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As any ecommerce business knows, the moment of order delivery represents one of the most important touchpoints with your customer. Yet the arrival of a purchase is often underwhelming for consumers.
Why? Because many brands don’t treat the moment of delivery as something to be celebrated. If you really want to make an impact on your customer, then you need to give them something to get excited about! This is where a carefully-curated unboxing comes into play.
What is an unboxing experience?
Unboxing refers to the act of unpacking a box or product packaging. The unboxing experience is the memorable interaction a customer has when first unboxing a product for the first time.
What separates an unboxing from a regular delivery is the care and attention that a brand puts into making the experience memorable. This includes the use of bespoke packaging and branded boxes, attractive inserts, and free samples.
Unboxings are engaging because they are a performance. It’s about the ritual as much as it’s about the product, evoking that special aura that surrounds opening presents on birthdays or Christmas morning. By channeling this approach into your own packaging and delivery, your brand stands to gain a real edge over the competition.
Building a branded packaging experience
It’s difficult to separate the unboxing phenomenon from discussions about branding. No unboxing experience is complete without some form of custom packaging that puts the brand front and center! This allows brands to expand their narrative from a product to a personalized, immersive retail experience.
According to Dotcom Distribution, 40% of online shoppers would share an image of their purchase on social media if it came in branded packaging. By staking your brand identity on such a ritualized experience, you are creating an impression of exclusivity that is inherently desirable to consumers.
Why the unboxing experience is important
It’s easy to dismiss unboxing as an online fad that isn’t applicable to ‘real-life’ retail experiences. But the growth of ecommerce has really shifted the goalposts in terms of consumer expectations, especially with unboxing videos looking to be a trend that is here to stay. In 2020, an ‘Amazon-esque’ approach to online retail is unexciting and forgettable — it gives your customer no reason to remember you!
Putting effort into your great unboxing experience, packaging, and product presentation isn’t just about getting nice snapshots for Instagram; It’s a sophisticated post-purchase marketing strategy. Delivery is the final interaction that your brand has with a customer, so you want to leave them with such a positive impression that they can’t wait to purchase again.
A memorable unboxing experience delivers this in spades.
It drives customer loyalty
Customer loyalty is a slippery commodity in 2020. According to Yotpo, 37% of customers say that it takes at least five purchases to consider themselves ‘loyal’ to a brand. That’s a pretty high bar to reach. So, how do you make sure that customers want to come back again and again?
Many brands use loyalty programs or online personalization to boost retention rates. While these strategies are effective, they are also complex to implement.
The unboxing experience is a simpler and more powerful retention strategy. Why? Because it relies on emotion. It gives customers the feeling of being an influencer whose opinion is valued. This kind of consumer empowerment is the key to getting people to return again and again.
It makes a great first impression
Ecommerce has far fewer touchpoints between your brand and your customer than in physical retail. This means that buying online can easily feel clinical and impersonal, so it’s important to capitalize on the touchpoints you do have.
The moment of delivery is a fantastic opportunity to influence how customers feel about their purchase, and by extension, your brand. An attractive, well-presented package works wonders on customer perceptions!
It increases the perceived value
For branded retailers, very little of what they offer is completely unique. If you want consumers to buy from you over your competitors, you need to offer more than just a product. This is where a memorable unboxing experience comes into play.
Few brands have designed an unboxing as successfully as Tiffany & Co. Their robin’s egg blue jewelry boxes have become just as iconic as their engagement rings. Colloquially dubbed (and trademarked) ‘Tiffany blue,’ the box alone is a byword for their key brand values: elegance, luxury, and good taste.
Today, they even have a product page on their website dedicated to their packaging, as well as bone china versions of the box that can be bought as ornaments.
Such is the power of unboxing. When executed well, the unboxing experience becomes just as valuable (and desirable!) as the product itself.
It tells your brand’s story
Brand storytelling is vital to the success of any brand. When competition is fierce, you need to show off what makes your brand unique. The delivery experience is the one time you are guaranteed to have your customers’ undivided attention.
