3 Common Packaging Mistakes Businesses Make

You can’t deny the impact of first impressions, especially when it comes to product packaging.

Case in point: I recently purchased some tea from a well-known company that has a national reputation for its high-end teas. After carefully selecting which teas I wanted from the many options on their website, I placed my order, and within a day or two, my tea was in route.

A few days later, I came home to find a package on my doorstep. What could this be? I wondered. Surely this plain brown cardboard box can’t be the tea I ordered, I thought. On its website and social media pages, this brand’s teas are shown in artfully decorated boxes and resealable bags, so why would the company ship products in such nondescript, brand-less boxes?

This story highlights the first of the three common packaging mistakes I’m going to discuss:
 
 

1. Not Using Packaging to Its Full Potential

While ultimately I was happy with the tea I ordered, I couldn’t help but feel a bit let down by the packaging the company uses for shipping. For a nearly 50-year-old company with a strong, recognizable brand—and not to mention a beautifully designed website with lots of high-quality product photos—I expected a box with at least a logo on it.

Packaging doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but it should help customers recognize your brand when it’s on their doorstep. Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with plain brown boxes. They’re both functional and cost effective. But they lack the “wow” factor that branded packaging offers customers. Even things as simple as adding a logo or using custom tape on an otherwise plain brown box can boost the impact it has on customer experience.

By shipping my tea in a plain brown box with no branded elements, the tea company missed out on the chance to make a great first impression, to build my anticipation, and to impress me with the unboxing experience.

For a company that depends largely on online sales, these results should be key goals for their product packaging. “It’s important to remember that the customer experience for e-commerce products includes the way the product lands in the consumer’s mailbox or on their doorstep,” writes a Forbes contributor in an article on how packaging improves customer experience. “That first impression can make the product better and the brand more desirable, or it can create a negative perception that will tarnish both.”
 
 

2. Overpackaging

In their efforts to protect products during shipping, some businesses make the mistake of overpackaging products, which not only costs more money in materials and freight charges but also can cost them long-term customers.

According to Sealed Air, 77 percent of consumers think packaging should and does reflect the environmental values of a brand. “Consumers know waste when they see it, and it reflects negatively on their perception of you—and not just when it comes to the perception of sustainability,” Sealed Air says in a blog post. “When an order arrives in multiple, unnecessarily large boxes, consumers see inefficiency.”

Avoid making this mistake by optimizing your packaging: Use only the amount of packaging materials needed to keep your product safe and secure during shipping. Don’t package a small product in a too-large box surrounded by an excessive amount of air pillows or foam peanuts. Instead, consider using custom packaging that’s designed to fit your product’s exact specifications.
 
 

3. Underprotecting

On the flip side of overpackaging, some businesses make the mistake of underprotecting their products during shipping (e.g., not using sufficient cushioning to prevent damage), which like overpackaging, can end up costing them more in the long run.

“With underprotection comes loss of valuable products to damage, contamination, or other physical compromise,” Sealed Air says. “Not only do companies lose the product and packaging, they have to replace the product and pay for the disposal of the damaged product and packaging.”

The solution: Determine your product’s packaging Goldilocks Zone—the amount of packaging that’s just right for your product. Your packaging should protect your product from damage without including more fillers than you actually need.

If you need help optimizing your packaging, our free packaging analysis can help. Our team of expert structure engineers and graphic designers will analyze your current packaging to evaluate the cost effectiveness, package stability, functionality, and performance. We’ll ensure that your packaging is the best possible fit for your product—and your budget.

Contact us today for your free packaging analysis.

About Jessi Knipe-Semler

Jessi Knipe-SemlerJessi is the Design & Marketing Manager for PSI Group. As a multidisciplinary design and marketing generalist, she works with customers to enhance their packaging brand and create unique user experiences.

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