As we all know, online shopping has become the norm. We shop online with no hesitation and the internet is where the lion share of sales will continue to take place. The method in which retailers and brands deliver an experience to customers has evolved from the traditional brick and mortar model, where large marketing budgets are spent on exclusive retail displays. It is the cardboard box and poly mailer that serve as the first touch point with customers and for the growing number of online only retail businesses, your door step is their new in-store display.

Shopping habits are constantly changing, whether we accept it or not and we can safely say that an updated delivery experience is in demand as we speak. Here are the three main reasons for the shift away from traditional packaging.

Brand Awareness

The traditional shipper box or poly mailer isn’t exciting, yes, for the package recipient the product that lies inside is what is really interesting. However, this is already a missed opportunity to promote and reinforce a brand experience and messaging. We can all agree that even a companies logo printed on a bag or box creates a higher perceived value but why stop there?

​These boxes never go unnoticed. Successful online retailers have taken full advantage of this potential marketing space and know the value it holds. A typical package will get delivered to a home, apartment, dorm room or office building, and come across many potential customers along the way to its final owner. You may even spot them in the recycling bin. With this in mind, packaging should tell the brand story while also increasing the perceived value of the brand. Birch box has done this masterfully with the customization of their monthly subscription boxes.

Visual Experience through Collaboration

Custom packaging is now a place for brands to collaborate and create a visual experience. Successful online retailers have taken full advantage of this new marketing space and use it to their advantage. Large online retailers deliver packages to hundreds of thousands of customers and the opportunity to get seen by their target customers is a sure thing. This isn’t the same for digital advertising that can be easily skipped and is heavily saturated with advertiser dollars all competing for consumer attention.

​A good example of packaging collaboration can be seen in the Amazon recently yellow boxes to promote the Minions movie.

In online retail, the end recipient is guaranteed to see the packaging and will be likely to share it with their friends if the correct experience is engineered.​ With every custom package comes the opportunity to create sharability.

Social Sharability

We can’t stress the importance of sharability enough, not because it’s buzz word but because of how effective it can be in retaining and attracting new customers organically.

You can understand the value a package has when it engages a customer in such an impactful way that they then post it to social media for all of their friends to see. This opportunity unlocks a whole new opportunity for customer engagement and proves that packaging should be developed with sharability in mind.

Additionally, packages now have the potential to live far beyond their intended life cycle and be ingrained into the fabric of modern social interactions. What was once a boring brown bag or box now acts as a social bragging right. Thus creating an even larger need for meaningful package design.

​A perfect example of this can be seen in our work with the online giant, Reddit.

Viral Packaging Case Study: The Reddit Cat Box

reddit gifts packaging

Reddit holds steady as an online powerhouse and serves as one of the largest user content generated websites in the history of the internet.

​When it came time for them to monetize a product for their online community they knew a traditional delivery experience wasn’t enough to create the viral buzz they were looking to generate. They instead teamed up with Process AG to re-think how the basic cardboard box could have a second life with customers and thus, the Reddit Cat Box was born.

reddit gifts packaging

The actual products that Reddit was selling in the box was not significant. Customers could easily go to many other online retailers for the exact same cat products, what it came down to was the packaging. The shipping box that delivered the products could be repurposed to create a cat house instead of being thrown away. Any cat owner knows that cats LOVE boxes.

It was in this strategic and purposeful experience that Reddit had created what we now call, viral retail packaging. An overwhelming amount of customers who received one of these packages posted pictures of it online and on social media, organically sharing their packaging experience with others.​

reddit gifts packaging
reddit gifts packaging

In Summary:

For online retailers packaging is the new in-store display. Direct to consumer packaging is the first touch point with customers and has the ability to increase brand exposure. Boxes and mailers are new mediums for brand collaborations and cross promotion. Packaging can activate a sharing experience with recipients by them posting pictures online and on social media.