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Product Packaging: Sustainable Examples + Unboxing Tips

As an ecommerce retailer, you have relatively few opportunities to interact with your customers outside your product listings, your packaging, and your social media. While you might provide customer support via the phone, email, or your social media channels, in an ideal world, your customers won’t need to make contact with you at all to help resolve any customer service issues.

Considering that there have been a huge number of consumer psychology studies detailing how premium packaging can create a much better impression of your brand, getting your packaging, and the unboxing experience right is incredibly important. If your brand carries premium, or aspirational products, it is even more important to create an indulgent unboxing experience.

Product Packaging: Sustainable Examples + Unboxing Tips | SR Mailing Ltd

 

Four Great Reasons To Elevate The Unboxing Experience

 

Your packaging represents your business, and how your business views your customers. Great packaging tells the customer what your brand is about, and that you care about your customers – and more importantly, the environment, which is a more and more important consideration for your customers.  

A well thought out packaging process and unboxing experience shows your customers that their purchase is valued by your business, which may encourage them to return to make future purchases from you. That’s because when unpacking an order feels special – almost like receiving a gift from a friend – that can encourage customers to become loyal to your brand. In the age of ecommerce, brand loyalty is incredibly hard to achieve for smaller businesses, and this is one way that you can really encourage it.

A great unboxing experience will encourage customers to share their experience with friends and family – both in person, and through their social media accounts. When your customers review their purchase on their social media accounts, and they tag your brand or use branded hashtags, their posts can be seen by many more users of that channel. That means that anyone who is looking for products like yours will see those posts, and be more likely to visit your social media profile, and convert to a customer themselves.

Premium unboxing experiences make influencers excited to make videos, and mean that they’re more likely to be receptive to future content collaborations with you. If your long term marketing strategy includes influencer marketing, you’ll need to consider what the unboxing experience from your business looks like on camera.

 

How Can Unboxing Videos Contribute To Your Marketing?

 

Have you ever searched for, or accidentally watched an unboxing video on YouTube? If you never have, then nip there now and do a quick search. Depending on what your previous YouTube searches have been, the YouTube algorithm will show you different types of unboxing videos that may be interesting to you – but suffice to say, there are MILLIONS of videos. And these are all videos that customers have created! You’ll notice that many videos are for luxury and aspirational brands, but there really are unboxing videos for all kinds of products – from luxury handbags and shoes (hello, Chanel!) to the tech that everyone wants, like the newest iPhone, through to Amazon boxes filled with returned items.

So, why are unboxing videos important for your business? Well, if you get your unboxing experience right and your customers are suitably impressed, it means that they are going to want to create videos for their channel – and therefore, they will quite literally be doing your marketing for you.

User generated content like this is great, since as other potential customers watch those videos, it builds trust with your brand. Your customers aren’t being paid to create those videos, and so they are perceived to be more likely to be telling the truth about their experience – as well as showing exactly what the packages appeared looking like. And while an unboxing video isn’t the same as a review of the product, it does help potential customers to see what receiving a package from your business will be like, which helps to build that all-important trust.

Another thing to remember is that YouTube isn’t the only place where user generated unboxing videos are posted. Other social media channels, including TikTok, Instagram (including IGTV and Story posts), Snapchat and Facebook (including Story posts) are all places where users are likely to share unboxing videos. And while video might be the most popular medium for unboxing, we shouldn’t forget that there are still millions of bloggers that might post photos and reviews on their website, or elsewhere too.

Influencer Marketing

It isn’t just customers that create unboxing videos. If you’re using influencers to help grow your business, then unboxing is another type of video that you can ask the influencers that you’re working with to create on your behalf. When you engage with an influencer, you’re likely to want them to review your products, but the experience of receiving the product is an important consideration too.

To see how unboxing videos work on a macro scale, check out some of the most popular YouTubers – PewDiePie, DanTDM, Unbox Therapy, Linus Tech Tips and Technical Guruji.

