The unboxing experience is the sort of thing you may never notice, until that one time when you do, and then you can never not notice it again.
Brands built around impeccable customer service do a lot of things they really don’t need to do. What sets apart the greats is that they believe they do, in fact, need to do those things. The extra “thank you,” the commitment to always finding a customer-pleasing solution, the “never say no” attitude seem gratuitous to those on the outside but are essential to those on the inside.
The unboxing experience is an e-commerce extension of those values. Brands that would never allow an in-store customer to have a single substandard moment are not willing to let their customers have one at home.
Bring the brand experience into the customer’s house
Delivery times will be soon be measured in hours, not days. But there will always be a lag between when you place an order and when you receive whatever it is. Brick-and-mortar stores don’t have this downtime. Product selection and delivery takes place within the physical brand experience. That creates a continuity in the customer experience that e-commerce does not have.
An e-commerce brand’s packaging reconnects the customer to the brand at a key moment: when they get the thing they paid for! The logo, the colors, the physical design and whatever little touches the sender adds to the packaging all bring the brand back to the customer in the way that a generic brown box cannot. They’re reminded of the brand as they hold the product for the first time.
Creative packaging gives you one more way to be you
More than just the printed elements, the unboxing experience includes the physical design of the packaging. This opens up new possibilities to show your company’s creativity and personality.
If you company is known for sparse, modernist and streamlined designs (think Apple), the packaging should be the same. The customer should be able to take the product from the box and into their hands in as few movements as possible; and those movements should be simple and smooth, sliding and gliding rather than flipping, popping and hinging.
On the other hand, if your company has more of an old-school geek / maker vibe, maybe you want that extra level of complexity. The unboxing should feel like stepping through a fun puzzle. Surprise, excitement and discovery more your thing? Then throw in some random goodies: a gift card, company-branded swag, a sample of something that complements the customer’s purchase.
Does your company sponsor a sports team or non-profit? The tie-in activation pretty much writes itself.
What are the basic elements of a customer-pleasing unboxing experience?
Let’s go from the outside and work our way in. You may be able to get creative with the actual shipping box, but there are some important limitations. First, despite your commitment to a great unboxing experience, there’s still the economics. Your warehousing and shipping contracts may require you to use standard-size, brown, plain corrugated cardboard boxes. Switching up the type or size of the box could affect your pricing, and therefore your business model. The other issue is security: if your brand is recognized and coveted by customers, it is to porch pirates, too. It may be worth the anonymity of old school outer packaging to make yourself a “hard target.”
Once the customer opens the outer box, the first thing they will probably see is the spacer or protective packaging materials. Unless you’re sending someone fish ‘n’ chips (and if that’s the case, we have questions), you can do better than crumpled up newspapers.
An easy option is to order tissue paper in your brand colors or with your logo. Another possibility, depending on the product, is to use structural cardboard shapes to create a platform in the box and secure the item to the platform with a clear plastic wrap or zip ties. It eliminates the need for both an internal box and packing materials. This is a popular option for shipping laptops and tablets, so much so that UPS offers a laptop box. The platform option lets people open the box and immediately see their purchase; and it is more environmentally friendly since it requires less material and leaves the customer with a lot less waste.
If you do have your own box within the outer box, this is where you can be creative with the aesthetics and design. Customers should know intuitively how and where to open the box: if you need to write “This End Up” non-ironically, there’s a problem. Once they open the box and have the product in their sight, how do they take hold of it? Does it fall into their hands, slide onto their table, seemingly lift into their grasp? And is there anything under it, perhaps a message, a personalized card, or just a pleasantly on-brand picture?
How to create an unboxing experience worthy of your products
The unboxing experience turns packaging from something generic and functional into something unique and useful. Like everything else in the customer experience, it needs to be about the customer: satisfying them, improving their mood, helping them feel more connected to your brand.
If you’re not sure where to start, WW&L has been making the mundane and practical exciting and personal for over 100 years.
Our design team will work with you to develop your unboxing concept and produce the packaging materials you need to carry your brand from your store to your customers’ hands. E-mail or call us today to get started.