Upgrade Your Unboxing Experience to Pro Level

Want to know what one of the most under-utilized tools online stores have at their disposal to boost sales and build loyalty is? Their unboxing experience; and if you want to ensure you’re cashing in on personalization trends, your packaging should be on your revamp list. Why? Because as many as 40% of shoppers claim that gift and/or branded packaging influences brand perception.

best eCommerce packaging examples

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Your product unboxing experience should be memorable, shareable and leave the receiver with the warm-and-fuzzies. What was once born out of necessity (packaging), has shifted to become part of the sales experience, and your products themselves are not enough anymore. Here’s the thing: first impressions matter and how your products are delivered plays a huge role in your customers’ overall satisfaction, your marketing strategy, and ultimately, in building brand loyalty and recognition.

Your products can be amazing and you can be converting new shoppers right to the bank, but if you want to stand out and make an impression you shouldn’t be looking at your packaging as just being there to ensure your product gets to your buyer in one piece. You need to consider the whole unboxing experience and understand that it is part part of the sale.

Besides leaving a kick-ass impression of your brand, this is what you’ll get out of a good unboxing experience: social exposure, additional sales, UGC and one-on-one attention, all in the moment when they are super excited about you. To achieve this there are three key fundamentals your packaging strategy should include:

  1. Brandability: in line with your brand and values
  2. Shareability: pretty enough that your customers will want to Instagram it
  3. Impactability: says something important

A great example of an eCommerce brand that is nailing all three is one of my faves, Happy Socks. Here’s an unboxing video that gives you an inside scoop on some of their packaging experience elements:

If you want to compete with the ‘big boys’ this year, the likes of Lootcrate, Happy Socks and Dollar Shave Club, it’s time to audit your unboxing experience. Here are the top questions you should be asking about your packaging practices and ways you can take your eCommerce brand’s unboxing experience from amateur to pro.  

1. Is Your Packaging Talking to Your Demographic?

You can spend a fortune on pretty packaging designs, but if they don’t fit your target shopper or your brand, you’re missing the mark. This is something Thrive Market understands completely.

designing packaging to suite your target market

Thrive Market’s are health-conscious, environmentally aware consumers and they have managed to create an awesome unboxing experience despite the size of their subscription boxes. Not only is it fully functional for the types of products they sell, but their biodegradable packaging design, their message, and their products are perfectly in tune with who is shopping at their online store.

Pro Tip: Ditch the plastic to boost sales. A UK report revealed that 33% of consumers will choose brands based on sustainable packing. Therefore, no matter what market you’re selling in, going ‘green’ can win you big points above your competitors.

Ultimately, you should be taking a closer look at your shoppers to determine what will have the best impact. So do the research, look at your stats and ask them what they want.

2. Is it Shabby Chic or Just Plain Shabby?

I’ve had MANY packaging fails from AliExpress, and I have always had the feeling, “Well, you get what you pay for,” and didn’t give it much thought. Until the other day when I got something in the mail and included in the shabby packaging was a small free gift. A simple little red string bracelet with a heart and that small inexpensive gift instantly made me feel valued – enough to write a review, which I hardly ever do.

The bottom line: being on a tight budget isn’t an excuse to be sloppy. You can make ‘cheap’ packaging look chic through personalization – whether it’s custom printed stickers or tape or the surprise of a personal note or gift inserted with the package.

cheap packaging ideas for eCommerce

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Pro Tip: Be social! Whether it’s on your box like Loot Crate, on a personal note or included on your receipt, if you are not using your unboxing experience to increase UGC you’re missing the mark. If you can capitalize on that moment when shoppers are opening their package with a hashtag and/or social media prompts, you can get awesome UGC and ‘free marketing’ to that shopper’s social followers.


3. Do You Have the Budget Upgrade?

If you’re worried about budget, here’s the thing: we know that it takes money to make money, and so many of us skimp on our packaging. But in today’s eCommerce market, creating a unique unboxing experience is non-negotiable if you want to beat your competition and drive long-term repeat sales. It should be part of your marketing budget, because, in truth, your unboxing experience is one of the few places online stores can talk directly to their customers one-on-one.

