Pack up and promote

a man receiving his delivery
Photo by Yan Krukov on

TWO big questions facing online retailers are – what packaging to use and what to put in it.

The packaging has to be as small and light as possible to save on shipping costs, but strong enough to protect the contents from mishandling, unexpected impacts or fluids.

The second question is the product itself and how it is presented. For many, this is also part of the packaging design.

But there is a third question many online retailers don’t think about, and which is just as vital.

This is branding, promotion and product information.

This is not part of the product or packaging, but most definitely part of the customer experience when opening a package and so should be a prime consideration.

Online retailers have to invest considerable time, effort and expense in marketing to attract eyeballs and then convert those eyeballs into cash in the bank. 

For the paying customer the deal is receiving the item in mint condition and perceiving it to be good value for money.

Opening the package is where the rubber hits the road. Everything before that moment is a waste if the customer is disappointed or feels cheated.

That’s the moment when a good package insert can seal the deal. A good insert projects the brand, enhances the value offering and builds a relationship with a paying customer.

For most customers, an online purchase is made for convenience and cost. They are just buying a “gizmo” for whatever reason they may have. They don’t particularly care where or how the “gizmo” is made, they only care about it doing what they expect it to do and giving them the value they paid for it to give.

A package insert introduces the customer to the BRAND behind the “gizmo” they bought, to the people behind it, and why it is the best “gizmo” they could have bought. The insert can also give the customer ideas on what other products are available to either add further value to the “gizmo”, or complement it.

The insert communicates how much the seller cares about the product, which gives the buyer more confidence the online purchase was a good choice — and more confidence to buy more products from the retailer.

Most have already heard that acquiring a new customer is between five and 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one. 

But here’s something you may not have heard. 

According to research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the company behind the net promoter score) increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by an eye-watering 25% to 95%.

That’s the reason why major retailers invest so heavily in building their brand image. They know that many sales are secured on sentiment, even if the items themselves are more expensive than identical items from unknown brands.

Think of a branded T-shirt and an unbranded T-shirt: Which one costs more and sells more?

The trick is to convince a customer who has just bought an item to buy the same brand again.

This involves more than the product itself in the package and why it takes a package insert to seal the deal. 

Here are some ideas and tools to play with.