How a Packaging Nerd Sees Increases in eCommerce During the Pandemic

As a packaging engineering geek, I constantly look at the packaging that ships to my home.  Ecommerce shipments experienced an explosion increasing 75%-80% in the first half of 2020 versus 2019.

e-commerce and packaging in a pandemic

For those who decide to forgo the in-store experience, skip BOPIS (buying online, picking up in-store) and opt-out of curbside pickup, the next best option is ordering online.  Whether it is a large box with one small item from Amazon, a box packed just like a shopping bag from your local grocer, multiple individually boxed staples from a national chain, or a personalized subscription service gift box, packaging works to convey, protect or get attention when the product arrives and it’s time to look at the goods.

The “unboxing” experience is a popular phrase, promoted by consumers who order online, driving increases in eCommerce and shipments during the pandemic.  As we adjust to the new norm of purchasing online, we get to witness the consumer experience first-hand, as customers actively participate in receiving products. It is the moment they open the box, bag, bottle, etc., and the feeling they get when they open the packaging. The sight, the smell, the taste, and the feel of the packaging, in addition to the messages conveyed by what is printed on the packaging.

The unboxing experience is becoming ever more popular with the modernization of technology and the advent of e-commerce. Consumers are becoming more hands-on with their products and purchases, which enables the packaging industry to redefine what it means to design.  It is now commonplace to find vloggers opening products on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn, commenting on the look of the package, reading instructions, determining how sustainable the vlogger perceives the packaging to be, and making sure the product is not damaged.

This is so important to the consumer because it’s the first memory they have of the product. This is important to the product because marketing, branding, and design come together, sometimes subconsciously, to satisfy or dissatisfy the consumer. The unboxing experience can be a reason why people come back to the product and back to your brand. As a packaging engineer, I approach the design of the packaging with the mindset that every aspect must be satisfying from beginning to end. The client must be satisfied with the design and it must satisfy the consumers of the product. I approach the process with a curious mindset: getting to know the client, their product, how it’s shipped, and who their customers are. This allows me to fully understand what type of experience best markets and sells that product.

In the Printerverse, particularly in B-C, packaging provides key information and an eye-catching aesthetic to the packaging. Printing then becomes an important communication medium and tool between consumers and companies. The unboxing experience is meant to leave the consumer satisfied. The graphics should be used to gain their attention and convey a perception of the utility, sustainability, or luxury of the product and brand.

I urge you to think about your own unboxing experiences. From the moment you receive a packaged product to the second you take the item out of the packaging; all your senses are engaged. Be aware of how it feels, smells, tastes, sounds, and looks. Were you expecting anything that wasn’t there and how could it have been improved?

The unboxing experience is relevant to everyone’s life since packaging is everywhere. It is my goal to bring you the best experience possible. I foresee that the unboxing experience will lead to further innovation in the packaging design and engineer fields, but also in the printing, marketing, and sales industries too. There will be more ways to engage with consumers and for consumers to engage right back.

My next blog will focus on subscription and event boxes and pay close attention to how packaging is used to engage and excite the consumers. Stay tuned!

Listen to this Podcast From The Printerverse with PMC’s new contributor – Camille!

Read more from Camille

Camille Corr Chism Packaging Consultant and Print Media Centr AuthorCamille Corr Chism, CPPL Fellow, has a diverse background in packaging engineering, design, supply chain, project management, and new product introductions. Her experience includes a variety of industries including food, e-commerce, technology, distribution, pharmaceutical, industrial, and automotive. Earning an MS and BS in Packaging, Camille earned a Six Sigma Black Belt (2019), and a lifetime certification as a Certified Packaging Professional in 2006. She was inducted into the IoPP College of Fellows in 2014.

Camille is the owner of Indigo Packaging and Consulting. She is the go-to person for all your packaging products and packaging design needs. Connect with her on LinkedIn, LinkedIn Company Page, Twitter @indigopkg, and Instagram @indigopkg


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