As we said, there is no excuse for shabby packaging, because your unboxing experience doesn’t have to take unnecessary skunks out of your marketing budget. One of the most disappointing unpackaging experiences I have had was from a huge merchandise brand that is not short on budget. They just obviously don’t prioritize the unboxing experience or understand that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

There are a number of elements you could be including in your unboxing experience that will suit your shopper, your brand and your budget. Which brings us to the fourth and final question…

4. Which Unboxing Experience Packaging Elements Can You Afford to Upgrade?

Although we know upgrading is a worthy investment, overhauling your whole packaging design may not be necessary. By simply adjusting one of your packaging elements you can make an impactful difference to your shoppers’ overall experience. Here is a list of packaging elements that may be due for a renovation:

The Receipt

Your receipt, the way it looks, what it says, matters. Use your receipt to show of your brand personality or offer additional surprises. You can use receipts to offer promotions, encourage customer feedback, offer coupons, or get social follows.

The Insert

Keep packaging costs down by using inserts as emotional triggers. Inserts can be anything from a printed postcard greeting to a personalized note or discount on the shopper’s next buy.

Up your eCommerce unboxing game by adding something highly relevant to your brand, the product and your shopper, like eCommerce geniuses Book Depository. For every book you order, you get a bookmark; not only is it handy but it keeps their marketing inserts ‘hanging around’ long after the order has been received.

The Gift

A small gift can go a long way into improving your unboxing experience without you having to re-design your packaging. It doesn’t have to be anything outrageous. Take GameKlip for example. They add some random candy to their box and it has been mentioned thousands of time on social media and influencer unboxing videos like this one:

The Sticker

Personalized stickers are another way you can improve your packaging impression for minimal costs. Stickers can be used to keep tissue paper together, or stuck on the outside of your envelope or box instead of printing. There are a few big online sticker sellers including Sticker Mule and Sticker You

print stickers online in bulk

Tissue Paper & Fillers

If your target market is slightly more sophisticated or if your product is a little fancy, filling your box with grey paper can be a real downer. Upgrade your packaging experience by adding tissue paper in a brand-matching color or if you have the budget, custom printed with your logo. Fun product or brand? Why not replace boring paper with colored packing peanuts or crinkle paper!

The Box

best examples of unboxing experience

Last but not least, your biggest packaging element: the box. If your product is simple, your box doesn’t have to be off-the-charts-fancy. Book depository, for example, uses sturdy brown packaging with simple one-color logo branding. It’s simple, clean, sturdy, and fits with their core audience. There are thousands of options for you to get custom made boxes, from Box Geek to Uline. But if you do want to up your packaging game, then look no further than Trunk Club‘s highly personalized packaging or LootCrates’s new packaging design that turns the box into loot.

Pro Tip: Did you know that 62% of people viewing unboxing videos are doing so because they are interested in buying said product? So why not include YouTube influencers in your marketing plan this year.

To Sum Up

Upgrading your unboxing experience doesn’t have to take tons of effort or budget; it can be as simple as adding a thank-you note and as complex as custom-designing your box. The bottom line is whatever element you decide to upgrade or add, make sure it talks to your shoppers’ language. Take a step back and look at the packaging as a whole –  start with the box, and then look at the layout, the placement of the products, the inserts, and the fillers.

In other words: you should be putting the same research, thought and creativity into your packaging as you do your marketing strategies because ultimately your unboxing experience is the ultimate brand takeaway.

Nicole Blanckenberg

Nicole is a content writer at StoreYa with over sixteen years experience and flair for storytelling. She runs on a healthy dose of caffeine and enthusiasm. When she's not researching the next content trend or creating informative small business content, she's an avid beachgoer, coffee shop junkie and hangs out on LinkedIn.



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