E-commerce & Corona – how the pandemic affects retail & packaging
The nasty corona viruses have taken the world by storm and are even directing commerce. Since the first lockdown, e-commerce has become more meaningful and successful than ever before. This means that more and more people are shopping online. Of course, after all, it’s important to minimize the risk of infection, which is known to be greatest when people gather indoors. So it’s no wonder that more and more consumers tend to avoid shopping in physical stores and shift their activities in this regard to the Internet – especially since there are excellent opportunities to do so in the vastness of the Web. In the meantime, even fresh groceries can be ordered online.
Impressive figures: In the big pandemic year 2020, e-commerce in the DACH countries already achieved a consolidated volume of more than 100 billion euros in the B2C sector alone. That averages out to around EUR 1,000 ordered per capita. Incidentally, these figures are based on consumer and company surveys in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the results of which were compiled by the Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e.V. (bevh) has compiled in a coordinated manner. It is also worth mentioning that it is primarily products for everyday needs that are now increasingly being purchased online. Clearly, the pandemic has raised the population’s awareness of what is really important to a certain extent, but this is only incidental.
Several studies have also concluded that the e-commerce boom is likely to continue over the long term and be part of the so-called “new normal” – even after the intense pandemic phase. Many people who discovered the benefits of online shopping during the lockdown periods plan to continue doing some shopping online in the future. However, customers are making some demands in the process, which stores will also definitely have to meet in order to keep the trend going. Apart from a comprehensively pleasant shopping experience – key words consumer and customer journey – customers also care about packaging-related aspects. And these are of course what interest us most as packaging designers.
According to a survey by the Cologne Institute for Retail Research (IFH), more than 70% of customers attach great importance to being able to remove their ordered products from the packaging without frustration. This means that the packaging should be easy to open, which can be achieved, for example, with a smooth-running yet stable tear strip. Practical: If the carton or the shipping bag can be torn open without damage, it is easier for the customer to return the goods, because he does not have to worry about replacement packaging, but can simply use the original. This works even better if the packaging still has a self-adhesive tape. In short, the easier it is for customers to unpack and pack, the more likely they are to remain loyal.
In this context, it should also be added that unpacking the ordered goods is an emotional moment for many customers, as demonstrated by the numerous unboxing videos on social media. Well, we all know from our own experience: If you have to spend what feels like an eternity tearing at the packaging, looking for the scissors, cutting, and wiping the sweat from your brow in between (admittedly, this is usually an exaggeration, but it is permitted for the sake of illustration), and then hold the product in your hands at the end, but you are already pretty angry and frustrated, this is unlikely to lead to you forming a good opinion of the store. Next time, you’ll probably try a different provider.
When it comes to packaging, retailers can do even more to gain, strengthen and maintain customer trust in the long term. For example, it is increasingly important to many consumers that the store saves on packaging materials or at least uses sustainable ones – as long as it does not harm the products in the package. And then we want to directly address the retailer side, which can benefit doubly from successful self-advertising on the packaging: On the one hand, the recipient recognizes at first glance whose shipment it is, which often increases his anticipation, so that he already approaches the opening with (extra) positive emotions; on the other hand, the advertising on the transport route draws the attention of potential new customers to the brand or the store – perfect.
The key facts once again at a glance:
– E-commerce has grown enormously as a result of the Corona pandemic.
– Many people want to continue shopping online to a greater extent.
– Among other things, customers attach great importance to high-quality packaging.
– High-quality packaging is characterized by being easy to open, easy to return if necessary, and sustainable.
– Retailers and brands can also use packaging for self-promotion (customer loyalty and new customer generation).
Conclusion: If you want maximum success as an online retailer, it is imperative that you also deal with packaging, at least as intensively as the Corona pandemic has pushed e-commerce.