From click to delivery, retailers focus on delivering joyful customer experiences that win hearts and inspire repeat business. One way to do this is by prioritizing the unboxing moment, when the customer opens the delivered package. Unboxing is the only moment in the customer experience where it is guaranteed that the customer will open and engage with your content.
This moment can be mundane and forgettable, or highly personal and memorable — the choice is up to the brand. But with the right materials, process, and partners, you can make your customer truly feel special in that happy moment. Unboxing is all about how you make the customer feel.
What is Unboxing?
Unboxing became popular on YouTube when influencers started filming and sharing the moment they opened their parcels. This feel-good experience turned into a shared exhilaration as viewers watched expectantly to see what would be included in the package, who it would look and feel, and got a look at the product itself. Unboxing content became and remains incredibly popular: YouTube reports that in 2023 there were 25 billion views of unboxing videos.
One advantage of the unboxing experience is that brands have the opportunity to invite any customer to become an influencer. While it’s highly advantageous to have unboxing moments shared online, it is the personal experience itself that matters most to generate loyalty.
Why Does the Unboxing Experience Matter?
People like to feel cared for and valued. Originally, eCommerce fulfillment offered few opportunities to re-create the highly personalized in-store experience. Packaging became one way to create a connection with the brand. While many eCommerce retailers copied Amazon’s cost-saving, minimalistic packaging approach, others began to see that this was an opportunity to really create a special brand experience for the customer — and to bridge that gap between impersonal and personal experiences. Etsy retailers became well known for their highly personalized unboxing experiences, often including a handwritten note from the seller.
Not only does unboxing delight consumers; it empowers retailers to truly own the brand experience from click to delivery and create a lasting impression. For purchases that are gift orders, brands have the unique opportunity to impress two customers at once — the giver and the recipient. Creating a memorable unboxing experience has the potential to attract new customers and retain current ones.
Consumers report that unboxing makes a difference:
- 61% of consumers get more excited about a parcel arriving if the packaging is branded (source: Bouvier Kelly)
- 59% of packaging was branded in 2022 (source: MacFarlane)
- 52% of consumers say premium packaging encourages them to buy again (source: eDelivery)
- 40% uptick in customer loyalty is possible when personalization is used in packaging (source: Konica Minolta)
These numbers tell a strong story about how much the unboxing experience matters in the post-purchase journey. But it’s not the only story. Sustainability also plays a key role in consumers’ minds.
In a Radial study, consumers reported that they care about sustainability in packaging:
- 57% want brands to offer minimal packaging for reduced waste
- 54% want eco-friendly packaging materials
Sustainability and eco-friendly packaging directly impact eCommerce consumers, as they are responsible for recycling, disposing, or reusing packaging materials. The less burden a retailer places on them, the better. The more a retailer can ease consumers’ minds about the cost of their online shopping on the environment, the better as well.
What Makes a Great Unboxing Experience?
For an unboxing experience to feel good, it has to be branded, personalized, and memorable. It must sustain profit margins on every order. And, it needs to portray a cohesive brand identity that mirrors the brand on every other touchpoint. While unboxing is typically for online orders, retailers need to be aware of creating an omnichannel experience so that online and in store customers are not treated differently. Keep this in mind as you plan your unboxing tactics. Consider what elements can be carried over to the cash register in store.
The unboxing experience is all about aesthetics and happy surprises. You want to include your brand logo, colors, and taglines/values on your packaging materials and in any additional items you include.
Think outside in.
Because you want the unboxing experience to be shareable, design it from the outside in. Imagine that the customer is filming the event. What do you want the viewer to see first?
Start with exterior packaging.
Whether branded boxes, envelopes, mailers, or generic boxes with branded stickers and packing tape — look for ways to include your logo and branding so that it is unmistakable that this parcel is from you.
Design the interior experience.
The interior is really where the good feelings happen. This is where you want packaging and product presentation to shine and to exceed customer expectations. Be sure your packaging keeps items secure and undamaged. Then focus on how it makes you feel. This is all about communicating to the customer through tactile elements and personalized communication.
- Brand theme. It needs to match your brand overall, but here you can include an extra level of attention to detail and care. Is your brand elegant? Sporty? Casual? Match that with elements that feel that way.
- Interior packaging. Your tissue paper and packing filler can be customized. Keep in mind that packing filler needs to be eco-friendly and easy for the customer to dispose of. Here you may choose heavier-weighted gift boxes, fragile packaging, gift wrap, customized ribbons, and specialty materials that deliver the feeling you want to evoke.
- Branded inserts. Inserts enable you to present additional information about your brand, product, or recommendations. But you can think outside the box and consider what type of items your customer might keep — which will keep your brand front and center for a longer time. Calendars, recipes, wellness tips, inspirational sayings on frameable cards, are all items customers tend to hold onto.
- Freebies. Generosity is endearing. Including freebies, sample products, an unexpected gift item all create lasting impressions. Discount coupons are also valued.
- Personalized notes. A hand-written note addressed to your customer by first name adds a human touch that little else can equate. Thanking the customer and wishing them the best are not only unexpected kindnesses, but help to put humans at the center of your brand.
- Gift cards. Consumers love to give gift cards, but often it can feel like an impersonal experience when ordered and delivered digitally. Customizing gift card packaging and message cards can make it feel more delightful for the giver and the recipient.
- Gift wrapping. Offering gift wrapping services can be a true winner for brands. This not only saves customers from a task they dislike, but also saves them valuable time — especially during the holiday season.
As we noted earlier, it’s important to keep the online and in-store experience congruent. So, consider what elements might be used in order fulfillment and at the cash register. Stickers, inserts, and freebies are omnichannel possibilities.
Challenges of Personalizing the Unboxing Experience
There’s a reason Etsy sellers can so easily personalize their unboxing: they’re small businesses with the time to do so. But how do you scale personalization when handling thousands of orders, and even more so, during the time-pressure of peak season?
Customizing the unboxing experience can feel daunting. It will fall to whoever is handling your order fulfillment.
There can be multiple challenges with setting up a personalized unboxing experience:
- Difficulty in scaling to meet demand during peak
- Need to source and utilize sustainable options
- Trouble managing SKUs and lack of warehouse space
- Lack of staff to provide the human touch
- Insufficient logistics infrastructure to handle the orders, deliveries, and potential returns
- Problems managing stock levels and ensuring availability of diverse gift options
- Inadequate systems or need for new technologies
- Struggle to contain costs while still offering value-added unboxing experiences
The reality is that providing value-added services comes with additional cost. It’s important to monitor cost per order and to measure CSAT scores around an enhanced unboxing experience. It’s also important to weigh those costs against the potential for increased customer lifetime value, customer retention, customer acquisition, and the overall impact on brand marketing.
Many retailers find that partnering with an experienced third-party logistics company, like Radial, provides the scalability, infrastructure, management, and personnel needed to provide delightful unboxing experiences for every order, every day of the year.
Remember, the more personalized you can make the unboxing experience and the more you can connect with your customers emotionally, the more you will stand out in today’s automated world. People may not remember what you do, but they will remember how you make them feel. And that is what a great unboxing experience is all about.
Partner with Radial
Radial offers gift services and personalization to customize every order and bring the human touch to your brand experiences.
Radial can support your unboxing experience.