A MAKE IT Monthly talk recap

Heidi Carreon, Contributor

 Online videos of unboxing presents can garner hundreds of thousands of views online, so is it a surprise that online brands are taking more seriously the customer experience of opening their packages? This month’s MAKE IT Monthly Talk delved into the rise of Vertical Commerce Brand companies (VCBs) and how packaging design has become their new storefront.

VCBs have received attention lately, especially with the $1 billion acquisition of Dollar Shave Club by Unilever. VCBs are not your run-of-the-mill e-commerce site like Amazon, where customers can buy products and services from different companies. Instead, the brand permeates the website, the product line, and the whole purchasing experience. And even though VCBs may start online, their attention to customer experience often leads their brand to manifest offline through physical retail or partnerships.

One overlooked way to create intimate customer experiences is through packaging. Lumi Co-Founder Jesse Genet explained that packaging, when tailored to the brand, is almost an extension of the product.

Genet learned about the power of the package when in 2009 she and her co-founder Stephen Ango launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for their company Inkodye. After their product grew into a manufacturing company, Genet and Ango discovered how the packaging design drove customer perception of their brand.

Jesse was amazed at the number of resources that made starting a company easy, from Square to Squarespace, and Shopify to Mailchimp. But no one tackled the process of product packaging and fulfillment. So they created Lumi to share their knowledge and provide brands with custom-made
packaging and branding tools.

Genet gave three important things for entrepreneurs to consider when considering their packaging:


Make it an experience

There’s a sense of excitement in opening a box. Make the design unique and give the box a sense of mystery if you can. Invest some time in considering color scheme, design and even the way the product fit into its package.


Make the experience fun to share

Social media makes it possible for customers to share their experiences with a product. Encourage your customers to share their unboxing experiences. For example, in Dollar Shave Club’s #UnboxDSC campaign, customers who shared their unboxing on Instagram could receive free giveaways if Dollar Shave Club reposted their photos. Creating these kinds of experiences not only creates brand awareness but also gives customers a deeper relationship with the brand.


Create packaging that makes sense to your brand

Not all brands are alike, which means the packaging needs of companies will differ. A no-frills brand like Threadless places shirts in plastic bag and with a bold imprint that says “”Great Art in a Squishy Bag.” It owns its simplicity and saves money in the process.

As far as budget goes, Genet recommends .5-3% as a rule of thumb for packaging. Smaller companies may not be able to afford boxes with all the bells and whistles, but Genet says that a company can make itself memorable with just a blank box and custom tape, or a blank bag and a custom rubber stamp.

Since many VCB boxes are getting attention through YouTubers and on other social media platforms nowadays, entrepreneurs and manufacturers would do well to be mindful of the customer experiences they create through their shipping.

MAKE IT Monthly events are a series meant to bring entrepreneurs, manufacturers and business owners together for an evening of discussion and learning on industry trends. For more information, visit the events page. Sign up for the mailing list to receive invitations and never miss an event.