Statistics To Know About Unboxing Videos

  • Nearly 200 YouTube videos with ‘unboxing’ in the title have had over a million views in the past 12 months
  • Amateur unboxing videos have been viewed more than 1.1 billion times, with more than 60 million hours viewed
  • Google research showed that 62% of consumers are looking for specific products when they watch unboxing videos
  • 93% of customers say that online reviews (which include unboxing videos) influence their purchasing decisions
  • Unboxing videos began as early as 2006, which included a US gamer unwrapping a PlayStation 3 delivered from Japan, and one featuring a Nokia mobile phone
  • The top five unbox video categories are toys, phones, PCs & tablets, gaming consoles, and cameras (these categories include accessories)
  • Brands sponsoring unboxing and haul videos started as early as 2010, when US brand J.C. Penney started the practice

Statistics To Know About Unboxing Videos | SR Mailing Ltd

 

Each Step Of The Unboxing Process Is Essential

 

While there is a tendency for new and unknown ecommerce brands to choose the cheapest options for their packaging. While that approach can work, if you’re building a bigger business and want your brand to become recognisable to your customers, you need to think more carefully about the story your packaging options tells about your company.

The Outer Layer

Amazon is by far the ecommerce industry leader, and whatever they choose tends to become the accepted standard. That applies to packaging too – how many brown corrugated cardboard packages, complete with Amazon tape have you seen arrive on your doorstep?

That Amazon box is important – because even though it is mostly a plain brown cardboard box, Amazon have made it instantly recognisable, and a part of their brand. And although it is undoubtedly one of the cheapest packaging options, don’t think that they won’t have done significant research to establish that it is indeed the best option for them. But that basic, perfunctory brown cardboard box, with little else inside is a reflection of Amazon’s business model – they’re serving the customer as quickly as possible. In many cases, where it is possible to do so, packages are even being sent out from Amazon without an outer layer, simply with a shipping label attached!

Having branding on the outer layer of your product packaging can be important, since it can help your customers to be excited about receiving their order. However, having branding on the outside of the box isn’t always the right move. When discretion is required because the product inside the packaging is personal or otherwise sensitive, customers prefer the anonymity of a plain packaging solution.

The sexual wellness company Lovehoney do this incredibly well – and since customers don’t want their postman, or their neighbours knowing about their private lives, discreet packaging is essential. Their packaging is similar in some ways to Amazon, in that they have plain brown cardboard boxes, or plain mailing envelopes – but that is where the similarities end. You won’t find the name of the company anywhere on the outside of a Lovehoney package – which is (of course) by design. Because Royal Mail require a return address on parcels, they do include an address, but unless you really know what you’re looking for, there’s little chance that a Lovehoney order would be recognised by your postman or your neighbour. You can read more about the discreet Lovehoney packaging solutions on this page.

However, if we consider packaging from premium brands, things are a little different. Cardboard still plays a big part, owing to the sustainable properties of the material, but that is far from the end of the story – especially when we move inside the box.

Inside The Package

If you want customers to feel like they’re appreciated, you can’t neglect inside the box. Wrapping products in a few sheets of tissue paper, securing them with a little ribbon or an eco-friendly sticker makes the box feel like a gift. That means even the most mundane of purchases becomes something to appreciate, and if their order is something they will need regularly, means that they may come back to your business repeatedly.

Another easy way to elevate the unboxing experience and make your customers feel appreciated is to include a little note thanking them for their business. Handwritten is perfect, but can be really difficult to do if you’re sending hundreds of orders each day – but that doesn’t mean you can’t include your appreciation in words.

If you’re printing, and including packing slips with each of your orders, then make the most of them by adding a note to your customers there. It is an efficient way to scale the idea of having a note in the package, and most order management systems allow you to customise packing slips. If you decide to use this tactic, from time to time, consider freshening up the note you include for your customers on it. If you are able, and want to build customer loyalty, you might consider including a code for free shipping or a discount off your customer’s next order, or to receive a free gift with a future purchase, or a discount if they refer a friend to your business.

Although we appreciate that takes a little of your time, it will dramatically increase the chances of customers sharing their unboxing with their friends and family.

Cushioning Counts

Although many shipping companies are careful, there are plenty of couriers that aren’t as careful as they could be – while we won’t name and shame companies, we’re sure you’ve received a package that has clearly been carelessly tossed around. That means that if you’re sending fragile items, it is incredibly important to ensure that items aren’t bouncing around inside the packaging.

Plastic bubble wrap and Styrofoam packing peanuts have been the standard for sending breakable items by post for decades, but customers and businesses are becoming more aware of the need to choose more sustainable options – and there are plenty.

Include A Surprise Free Gift With Purchase

We often talk to business owners that worry that changing the unboxing experience is expensive – and the unboxing experience can cost you, sure. But it doesn’t have to be. There are brands that have made a huge impact on their unboxing experience simply by adding a small treat to each order – whether that’s a treat-size bar of chocolate, a sample size of another one of your products or a note with a discount code for their next order. Businesses that have customers making significant purchases have created a really loyal customer base by levelling up the treats that they send with each order!

