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Are you getting ready to delve into the world of e-commerce? If so, or if you’re already knee-deep in online orders, it’s essential to deal with the question of packaging. For e-sellers, this is a two-pronged challenge. First, you need to make sure that shipping packaging is sturdy enough to convey the item to its destination.

Second, the product’s main packaging, wrapper, or container, needs to be as attractive, sturdy, and functional as it would if it were on a the shelf of a retail store. Unfortunately, many of today’s merchants are resisting the transformation to e-commerce.

For instance, major grocery chains are realizing the inevitable growth of online shopping. That means, like it or not (and many don’t), grocers large and small need to adapt to the rise of e-commerce in an industry that not too long ago was one of the few holdouts against online shopping.

Whether your business model is focused on B2B or B2C, e-commerce selling, often called e-tailing, your company will need to pay close attention to distribution channels. Why? Because the single-minded focus on getting your product from its point of origin to the buyer’s doorstep is at the heart of selling anything online.

To acquire a firm grip on how to meet customers’ high expectations for e-commerce packaging, learn about the “big six” things consumers look for in a product package.

Six Core Expectations

E-commerce shoppers can be demanding. Maybe that’s why economists refer to consumer needs as “demand.” In any case, when people purchase your company’s products via an online store, they have certain expectations. It’s important to realize that some of those expectations are unique to e-commerce, and some match what those same buyers demand from an in-person merchant.

The following features of e-commerce packages tend to be the ones that apply mostly to online selling rather than brick-and-mortal sales. Plus, when your buyers receive an item from you via shipment, they’re in fact dealing with two kinds of packaging, or two layers. The first is the package in which you choose to ship your item and the second is the container in which the product is typically displayed on a store shelf.

In short, these are the key characteristics your product packages need to have to satisfy online customers:

  • Ergonomic: Just because the product they bought didn’t come from a store shelf, consumers still expect the package to be ergonomic during opening, use, and storage. That means making things like small cartons and boxes simple to unseal and reseal, easy to place on a shelf in the home, and just as easy to handle.
  • Easy to Open: As noted above, easy-opening is a part of the ergonomic equation, but an essential enough characteristic to deserve its own category. Consumers can become angry when they find it hard to open something they just received in the mail. This is a key point where you, as a merchant, can guarantee a good experience by making certain that all your packages are easy to open.
  • Protective: Product packaging for e-commerce needs to be strong enough to sustain the journey from your location to the consumer’s doorstep.
  • Identical to Advertising Images: Buyers often complain directly to sellers when e-commerce goods don’t look like the online photos on your website store. This is understandable because consumers expect to receive precisely what they were shown a photo of on the shopping page.
  • Branded: Buyers also expect their delivered goods to be branded in the same way as store-purchased ones are. That means no skimping on printed content, package design, and other elements that are part of your company’s brand identity.
  • Attractive: When people buy online, they expect to receive goods that are just as attractive as in-person purchases. Never send low-grade or poorly packaged goods to e-commerce buyers. They want, expect, and deserve the best.

Avoid the Three Common E-Commerce Pitfalls

Never assume that selling online is the same thing as offering your products in a physical retail store. There are dozens of crucial differences. In some cases, e-selling is more difficult, but in other scenarios, it’s much simpler. Regardless, there are several common traps that business owners can fall into, especially if they are new to e-commerce.

At all costs, avoid these all-too-common mistakes when you decide to add online selling to an already successful retail store operation:

1. Using Online Selling Only as a “Backup”
If you’re thinking of using an e-commerce channel to unload slow-moving inventory or simply as a backup to your in-person selling efforts, you are likely to be disappointed. Consumers expect e-stores to closely match what’s offered at retail outlets.

If they realize you’re just using an e-store do dump your less successful product line, your brand image will suffer greatly. Your brick-and-mortar and e-stores should each be able to stand alone. Don’t start your foray into e-business with low expectations.

2. Assuming You’ll Have the Same Kinds of Customers
Expect to use different marketing and promotion campaigns for your two sales channels. At least for now, e-customers tend to be younger and slightly more affluent that in-person buyers. That situation will likely change as e-commerce evolves, but for now it is a fact of doing business.

From the seller’s point of view, it means coming up with an entirely separate marketing campaign to attract an e-commerce client base. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your current customer base will automatically begin visiting your e-store. They won’t, at least initially. A combination of savvy promotion and educational marketing can eventually bring a good number of them over to digital shopping, but that won’t happen overnight.

3. Offering Completely Different Lines of Products
If you want to confuse your current and potential customers, don’t match the goods you sell in person with the ones in your e-store. Put another way, try to make your online offerings close in price, selection, and quality as what you sell in brick-and-mortar outlets.

It’s totally acceptable and profitable, however, to include a few products in your e-store that are unavailable in person, and vice versa. But, the core products you sell should be available in both channels. Otherwise, when online buyers visit your shops, they’ll be disappointed.

Likewise, if you are lucky enough to enjoy “migration” of your in-person buyers to your e-store, don’t make their heads spin by featuring a different product line.

Beloved Package Features for All Kinds of Products

Even if you sell nothing online, it’s still wise to keep some of the essential packaging rules in place. The reason to stay aware of smart packaging principles is two-fold. First, it’s just good business. Second, someday you might decide to enter the online world of e-commerce, where the same basic packaging features are as prized as they are at in-person outlets.

What are some of the things consumers really love when it comes to packaging features? Here’s a short list:

  • Windows: People want to see what they’re getting, which is why product windows are so popular in nearly every retail industry segment. You can confirm this fact by walking through the aisles of your local grocery store.
  • Spouts: Beauty and cleaning products often include spouts, which are something consumers demand for the purposes of portion control, avoiding messes, and simple convenience.
  • Zippers: Zippered bags that can be resealed are the superstars of product packaging. Thousands of retail items now come in resealable plastic or paper bags and pouches. Consumers love them because they keep things fresh, neat, clean, and prevent waste.
  • Notches: Also called tear-notches, these tiny little slits or perforations on paper packages are hugely important to the buyer experience. Without the notches, some products can be nearly impossible to open. With the notches, opening a pouch of hot chocolate powder or a facial mask mix is easy and convenient.

Meet Expectations In E-Commerce Selling

All it takes is a modest amount of planning to make your e-commerce packaging just right. At Mid-Atlantic Packaging, we have the expertise of nearly four decades of helping companies just like yours achieve packaging excellence. Give us a call at (800)2841332 or visit our website for more information.

We look forward to hearing from you for a no-cost consultation about your e-commerce or other product packaging needs.