Branded packaging: is it really worth the cost?

Everyone can ship fast now – it’s time to ship differently. Branded packaging is increasingly being used by eCommerce brands to make big and lasting impressions on customers before they’ve even tried the product. 

But is branded packaging an expensive gimmick that reduces operational efficiency, or is it a customer experience that you can never put a price on?

What is branded packaging?

We’ve all received a generic brown parcel that looks like it’s done a few rounds in the sorting office and hitchhiked a ride to your doorstep. Branded packaging is the complete opposite. 

Branded packaging is packaging that is sleek, professional and customised to your brand, ready for delivery to your customers. 

It can be as simple as branded graphics on the outside of an order, or it can delve into the box to create a memorable unboxing experience. Either way, branded packaging aims to elevate your brand and enhance the customer experience upon first sight.

What are the benefits of branded packaging?

Packaging is incredibly powerful – protecting goods until they reach their ultimate destination. Branded packaging takes this power one step further, bringing benefits including:

Advertising
From leaving the warehouse to landing up at the recycling centre, branded packaging advertises your brand to anyone seeing it in person or online. And it’s not just your logo or website that makes an impression. 

Instructions, hashtags, or a simple QR code on your boxes can generate leads, repeat custom, and social shares. 

Customer experience
They say first impressions last, and they’re not wrong. Branded outer packaging makes your delivery stand out from the rest of the post and sets customer expectations of what’s coming. Branded inner packaging creates a memorable unboxing experience that brings joy and engagement to an otherwise mundane task. 

Together, these make customers feel more positive about your brand and buying from you again or gifting your products – great for retailers eager to grow. 

Relevant reading: Next-stage fulfilment for growth brands

Branding
Branded packaging is an extension of your brand, helping you to craft your narrative. This can be fun and friendly with quirky designs, expensive and luxurious with polished boxes, or eco-friendly and minimalist with sustainable inserts. 

You just need to think of an eggshell blue box with a ribbon to understand the lasting impression that packaging creates. 

Social proof
Finally, branded packaging is something people like to talk about. Whether it’s a photo on Instagram, an unboxing video on YouTube or a conversation with friends – when your packaging impresses one, it’s shown to thousands. 

Interesting fact: 50% of shoppers will recommend products if they came in gift-like or branded packaging

What are the disadvantages of branded packaging?

Despite its significant benefits, branded packaging isn’t for everyone. Potential disadvantages for businesses considering branding their boxes include:

Costs
Branded packaging is more expensive than unbranded packaging. The difference in price depends on your economies of scale, the intricacy of your designs, and your product profit margins. Whether this cost is worth it, depends on the ROI. 

Efficiency
Branded boxes and unboxing experiences can affect operational efficiencies. Switching between packaging, adding inserts, and correctly positioning products can take up time that you’re paying for both in wages and shipping speeds. 

Fulfilment 
Not all 3PLs support branded packaging fulfilment or have the expertise, equipment and skills to provide luxury fulfilment services. And, not all internal fulfilment operations can handle the volume of work that comes with branded packaging. 

Six considerations for branded eCommerce packaging

To ensure branded packaging is right for your eCommerce business, let’s look at the key considerations to have beforehand.

Brand strategy
First, it’s important that the branded packaging used complements your overall brand strategy.

For example, an eco-friendly brand’s packaging should be sustainable and minimal, while a luxury brand’s packaging should be high quality and indulgent.

Target audience 
Next, will your target audience appreciate branded packaging? A customer ordering a £250 handbag expects high-quality, detailed packaging including a box, ribbon, tissue paper, protective bag – the full works.

A customer ordering a £5 handbag neither expects this service nor wants to pay for it.

Form and function
Packaging is designed to protect what’s inside, so it must do so.

Sacrificing protection in favour of design will cause damaged items, returns, and complaints – destroying any ROI.

eCommerce 3PL
It’s crucial that your current or future eCommerce 3PL can handle branded boxes and packages. This requires:

Services 
Depending on your packaging and products, you may need a basic service that offers branded packaging and inserts, or an advanced service that includes white-glove handling and garment preparation. 

Efficiencies 
Customised packaging can take longer to fulfil, so it’s vital your 3PL has the processes and tools to package and ship items as quickly as you need them. 

Technology
The future of branded packaging looks bright, with advancements in holograms and 3D printing taking off. Ensure your 3PL is tech-savvy, aware of the emerging tech in eCommerce fulfilment and always ready to invest in the best technology for the job.

Carriers
The downside of beautiful packaging is that it’s more susceptible to theft.

Properly protect your customer orders by ensuring your 3PL uses a reputable and reliable courier service that works hard to prevent doorstep thefts.

Return on investment
Can you put a price on customer experience? In eCommerce, you need to. Determining how you’ll calculate the ROI from branded packaging is a tricky exercise, but common metrics to measure include:

  • Product returns

  • Damage product returns

  • Social media shares

  • Referrals

  • Positive customer feedback

  • Customer lifetime value.

Summary
Branding packaging and unboxing experiences are an interesting consideration for any growing eCommerce business. On the one hand, they elevate your brand, excite customers and reinforce your value proposition; on the other hand, they can take more time, money and patience to get right. The choice is yours.

Want to talk about branded packaging with an expert?
Get in touch. At Synergy Retail Solutions, we have years of experience shipping branded and unbranded orders for large, small, budget and luxury brands.

Contact us to find out how you can deliver an outstanding customer experience using an eCommerce 3PL.

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Gary Rees

Gary Rees

Gary Rees is the owner of Synergy Retail Support, one of the leading SME fulfilment centres in the UK. Having successfully grown the business for over 30 years and with relationships with most household brands, he now looks to partner with customers rather than just act as a supplier so that both parties can grow together. Gary has extensive knowledge in retail compliance, production technologies, shipping details and customer service.

Feel free to contact me personally if you’d like to discuss your business.

gary.rees@synergyretailsupport.co.uk
+44 (0)3453 402 980