December 23, 2014
Originally posted on the eBay Enterprise blog, Commersations.
Retail industry discussions about omnichannel tend to focus on the browsing and product selection experience. But as holiday gift shipments reach new highs this year, how retailers deliver a branded experience when product packaging stands in for the attentive sales associate is just as important. Industry innovators Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade and Net-a-Porter are very particular about the unwrapping experience that they want their customers to have. For one of our clients, it takes six precise folds of tissue, folded at an angle into their two tone rectangular boxes shipped from our eBay Enterprise warehouse to deliver its signature customer delight when their packages arrive.
Especially during the holidays, retailers put a lot of effort into creating delightful shopping experiences at their stores and online, and we’ve seen many of the brands that use our fulfillment services extend that effort through the last mile. Fulfillment is the culmination of the customer engagement journey and the final opportunity to deliver a delightful, branded shopping experience. As Peter Sheldon of Forrester Research (who recently helped out with holiday shipping in one of our warehouses) noted in his recent blog, "Undercover Analyst – Forrester goes on the receiving end of the holiday online shopping season," “first impressions count.”
On Brand Through the Last Mile
Adding branded touches at fulfillment—as simple as logos on the shipping boxes, or as detailed as personalized thank you notes—is the final step in creating a truly omnichannel brand experience, and lets the customer know that their online purchase is as important as their in-store purchase. During gift-giving season, branded details can also introduce brands to new customers.
It’s the Details that Delight
Unwrapping gifts creates a special giddy excitement for both the gift-giver and the gift-getter, and added attention to detail is the best way to delight. Many of our clients use special touches like careful wrapping and branded seals to finish off their packages so that all of them have a gift-wrapped feel. Less ornamental, but no less important, another client created special packaging to better protect their breakable products. The new individual cardboard sleeves presented better than bubble wrap or paper stuffing and also gave them an added opportunity for branding.
The Human Touch
Certainly, the detail that our clients put into their holiday shipping wouldn’t happen without human hands, which further extends the personalized experience they aim to deliver to customers. It’s obvious to the recipient that a human took care in both designing the packaging and adding the finishing touches. That care is particularly poignant with gifts, adding to the sentiment of the gift and providing the giver with the opportunity to delight, even when they didn’t shop in a store.
Beyond Holiday Impressions
Because we’re well into the holiday shopping (and shipping) season, it might feel too late to apply personalized and branded touches for holiday packages, but it’s not too late to develop a year-round strategy. Many of our clients apply the same attention to detail all year to provide a differentiated end-to-end brand experience and delight loyal customers with every package.