A great example of this is scientific instrument brand Thorlabs, who include a box of ‘Lab Snacks’ – essentially a little care package of delicious treats – in each order. If you search for Thorlabs Lab Snacks, you’ll find thousands of posts on blogs and social media, and significantly more researchers, lecturers and students that have benefitted from the free treats throughout the years. Considering that many of their instruments cost thousands of pounds to buy, each little box of snacks is a drop in the ocean, and the equivalent of a brand selling less expensive products including a fun-sized pack of sweets with each order.

 Packaging Design

 

Switch Your Packaging Design Regularly

 

If none of your customers are leaving comments, or recording unboxing videos – especially those that bought directly from your website – then ask your customers for feedback about your packaging. Maybe there’s something that could be improved to help increase the number of customers talking about your brand, and maybe there’s something that just doesn’t appeal to your customers. 

There’s absolutely nothing to stop you from switching the designs of your packing materials regularly either. Changing your packaging to represent the seasons – or even just the holiday season – can increase the chances of your customers talking about their order with their friends and family, and on their social media.

 

Isn’t This Expensive?

 

Although if you’re the owner of the business, you’ll almost certainly be thinking that this is going to impact your bottom line, you’ll also be aware that in business, you need to speculate to accumulate. A few minutes spent on adding wrapping to make the delivery feel more luxurious, plus the cost – it all adds up, we know. But the reality is, this will add less than 30 seconds to the packing process in many cases, and fractions of pennies if you’re simply adding some tissue paper and a sticker. And those tiny investments in your business can have a huge impact in building brand awareness – which as you know, can increase the amount of business you’ll get back in return.  

 

Is It Possible To Make The Unboxing Experience Green? 

 

Absolutely, and we encourage you to do so, because many of your customers will care about this! While once upon a time, eco-friendly packaging options were dull and uninteresting, today they are significantly more attractive – and there are more sustainable options than ever before. Recycled, recyclable, and biodegradable packaging are all equally as strong and serviceable as their non-sustainable counterparts, and are comparable in price, so there really isn’t any reason to not make the switch.

 

To Make The Unboxing Experience Green | SR Mailing Ltd

 

How SR Mailing Can Help With Sustainable Packaging Options

 

Our mission is to create a zero waste packaging business, that in turn can help other businesses to become much more sustainable. While we know we can’t fix the planet on our own, we do know that the more we can do, the better. For each business that we can help to switch to sustainable packaging, this will help efforts to prevent things like the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, and other environmental issues from getting worse.

If your packaging budget is already tight and you don’t want to impact your profit margins any further, then you might have put the idea of becoming a completely sustainable business on hold for the time being. But our range of sustainable packaging products are competitively priced, meaning that you can make the transition to sustainable much sooner than you might have thought.

We’ve spoken at length in posts for our Knowledge Centre about why sustainable packaging is such an important thing for businesses to switch to – and we’ve got sustainable packaging swaps available for every aspect of your packaging, from outer mailing packages to inner cushioning.

 

External Packaging

As we’ve already talked about, the exterior of a package that is being sent by post or courier service is important for businesses that operate purely online. After your website and social media channels, it is perhaps the only contact that your customers will have with you – and so getting it right is really important. Whether you choose to brand your packaging materials or not, finding the most sustainable packaging solutions that you can is important.

 

Cardboard boxes and PiP boxes

Cardboard is generally the best solution for posting most types of products. In practical terms, it is strong, inexpensive, and are quick and easy to be assembled, and is lightweight and strong for sending through the post.

While brown cardboard boxes aren’t necessarily a glamorous solution, it is one of the best packing options in terms of the environment. It is very easy to be made from recycled materials, and to be recycled again, and because cardboard boxes are biodegradable, cardboard packing materials can be added to compost bins and broken down naturally. This is significantly better for the environment, and convenient for disposal where recycling facilities aren’t as good as they could be.

When you’re choosing packaging options for a business, there are significant advantages to be gained by using Pricing in Proportion (PiP) boxes.

Large letter PiP boxes | packaging options for a business | SR Mailing Ltd

 

Large letter PiP boxes are specifically designed help you to save postal costs, particularly if you’re sending through Royal Mail, since they are able to be sent as ‘Large Letter’, as opposed to a parcel, and are available in a range of sizes, including A4, A5, A6 and Mini / DL sizes. They’re convenient for your customers too, since they can be posted directly through letterboxes – so deliveries are less likely to be undelivered, left in unsuitable places, or returned to the delivery office for collection.

