Unpacking insights from our 2023 Unboxing Survey

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Throughout the summer this year, we surveyed over 1,000 consumers about their online shopping habits and the packaging internet retailers are using to deliver consumer purchases.

Now in its eighth year, our Unboxing Survey (the largest of its kind in the UK) aimed to assess if consumers’ packaging priorities have changed, considering the cost-of-living crisis, and if sustainable packaging had become a decision-maker for even more consumers when choosing to shop online with a brand.

In this blog, we’ll unpack the results of our 2023 Unboxing Survey and provide valuable, constructive insights into consumer experiences with ecommerce packaging…

unboxing survey 2023

The backdrop of our 2023 Unboxing Survey

The survey has taken place during a challenging time for retailers and consumers alike. Significant increases in inflation and cost-of-living at the end of 2022 spilled into 2023 and have left many with less disposable income. The knock-on effect? Internet retail revenue has seen negative growth during the first half of 2023. On top of this, many consumers are less loyal to brands because of economic concerns.

So, where does packaging factor into this? Well, packaging can play a big role in the online shopping experience. It’s the first tangible touchpoint when consumers shop online and can help build doorstep anticipation. 

Let’s unpack what consumers have had to say…

unboxing survey 2023

Unboxing now and then

Since we began our unboxing research eight years ago, a lot has changed for retailers and consumers alike. This means the packaging used to ship online shopping has changed too – and for the better.

Retailers have made strides to improve their packaging with a 46% increase in branding appearing on their packing materials. Another improvement we’ve witnessed is a 40% decrease in parcels arriving with damaged goods. Fewer retailers are overpacking their products too – listening to customer frustrations about excess packing materials.

unboxing survey 2023

Consumer shopping habits and how packaging influences them

This year, two thirds of consumers have stated they’re spending more time shopping online. Most consumers also overwhelmingly report home delivery is their preferred way to receive goods.

On top of this, returns are an important factor. They remain a big concern for consumers, as confirmed by recent findings from Klarna with 84% of shoppers saying they’ll turn their back on a retailer after a bad returns experience. Positively, of consumers who had to make a return, 89% reported they used the packaging deliveries came in to do so.

So, what does this mean for packaging? Well, with more and more people shopping online, it puts the onus on retailers and their partners to continually innovate when it comes to packaging. Packaging must be suitable for home delivery, as well as return-ready to provide the bare minimum unboxing experience.  

unboxing survey 2023

Demands for retailers to keep sustainability a high priority

The environment remains a top concern for consumers. 55% say retailers should keep sustainable packaging a top priority. A further 42% also believe it should be a priority – but not at the expense of keeping costs down.

Essentially, our unboxing survey results highlight the tricky balancing act of managing cost and sustainability. Particularly during times of high inflation that are not only impacting consumers but, business costs too.

In terms of how sustainable packaging will evolve in the future, 87% of consumers reported they’d be willing to return reusable packaging to retailers. This demonstrates that people are becoming more conscious of the circularity of packaging.    

The packaging balancing act – managing costs and sustainability

As mentioned, it can be a fine line for retailers trying to manage costs and sustainability. The solution? Packaging optimisation.

More and more online retailers and 3PLs are turning to highly optimised packaging to overcome supply chain complexities, increase efficiency, lower costs and, ultimately, reduce their environmental impact.

At Macfarlane Packaging, we have the tools and facilities to help retailers create a memorable unboxing experience while optimising their packaging, like our Innovation Labs. Plus, our Packaging Optimiser software can illustrate the savings to retailers’ bottom line and the environment when they make improvements to their packaging.

To see the full results of our 2023 Unboxing Survey, click here. If you’d like help delivering an amazing unboxing experience, get in touch today.