Exploring the Importance and Challenges of Secondary Packaging

March 5, 2019

5 min read


The e-commerce explosion is leaving retailers scrambling to differentiate themselves through excellent customer experiences. Think about it. In a traditional store, a brand that focuses on offering deeply personal, nuanced services can do so through interpersonal interactions and amenities. How can you replicate that experience online? In practice, it happens with data and specialized packaging. Secondary packaging is essential here, as the strategy empowers brands to replicate a boutique-like experience when sending packages to customers.

Secondary packaging is the practice of using a branded, often personalized packaging option for the item a customer orders. From there, that container is boxed for shipping in a more typical package. This lets you create the personal, specialized package without exposing your goods to damage or as much risk of theft during shipping. This type of strategy could be critical in laying the groundwork for more personalized e-commerce experiences, but secondary packaging also comes with significant challenges that must be overcome.

Responding to E-Commerce Growth Through Personalization

A study from Wise Guy Reports predicted the global e-commerce market would expand at a compound annual growth rate greater than 10 percent from 2018 through 2021. To a great extent, this growth is being driven by a blend of increased demand and greater sophistication in using technology to improve logistics processes within the sector.

As e-commerce continues to grow, brands are constantly exploring ways to create competitive advantages. Promoting stronger customer experiences is critical here, and personalization is emerging as a key option. A Segment study found that approximately 71 percent of consumers get frustrated by impersonal shopping experiences. Another 40 percent of consumers said they’ve purchased something more expensive than their original intent due to a personalized experience. Ultimately, 44 percent of those involved in the study said they are likely to become repeat buyers if their interactions with the brand are personalized.

While a lot of this data points to digital marketing initiatives, that isn’t the only way to capitalize on the demand for personalized experiences. For example, shipping experts and logistics partners can work with you to implement secondary packaging strategies alongside other advanced supply chain strategies to help you take advantage of the opportunities created by personalization.

Offering End-to-End Personalization

Data lays the groundwork for personalization. Gathering customer data, organizing it, integrating it across lines of business, and delivering it to end users in an actionable way is key to providing personal experiences. If customers are logged in on your website, you can feature products based on their shopping history. If they are completing an order, you can save payment details and shipping information to ensure a smooth checkout. After the purchase, you can offer follow-up emails with promotional offers and content that supports a better user experience, such as assembly videos for furniture purchased online.

All of these personalized touch points can bolster the customer experience, but it’s important to move personalization beyond the digital realm. If a person buys a good in a store, you may provide a variety of amenities that create a more personal, branded experience. Something as simple as a high-quality box with eye-catching visual design and intelligent interior packaging can make a huge difference. Providing user guides, information on related products, or similar materials can provide a personal touch, guiding shoppers to more interactions with your brand. Secondary packaging lets you extend this opportunity through the shipping process.

The difference between a personal, customer-focused experience with secondary packaging and a standard shipping situation can be encapsulated in a simple idea. Imagine what happens when a customer opens the box. In a standard environment, they’d sort through packaging materials finding their items and materials. With secondary packaging, they open the box to a cultivated experience with a designed box and supplementary materials that add excitement to getting the item that was purchased.

Creating a Framework for Secondary Packaging

While secondary packaging is promising from a customer experience perspective, it does create complexity. You’ll need to:

  • Design packaging that will be attractive to the customers you are targeting.
  • Pack materials in safe, attractive ways that guide users through the process of exploring their new item.
  • Adjust inventory management to ensure you always have supply for secondary packaging elements, including boxes, inserts, and user materials.
  • Manage safe, secure, and accurate preparation for shipping.
  • Ensure your final packaging complies with requirements from your shipping partners or carriers.

Data visibility is critical in all of these processes as managers across lines of business need to understand sales and shipping expectations to maintain supplies and manage specific customer orders. An effective secondary packaging strategy often forces organizations to treat each package as a unique shipment, not simply a box that needs a unique address label.

Getting Started with Secondary Packaging

Making the deep process changes needed to support secondary packaging begins with a deep understanding of every facet of your supply chain. Enterprise logistics partners bring expertise and technology to help you understand everything from your carrier relationships to your packaging supply chain with greater precision. From there, a partner can empower you to make strategic operational changes that let you integrate secondary packaging into your parcel management processes as seamlessly as possible. Transportation Insight is leading the way toward logistics innovation through our unique approach to partnering with clients. Contact us today to learn how we can help you drive personal e-commerce experiences.

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Gene Smith


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