The e-commerce business runs on the premise that companies will provide a delightful shopping and seamless delivery experience to customers through online sales. These online sales can come from marketplaces like Amazon,Flipkart, Shopify, etc, or social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. The listing of products on platforms is half the work done, however the ecommerce fulfilment and timely delivery of these products is another major aspect for successful business.
Faster delivery is an important parameter, however there are other factors at play which are also equally important in the delivery and ecommerce fulfilment process. When a customer receives his orders, that's his first physical contact with the product and it can create lasting impressions about the brand. This is where packaging comes into play. A sub standard packaging can ruin the whole experience even if the product is of the best quality and has been delivered in record time. Whereas the right packaging can surprise and delight the customer and will probably encourage repeat purchase.
The use of the right packaging can ensure that the product does not get battered by the time it reaches the customer as that would be the worst thing to happen. It is more frustrating because it not only disappoints the customers but also makes them go through the hassles of the entire return process.
According to some surveys, more than half of online customers have confessed that they would not buy again from the same vendor if they received damaged products.
So, the first function that packaging provides is to protect the product inside. It's a no-brainer but selecting the right box to package the product is crucial to ensure they safely reach the customer. You can't ship books in a package meant for cosmetics or clothes in shoeboxes. Right packaging, therefore, can minimize the cost of returns and improve your bottom line, as well as build confidence and loyalty by providing a better customer experience.
The second function is to portray the quality of your brand to customers. When the product is shipped in the right box with a proper amount of infill and appropriate receipts, catalog, etc, it shows that the seller cares about his customers and is committed to providing the best quality product with above-expected customer service.
Lastly, packaging can also provide an opportunity to advertise your brand. Often, customers use the boxes for other purposes and good packaging can keep your brand at the top of their mind. Also, customers talk about their shopping experiences with their friends and share reviews online. So, if they get good experience they are bound to talk good about your product and that would convert into increased sales.Types of Packaging
Companies of all sizes, SME’s, MSME’s, Enterprises shall focus on packaging to increase their overall business by providing a top class customer experience. After establishing the importance of packaging, it’s equally important to consider what type of packaging would go best with which product.
Here are the different types of packaging a business can consider:Corrugated Boxes
These are cardboard boxes. They are arguably, what the majority of buyers and sellers prefer in the world of e-commerce to move the merchandise from the fulfillment center to the customer. There are different types of corrugated boxes, and they impact the durability and strength of the box. The three major types to choose from are:
Single Wall: There is a single layer of protection that adds thickness to the box and provides adequate protection and is lightweight. This is suitable for the majority of ecommerce shipping.
Double Wall: For heavy items, additional protection is required and that is done by adding an extra layer of cardboard flute. However, it will increase both material and shipping costs.
Triple wall: These boxes have a high strength comparable to wood crates and are usually designed for big-ticket purchases like televisions, glass tables, and other home appliances, falling in the category of fast moving consumer durables (FMCDs).Paperboard boxes
These are folding cartons that are lightweight but tough and can be customised/folded to create custom shapes and structures and when not in use, can be just kept flat. Because of this flexibility they can be used to give a cool touch of personalization to any packaging. Different types of paperboard boxes like solid bleached and coated unbleached kraft boxes are used to package a wide range of products from frozen and wet foods, meat, bakery and cosmetics to soft drinks, beer and detergents.Rigid Boxes
These boxes are another form of paperboard boxes, just very thick. Paperboards are condensed and their thickness increases by three or four times, and this lends the box a tough protective coat and makes it quite rigid. These are not recommended for small e-commerce businesses as they are very expensive to use and ship. But as the business grows, a company can aspire toward this type of box.Poly Bags
These bags are flexible, thin, and lightweight. Food products, magazines, and flowers are some common categories that use poly bags. They cost you less in procuring and shipping and if you sell the same product in multiple sizes (like clothing items), poly bags can accommodate them all.Infills
Often, the box used for packaging a product is not exactly the same size as the product. There is empty space inside the box which can lead to product damage during delivery. So, some material is used to fill that empty space to add another layer of protection to the product. This material is called infill.
Most widely used infills are:Bubble wrap
Bubble wrap is perhaps the most widely used form of infill material. It’s been a staple packing material in e-commerce businesses because it’s lightweight, flexible and provides superior protection for even the most fragile and breakable of items like glassware, framed art pieces and other delicate objects. Because it weighs less, it also keeps shipping costs low. The only downside is it can take large space and thus be a burden to store.Kraft paper
It is a paperboard that is used to fill empty spaces within cardboard boxes to minimize the product movement inside them. It is produced from chemicals in a process known as Kraft process and that’s where it derives its name from. Its benefits include its lightweight, low cost, and recyclable nature. Also, it doesn’t take up much room in the warehouse.Packing Peanuts
Packing peanuts are another common form of infill that fill up spaces quickly and provide basic protection. But they are messy and take considerable effort to clean up. Also, because they are made from polystyrene, they have a high risk of being carcinogenic. And the greener options are more expensive and also heavier, which may add to shipping costs. So, it’s not recommended and also is going out of use.Other Considerations
In the last few years, e-commerce has gained wider traction and has fast emerged as the one of the most preferred modes of buying and selling goods. With this has come greater cognizance for sustainability in the whole process. Packaging material is produced from multiple sources and adds to environmental pollution in different ways. But as they are necessary for shipping products, they can’t be avoided. Shoppers around the world are becoming more environmentally conscious and they want companies to reduce their carbon footprint and invest more resources to protect and improve the environment.
Another concern is optimal usage of the packing material. The less material is used, less space will be taken up during transit and the customer won’t have to dispose of as much material.
For small businesses, it’s important to keep their costs low. Therefore, it’s imperative for them to be judicial in their use of packaging material. Also, the right kind of packaging will help them provide better experience to their customers, promote repeat purchase and increase sales, reduce returns and also, save costs on shipping. All these would eventually improve their bottom lines.Godamwale
Godamwale is a tech enabled logistics company that provides flexible, on-demand, scalable and integrated ecommerce and B2B fulfilment solutions. The on-demand warehousing model on pay per use sq.ft model without long term contracts can help you place your inventory near to the customer base reducing delivery time and return to origin logistics cost. Godamwale with its state of art technology platform to track and trace orders at each stage is integrated with 200+ fulfilment centres to help you reach every corner of india. Godamwale provides ecommerce and fulfillment services in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and in other major Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities.
This blog is written by Dheeraj Kumar who is pursuing his MBA from IIM Kashipur.