Published Wednesday 30th January 2019

The digital world is constantly changing the way people do business. Every aspect of the business process – from product creation to promotion and selling – is now conducted entirely online or is influenced by the actions of the digital world. It is a medium that has expanded rapidly over the last ten years, and with more integration expected in the future, it is something that no business can ignore.

The Internet Retail Boom

Back in 1995, when the likes of Amazon and eBay first launched on the internet, the British high street was the primary shopping location for most consumers. These thriving locations would give retailers and store owners a chance to sell their items through a combination of promotional techniques, from advertorial posters to face-to-face sales. This is a way of doing business that echoes a bygone era, and whilst there is still a place for many of these techniques, the business mediums have since evolved.

According to the Office of National Statistics, only 3.4% of all UK retail sales were made online in 2007. However, in the final quarter of 2018, that number increased to nearly 20%. Thanks to the evolution of e-commerce, many consumer purchases now involve minimal interaction with the company that is selling the product. In some cases, the consumers may even make no contact with the business whatsoever.

One thing that has not changed over the years, though, is the importance of consumer loyalty. With little or no communication with the purchasing consumer, businesses are now having to find new ways to create this.

Changing Digital Retail Expectations

In the early days of e-commerce, when options were more limited, a consumer’s expectations were simpler to understand. The convenience of having your shopping delivered to your location was often enough of a thrill to keep business flowing in, whilst website differentiation and ease of use were vital for consumer acquisition and retention. In 2008, around 53% of people in Great Britain made a purchase online. However, in 2018, that figure rose to over three-quarters. This period has also seen a growth in the number of retailers visible online, with many using their own online portals and some new major businesses working solely in the digital world. Now e-commerce has boomed, and with so many options available, companies need to create new ways of standing out from the crowd.

This increased competition has also led to higher expectations from consumers. For the most part, this has translated itself into the cost of goods, with increased online choices consistently leading to reduced prices, especially when in comparison to bricks-and-mortar retail. However, for luxury brands, lowering prices is often avoided as much as possible.

In these instances, portraying the brand’s message is critical. For example, traditional store design has been replaced by website interface creation, creating a seamless experience that entices the user to continue shopping through their site, now and in the future. Many other methods can be used to differentiate a business online, and one technique that is becoming increasingly popular is the intelligent use of packaging.

Make Your Packaging Stand Out

Whilst online shopping is reliant on the quality of the interface, consumer loyalty is often gained during the after-sale period. The speed and reliability of delivery is critical, but so is the consumer’s experience when they receive the product. For many, this is the first physical interaction they will have with your company and can go a long way to creating repeat business.

It is something ingrained within us from a young age, the joy of unwrapping something. This moment of anticipation can be utilised to portray brand messages in a personal way to the product purchaser, from the high-end nature of the good to personal values, such as being fair to the environment. Clever, interactive packaging can also serve as marketing for luxury brands, with user-generated ‘unboxing’ content being hugely popular online.

Controlling Packaging Costs

When created in line with business values, the physical unboxing experience can be a useful way of generating repeat business and consumer loyalty in an increasingly competitive digital world. However, it also needs to be measured with other competitive techniques, such as pricing, meaning that keeping costs to a manageable level is vital for the longevity of the business.

Here at ERA, we have been helping major UK retailers reduce their expenses for many years. Our expert specialists have saved millions in a range of cost areas, from utilities to distribution and packaging expenses. So, if you are looking at streamlining your procurement strategies this year, why not get in contact with our team today?