They have been eagerly awaiting their purchase, so the moment of delivery is already engaging. By adding some clever branding into the mix through your packaging design, you are setting the basis for much a deeper cognitive recall of your brand.
It boosts your content marketing
Adding unboxing photos to your brand’s social media channels, you can provide a different kind of engagement over regular product imagery. It’s an opportunity for your followers to live vicariously through an imagined customer and to picture themselves on the receiving end of your beautiful packages.
This makes it a highly emotive marketing pitch and enables social commerce to do the selling for you.
5 ideas for building the best unboxing experience
When you are building an unboxing experience from scratch, it can be hard to know where to start. But if you break down an unboxing into its separate elements, this makes it a lot less overwhelming to design. Below are the five key elements that make up any memorable unboxing experience.
1. Branded boxes
When your goods arrive on a customer’s doorstep, you want it to be clear from the outset who it’s from. While plain boxes are cheaper, you miss out on a valuable opportunity to build brand recognition. Plus, there’s nothing like an eye-catching box to build your customer’s excitement over their purchase!
2. Unique packaging material
This has both practical and aesthetic applications. Some kind of filler is important to help protect your products during transit, especially if they are fragile items. It’s also another fantastic branding opportunity to pull together your narrative on the interior and exterior of your product packaging. Packing material could be a simple kraft paper for standard orders or unique packing material for premium packages.
3. Product presentation
How the products are arranged within the box dictates how aesthetically pleasing the unboxing experience is. It’s the curated look of an unboxing that makes it shareable, so an arrangement that gives your customers something to delight in (and take photos of) is the key to making a first time lasting impression.
4. Free samples
This is one of the most effective ways you can create the all-important value-added perception. Putting it plainly, we all love free stuff, especially from brands we love! Adding a free sample in with your orders costs you very little in comparison to the gratification it gives your customer.
5. Customized sentiment
Online shopping has become notorious for mass-produced retail experiences. In this climate, targeting parts of your unboxing experience directly at your customer can feel much more personal, going a long way toward developing a relationship with your brand.
5 steps to design the perfect unboxing experience for your brand (+ unboxing experience ideas)
Each of these unboxing elements comes with a lot of different options, so it’s important that you give some thought to what will best reflect your brand identity and can be executed on logistically. Depending on the kind of feel you are wanting to channel (i.e., an indulgent versus a more minimalist approach), this will guide the type of packaging that is best suited to your needs.
1. Choose unique unboxing experience packaging material
Your internal packaging needs are determined by the amount of excess space and impression that you want to create upon opening. Crinkled paper fills up empty space and makes your box look fuller. This helps to protect more fragile goods during last-mile delivery. To add a more luxurious feel to your box, a customized tissue paper lining is a great option. it also adds more visual interest and branding to the interior.
2. Add custom branding to your box
Custom boxes are what most businesses think of first when considering custom packaging. Custom printing the exterior is a relatively expensive method, because of the amount of ink used. Other options include using custom packaging tape or customized stickers, which you can use to decorate the exterior and interior of your box. This helps you to build brand recognition at a lower cost which is a great option for small businesses.
3. Make the presentation of the product stand out
You want your products to look as though they’ve been carefully arranged, rather than stuffed hurriedly in the box. Die-cut cardboard inserts are great for giving your box a clean and structured feel. Otherwise, you can use a layer of tissue paper or cellophane to hold products together. This also helps to channel a gift-like vibe for your box.
4. Include a free sample or other goodies
A great strategy is to choose samples based on the items your customer has purchased. This gives you a good indication of their tastes, and so increases the chance of samples instigating future sales. If you have ample time to pack boxes, you can add in a handwritten note saying that this sample was picked “just for you” to really set your brand and customer experience apart.
5. Add a personalized touch
Including a note or two in your package is really the icing on the cake. While not always scalable, a handwritten thank you note can show just how much your brand cares. It might be a time investment on your end, but it’s for this exact reason that it feels special. If customers know that you are taking time out of a busy schedule, your brand may seem much more authentic.
