia, CEO at SlickText

Matt Baglia is a co-founder and CEO of SlickText, a leader in text marketing solutions. Personalizing the unboxing experience has been a major topic of discussion within the company recently. Here’s what Matt had to say about what SlickText is doing to improve that process:

Not only is it difficult as an e-commerce retailer to personalize the customer experience, but it’s hard to capture good feedback — especially for retailers that sell on Amazon as the e-commerce giant doesn’t let the merchants have any of the buyer’s contact information for marketing or feedback collection.

We specialize in creating SMS surveys that retailers can print on cards to leave inside their product’s packaging. When buyers open the package, there’s a call to action such as “text XYZ to 888111 to let us know what you think of the product.” Sellers then complete a personalized survey and provide feedback. This can help strengthen the relationship between brand and customer and captures their information for further contact.

Ronna Moore, Owner at Fairy Homes and Gardens

Fairy Homes and Gardens is an e-commerce garden boutique specializing in everything from fairies and gnomes to landscaping. The site serves as the online companion to Idyllwild Gardens, a nursery in Savannah, Missouri. Here’s what Ronna Moore, the owner of Fairy Homes and Gardens, had to say about what her business is doing to standout with unboxing:

Unique packaging can be difficult to swing, especially if you’re not selling handmade products, which is why I sometimes like to add a personal touch to my shipments, such as a handwritten thank-you note. It’s important to me that my customers feel appreciated, and this is really the least I can do to ensure that. Other packaging methods I have explored in the past include handwriting addresses (it is much more personal) and using branded packaging.

David Burrows, VP of Marketing/Business Development at Alford Internet Properties 

Alford Internet Properties works with many e-commerce businesses to help them better serve their customers.  The company regularly focuses on what can be done to help personalize the consumer experience to add value and increases future sales. Here’s what David Burrows, the vice president of marketing and business development at Alford, had to say about the best practices for unboxing:

Many of our e-commerce brands include a hand-signed card addressed to the person receiving the shipment. The actual copy may be pre-printed, but it’s still personal, conversational and engaging in its theme. A personal note reinforces the message that the person opening the package is at the heart of their online business. A signed card by the person fulfilling the order creates a connection to the brand with the customer as well as adding a level of accountability from the employee filling their order. They also include a discount code for future online purchases which adds to customer value and longevity. 

(Note: The views expressed in this article are strictly those of the contributors and independent of Engine.)