We often talk about ‘magic’ when we discuss online and offline experiences.

You can have magic at first glance on your website, magic in your marketing copy, and magic in your checkout experience.

But we’d argue, the real magic happens when your product makes it into the hands of your customers. Your shipped package is often the most direct connection you’ll have with the people who sustain your business.

That’s why your unboxing experience - the small ceremony we go through when we unwrap something - matters a lot. It’s likely to linger much longer than the checkout experience or even your website, meaning it’s the perfect time to build customer loyalty.

The three-step unboxing plan

Like unwrapping a present, we generally feel a sense of anticipation when it comes to receiving a package.

To capture the most of that joy possible, it helps to plan out what your customer will see from the time they open the box or pouch until they uncover the product itself.

Step 1: Flow chart of the customer journey

It might help to make a flow chart of your ideal process.

For example:

Try and make your process as granular as you can, even if it seems silly! The most delightful things are found in the smallest details.

A dress with “the perfect size” written on the label, or a piece of fabric to tie up loose electronic cables spark happiness and gratitude. We want to create as many sparks as possible.

Step 2: List everything they see

Then make a list of all the things your customer might see in the process.

At first, brainstorming everything you can think to include is helpful as you may come up with new, funky ideas that will set your unboxing experience apart.

But remember, everything needs to have a function. Glittery sticky tape is really fun and can develop a brand feel, but its primary purpose is to hold the box closed. A barrage of useless information or unnecessary stuff will irritate to bubble up in your customer.

So after you’ve made an all-encompassing list, it might be best to pare it back to the strictly necessary and then work on making those things delightful.

Step 3: Feelings you’d like to evoke

And lastly, make a list of the kinds of feelings you’d like to evoke from your customer.

Take your time to nail the most important feeling. This is work you might have already done when you set up your brand.

From here, every step and every element of the unboxing experience needs to link up to that feeling.

If you’d like to prompt an exclusive or expensive feeling, then perhaps keep your color palette muted and spend a bit more money on the stock or packaging itself so you have a premium feel.

If you’re looking for joy and happiness, keep the colors bright. Or if you’re looking for relief, make sure your instructions are clear and firm.

#1 Outer packaging

The outer packaging is the first thing your customer is going to see. Think of the box or the case. It’s also critical in getting your product from your shop to your customer, so make sure it’s sturdy and strong.

Nailing your unboxing experience is less about what container you use, and more about how you use it to display your products.

Think about your brand’s personality and reflect that in your outer packaging. Do you want to convey durability? Strength? Craftsmanship? What kind of materials and textures can help convey those feelings?

Remember that list of everything your customer sees when they unbox? Now is the time to think about each thing and get creative.

Here are some ideas:

  • Include your company logo wherever you can, either in the form of a sticker or in the packaging itself.
  • Ensure you’ve kept your brand colors consistent; these form an instant subconscious association in your customer's mind with your brand.
  • While customizable boxes look wonderful and terrific for developing a memorable unboxing experience, don’t get too tricky! Make sure the box opens and closes easily.
  • Keep it simple and uncluttered, don’t overwhelm the consumer with information.
  • Do you want a picture of your product on the packaging? Or do you want a clear window so they can see the real thing?
  • Make sure you properly communicate what your product is. Don’t make it look like something else!

#2 Inner packaging

These are all the cushiony, internal parts of your package. Think tissue paper, ribbon, packing foam, etc.

Rather than just protection, think about these things as presentation elements. Control what your customer can see as they remove each item from the box.

Here are some ideas:

  • Dividers can separate and give each of your items its own nest, so try organizing your items in different sections.
  • Rather than styrofoam peanuts, maybe pack your item with wooden curls or something compostable.
  • Print your logo across ribbons. This gives your packaging a premium feel.

#3 Thank you notes and other surprises

People just want to know there’s another human behind what they’ve just bought.

One lovely way to surprise and delight customers are to handwrite (if that’s realistic!) a thank you note. These notes increase a customer’s emotional investment in your brand considerably.

Oh! wait one more thing you should know.....Nowadays Customers/end users loving sustainable packaging. So think sustainable packaging.

