Customer engagement across all communication channels is now the top priority for many brands that sell online, as their marketing teams shift to an omnichannel strategy combining digital and physical spheres.
While many interactions remain in the digital sphere, packaging is increasingly being acknowledged as a key physical touchpoint for imparting brand values, such as sustainability, service, and luxury.
How packaging converted and suppliers can capitalize on this trend in an e-commerce market – now worth $63.60 bn in 2022 – is examined in detail in The Impact of Omnichannel on E-commerce Packaging, a new report from Smithers.
E-commerce supply chains continue to evolve, posing direct challenges for the packaging and creating critical decisions for how the latest formats can be integrated into a successful omnichannel strategy.
Smithers’ analysis identifies the following top opportunities for packaging in an omnichannel sales landscape:
Automation — Investments in a new generation of forming, converting, and filling equipment can optimize order turnaround for an e-commerce seller.
Delivery channels — The e-commerce market is expanding beyond conventional delivery channels with new distribution channels, such as click and collect, and same-day fulfilment, which demand their own consideration from packaging designers.
Returnability — Product returns are far more frequent in e-commerce, especially in segments like clothing and fashion, and any omnichannel solution needs to consider its implications. Improving pack returnability through reseal tabs or fixtures, and easy-to-use address labels is an area of much innovation in 2023, as packaging buyers acknowledge its important contribution to retaining loyalty and demonstrating a true commitment to the consumer experience.
Sustainability — In omnichannel the sustainability of a pack takes on an increased importance, it can be a critical differentiator between sellers. This is placing an emphasis on rightsizing packaging, using a minimum of secondary or protective materials while still ensuring the safety of the goods under shipment, as well as selecting the lowest carbon materials and building recyclability into delivery formats.
Unboxing — In e-commerce the first tactile experience of a brand for a customer is when they actually unpack the gift at home. In this omnichannel environment, there is a premium to invest in innovative, harmonious packaging designs, materials and graphics that make the best impact. A clever, luxurious delivery pack is much more likely to bolster the receiver’s overall perception of the brand; once they are removed from the myriad visual cues found in physical retail environments.
Smart packaging — E-commerce is increasingly dependent on customer information and repeat interactions to build up a digital profile that can be leveraged for repeat sales. Fitting omnichannel packaging with RFID or NFC tags, and scannable 2D data matrix (QR) codes, can support this, including relaying information in real time to give new efficiencies in warehousing and logistics.