As we enter into 2021, more purchases are taking place virtually than ever before.

The experience of walking into a store, picking up and feeling products, and interacting with retail staff is no longer the norm. Enter the unboxing experience.

'Unboxing' is where consumers unpack or 'unbox' a consumer product. The best experiences are often documented by the customer through photos and videos.

Unboxing is not a fad!

Once an online fad, unboxing content has become an amazing form of social proof for small businesses. It can also be a highly cost-effective marketing initiative when done right.

If you aren't offering a differentiated experience, your competitors most likely are. In 10 years, the interest over time for the search term unboxing has drastically increased, as shown in this screenshot from Google Trends.

Unboxing Explore Google Trends

And Instagram now has over 1.8 million posts with the hashtag #unboxing.

Unboxing Hashtag On Instagram

What's more, creating a memorable unboxing experience naturally lends to your customers sharing their purchases with their friends through social media. Without even needing to nudge or ask, your customers are creating user-generated content that you can reshare.

The Art of Unboxing: 5 Ways To Personalize Your E-commerce Packaging

Let's look at five ways to build an unboxing experience your customers can't help but share.

  1. Think outside the box
  2. Make the first glance count
  3. Personalize the package
  4. Surprise them with a little extra
  5. Use sustainable packaging

1. Think outside the box.

Elevate a brown/white box or mailer with custom tape or stamps!

When it arrives on your customer's doorstep, it will stand out from the mirage of brown boxes and have your customer excited before they even open it up.

Be sure to incorporate your brand’s name, colors, or another element that they’ll be able to associate your brand to.

In this example, Isla and Hoo, make a call out to their name with the saying “Nice to Meet Hoo” with water-activated tape from noissue

Create Unboxing Experiencingislaandhoo

@islaandhoo

2. Make the first glance count.

What does your package look like when your customer first opens it?

In his book, Inside Apple, Adam Lashinsky tells of Apple’s famous high-security room where designers spend hours opening different variations of packaging to achieve the perfect unboxing experience for their customers.

Your small business can take a similar approach.

Think of purchases you’ve made recently and how you felt opening the box. Then, recreate and amplify the experience by using a branded box, tissue paper, or custom stickers to invoke positive feelings and excitement for your customers opening your orders.

Bubbsi, coconut oil skincare for kids, uses tissue paper, ribbon, thank you cards, and a Bubbsi stamp to make the first glance pop.

Create Unboxing Experiencinglovebubbsi2

@lovebubbsi

3. Make it as personalized as possible.

If you are packaging your orders yourself, a handwritten thank you card addressed to your customer by their first name can help you stand out from large competitors.

If you use a third party to package orders, you can send a personalized email to close the gap virtually.

Making your customers feel valued is so important as it aids in converting them to repeat buyers, which is a more profitable growth strategy for your business than having to acquire new customers.

Create Unboxing Experiencinglilartstuff

@lilartstuff

4. Suprrise them with a little something extra.

It can be a discount code for the customer's next order or an offer they can share with a friend. It is always exciting to add something they can keep, like a branded sticker or pin.

Some brands, such as Flex Factory Store, add candy (lollies) to their package as a fun bonus for customers.

If you’re using a third-party logistics company (3PL) to pack and ship your products, be sure to provide them with the extras so they can add them to each order for you.

Create Unboxing Experiencingflexfactory

@flexfactory.store

5. Make it sustainable

Wherever possible, incorporate packaging that can be reused or composted/recycled. Make-up brand, Glossier, includes a pink makeup pouch with each order that can be reused again and again by its customers.

When customers complained of the environmental harm of receiving a pouch with each order, Glossier created a feature where customers could opt-out of receiving the pouch, reducing waste.

Create Unboxing Experiencingniniwanted

@niniwanted

Sustainable packaging alternatives exist for all elements of your eCommerce packaging. Styrofoam peanuts can be set aside in exchange for plant-based packing peanuts, while petroleum-based inks can be switched to soy-based inks.

With noissue, the packaging isn’t only sustainable, but is also available in low minimum order quantities for small businesses and is completely customizable.

Wrapping up

Remember, If you sell online, the unboxing experience is one of your customer's only opportunities to interact with your brand tangibly outside of your actual product.

It's time we shift the attitude of unboxing from a nice-to-have to a strategic marketing strategy. It creates a connection between your customer and you that can be sorely missing with virtual purchases.

It also gives customers the perfect opportunity to post about you to their social media and creates plenty of user-generated content you can use on your website or reshare on your social feeds.

So, what are you waiting for?

Ellen Bode

Ellen Bode is the Senior Partner Associate at noissue, a sustainable packaging company that lets you design your own eco-friendly customized tissue paper, mailers, stickers, tape, and more. Find out more about noissue.