Turning down the volume

Survey on e-commerce packaging: Consumers expect appropriately sized shipping cartons

Over 4 billion parcels were shipped in Europe in 2014, as more and more consumers shopped online. While the UK, Germany and France accounted for 61% of this volume, neighbouring countries were not far behind; Europe has now surpassed the USA in the number of products purchased online.

E-commerce packaging is the very first touchpoint for a consumer; it sets their expectations for the brand and for the product. Just how important a role packaging plays has been emphasised in a comprehensive survey conducted by STI Group, in which 99 percent of consumers confirmed that packaging was important to them. 

Product protection and return shipping

Survey results paint a clear picture of consumer expectations. Above all, e-commerce packaging should protect the contents; be the right size; and be reusable for return shipping. Their biggest complaint: oversized boxes with excessive padding.

Hassle-free returns

When buying soft goods or shoes, return rates of 50 per cent or higher are common. Over half of all consumers surveyed wanted to be able to return unwanted products in an appropriately sized shipping carton.

Experts believe that in future, volume-based distribution charges (similar to the American pricing model) will be introduced in Germany because of increases in road freight. US package shipping charges are based not only on weight and a handful of standard sizes, but on actual shipping volume (dimensional weight). Adjusting shipping box size can therefore translate into real cost savings.

Ready-to-ship

The idea behind Ready-to-ship was to create retail packaging with a pre-applied shipping label that could be mailed without additional outer packaging. This makes it a very attractive option for consumers, and it also received positive ratings from online retailers in a 2015 European Retail Institute survey. However, for Ready-to-ship to work in practice, shipping requirements need to be accounted for early in the retail packaging design stage.  

Click & Collect takes off

The future of brick-and-mortar retail is much debated. But is online business really undermining the high street? Not necessarily, if you look at the survey responses for Click & Collect. Some 80 per cent of survey participants were prepared to collect online purchases from a physical store – or were already doing so – regardless of the product category. While in the store to collect, the likelihood of buying an extra item or two (or additional services) is high.

E-commerce packaging is the very first touchpoint for a consumer; it sets their expectations for the brand and for the product. Just how important a role packaging plays has been emphasised in a comprehensive survey conducted by STI Group, in which 99 percent of consumers confirmed that packaging was important to them.