Online sales of consumer packaged goods (CPG) are exploding at a rate of more than 50% year over year. That’s incredible – and scary if you don’t have an ecommerce packaging strategy. Packaging for ecommerce is not just about protecting and preserving the product – that’s critical, yes – but it’s much more. Developing an ecommerce packaging strategy starts with understanding the consumer lifestyle trends and behaviors that are pushing the evolution of retail forward. Here are three such trends – and implications for packaging:
For the consumer, the distinction between brick and mortar retail and ecommerce is increasingly blurred. Shoppers are not always taking a direct path to purchase. A coupon might send the shopper to the store or website, while a visit to the store might invoke a price check online and a web banner ad might inspire a shopper to go to the store for a high touch experience.
Meanwhile, with micro-moments (turning to a device to act on something) impacting the way consumers shop, smartphones are increasingly important to consumers’ shopping journeys. According to a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Report on micro-moments and the shopper journey, “what starts as a micro-moment often leads to engagement and even consummation with other channels; comScore’s Local Search Study, for example, found the majority of purchases following a mobile search happened not online, but in a physical store (73%) or on the phone (16%).”
In this blurred retail world, retailers and brand owners have an opportunity to make the consumer’s purchasing and repurchasing experience as seamless, convenient and easy as possible. But remember that blurred and changing channels impact packaging, and if the packaging fails, that affects the consumer’s positive seamless shopping experience and puts brands at risk.
With consumers traveling more, online retailers and brands are responding to their needs by offering beauty products that meet airport security requirements and offer dispensing ease for on-the-go application.
For example, Glossier products ship in its popular pink pouches, but the pouch is also sold separately. Glossier fans use the pouch as an easy way to keep things organized and a good way to transport liquids in carry-on luggage. Tide’s three-pack of liquid detergent is a convenient option for traveling consumers, allowing them to wash clothing while staying at a hotel or somewhere without access to laundry machines.
When developing an ecommerce packaging plan, CPG companies might consider a proprietary packaging system that optimizes the space of an airport security-approved, quart-sized plastic bag.
A Hitwise analysis shows that subscription commerce has grown exponentially in recent years – over 3,000%! Retailers like Target (subscription service for everyday essentials) and Amazon (Subscribe & Save) are offering subscription services based on reduced prices and convenience.
Millennials think of the products they use as extensions of their values. They want to know the beliefs and principles of the places they shop. Several online subscription services are offering strong points of view combined with convenience, giving them license to upcharge. According to Nielsen, 66% of shoppers are willing to pay more if the company is dedicated to social or environmental change. For example, The Honest Company’s non-toxic approach to products combined with Honest “bundles” offer convenience for consumers willing to pay a markup for products that give them peace of mind.
Brand owners developing their ecommerce packaging strategy should consider developing primary packaging that can be repurposed as a measurable dispenser or daily reminder to encourage product compliance (and avoid pantry overload).
“We’re not thinking about how packaging design needs to evolve. We’re trying to catch up, we felt like we were so behind.”
– Packaging and Brand Manager, Grocery Store Chain
In-store packaging strategies can’t simply be replicated for ecommerce; they need to be reviewed and reexamined. A well-developed ecommerce packaging plan starts with an understanding of consumer behaviors and trends.