When it comes to eCommerce packaging, think scaled-down, eco-friendly, and fast and convenient returns.
As a business owner, it can often seem overwhelming to think about packaging all of your products. Each element of packaging — box, mailer, infill, label, even tape — has multiple options that each have pros and cons and need to be thought through. You can follow the recommended best practices for packaging, but even then you will still have a lot of options and decisions to make.
However, on the fulfillment side, it’s easier to see the patterns of where businesses go wrong when it comes to eCommerce packaging. With a few small changes, you can make the experience better for your customer, better for you, and even cheaper.
Tip #1: Scale Down Your eCommerce Packages
Even though most of us have experienced getting an item in a box that was way too big for it, this type of packaging continues to happen. Sometimes the right-size box isn’t on hand because companies try to buy fewer sizes in bulk to save money. Either way, this can cost you a lot more than you’d think in the long run.
When boxes are too big for the product, you have to add infill so that the product doesn’t get damaged by rattling around the inside of the box. Buying all that infill costs money, of course. Also, when you do that, no matter how light your infill is, it will still add weight to the package, which increases the shipping cost. And believe it or not, even if your product is extremely lightweight, the size alone will cause an increase in price. How?
The answer is dimensional weight, also known as DIM weight. Essentially, your shipping carrier has two formulas that calculate the shipping price based on the size and weight of the package, and whichever price is higher, that’s the one you get charged. So if you have a package that only weighs 2 pounds but is packaged in a 10-foot by 10-foot box, you’re going to get charged quite a lot to ship that box because it’s so big. So even if your product is light, if you’re packaging it in a large box, you’re likely getting charged based on the size of the box. The more you can cut that down, the more money you’ll save.
Tip #2: Don’t Underestimate Eco-Friendly in eCommerce Packaging
For years, eco-friendly packaging solutions have been written off as pipe dreams. Research and development takes time and money, so even when the result is a solution that works as well or better than the original, it usually costs too much to justify using it. However, all that has changed in the last few years.
Because of companies like EcoEnclose and No Issue, companies are now able to provide a great, eco-friendly experience for their customers that costs about the same as their previous packaging (with the added benefit of being much more consumer-friendly). For ecommerce brands that really want to stand out from the crowd, reusable packaging offerings such as those from rePack and Returnity. We’re seeing shoppers willing to go to ever greater lengths to offset their carbon impact.
Consumers are more eco-conscious than ever and are willing to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. According to a recent survey, 70% of customers in North America prefer eco-conscious brands, and globally, 40% of consumers are purposely shopping with brands that align with their personal values. By making eco-friendly packaging a major focus, you can pull in those consumers.
Tip #3: Think of the eCommerce Returns
While you may not want to think about returns and all the headaches they can cause — whether it be from late packages, mis-picked orders, or unhappy customers — you can rest assured that your customers are thinking about them. One of the best things you can do for your business is to make the returns process fast and easy for your customers, and not too expensive for you. Believe it or not, that is not an impossible task.
First, your customers. You may think that making the returns process free and easy will only encourage more returns, but in fact, it actually increases sales without increasing the rate of returns. That’s because online shoppers have reservations about the product being up to their standards, and if you can reassure them with a great return policy, you can boost your conversions.
Second, your business. A business that has not thought through a good returns process is not avoiding processing returns, only costing themselves more money in the process. By providing a box that can be reused and a shipping label in the packaging for your customers to use on the return journey, for example, you can ensure that your product is packaged the way it was meant to be and kept safe. If it’s damaged in the returns process, you lose not only the original sale but also any hope of selling it to another customer.
The Hidden Value of Packaging
When eCommerce businesses think of their packaging, if they do think about upping their game, they usually only consider the “unboxing experience.” However, as an e-commerce fulfillment provider, there are many other functions that your packaging provides, and many other areas of your business that are affected by good (or bad) packaging. By scaling down, using eco-friendly materials, and building in a return process into your packaging, you’ll draw in customers and save money on the bottom line.
This article was written by Jake Rheude, Red Stag Fulfillment.