Why Unboxing Matters and How to Do It Well

Anticipation is a big part of the shopping experience.

Whether you go into a store knowing what you’re looking for or are just browsing, the reward of finding and buying the perfect product keeps us coming back.

But since the coronavirus outbreak, 43% of US consumers say they plan to do more shopping online. Even if your store is operating at partial or complete capacity right now, the reality remains: fewer consumers are shopping in-store. 

"Since the coronavirus outbreak, 43% of US consumers say they plan to do more shopping online." 

Retail store owners must find creative ways to compensate for some of that lost in-store experience.

This is where unboxing comes into play.

What is an unboxing experience?

“Unboxing experience” refers to the use of creative, experiential packaging to create a memorable experience for customers when they open products that you’ve shipped to them (or wrapped up for curbside pickup!).

A unique unboxing experience can replicate the anticipation and reward that customers are currently missing out on. Think of it as a form of experiential retail, except instead of your storefront, you’re delivering those experiences via COVID-friendly options like buying online, pickup in-store, or local pickup and delivery.

Still not sure if investing in unboxing experiences is worth it?

Consider these benefits.

What are the benefits of unboxing experiences?

Creating an unboxing experience allows retailers to accomplish several things.

1. Reinforce your brand

Without a doubt, opening any retail location takes incredible planning and execution. A storefront is the physical representation of your brand. But so is your packaging. The good news is you can offer experiential retail through unboxing without breaking the bank.

Take Milk Bar as an example. A dessert shop turned internet sensation for its off-the-wall confections; Milk Bar has physical locations on the East and West Coast that have become tourist destinations.

Open for delivery only right now; it’s gotten creative with its “dessert delivery” packages. They’ve created a doorstep unboxing experience that nearly mimics the excitement of that in-store purchase. You’re guaranteed to start salivating when you see their pink logo on the side of the box!

When creating a unique unboxing experience, you can take certain creative liberties. For example, try new taglines, logo iterations, and brand elements you may not have tried before. Your packaging can be an extension of your storefront. This is an incredible asset for retail locations when remote transactions are commonplace.

2. Allows you to tell your brand story in a non-salesy way

When you create a meaningful unboxing experience, you communicate your value proposition in a tangible way. You can reinforce what makes your products unique and different during the unboxing.

Coco & Breezy, a sister-owned eyewear brand, gives off big brand vibes. Its sleek glass boxes are subtle but powerful sales tools.

Packaging can be a great way to do this type of storytelling without an in-your-face sales pitch.

Include a postcard or attention-grabbing item that helps tell your company history, brand story, or core values. This creates a visual interaction with your brand on the customer’s terms as they unbox your product.

3. Makes your customers feel valued

Product packaging can look a lot of different ways, but at the end of the day, it temporarily houses goods and is going to get thrown away or recycled. So, anything beyond a standard mailer or box is for an enriched unboxing experience. This communicates value.

The proof is in both the product and the packaging. The delivery of goods is the last step of a transaction, and in a remote shopping experience, this counts for a lot.

Paper Twist, a paper store with a single storefront in North Carolina, gets it. Wrapping subscription boxes for pickup makes your customers feel like it’s Christmas morning.

Being able to show you appreciate your customers through how you present your products is a critical ingredient in today’s market. It’s a value-add and goes a long way in encouraging repeat business.

4. Creates curiosity in your other products by cross-selling

In a time when in-store shopping and browsing may be limited, a lot of store owners are struggling to spark interest in other products. It’s not as easy when product displays can’t be meticulously arranged, and storefronts are no longer an intrinsic selling tool.

This is where product packaging can be a crucial ingredient in cross-selling.

Take Lush Cosmetics. During the pandemic, it introduced its “handcare kits” to combine its soaps and other products into a single box with a purpose. This exposes customers to products they’ve never seen before and creates a curiosity about what other kits and timely products Lush has to offer.

This is all accomplished through market relevancy and product presentation.

5. Fosters customer loyalty and ambassadorship

How you make a customer feel is a massive part of the sale. But how can you measure that?

Well, one good indicator of positive buyer emotion is customer loyalty. Defined as faithfulness and commitment to a brand, customer loyalty drives retained business and repeat purchases.

Many consumers think it takes only five purchases to consider themselves a “loyal” customer. But well before the loyalty stage, you can make customers ambassadors via digital word of mouth with the help of social media.

The power of the influencer should not be underestimated. How you present your goods can kindle a sense of pride in your customers that’s worth boasting about and sharing.

Packaging is eye candy: it’s “Instagrammable,” ” shareable, ” and influential.

How do I create a good unboxing experience?

With so many packaging options and elements, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Here’s a list of five tips to help guide you as you make decisions about what type of unboxing experience you want to create for your customers. There are a lot of options, but some things need to happen to make your unboxing experience successful.

1. Use your branding

This is a non-negotiable. What type of box, mailer, or bag doesn’t matter as much as showing that it’s yours!

Even if the only branding you have defined for your company is your primary logo, that’s fine. It needs to be front and center.

2. Focus on functionality and presentation

Never choose frill over function. When it comes to designing the unboxing experience, don’t lose sight of the fact that protecting your product on its way to the customer is the most critical. From there, ask these questions:

  • What do I want the customer to see first when they open the package?
  • Do I want the customer to have to untie/reveal/open a second interior package?
  • Are the products arranged in a way that makes sense and is orderly?
  • How can I jazz up the mundane/necessary elements, like fasteners and clips?

3. Use unique materials and choose sustainability

One way to differentiate your unboxing experience from others is by choosing unique materials. Unique can mean the material composition itself, but it can also mean special in the way you’ve acquired it.

Get creative and think about sources within your community for packaging. In doing so, you’re reducing the impact of shipping from major suppliers.

When you can, always, always, always choose sustainability.

4. Add personalization

A touch of personalization is the cherry on top. Would you rather receive a package that has a handwritten note addressed to you or a standard printed order receipt form? Enough said.

5. Include samples, goodies and extras

A great time to give customers a little something extra is when their appreciation and impression of your products is at its height. This could be a postcard with a coupon code for their next purchase, a free sample, or a free goodie or piece of swag.

Investing in unboxing as an opportunity to drive revenue

The impact of COVID-19 on retail stores across the US has been massive. Many store owners face a flurry of critical decisions about the path forward for their companies. Along with this comes the demand to adapt to a pick-up and delivery store model to stay in business.

Investing in unboxing experiences is worthwhile when there are so many limitations on tailored in-store shopping experiences.

Product packaging is a powerful tool that can help businesses expand their brand story, make customers feel valued, and encourage product sales and loyalty.


Source: Shopify Retail Blog