Consumers like shopping online. However, sales of even the most finely crafted item can suffer from improper packaging. From online display to shipment, the wrong outer layer leads to consumers to competitors' well-packaged products.

Online commerce is no longer the last ditch "I'll check it out online to see whether it's available there" shopping option. E-commerce sales growth continually outpaces total retail sales figures (16% versus 5%), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And there's more:

  • E-commerce annual sales will likely reach $410 billion by 2018, according to Forrester Research.
  • The NRF predicted that in the 2014 holiday season, the average shopper would do about 44% of his/her holiday shopping with online retailers.
  • A E-commerce Packaging Survey reports that over half of consumers were more likely to make another purchase from an online retailer when orders included premium packaging. If in-store purchases include premium packaging, those consumers expect it to arrive with online purchases.

Online retailing is an incredible source of revenue. However, successful e-commerce involves more than a photo, a website, and a box for mailing a purchase. Though "hardcore" discount online shoppers may be satisfied with utilitarian warehouse-to-doorstep packaging, many e-commerce buyers expect (and deserve) more.

Packaging Makes an Impression

Unlike brick-and-mortar retail store buyers, online shoppers cannot pick up, turn around, shake, or smell an item. They often shop online to compare prices and find more options, and a site's presentation of products is often all online shoppers can rely on.

  • Thumbnails: If your product packaging is clear enough to be viewed as a small thumbnail, which is common for many sites, consumers will be able to identify your brand quickly.
  • Multiple viewpoints: Providing multiple images of the product and presenting it both in and out of its packaging permits "virtual inspection" of the item by consumers.
  • Provide zoom image viewing: Consumers read descriptions of product listings, which often include the "fine print" on packaging. Allow consumers to view the information printed directly on product packaging to increase their confidence in the item.

Meeting Consumer Online Expectations

Online consumers are often primarily concerned with purchases arriving safely (and quickly) at their door, but they also want brand recognition. Far too many e-commerce sites make shipping packaging their only packaging concern, but shipping only comes into play after a purchase is made—and purchases arise only from great online presentation.

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image of Amy Finn

Amy Finn is vice-president of Finn Industries, a folding carton and set-up box manufacturer located in Southern California.

LinkedIn: Amy Finn