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The Costs and Benefits of Custom Packaging for Ecommerce

Only 11% of global customers are completely satisfied with packaging today. Custom packaging extends beyond simply branding to creating custom box sizes and protective packaging for customer satisfaction.

Start-ups and ecommerce sites have plenty of places where they can invest their money. Advertising, adding staff, product development- the list goes on and on, and it’s easy to argue that custom packaging simply isn’t worth the cost (which can range from three cents for a plastic bag to thirty cents for a folding carton, to more than thirty dollars per unit for premium custom shipping boxes with all the works, based on an order of 10,000 units).

However, the volume of packages being delivered is on the rise, and new dimensional pricing regulations are set to increase the volume of packages that parcel services are able to deliver.

Currently, UPS delivers 16.9 million packages every day, and UPS predicted it would ship 585 million packages in December 2014- an 11% year-over-year increase. Furthermore, FedEx and UPS recently began using dimensional weight pricing, a move aimed at leading shippers towards packaging that’s closer to the exact size necessary for safe delivery (previously, most consumers chose boxes much larger than necessary, which caused vehicles to “cube out” before actually reaching their physical weight capacity).

Most retailers probably think that custom packaging is just another way of saying branded packaging, but with the recent switch to dimensional weight pricing, customizing your packaging to an optimal size and level of protection can actually save you money on shipping costs long-term. So why should you care about custom packaging, and what are the costs and benefits of switching your ecommerce business over to custom packaging?

Custom e-commerce packaging represents a unique opportunity to create a memorable, positive experience for customers at a time when packages are more important and more visible than ever. Research shows that people form first impressions incredibly fast- usually within 100 milliseconds.

What’s more, people hold on to these impressions for dear life, even when the impressions are contradicted by factual information. Packaging is the first chance an ecommerce customer has for a tactile experience, meaning that a positive first impression of a product’s packaging heightens expectations for the product itself, which, when not contradicted, leads to a better customer experience. Wholesale labels and bland, run-of-the-mill packaging just aren’t that impressive to customers.

Also, the millions of packages being shipped today are more exposed to the world than ever, thanks in part to the trend of “unboxing” videos, a genre of online videos in which users record themselves unboxing an item they’ve received. These videos are often viewed millions of times, spreading the item and its packaging across the Internet and social media; since 2010, the number of YouTube videos with “unboxing” in their title has grown by 27%, and in 2013 alone, 6.5 years’ worth of unboxing footage was uploaded to YouTube.

A positive impression and experience is even more important when you consider the fact that Americans will tell an average of 16 people about a bad experience- nearly twice the number of people they’ll tell about a good experience. 89% of customers will buy from a competitor following a bad experience, and it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one bad experience.

Plus, custom packaging extends beyond simply branding to creating custom box sizes and protective packaging for customer satisfaction. Only 11% of global customers are completely satisfied with packaging today, and 80% of customers say that wholesale bubble mailers and other generic packages rather than splurge on custom corrugated boxes. Custom packaging, however, gives ecommerce businesses the chance to create a positively delightful first impression by going beyond branded packaging while saving money in other areas of ecommerce.


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