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Businesses large and small spend upwards of $150 billion per year on packaging, and that massive total still only accounts for about seven percent of a product’s price. Even so, it’s a lot of money and no matter how big your organization is or what kinds of things it markets, packaging can literally make or break your bottom line.

As many entrepreneurs discover every day, an ill-fitting, unattractive, and otherwise shoddy package can instantly turn a customer off. Competition is just too intense in the age of to-the-doorstep delivery of virtually everything.

Do you know the four things that are most important when it comes to packaging? Likewise, does your company have a grip of making sure that very few of your delivered packages arrive in a damaged state?

If you want to know what the world’s largest and best-run organizations are doing to stay ahead of the curve and create packages that look great, arrive in one piece, can withstand long-term storage, and more, review the following sections.

The Four Factors That Matter Most

In a way, you’re really selling two products when you run a commercial business: the thing you sell and its package. Glance at store shelves the next time you walk past the beauty section, coffee aisle, or frozen goods cases. Packaging plays a crucial role in not only grabbing your attention but in giving you essential information about products.

“Is this nail polish organic?,” “What country does this coffee come from?,” and “Are these frozen peas enriched with any vitamins or minerals?” When you have questions like those, your instinct, based on years of “training,” is to pick up the package and read it.

But there’s much more to it than the attention-and-information aspect. We want more from packages than just a running summary of product factoids. This is especially true if the product arrives in our mailbox or on our doorstep.

Here’s a brief overview of the “big four” components of excellent packaging, namely what consumers look for when they purchase an item in-store or have it sent to their home or office:

  • Fit: This concept has two components. One deals with the products retail packaging and the other pertains to its shipping package. Customers expect a package to fit the product they buy. That’s just logical, common sense.

    But for you, as a seller, making sure the packaging fits your item is an important way to keep waste to a minimum, to allow for ideal presentation/appearance, functionally work to keep everything in its proper place, and protect the contents from the elements.

    For shipping purposes, fit mostly has to do with wise delivery techniques. You don’t want a small product bumping around inside a shipping box that’s way too large. Nor do you want the priduct bursting out of the confines of a shipping container that’s too small.
  • No Damage: The worst thing that can happen to you, from a marketing perspective, is to have your e-commerce product arrive at the buyer’s location in a damaged state. Ninety-nine percent of these situation end up with you having to process a costly, time-consumer return. A damaged package is also a fast way to make a really bad impression on a customer. This rule applies both to the product’s packaging and the shipping package.
  • Quality: A high-quality package makes two kinds of impressions on potential consumers: It gives them an immediate feel for your company’s way of doing business. A top-notch package on your item communicates the fact that your organization cares about what it does and is willing to spend a little extra to protect the things you sell.

    The second thing it does is set your goods apart from others on the virtual, e-commerce shelf. It’s a competitive market, whether most of your goods are on brick-and-mortar shelves or e-commerce shopping pages. It pays to use quality packaging in more ways than one.
  • Appearance: Appearance is closely related to quality, but there’s a key difference. The appearance of your product’s packaging can deliver an emotional message about the item, your company, and even your industry. You want to be able to answer yes to the question: “Does our company’s product appear, based only on its package, to be a cut above the competition?” They say first impressions are often the most important of all, and that concept is certainly true for how attractive your packaging is.

Don’t Let Package Damage Damage Your Reputation

As noted above, damage-free packaging is something consumers expect and deserve. Unfortunately, in the rough-and-tumble world of e-commerce, in which millions of items are sent and delivered every day, (FedEx alone ships at least 6 million packages per day), damaged boxes and other kinds of product containers get banged up, torn open, jostled around, and otherwise mishandled.

What’s the best way to minimize your company’s package damage? Here are some tried-and-true techniques used by the world’s largest shippers and sellers to keep damaged packaging to a bare minimum:

  • Track Every Damaged Package: It’s inevitable that a few damaged shipments will occur, regardless of how careful you are. The problem of the damaged package is to be taken seriously. The essential first-step of the remedy is tracking.

    You can’t fix what you don’t know about, and that’s true for damaged shipments and packages as well. Work with your carrier to make sure that every non-delivered or damaged item can be located quickly. Then, set out to deal with getting a replacement or refund to the buyer as soon as possible.
  • Evaluate Carriers Carefully: There’s plenty of competition in the carrier industry, and you can use that fact to your advantage. Make carriers live up to your standards by reviewing them carefully, checking not just on prices but also on their hisory of delivering e-commerce goods on time and in one piece.

    Take the time to interivew carrier reps beforel you give them the crucial job of transporting your goods from point A to point B.
  • Know the Three Parts of a Delivered Product: It’s a good idea to look at delivered products from the customer’s vantage point. This kind of objective thinking can help any business owner do a better job of getting merchandise to buyers.

    There are three things a consumer sees when a product arrives on his doorstep or in his mailbox. First, there’s the shipping container, envelope, box, what have you. If it’s damaged and shoddy looking, you automatically lose a bit of buyer loyalty, even if the damage is not your fault.

    Second is the packaging on the product itself, the “wrapper,” so to speak. This is something you have most of the control over, even though a poor shipping container can allow your company’s package to become damaged.

    Spend a few minutes watching “un-boxing” video on any social media site, and you’ll get a good idea about how important shipping containers and product packages are to your customers.

    Finally, there’s the product itself, the center of this whole effort. If it’s damaged, along with the packaging and shipping enclosure, you have to act fast. Make sure your tracking (see above) is good enough to locate damaged items as soon as possible.
  • Understand the Dangers of Bargain Hunting: Consumers can spot “bargain” packagin a mile away. Next time you’re in a grocery store, keep an eye out for canned goods, cereal, and other foods that appear to use the lowest-cost packages possible. Packaging is obviously not the place to be cutting costs if you are the seller.

Take Action

If your company sells anything that comes in a package, it’s important to stay on top of industry trends and understand how important customer perception and satisfaction are in the post-COVID marketing era. Of course, consumers have always paid attention to packaging, but in today’s e-commerce environment, it’s never been more relevant.

At Mid-Atlantic Packaging, we work with owners of all types of businesses and help them do packaging right. No matter what you sell, and no matter how many customers you have, Mid-Atlantic’s team of experts can show you how to save money and make your delivered or displayed products look their best.

Check out our website for more information, or simply pick up the phone and give us a call. One of our team members will be happy to answer any questions you have. Our direct phone number is (800) 284-1332.