PiP boxes designed for Royal Mail are also available in bigger sizes, and are designed specifically so that you can make the most of the different size categories. Of course, not all products are suited to these sizes, which is why we stock an extensive range of sizes of boxes, expandable and capacity envelopes, book wrap mailers and crash lock ecommerce boxes, so that you can find the most suitable cardboard packing solution.

Postal packaging | PiP boxes | Sustainable packaging Browse our range of postal packaging here.

 

Plastic Mail Bags

While plastic is undoubtedly a huge problem for the environment, sometimes retailers find that it is unavoidable to use it. However, used consciously, it can be less of a problem than it once was. Rather than using products that have no regard for the planet, look for recycled polythene mailing bags like ours. They are ideal for businesses that need the practicality of plastic packaging, but want to reduce their impact on the environment.

Plastic Mail Bags | recycled polythene mailing bags

Recycled plastics require much less energy and resources to create than those made from virgin ingredients, and prevents previously used materials from languishing in landfill.

 

Tape

When you’re trying to find the most , you can’t disregard the amount of plastic that is used in the form of tape for securing parcels. While it is a small thing, when you consider the billions of parcels that are sent each year, this can really add up – so opting for eco-friendly tape is a solution with a much lower impact on the environment.

Environmentally friendly natural Kraft tape | sustainable packaging solutions

Our environmentally friendly natural Kraft tape is the answer. Containing absolutely no plastic or silicone, it is made from 100% recycled paper, and as such, is designed to be completely biodegradable, so is suitable for disposal by recycling and composting.

In practical terms, it is an easy switch for businesses to make too. It is made with hot melt self-adhesive backing, and provides a strong seal that secures your packages as well as plastic tapes do, and is compatible with most tape accessories, including tape guns, carton sealers, tape dispensers that support 3” paper core. Your customers are likely to prefer it to plastic options too, since it is easy to tear, and as it is completely biodegradable, can be added to compost bins for environmentally friendly disposal.

If you need to alert shipping companies of the need for careful handling of a package, then we have a printed Kraft tape option with the word FRAGILE on it – meaning you can seal your packages without needing to take the time to add additional warnings.

You can see our complete range of tapes and dispensers here.

 

Inside Wrapping

If you want to create a luxurious feel on the inside of your parcels, then choosing the right type of inside wrapping is essential. In addition to creating that feeling of opening a gift, you’ll also need to consider how much cushioning is required too – and the two are definitely not exclusive, as you’ll see when we talk about honeycomb cushioning.

Honeycomb cushioning | eco-friendly and cost effective

 

Tissue Paper

Where cushioning isn’t required, then a few sheets of tissue paper, wrapped around your parcel, held together with an eco-friendly branded sticker could be all that you need to improve the unboxing experience. While it means each package might take a second or two longer to wrap, your team are experts and will quickly adapt, and the increase in brand awareness, and potential for unboxing videos is of huge benefit – making it well worth the effort. It is an inexpensive way to add that feeling of luxury too, costing less than a few pence per package.

Tissue Paper | pretty tissue paper design

Customers will love the impression that they’re unwrapping a gift when they are opening their parcel, and if you choose a pretty tissue paper design, there is a good chance that children will swipe it for art projects, furthering the life of it. When it is time to dispose of tissue paper though, it is recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable – and helps to soak up water in compost bins, reducing the chances of foul smells occurring.

Our tissue paper range can be viewed here.

 

Honeycomb Cushioning

If the product that you’re wrapping needs cushioning and you’re looking for a more sustainable solution to bubble wrap that looks attractive and feels great, honeycomb cushioning is the answer. To really elevate the look, and increase the luxurious feel of parcels, adding recycled soft white paper underneath the honeycomb wrapping is an attractive option to provide a perfect combination of practicality with a visually pleasing aesthetic. 

Honeycomb Wrapbox | honeycomb cushioning

Honeycomb cushioning also suits your customers that are concerned with the sustainability of their purchases too, since honeycomb wrap is a perfectly sustainable packaging solution. Both the Kraft paper, and the soft white paper included in our honeycomb wrap box is made from wood pulp from sustainable forests, it is biodegradable (and therefore compostable), and is easy for your customers to add to their recycling. And since the paper interlocks with itself, there is no need for tape to hold it in place, meaning you’ll also be saving miles of plastic tape from entering landfill. That might not be a huge cost saving for your business, but it is a huge win for the planet! 

