Uptick in Online Shopping Leads to New Considerations in Packaging

E-commerce has been a growing retail segment for decades now, with the move for people to do the majority of their shopping online continually on the rise among multiple categories.

One segment that was slow to join the e-commerce bandwagon at first, however, is grocery. Despite the plethora of available options—Instacart, Amazon Fresh, Peapod or Fresh Direct, to name a few—it appeared that the majority of consumers wanted to keep their food purchases live and in-person.

That is, until March of 2020 when shopping in-person suddenly presented previously unaccounted for risks and challenges for many. While originally the grocery e-commerce platform was projected to grow at a slow and steady pace this year, it seems that COVID-19 may have just pushed this segment way ahead of its expected curve. According to an analysis done by New York-based McKinsey & Company, at the height of the pandemic, 17% of grocery sales were done via e-commerce. They expect the number to settle at around 10% post-COVID.

grocery delivery
grocery delivery

While grocery has experienced the most notable change, it’s not the only area experiencing a boon. In fact in 2020, sellers must expect the majority of all products purchased to be done so via various online platforms. With people being kept at home, the pandemic has caused an increase in purchases of consumer packaged goods and that is expected to continue. Household products and pet care are two other top categories benefiting from increased demand.

It may not seem it at first but product packaging is just as, if not more important for e-tail than in-store buying. Though the idea of shelf appeal may not be as impactful, there are many other factors that keep packaging a key consideration for products being sold online. These include:

1. The ability to make memorable unboxing moments

Although through e-commerce the thrill of browsing the aisles is translated to scrolling pages of products, the magical experience of finding a new or favorite product doesn’t have to be lost. Make the unboxing experience memorable for your customer with unexpected packaging touches. While special sensory details like raised varnish, emboss, or soft touch lamination may not be as prevalent on a computer screen, they will delight customers upon receipt in their homes.

2. Increased Traceability

The ability to track and trace items being sold online is another key factor to utilize in your packaging for the e-tail environment. Some e-tailers, like Amazon, require very specific barcoding in order to be sold on their site.

3. Product Security

Your products packaging can also be an important way to provide security and ensure authenticity. By using invisible inks or microtext on your package, sellers can verify that your product is not a fake.

4. Durability

When a product is shipped directly to a consumer the durability requirements on a package become more rigid. The standard may vary depending on the seller – for example Amazon and Walmart have different “drop tests” – but regardless, the packaging will be required to uphold better at this route. This is important to keep in mind when planning packaging moving forward.

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