The days of visiting stores and meandering through aisles experiencing the effects of creative merchandising, being lavished with in-store assistance, and walking out with a crisp, branded shopping bag lined with perfectly folded tissue paper are gone. The doorstep is the new retail playing field.
With more consumers planning to shop online this holiday season than ever before, more boxes and bags will be delivered at more front doors than ever before. So it’s at houses, not just stores, where brands will have to stand out from the competition. The brands that are able to branch out to the other side of the door and activate their presence inside the home will have an advantage in maintaining brand fans and winning new ones.
In the age of e-commerce, online shoppers expect that the correct item will arrive on time and undamaged. That’s a given. Boosting the customer experience by delighting the senses or adding an element of surprise goes beyond expectation and elevates the brand in the mind of the consumer. “In order to get into consumers' heads and hearts,” wrote Liliana Caro for Advertising Age, “we must not only analyze the audience itself but also the environment, state of mind, and personal passion points at specific moments.”
Recent research conducted by Kantar Retail for Sealed Air showed that in general consumers report high satisfaction with the overall online shopping and package delivery process. They are equally likely to attribute positive packaging experiences to the retailer or manufacturer. So, as traffic at malls continues to decline, the goal for many retailers and brand owners is to replicate the experience pictured on the web or in the catalog inside the consumer’s home. And they are looking to secondary packaging to make that happen.
The visual impact inside a package can be powerful. Logos, photos, illustrations and designs can allow the recipient to envision the product enhancing her life. In this way, the package reinforces the mission and lifestyle of a company.
Innovations in inflatable plastics and new features on automated fulfillment machines are giving retailers more ways to expand their brand through packaging. Retailers can use decorated boxes that have suspension and retention features which showcase the ordered product much the same way a store display might. They can customize the outside and inside of the box, print messages and images on air-filled plastic materials, insert specially shaped inflatables, and include garment hooks and other accessories that have traditionally been part of the in-store experience.
As the in-store experience is turning into the in-home experience, packaging is now the last moment of truth. It’s the last chance for retailers to create passion about the brand and the impetus for consumers to keeping buying from it.