The last 30 seconds of Customer Experience

Newly appointed ecommerce director of Havas Market, Brendon Peters explores the importance to brands of considering the entire CX journey.

Picture this. Christmas morning. Presents under the tree. The great unwrap. Socks. Feigned happiness.

I regularly relive this trauma when I receive orders through the post.

Brands and businesses often focus on the speed and price of their shipping proposition, which can lead to neglecting a key piece of the puzzle – the packaging. Customer Experience (CX) doesn’t stop once the customer has left your website, in fact CX never stops. It’s relevant when the customer receives their order confirmation and dispatch emails, when their package is on route for delivery, when it arrives and continues with all additional communications from the brand up until the customer decides to purchase again.

All that hard work getting the item picked, packed and out the door can be undone if the packaging doesn’t cut it.

Do customers really want to see beautiful, branded boxes or satchels?

While there is no one-stop-shop for how to package your product, the focus should be on creating a memorable experience, centred around your core customers’ expectations and needs.

Over-complicated packaging has the potential to create a dichotomy between what is inside and what is on the outside.

In contrast, a business that is parsimonious with their packaging may attenuate the premium product inside or send a message of putting profit first.

Recruit your staff or family members to place an order and report back on the experience. Ask them to provide examples of memorable experiences they have had with the packaging, what made them race inside to unwrap their order and what was bad. Hypothesize what is going to create the most positive experience for your customers.

Consider your customers personas and research their expectations. Forbes reports that 75% of Gen Z’s state that sustainability is more important than the brand name and a 2021 survey by Sendle reported that two thirds of customers are more likely to buy from retailers who use compostable packaging.

What’s more important – beautiful branding or a focus on sustainability?

Why not both?

Your packaging is an opportunity to reinforce your brand values – whether that is personality, minimalism, great value for money, sustainability, or all the above. Make sure the customer knows that you’re using 100% recycled materials, or that you have a strategy in place to offset your carbon. Design your packaging so that it can be resealed for easy returns, or so that it can be easily collapsed for easy recycling.

Lastly, what’s in the box?

  1. Hopefully the items I ordered.
  2. Returns instructions.
  3. Inserts?

Returns are part of it. Simplifying the return process can have a positive impact on Conversion Rate. Baymard reports that 12% of cart abandonments are due to an unsatisfactory returns policy. A 2020 report by Narvar states that 76% of first-time shoppers who had an easy returns experience would shop again, and 1/3 of shoppers would abandon a retailer if they had difficulty with returning an item. If you promise easy returns, then honour that by putting your returns instructions front and centre.

Inserts are presented as being an effective tool to increase loyalty and revenue, as being low-cost and a great promotional tool. Little research has been done on how customers actually feel about inserts. Personally, they go in the bin. A more effective approach is personalised communication through email, focusing on building loyalty and communicating future offers.

A handwritten note may spend a few extra days on my desk than a generic thank you card, but they both inevitably end up in the bin.

In Summary

Focusing on creating a memorable positive experience that is relevant to your customer and you’ll be a step ahead of 99% of brands out there.

Top Priorities

  1. Customer first. Start by thinking about what your customer wants. Do some research. Survey them.
  2. Sustainability. All generations are now far more willing to spend more for sustainable products. It’s 2022, if you’re not implementing some type of sustainability in your packaging then you’re missing the mark.
  3. Returns. Just own it, it’s part of the online shopping experience. Always include returns information with your orders. Learn from the returns and include these learnings in your growth strategy.
  4. Protection. Don’t send a carton of eggs in a packing satchel, or a vase without bubble wrap.
  5. As compact as possible. Stop over-packaging. A sour taste is left when the box is far too big for the goods or has an excessive amount of plastic. Don’t squeeze a shirt into the smallest satchel possible so that it’s crinkled, and the collar flattened by the time it arrives.
  6. Testing never stops. Just because you’re packaging one way today doesn’t mean you can’t change your approach tomorrow.

Brendon Peters, ecommerce director Havas Market


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