For some people, packaging just means cardboard boxes that they have to squeeze into their recycling bin. But to an ever-growing audience, packaging is becoming almost as important as the product it was designed to protect.

Much of this increased interest in packaging is down to the well-documented growth in online retail and social media.  Between them, they have opened up a wealth of opportunities for businesses to reach new audiences.  But while social media can be a great place to grow brand awareness, it can also be used to expose weaknesses. You only need to browse through #unboxing on Twitter to see example after example of packaging done well and not so well.

This focus is leading many retailers to re-evaluate their packaging as they try to create an online purchasing experience that reflects the quality of their brand.  

Digital print opportunities

In an interesting article on Raconteur.net about personalised packaging, Silas Amos of Silas Amos Ltd Brand Thought commented: “…think how the brown box that delivers goods we order online can be brought alive at the door.

“Packaging is media – it’s a billboard. It’s just a matter of rethinking what it can do when you can change it daily and where content can be infinite.”

In fact, Silas believes there are many creative and strategic opportunities being opened up by digital print. You can learn more by reading his paper ‘A Bigger Spectrum’.

Developments in digital print technology are creating a whole host of exciting opportunities to make every step of the online purchasing experience count for your brand.  And that includes secondary, or transit, packaging too. Here are a few examples of how you can create a better experience for your e-retail customers and strengthen your brand image:

1. Integrated messaging

Promotional or seasonal messaging no longer needs to be restricted to online or instore point of sale materials and mailers.  Improvements in the quality of digital print mean that it is now possible to produce high quality, short print runs for your packaging with messaging and printed design that can be changed and updated without even needing to stop the press.

2. Transit and inner packaging to match

As Silas Amos suggests, think how the brown cardboard box can be brought to life.  There is no reason why the outer, transit packaging cannot continue the theme of the product and packaging contained within it. But, as with any packaging, always bear in mind how it will be handled by the end user – don’t leave them with a problem with how they are going to dispose of it.

3. Create packaging that the consumer wants to hang on to

In the past, this has only really applied to luxury brands, where the packaging is part of the overall experience.  But digital print now means that even small companies can create innovative, luxurious and personalised packaging, without it needing to cost them a fortune.

When thinking about your packaging design, consider how it might be repurposed. For example, beautifully designed and printed, branded packaging used to deliver a cookery-related gift could be used to store recipe cards in the kitchen, helping to keep your brand front of mind long after the gift has been forgotten about.

4. Bespoke pack designs

There’s no better way to make a lasting impression than creating an innovative pack design that truly showcases your brand and its products. Packaging materials can be combined to create a unique package, and bespoke box designs can also be developed to fit perfectly around your product. The latest technologies also make it possible to WOW your customers using options like digital print, augmented reality and personalisation. The possibilities are endless. Read ‘The packaging innovations you’ll see more of in 2017’ to learn more.

Want to find out more about how digital print could transform your packaging? Challenge our experts to find the right creative solution for your business. Contact us below to get started.