We often talk about ‘magic’ when we discuss eCommerce experiences.
You can have magic at first glance on your website, magic in your marketing copy, and magic in your checkout experience.
But we’d argue, the real magic happens when your product makes it into the hands of your customers. Your shipped package is often the most direct connection you’ll have with the people who sustain your business.
That’s why your unboxing experience - the small ceremony we go through when we unwrap something - matters a lot. It’s likely to linger much longer than the checkout experience or even your website, meaning it’s the perfect time to build customer loyalty.
The three-step unboxing plan
Like unwrapping a present, we generally feel a sense of anticipation when it comes to receiving a package.
To capture the most of that joy possible, it helps to plan out what your customer will see from the time they open the box or pouch until they uncover the product itself.
Step 1: Flow chart of customer journey
It might help to make a flow chart of your ideal process.
Try and make your process as granular as you can, even if it seems silly! The most delightful things are found in the smallest details.
A dress with “the perfect size” written on the label, or a piece of fabric to tie up loose electronic cables spark happiness and gratitude. We want to create as many sparks as possible.
Step 2: List everything they see
Then make a list of all the things your customer might see in the process.
At first, brainstorming everything you can think to include is helpful as you may come up with new, funky ideas that will set your unboxing experience apart.
But remember, everything needs to have a function. Glittery sticky tape is really fun and can develop a brand feeling, but its primary purpose is to hold the box closed. A barrage of useless information or unnecessary stuff will cause irritation to bubble up in your customer.
So after you’ve made an all encompassing list, it might be best to pare it back to the strictly necessary and then work on making those things delightful.
Step 3: Feelings you’d like to evoke
And lastly, make a list of the kinds of feelings you’d like to evoke from your customer.
Take your time to nail the most important feeling. This is work you might have already done when you set up your brand.
From here, every step and every element of the unboxing experience needs to link up to that feeling.
If you’d like to prompt an exclusive or expensive feeling, then perhaps keep your colour palette muted and spend a bit more money on the stock or packaging itself so you have a premium feel.
If you’re looking for joy and happiness, keep the colours bright. Or if you’re looking for relief, make sure your instructions are clear and firm.
Breaking down the unboxing elements
Everything in product packaging should have a function. But with that functionality comes an opportunity to enchant! There’s nothing more delightful than discovering something attractive is also incredibly useful. Like gardening gloves arriving in a box that can be reconfigured into a planter. Or a bag that can be repurposed into a shopping tote.
These are the elements for a memorable unboxing experience, which will have your customers whooping in delight and jumping back on your site!
- Outer packaging
- Inner packaging
- Surprise effect
- Gifts and bonus
#1 Outer packaging
Outer packaging is the first thing your customer is going to see. Think the box or the case. It’s also critical in getting your product from your shop to your customer, so make sure it’s sturdy and strong.
(Read our giant Guide to Packing and Wrapping your packages to get the low down on the strongest materials to use.)
Nailing your unboxing experience is less about what container you use, and more about how you use it to display your products.
Think about your brand’s personality and reflect that in your outer packaging. Do you want to convey durability? Strength? Craftsmanship? What kind of materials and textures can help convey those feelings?
Remember that list of everything your customer sees when they unbox? Now is the time to think about each thing and get creative.
Here are some ideas:
- Include your company logo wherever you can, either in the form of a sticker or in the packaging itself.
- Ensure you’ve kept your brand colours consistent; these form an instant subsconscious association in the mind of your customer with your brand.
- While customisable boxes look wonderful, and they are terrific for developing a memorable unboxing experience, don’t get too tricky! Make sure the box opens and closes easily.
- Keep it simple and uncluttered, don’t overwhelm the consumer with information.
- Do you want a picture of your product on the packaging? Or do you want a clear window so they can see the real thing?
- Make sure you properly communicate what your product is. Don’t make it look like something else!
Example: Who Gives A Crap.
Our friends over at Who Gives A Crap have designed a special gift edition of their toilet paper boxes.
Notice how the colour themes are consistent with the brand’s palette?
Photo: courtesy @whogivesacraptp
#2 Inner packaging
These are all the cushiony, internal parts of your package. Think tissue paper, ribbon, packing foam etc.
Rather than just protection, think about these things as presentation elements. Control what your customer can see as they remove each item from the box.
Here are some ideas:
- Dividers can separate and give each of your items its own nest, so try organising your items in different sections.
- Rather than styrofoam peanuts, maybe pack your item with wooden curls or something compostable.
- Print your logo across ribbons. This gives your packaging a premium feel.
Example: In Your Face Cream have used pleated paper to package their products.
Goes to show, it doesn’t matter what you’ve got lying around, a smidge of creativity will leave your customers loving your brand.
Photo: courtesy @inyourfacecream
#3 Thank you notes, and other surprises
People just want to know there’s another human behind what they’ve just bought.
One lovely way to surprise and delight customers is to handwrite (if that’s realistic!) a thank you note. These notes increase a customer’s emotional investment in your brand considerably.
Example: The Equinox Box
These guys have developed a gorgeous little posy of herbs and Christmassy things to include in their package.
Using neat tissue paper, and a thoughtful bundle, they’ve managed to make their inner packaging a delightful part of the unboxing experience.
Photo: courtesy @read.breathe.repeat
Of course, it’s possible you’re shipping so many wonderful products out the door that sitting down to write a card is impossible, so it could be worth organising your customers into segments you can prioritise.
Perhaps every repeat customer gets a thank you note, or anyone who’s written into your support function or specific holiday thank you cards like on Valentines Day or Christmas.
Whatever you decide, it’s great to use your customer’s name whenever possible. People also love supporting local business, so maybe write up some genuine information about yourself and your business. How come you’ve decided to go out on your own? Who else works with you.
You might be surprised how customers remember these personalised touches and how that prompts them to come back to your store.
Woah! That’s a big list. But the moment your product reaches the hands of your customers is the moment they remember forever, so it pays to be prepared. Good luck!