Online Merchants Thinking Inside the Box
Several weeks ago, one of the resident teenagers here received a large corrugated box from an Amazon.com affiliate. Anxious to open it, he ripped open the box and found, ta-da, a shirt inside a plastic bag. "That’s it? There’s nothing else," he asked.
When asked what else he was expecting, he responded with a list that included a packing slip, literature on other products, special offers, and perhaps a sample of some kind. "How about some bubble wrap to pop?" he asked.
He pointed to previous deliveries to the house that he thought showed a greater degree of professionalism. After all, hadn’t he just shelled out whatever amount of money it was on this button-down shirt?
The experience, which seemed comical at the time, was viewed in a different light this week with the reading of a Wall Street Journal article that pointed to the amount of attention retailers pay to properly packing boxes sent to consumers. As the opening paragraph of the story reads, "Unlike in stores, shoppers on the Web need to be wowed twice, first when they are browsing around the site and again when the purchase lands on their doorstep."
As the Journal piece pointed out, getting products to the consumer without damage is priority number one, so simply dumping something in a box or envelope generally doesn’t cut it.
Retailers put packaging through all kinds of tests to make sure they can stand up to delivery drivers. HSN, for example, has a machine that test drops packages from a variety of angles.
How packages look when they’re opened is critical.
"Our packaging needs to be consistent with what they’re seeing on TV," Rob Solomon, HSN’s executive vice president of operations, told the Journal. "The presentation really becomes that exclamation point on the product inside."
Carolyn Keer, director of packaging at Anthropologie, told the Journal, "When you get something in the mail, it should feel like a present, whether you bought it yourself or not."
Discussion Question: How important is in-the-box presentation to the online shopping experience?