In practical terms, honeycomb cushioning is also a much better option for businesses that don’t have much space in their warehouse or packing area, since the dispenser takes up very little space in comparison with bulky rolls of bubble wrap. Made from Kraft paper roll, and cut on demand, you can easily cut the exact amount required. It is a cost-effective solution too, since Kraft paper is well under 15p per metre, and you won’t need to add on the cost of packing tape, since the paper interlocks, making it the perfect solution for oddly sized, or shaped products.

Getting started using honeycomb cushioning is efficient too – the Honeycomb Wrapbox costs around £35.  

 

Recycled Plastic Bubble Wrap

While paper-based products are undoubtedly the most sustainable packing options, and a significant number of businesses are making the switch, some more fragile products that are being sent long distances just need the tried and tested, reliable standby: bubble wrap. Since we know this, with our expertise we have been able to develop a recycled, and recyclable version that is every bit as good as bubble wrap made from virgin plastic ingredients.

Recycled Plastic Bubble Wrap

Since bubble wrap isn’t one of the more visually appealing packing solutions, some businesses choose to pre-wrap with tissue paper if they are working on a great unboxing experience.

If you’re using our recycled plastic bubble wrap, be sure to let your customers know! Adding a note inside the parcel means that they will know they can add the wrap to their household recycling with confidence. That isn’t where it ends though – make it a talking point on your social media, write a blog post about it, and mention it on your page that talks about your commitment to sustainability.

Our bubble wrap is available in two sizes, and can be seen here.

 

Cushioned Pouches

For businesses that are selling extremely delicate items that are mostly uniform shapes – like wine, or computer parts – a more rigid solution is often required. This is where our air pouches come in. Like our bubble wrap, we’ve designed them with recycled plastic, and they’re recyclable, so you can use these without damaging the eco-friendly claims of your business.

Cushioned Pouches | Costing saving

They’re cost effective, with a lightweight construction that helps to keep products intact and free of debris that might be picked up in transit. Our cushioned pouches are resistant to damage, but if one pillar is damaged, the others will remain inflated, continuing to protect the contents of the pouch.

Our cushioned pouches are inflated by you, making them easy to store in your packing area, and allowing you to buy larger numbers in one go, without taking up the space that bubble wrap or polystyrene does. You’ll simply need an air inflator, or a small manual air pump – the numbers of packages that you’re sending will determine which is the right choice for your business. 

If pouches aren’t the right solution, perhaps because your products aren’t uniform in size, then our air pillow sheets, or air filler cushion may suit your needs. Like our other package cushioning solutions, they’re made from recycled material that can be recycled – which, like our bubble wrap, is something to shout about to your customers. 

You can see our range of cushioning and pouches here.

 

Sustainable Customised Packaging

For businesses that want to really increase brand awareness, having branding printed on their packing materials is one of the best ways to do this. We can provide you with customised, branded packaging options, including branded mail bags, boxes, and tapes, and since we have our own factories in China, we are able to create completely bespoke orders of printed packaging materials on request.

In addition to providing bespoke packaging solutions, our designated design can help you to create the design of your packaging – perfect for smaller businesses that don’t have the time to invest in the design process.

 

Sustainable Packaging | perfect for smaller businesses

 

Final Thoughts

 

The unboxing experience is a crucial part of the ecommerce journey for your customers, and so it really is well worth putting in the time and effort to review yours. From swapping your packaging to ensuring that you have chosen sustainable options, through to elevating what is contained inside the box, your customers will see and appreciate the changes that you make to the unboxing experience.

From a practical point of view, the changes we’re suggesting that you make to your package unboxing may take a little time and effort to get right, but once you’ve made the changes they’re easy to keep going. If you’d like some advice about the right sustainable packaging solutions for your business, get in touch, or visit our store at our warehouse in Manchester, where you can view our complete range and chat with a member of the team.

 

raja
raja 06/10/2021

well, got lots of knowledge from this article, thanks very much !

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Kun Feng
Kun Feng is the foremost sustainable packaging expert who possesses the fundamental eco-knowledge and passion necssary to drive new levels of eCommerce growth without compromising people, the planet, or the economy. 

As the co-founder and managing director of SR Mailing, He has successfully helped over 9,000 eCommerce businesses transform into sustainable suppliers and takes pride in being able to offer eco-friendly packaging solutions that bolster eCommerce reputation and scalability, all while supporting the bigger picture along the way.

Feel free to contact with Kun on Linkedin or Facebook
Kun Feng

Managing Director