It isn't easy being green, a wise frog once said. But, as far as eco-friendly packaging options go, we're here to help you make informed decisions and make it a little easier.

There are all types of ways to package and cushion your wares for transport these days. It isn’t, at first glance, entirely apparent whether a certain type of packaging is truly detrimental to the environment or not though.

To be good stewards of this planet while also doing good business, we can make packaging choices that help keep things clean and green. It’s all about sustainability.

In short, sustainability is all about maintaining ecological balance. For the sake of keeping the Earth livable for humans and flora and fauna alike. At its most basic, it’s the idea that we shouldn’t take more than we give.

Simple, right?

But, in reality, we’ve found it challenging to keep that balance. Humans take up a lot of space on this planet and have not been adequately concerned with its consequences. 

Recently, with the glowering threat of climate catastrophe hovering over us, many organizations and companies have heeded the call for a clear focus on sustainability.

One major concern within the realm of offline and online are the waste of packaging. From decades of careless use of non-recyclable packing materials, mountains of waste have needlessly piled up in landfills to slowly degrade and off-gas tons of greenhouse gases.

So, let’s take a deep dive into the world of sustainable packaging to see how we can make a smaller environmental impact. It all starts with a life-cycle assessment.

Life-cycle assessment

Judging the sustainability of any particular material starts with a life cycle assessment. From creation to (hopeful) decomposition, what is the total impact of that box or void fill? That’s what aims to be quantified through careful analysis of its entire life cycle.

Beginning at the proverbial cradle with the extraction of raw materials—followed by material processing, fabrication, distribution, and use—to the grave of recycling, disposal, or decomposition, all parts of the life cycle come together to illustrate the full impact of any particular packaging type.

A group that puts a lot of thought into this and brings together the major voices in sustainable packaging is the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. They are worth checking out.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When trying to be as eco-conscious as possible with your shipping decisions, you want to start with the material you use to cushion and encase your precious merch for its big ride. 

There are a ton of options out there, all falling along a continuum from eco-unfriendly to super sustainable. Luckily for you, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to put your packaging decisions in perspective and reduce your carbon footprint. 

First, let’s look at the main categories that packaging may fall under—recyclable, reusable, and compostable.

Recyclable packaging

The most commonly used type of packaging these days is recyclable. 

Cardboard boxes, molded pulp forms, and paper-based void fill are used extensively to get small package shipments from point A to point B. The box and the cushioning within get thrown in the big recycling bin outside. 

That paper goes to a facility to get soaked, chopped, cooked, pulped, strained, cleaned, bleached, and reformed. Many of the cardboard boxes you use are at least some percentage recycled material (the other being sustainably managed forests). 

Adding to the eco-friendliness of recycled and recyclable paper packaging is the fact that most, if not all, of it, can completely biodegrade at the very end of its cycle. It is best if this biodegradation occurs through the process of composting instead of in a landfill. 

Why? The anaerobic environment of a landfill produces a greater quantity of the more dangerous methane gas than the aerobic environment of compost piles.

Reusable packaging

Reusable packaging can be one of the most eco-friendly packaging solutions available, but it is not often feasible for many businesses. 

Some of the more common reusable packaging examples in the world of delivery and shipping are kegs, glass milk bottles, pallets, shipping containers, gas cylinders, and plastic totes. This is a major part of the idea of a circular economy, which aims to eliminate waste. 

The application of these items trends away from the middle of the road. They are used both by the larger freight shipping operations (think pallets and containers) and smaller local businesses with their own more complex delivery and return systems (think kegs, milk bottles, and plastic totes). 

For regular shipping from business to consumer, the feasibility of reusable packaging depends on the consumers’ willingness to return the container their shipment came in. But, for the applications where it does work, the packaging gets a lot of use across its lifespan. 

When it is no longer usable, it must be discarded or, if possible, recycled. While initially more costly, reusable packaging is likely more cost-effective in the long run.

Conclusion

Woah! That’s a big list. But the moment your product reaches your customers' hands is the moment they remember forever, so it pays to be prepared. Good luck!

-Bureau Chief: Kacharagadla | CPP Insights

2 thoughts to “How to create a wonderful unboxing experience

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