For instance, ShipBob makes it easy to add branded, personal gift notes to your customer’s orders to make the unboxing experience even more memorable (you can even let your customers add a custom gift note at checkout if they are sending a present to someone special). Click here for more information.
4 businesses providing fantastic unboxing experiences
When putting together your unboxing experience, a little inspiration never goes amiss! Here are four unique unboxings from businesses that have put their brand identity front and center.
1. Esse Soap Co
Unboxings can be used to create some fantastic social media content. This excellent flatlay by Esse Soap Co markets their products and the unboxing experience their customers receive. The minimalist box and tissue paper design contrasts with their brightly colored soaps, and the branded ribbon gives the brand a more upscale feel.
2. Have a Nice Day
This is an excellent example of unboxing with cohesive branding. Have a Nice Day has used its smiley face logo as the key motif, with a cheerful hot pink accent color to build brand recognition. They also use free product samples to help increase the perceived value of the purchase.
3. Cousins Collective
Your unboxing doesn’t need to have an actual box to be special! Apparel brand Cousins Collective combines its mailers with branded tissue paper and a thank-you note, showing how they can still wow their customers on delivery.
4. The Book Playbox
By playing with the spatial dimensions of your package, you can create some really novel effects. Subscription box company The Book Playbox show off their quirky side by printing quotes on the tissue paper lining, which customers only discover once the package has been emptied. It’s this sort of thinking outside the box (pun intended!) that makes your unboxing experience even more memorable.
Costs of custom packaging
Naturally, the cost is going to be a big factor in determining how your unboxing experience will look. The price of custom packaging varies depending on the supplier and the packaging element in question. It’s very important that you set a budget for your unboxing experience before you start designing.
Custom boxes and tubes
Custom boxes or tubes are usually the most expensive element of an unboxing experience, as the minimum order quantity often starts out at 500 (or more). The cost per unit varies, but is usually somewhere between $5 -$25 per box. This also depends on the complexity of your custom design, as some suppliers charge based on the number of colors being used. One way to save money is to use pre-printed boxes in your brand’s color scheme.
It’s also very important that you factor in potential shipping costs, too. Most couriers use dimensional weight to charge based on both the size and weight of the parcel. This can get even more expensive for international shipping. For this reason, shipping mailers can be a more cost-effective option, as they are far less bulky.
Custom tissue paper
Custom tissue paper usually has a lower minimum order quantity than boxes, typically starting out at 250 units. It’s also cheaper per unit, usually between $0.50 – $3. Bigger orders are nearly always more cost-effective, so how you plan on using your tissue paper should dictate the best order size for your business (i.e., whether you’re just lining your box or wrapping products).
This will be determined by the kind of paper or cardboard you want to use. Thicker card with a glossy finish, for example, is likely to be more expensive than a matte finish. It’s also worth considering the impression you want to give customers. Recycled paper is generally more expensive but shows that you are mindful of your environmental footprint, which is increasingly important to consumers.
Including samples of excess inventory or last season’s stock is the most cost-effective option, but it may not give the same impression of value to your customer. If your product range doesn’t lend well to samples, you can always include packaging elements themselves as samples (e.g., custom stickers or more generic items such as confectionery).
When it comes to putting together a memorable unboxing experience, you are only limited by your imagination.
There are plenty of options out there to suit every budget, and inspiration can be found in every corner of the web. This article has laid out the key building blocks to any fantastic unboxing experience, but it’s up to you to decide what will best represent your brand to your customers!
Need help shipping and fulfilling orders? Check out ShipBob! Learn how ShipBob helps direct-to-consumer ecommerce businesses build their brand and provide fast, affordable delivery to customers.
“As an emerging company, brand recognition and loyalty were key to our business, so we ultimately decided to move to ShipBob. ShipBob has worked with us to develop technical capabilities so we can have any combination of our product offerings placed into our variously sized custom branded boxes.”
Pablo Gabatto, Business Operations Manager at Ample Foods