Before the emergence of e-commerce, most retailers spent an inordinate amount of time and money perfecting the in-store experience. Stores played music, piped in scents and stationed greeters at the entrance to fold garments over and over (there’s a good reason for that, right?)

Research has been conducted on traffic patterns and how products should be placed on shelves to meet varying eye levels. Books have been written such as Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping and The Call of the Mall and experts such as the author of those books, Paco Underhill, have been exulted in the retail industry for undertaking and presenting methodical studies of shopping.

Future of e-commerce starts at the door

As the future of shopping intersects with the future of packaging, the science of shopping is being applied to the boxes and bags delivered to consumers’ doorsteps. So now, it’s all about the science of receiving.

When it comes to online shopping and the secondary packaging connected to those purchases, the brand experience cannot end at the customer’s door but must extend through the door. To retain e-commerce consumers, retailers must provide inside the house the same kind of stimuli they provide inside the store.

What a package looks, feels and smells like will reflect on the loyalty and love a shopper has for the retailer that sent it. Our research has shown that 66% of Americans believe the packaging of their shipment shows them how much the retailer cares about them and their order.  

Of all the innovations in the packaging industry, the future of brand experience may carry the most weight as the consumer culture continues to shift into the cybersphere. In the future, packaging technology will allow retailers to promote their brands using plastic cushioning materials in various colors and shapes. Packaging materials will not only protect products but will also show and tell a brand’s story.  

To establish the retailer’s presence before the package is even opened, the future of brand experience will offer snappy messaging, creative artwork and company logos printed on the outside of secondary boxes. (A recent story in The Washington Post extolled the virtues of these decorated containers likening them to “brand canvases.”) And sometimes, there won’t be secondary boxes at all. Heavy-duty, opaque plastic sheets will soon be used as minimalistic wraps over the primary packaging, which eliminates the need for corrugated boxes, cushioning materials and void-fill.