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Retailers turning to the power of packaging, research reveals

Macfarlane Packaging’s annual “unboxing” survey has revealed significant improvements in online retailers’ use of packaging to protect the condition of their products when being delivered to customers.

However, the research, by the UK’s largest packaging supplier, demonstrates that there remains considerable scope for online retailers to enhance their customers’ experience through improving the use and presentation of packaging.

Unboxing – the experience of opening a package received by post or courier from an online retailer – is seen as an increasingly important part of the customer experience, with YouTube now featuring 60 million unboxing videos

This is the second year that Macfarlane has conducted this survey, receiving responses concerning 165 online retailers. Shoppers were asked to assess a variety of areas including the appropriateness of the outer packaging size; the durability of packaging; the ease of opening and the amount of packaging materials used.

The principal findings of the 2017 survey are:

  • One in five packages (20%) were described by online shoppers in the survey as being essentially unfit for purpose as a result of being either too big (risking products getting damaged by moving around) or too small (risking the package breaking open) – a significant improvement on 2016 when the total was 30%.
  • Reports of products arriving damaged fell from 10% in 2016 to 7% in 2017. However, 21% of participants reported packages arriving either ripped, damp, dented or even opened.
  • The increased use of aids such as tear strips (44%) contributed to a major fall in consumers reporting packages as difficult to open – from 24% in 2016 to only 5% in 2017.
  • Online retailers also scored well on the amount of (infill) packaging used inside packages, with reports of excess packaging falling from 41% last year to only 15% in 2017.
  • 74% of shoppers rate the returns service as important when selecting an online retailer, according to IMRG’s UK Consumer Home Delivery Review 2016. Macfarlane Packaging’s survey reveals that 30% of packages had no returns information. While this is an improvement on the 55% reported as having no returns details in 2016, it demonstrates there is considerable room for improvement in this area.

Laurel Granville, Marketing Director at Macfarlane Packaging, said:

“Britain’s online retailers have clearly listened to their customers and are increasingly harnessing the power of good packaging. We know from our customers and from recent research how important consumers view their unboxing experience and it’s great to see retailers responding in this way.

“By making their packaging fit for purpose, online retailers are taking big steps to improve the experience for their customers, reduce damages and, therefore, returns.”

However, this year’s survey has revealed that while more retailers are branding their packaging, they have yet to fully embrace the role that branded packaging can play in their customers’ unboxing experience, with only 12% of those surveyed truly delighted with their packaging experience.

Only 35% of customers described the packaging as “consistent” with the brand image of the retailer or supplier and 38% reported that their pack had no branding, either inside or outside. One customer commented on the lack of branding on their package: “The funny thing is, they sell branded goods so they know how important branding is.”

Laurel Granville again:
“Although our survey reveals a commendable improvement from online retailers, it also lays bare the considerable scope that exists for the sector to capitalise on the potential for packaging to be a real differentiator for them. In a competitive market, and as we approach the retail sector’s busiest time of the year, now is the time for retailers to go the extra mile and turn on the wow factor for their customers with packaging that brings the store experience into their homes.”

View the full 2017 unboxing results here: https://www.macfarlanepackaging.com/unboxing-2017/

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