By Chad Wagner, CEO of Peachtree Packaging & Display
How do ecommerce retailers and direct-to-consumer companies individually personalize thousands or even millions of custom shipping packages at scale? Imagine a package delivered to your doorstep that is designed and printed just for you. This is the next level of experiential package design. Personalization, which means individualizing experiences based on customer preferences and needs, has taken over the digital world, but personalization in experiential packaging has lagged behind. Understandably so as the physical and time constraints of individualizing thousands or even millions of packages poses multiple challenges. However, advances in digital printing capabilities are making it possible and affordable for retailers, direct-to-consumer companies, and ecommerce companies to personalize packages at scale. The key is having multiple packaging options available and leveraging customer data to create unforgettable customer experiences.
In the past, marketers were limited to ordering batches of identical printed boxes in bulk. In this situation, every customer receives the same box design. Now with digital printing, marketers can create variations of a select few basic designs that fit multiple customer needs and situations to deliver a more customized experience. Below are three ways brand managers and marketers can combine digital printing capabilities with customer data to add a level of personalization to experiential package design that increases customer engagement and loyalty.
1. Personalize based on customer preference.
Instead of shipping products in a single box design that goes to all customers, have a set of custom box designs available that can be matched to customer needs and preferences. For maximum impact, be strategic about what data you gather from your customers. It may be as simple as asking your customers their favorite color or which movie character they would like printed on their box. On order forms, you can also include an option for customers to self-select what products they might be interested in trying in the future and use that data to send sample products.
Consider allowing customers to select box designs based on holidays or special occasions. Want to send a box with hearts on it to your significant other? No problem. How about a box that says “Happy 2nd Anniversary” or one for a 20th anniversary? Yes, that’s possible too. Perhaps customers want to send a box featuring a specific sports team to the ultimate sports fan in their life. The possibilities are endless.
2. Personalize based on purchase history.
You can learn a lot from customers based on what they have purchased in the past. Combining purchase history with predictive analytics and next-product-to-buy algorithms is a powerful personalization tool that will help you suggest relevant products likely to be of interest to your customer. Has your customer ordered a toy for their cat? Perhaps they would appreciate a box design featuring a cat cartoon and a
sample of cat treats inside. A customer’s purchase history allows you to track how long someone has been a customer, which makes it possible to send a personalized box with the message such as, “Thanks for being a customer since 2015!”
3. Personalize based on customer behavior.
Successful experiential packaging strategies can be based on “if then” responses to customer behaviors. If a customer purchases a red throw for their couch, perhaps you ship the product in a custom box printed to look like a matching pillow that is part of the same product collection. When you ship a book to a customer use the blank canvas of the box to promote a complementary series. The key to personalizing based on customer behavior is maintaining a library of trigger messages designed to match individual customer signals. You can also include offers for abandoned cart items, but be strategic with this tactic as it might backfire if someone purchases the item and then later receives a message promoting the same item.
As personalization techniques continue to advance in digital marketing, customer expectations for personalized experiential packaging will follow suit. While the cost of printing single, individual boxes for each customer is still out of reach for most marketers, individually personalizing boxes based on customer preferences, purchase history and customer behavior can make it feel like a customer is receiving a box that was printed just for them. This is the future of experiential packaging, here and now.
About the Author
Chad Wagner is CEO of Peachtree Packaging Peachtree Packaging & Display, a brand caretaker that designs and manufacturers direct-to-consumer Experiential Packaging™ graphic packaging solutions, customized ecommerce packaging, custom-designed storage boxes and inner pack solutions, and high-profile, semi-permanent/corrugated and permanent point of purchase (POP) displays. Peachtree Packaging is located in Lawrenceville, Georgia.