There’s a common cliché that says, “Think outside the box.” We’ve all heard it. It means getting your head out of the status quo and group-think and trying to innovate. But the truth is, if you are selling things online, you should be spending a lot of time thinking ABOUT the box More importantly, you be thinking out-of-the-box about the box.
Wow … that can make your head hurt.
I am not talking about the normal stuff – packing costs, shipping costs, damage rates, and such. I am talking about something that you might not be considering, but that is more important to an online business than most eCommerce companies know. Let’s start with a story.
Box By Dre – a Product Reveal Success Story
I am on my third set of Beats by Dre headphones. Yes, I love music and I am a musician myself. Yes, I know that there are better pro headphones out there. Yes, they are a bit over-priced. Yes, I have my reasons, yadda-yadda-yadda. We are not here to discuss the pros and cons of high-end headphones. No matter what your opinion of the actual product, all reasonable people can agree that they changed the way headphones were delivered.
I have been buying higher-end headphones for decades – all the way back to when I was a kid in the late 1970s listening to Fresh Aire recordings from American Gramaphone. For most of those years, even top-end headphones were delivered in cheap blister packs or simple cardboard boxes filled with flocked, vacuum-formed plastic inserts. Then in 2006, along comes Dr. Dre who brilliantly recognized a market niche between cheap Sony polystyrene-coated ear-blasters and professional studio head cans.
But he also knew that if he was going to sell his new innovation at a higher price point, he had to communicate that quality differentiation before the customer ever purchased the product. And Dre did it with packaging. Beautiful hand-wrapped boxes with magnetic, fold-over flaps and double-printed black sleeves. Inside the box, each set of headphones came with all the cables and cords you would ever need and even a custom carrying case.
It was beautiful.
When I purchased my first pair of Beats By Dre headphones, I kept that packaging. It felt wrong to just throw it out. The packaging communicated specialness and value. When I wanted a pair of sports earbuds, the Dre website was the first place I looked. When it came time to replace my main headphones … ditto. I didn’t even have to think about it.
Your eCommerce Product Reveal Experience
Think about your own experiences with products. I’m willing to bet that you have had a similar experience where the quality of the packaging and delivery actually became an important part of the product experience for you and impacted your behavior as a product evangelist or repeat customer yourself.
This is your Product Reveal Experience. It’s what occurs in between shipment delivery and before a customer's first use of your product and it’s important. It's when a product is revealed to your customer in person for the very first time. Physical retail stores have known this for years. Everything from Tiffany’s signature robin’s-egg-blue boxes to branded shopping bags and tissue at the local clothes boutique. If you don’t believe this is a “thing,” check out the thousands of “unboxing” videos on YouTube where people volunteer their time to share this experience with each other.
I consult with a lot of internet entrepreneurs and I have told my Beats By Dre story – and similar stories – many times. The first thing that I hear is usually, “That’s great, but we don’t have the money/time/margins/know-how to do anything like that.” Those comments miss the point. It can be something easy. You don’t have to spend a fortune on printing and custom box design to improve the Product Reveal Experience.
The Important Points
Amazon and the other eCommerce behemoths might beat you in delivery speed, but you can beat them in total experience. In fact, some of the biggest retailers online do a terrible job at it – stuffing their goods into dirty mylar envelopes that look like they were packed by disgruntled chimpanzees.
Remember these important points:
- Your Product Reveal Experience is everything that occurs between shipment delivery and when the customer starts using your product.
- It is a part of the total customer experience and it can have a big impact on customer satisfaction.
- It has branding value – raising or lowering the value perception.
- As an element of both brand and satisfaction, it can impact retention and Lifetime Customer Value (LCV).
- Almost by definition, this means that a great Product Reveal Experience cuts down on profit-killing returns.
- It’s not just about the box. The care shown in packing and thinking about the customer can be the key factors in a great Product Reveal Experience.
- EVERYONE can impact their Product Reveal Experience for the better, even on a tight budget.
More Examples of Brilliant (and Practical) Product Reveal Experiences
GreatBigCanvas.com – Cleaver Problem Solving
Hanging pictures is a pain in the butt. When my wife and I moved into our new house three years ago we needed EVERYTHING. It was more than twice the size of our loft apartment with huge barren walls everywhere. We ordered our first contemporary art print from GreatBigCanvas. When it arrived, it was packed well in innovative but plain, brown, industrial-grade boxes. But it included a little hanging kit with special nails, a small plastic level, and detailed instructions to make sure we got it hung right the first time. It’s got to be less than a dollar’s worth of stuff in a Ziploc bag stuffed into every box, but it made the job easy. We came back and purchased literally dozens more art prints from them.
PedestalSource.com – an Inexpensive Surprise Treat
I have written about these guys before. They are an “old-school make heavy things out of wood” carpentry shop. But not only has PedestalSource mastered social media (YouTube videos of every custom project made), but they’ve mastered the Product Reveal Experience. Our order arrived with a nice little installation kit and a handful of hard candies – you know, Brach’s peppermints and Butterscotch. It made me smile … and has got them mentions in three of my blog posts over the last few years.
Brownies.com – Consistent Quality Presentation and Brand Association
Great boxes and simple tissue fold-overs held by a quality sealing label and serving up delicious chocolate. It just works. Since I know that it is a good total experience, I send their brownie packs from Brownies.com to friends and customers as gifts all the time. I KNOW that I will not be let down because their quality presentation is on a par with the quality experience I try to give all my customers. Their brand reflects my personal brand, which is why I am comfortable using them. Get it?
Gathre.com – Following the Apple and Beats By Dre Model
Gathre is a great customer that we work with on all kinds of projects. They manufacture and sell a line of protective mats for infants, children, and families. They are high-quality and stylish. If you are a follower of this blog, you know that we did a write up on their business a few months back. As a part of our work with them, I received a sample product delivery. The box was simple, but beautiful with peek-a-boo vents showing the item within and well-crafted, fully-wrapped sides. It felt special, and that’s the point. If Apple made baby mats, this is what they would look like.
The point is that all different kinds of products will all different kinds of margins and target audiences have found ways to make their Product Reveal Experiences valuable to me … the customer. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot at all. Everyone can make a point of finding ways to delight their customers with a Product Reveal Experience that delights, amuses, and adds value to their business and brand.
Thanks for reading!