Why the unboxing experience matters for ecommerce packaging

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Every July, we launch our annual Unboxing Survey. Now in its eighth year, the survey aims to uncover what people think about the packaging used by online retailers.

What do consumers think about ecommerce packaging? Does packaging influence their buying decisions? What factors into the unboxing experience? This blog will explain what unboxing is, why the unboxing experience matters and how online retailers can look to master the unboxing experience. 

unboxing experience

What is unboxing?

Unboxing is the act of removing a newly purchased item from its packaging. The phenomenon is closely linked to the evolution of social media and content creation.

When influencers and YouTube personalities shop online, they often video themselves opening a package. Traditionally, it originated when people wanted to know what was inside the box of new tech products, like Apple iPhones. But, now unboxing could apply to any online shopping package from cosmetics through to clothes, shoes, tech and even wine.

In fact, Think with Google reports that people have spent millions of hours watching unboxing content – the equivalent of watching Love Actually 20 million times.

unboxing experience

Why the unboxing experience matters for ecommerce packaging

For online retailers – whether they’re a pureplay ecommerce brand or offer an omni-channel experience, how they differentiate themselves is important. In a saturated marketplace, maximising marketing opportunities to increase conversions is key.

And ecommerce packaging is a huge opportunity. In fact, packaging materials often represent the largest piece of self-owned media of any business. So, it makes sense for online retailers to use it to their advantage.

For pureplay ecommerce businesses, packaging also represents the first physical / tactile touchpoint in the customer journey. Creating a great first impression can be invaluable in generating repeat sales and getting consumers to engage with a brand.

unboxing experience

Mastering the unboxing experience

So, how can you master the unboxing experience? It’s worth considering what consumers think about packaging and what they expect from an unboxing experience.

What unboxing research tells us

The results of our 2022 Unboxing Survey paint a clear picture about what consumers want from their ecommerce packaging – they want it to be sustainable. Almost a third report that they won’t buy from brands that use packaging that isn’t recyclable.

Customised and branded packaging also plays a role in consumer decision making. 41% said that printed packaging helped create a memorable unboxing experience and encouraged them to buy again. And independent research backs this up too – a DeliveryX whitepaper states that 52% of consumers are likely to make a purchase again from a retailer if their initial purchase arrives in premium packaging.

The essentials of a great ecommerce pack

With the above research in mind, what are the essentials of great ecommerce packaging? As a minimum, we suggest that packaging used by online retailers deliver an unboxing experience that meets minimum expectations:

  • Packaging should provide sufficient protection
  • It needs to be easy to open
  • The materials used should be light and space efficient
  • The packaging should be the right size, and not create excess waste  
  • Packaging should be easy to return
  • It should be made from sustainable and recyclable materials
  • It should also be a reflection of your brand

Going the extra mile with your ecommerce packaging to deliver a memorable experience

If a retailer’s packaging is already hitting all these marks, what else can they do to make their unboxing experience stand out? Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Personalisation – personalising packaging, as well as content, can make customers feel special and singled out. Packing slips or cards with handwritten notes (where time allows) can make the unboxing experience more memorable.
  • Luxury finishing touches – simple tissue paper can be a small luxury finishing touch that elevates the unboxing experience. Alternatively, looking at coloured or branded void fill could be another way to add a finishing touch that is also practical.
  • In-box offers or small treats – another marketing opportunity is to put offers or samples inside your packaging. This can make customers feel like they’ve received a little treat and could lead to sales of new product lines.
  • Connected packaging – this is packaging that makes use of QR codes, bar codes and other smart technology to launch digital experience when people scan packaging with their smartphone camera. It can be a simple experience, like launching a web page through to a full augmented reality experience. Click here to learn more.
unboxing experience

Support delivering a great unboxing experience

At Macfarlane Packaging, we have the solutions and expertise to help you deliver a memorable unboxing experience with your ecommerce packaging.

We have a team of retail experts and two Innovation Labs that can not only create the wow-factor when it comes to ecommerce packaging, but also ensure it is optimised so it reduces costs, enhances productivity and cuts CO2e from the supply chain. Contact us to learn more.