Packaging company Sealed Air is hosting a virtual conference on Tuesday 13 September at 11am EDT, which will provide insights from industry leaders and e-commerce experts on how effective delivery, sustainable disposal, and delightful packaging are shaping ecommerce within the apparel sector.
Sealed Air explains the growing role of packaging in shaping apparel ecommerce
The tumultuous last few years have had a significant impact on the global retail market. There have been obvious short-term consequences – on consumer demand, the financial health of global companies and the structural implications on operating models. At the same time, there has been an acceleration of longer-term trends, especially in relation to the shift towards online.
Nowhere has this digital shift been felt more than apparel. According to GlobalData, while total global spend on apparel items plummeted 19.7% in 2020, apparel expenditure via the ecommerce channel grew 18.3%. Moreover, ecommerce apparel spending then grew by a further 14.3% in 2021. During the pandemic, many consumers switched their spend to digital channels, while retailers and brands ramped up their online propositions, investing in their websites and fulfilment capacities.
Packaging has a key role to play in driving brand experience and differentiation
Online apparel has traditionally lacked interesting experiential packaging. Items often arrive in simple plastic mailer bags, with the items inside contained within individual transparent plastic bags. This highlights that these items have often come straight from a distribution centre rather than the premium store environments that shoppers are used to.
However packaging is increasingly playing a vital role in consumer buying behaviour. According to research conducted by Keenpack, more than 30% of online shoppers say that the packaging used for an online order impacts their perception of the brand. Well over half of this number associated premium branded packaging with more luxurious and upscale products.
In responding to the requirements of premium apparel brands, and shoppers alike, Sealed Air is focusing on developing packaging solutions that meet the varying demands of the consumer post-order experience. Sealed Air has developed three pillars: Deliver, Delight and Dispose.
Deliver: ensuring products arrive in a good condition and convenient manner
Convenience is more important than ever to time-pushed consumers; brands need to get the customer experience right. This includes trust in the safety and robustness of deliveries, and the ease of which returns can be made.
At an absolute minimum, it is vital that items arrive in good condition, in packaging formats that are both robust and easy to transport.
Taking this one-step further using snug or lean packaging can serve to both help optimise logistics and transportation of products, while also making it easier for items to be delivered or collected.
A best-in-class ‘deliver’ solution meets each of these demands, at the same time as more broadly ensuring that packaging is human-centric. This means easy opening and closing for returns, and the integration of ‘smart’ features, such as QR codes, to help provide more information and context with respect to delivery.
The premium lifestyle clothing brand, prAna, is one operator that is excelling in this area. It has been employing the use of strips of raffia palm tree to tie its garments, that has been successful in keeping the products safe and in good condition during processing and delivery. This method of tying the garments also reduces the packaging space requirements of the products, making them easily transportable and delivered
Elsewhere, the California-based sustainable fashion brand, Toad&Co has partnered with Limeloop – a US based startup, to deliver products in a vinyl package, that can be opted by customers upon checkout. This type of packaging eliminates the need for plastic and/or paper materials required to package products. Once the product is delivered to the customer, the empty package can be dropped in mail for pickup.
Delight: leveraging packaging as marketing tool
Brands operating in the premium apparel segment must ensure their primary and secondary online packaging presents the products in a stylish way. In many cases this can be achieved via methods such as elevating product presentation through wrapping the product with branded tissue paper and stickers.
Going further than this, brands should be capitalising on the potential for packaging to project a wider brand image, with innovative design and branding helping to provide an experience that is in line with their identity and that enhances the purchasing journey.
A best-in-class ‘delight’ solution leveraging to packaging to have conversations with customers; helping brands to differentiate from competitors and build long term customer relationships. This can be achieved through the inclusion of personalised messaging, storytelling, or gifts, and can help to create an exciting unwrapping experience.
Brands that are meeting these varying delight expectations include lingerie retailer, Womanhood. The inside of its packaging is pink with bold but simple branding, creating a premium feel. On opening the box, shoppers are greeted by a bold print of women of different shapes and colours, making the unwrapping experience more unique and in line with the retailer’s focus on inclusivity and female empowerment.
Elsewhere, apparel brand, Cousins Collective, combines its mailers with branded tissue paper and a thank-you note, showing how they can still wow their customers on delivery.
Dispose: packaging that can meet evolving sustainability demands
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the damaging impact on the environment of excessive packaging, in addition to the carbon emissions related to last mile delivery.
Indeed, sustainability considerations are increasingly driving consumer purchasing decisions, with GlobalData research highlighting that 74% of consumers are willing to pay more for products that are delivered in more sustainable packaging. Sustainability also has the potential to further enhance premium credentials.
However, at the same time it is important to understand that sustainability goals and priorities are often not uniform. For example, while sustainability considerations are driving packaging material selection, it is imperative that this doesn’t have an adverse impact further down the line, as a result of higher levels of product damage and less efficient transportation.
Sealed Air takes a material agnostic approach to supporting the sustainability goals of brands. This ranges from lightweight solutions to support in reduction of overall material usage, to the development of renewable experiential paper solutions. Key to this approach is the understanding that each material has its pros and cons, and that material choice should consider factors such as renewability, timeframe, energy sources required for obtaining and converting the material, and availability.
Sealed Air’s thoughts on the future of online packaging in premium apparel
According to GlobalData, global ecommerce apparel is set to continue growing strongly with a forecast CAGR of 12.1% between 2022-2025.
It is imperative that brands consider the important role that packaging plays in the ecommerce purchasing journey. In particular, packaging can drive consumer buying behaviour because it is buyers’ first exposure to the product and creates lasting impressions during the time of purchase and consumption.
Sealed Air is partnering with GlobalData to host a virtual summit focused on apparel ecommerce packaging. Register now to learn how enhanced logistics, sustainable packaging, and luxury design are changing the apparel packaging experience.