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How Great Packaging Changes the Game for E-commerce Companies

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 26, 2018
Photo credit: Sandra Cunningham/Shutterstock

As e-commerce becomes an increasingly vital channel for many businesses, savvy retailers are beginning to recognize the power of packaging. Retailers should optimize for the convenience of the customer while also prioritizing sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

Smart e-commerce packaging benefits businesses and customers alike. As e-commerce becomes an increasingly vital channel for many businesses, savvy retailers are beginning to recognize the power of packaging. Indeed, how a product is packaged can hold just as much sway over customers as the quality and popularity of the product itself.

While there's no one-size-fits-all solution for e-commerce packaging, a few important considerations should come into play. You should optimize for the convenience of the customer while also prioritizing sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

In-store vs. e-commerce packaging

E-commerce packaging differs from traditional retail packaging in a number of important ways. Brick-and-mortar businesses tend to prioritize attractive designs, serving the dual purpose of enticing in-store shoppers and acting as an eye-catching advertisement for the brand once a customer has left the store with their purchase.

In-store packaging must also include practical features such as measurement information and theft deterrents, which don't serve a purpose within the online shopping sphere. To optimize packaging for e-commerce fulfillment, businesses need to reconsider what best serves the customer. Compactness, durability and sustainability come to the fore here.

To optimize your packaging for e-commerce, you should aim to reduce shipping costs for both the distributor and the customer, protect the product from damage in transit, and source environmentally friendly materials. With durable, recycled materials, optimized packaging can contribute to a more sustainable business model – both in economic and environmental terms.

Most importantly, these features matter to customers. As eco-consciousness permeates every aspect of our material lives, from clothing production to food consumption, the use of recycled materials is a significant value-add for retailers hoping to appeal to the next generation of savvy consumers. Customers also love compact, easy-to-open boxes and customized packaging, which are a must for brands looking to set themselves apart in a sea of bulky, characterless cardboard boxes.

Leading industry trends

Companies looking to scale in the e-commerce economy don't need to choose between durable packaging and eco-friendly materials. A focus on simple, sustainable packaging will keep costs down, minimize your company's environmental impact, and increase customer satisfaction to boot – all while protecting your products during shipment.

For example, online grocers and meal delivery services can commit to shipping organic, environmentally conscious food products in reusable packaging – from recycled shipping bags to responsibly sourced cardboard – to maintain status as green brands. Some companies may even want to adopt zero-waste business models that reduce the total volume of product packaging while utilizing more eco-friendly, repurposable materials for their packaging needs.

With environmentally conscious companies reimagining what e-commerce packaging looks like, the trend of easy-open, sustainable packaging has become increasingly prevalent. For e-commerce businesses to stay afloat, prioritizing customer satisfaction and sustainability in the form of smart packaging innovations will be key in the years to come.

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