You walk into the grocery store to buy chicken noodle soup. You find that all the soup brands have similar nutritional content and the product inside is virtually the same. So how do you decide which soup to buy? Packaging.
Packaging is the consumer’s first impression. The aesthetic of the product will influence their buying decision within 7 seconds, according to Business Insider. Furthermore, the packaging is a direct representation of the brand behind the product. The way a product looks influences how the customer feels about that company.
In fact, product packaging is so important that most large companies have a team of package engineers. These individuals study consumer behaviors with regards to how products are visually presented and how this presentation will represent the brand and affect sales.
What does this mean for e-commerce? If packaging is so crucial to consumer choice in the store, how can it be leveraged in the online sphere?
Product Listings As Online Packages
The “product listing” is the e-commerce equivalent to in-store packaging. It draws people in through the visual representation of the brand and product. It “packages” the information in a way that is meant to excite and appeal to the consumer.
Think of the different Amazon categories as the aisles in a grocery store; the “search results” page as the shelves within the aisle; and the listings as the products sitting on the shelves. Which listing is going to stand out from the rest and make a customer click on the page (just as they would pick it up in the store)?
Consumers want packaging that is:
- Experiential (they want to feel the product through the package)
- Social (recommendations to and by friends)
- Usable and simple
- Sustainable, “green,” and fresh
How can these in-store consumer behaviors be applied online?
Branded – Brand Registry
With so many companies selling similar products, consumers are beginning to choose based on brands they know and trust. Consumers want to buy from a brand with which they associate themselves.
Everyone knows that Oreos are “milk’s favorite cookie.” Many consumers are more likely to be drawn to Oreos than other chocolate sandwich cookies because of this brand awareness.
People are drawn to Toms because of the strong social consciousness associated with their brand. Consumers with this same social consciousness are more likely to purchase Toms loafers over than other brands because they identify with the brand mission.
You can create this same sort of brand awareness and mission in an e-commerce sphere. Although Amazon doesn’t allow a lot of brand promotion on listings, the Brand Registry is a way to control what your private brand looks like.
Amazon’s Brand Registry allows you to make all of your product listings consistent—in the same way that packaging on the shelf does. In this way, no matter how or where your customers are buying, they see the same presentation of that product. This creates a unity that is crucial to a strong brand identity; this identity that attracts a loyal customer base. You can learn more about the Brand Registry’s pros and cons here.
Experiential – Enhanced Brand Content
Make your product listing different, exciting, and hands-on with enhanced brand content (EBC). These enhancements include improved product description fields and superior photographs that make your product and your brand shine. It helps people get a better feel for your product. EBC works in the same way that packaging does—it displays the best qualities of the item, so customers can see themselves using the product.
Think of a child’s toy. On the box, there will often be pictures of children of appropriate age playing with the toy. A child comes along and pictures his or herself as the child in the picture playing with that toy. They can better imagine the toy in their hands, using it in the same way the child in the picture is. Suddenly, they’re hanging on your pants leg begging for that toy.
This imagined experience is crucial to the success of an Amazon listing. Photographs are especially important to creating this perceived use of the product. Lifestyle pictures and descriptions can create this experiential feeling: how will purchasing this product from this brand influence the consumer’s life? Additionally, professional photographs can show the quality of your brand.
Learn more about utilizing EBC with our article, “Everything You Need To Know About Enhanced Brand Content.”
Seller’s Choice offers professional image services, listing creation, EBC management, and more—all designed to give your customers an experience with your brand and products. Check out our service offerings here!
Social - Stars And Reviews
The stars on your listing are part of the visual aspect of your packaging. These reviews become a representation of your product in the same way as the look of a package on the shelf.
Additionally, these reviews act like recommendations from a friend. Consumers are more likely to buy a product (or go to a restaurant, see a movie, or go on a blind date) if a trusted friend has already approved it. Consumers are social buyers. In this way, your reviews become a list of testimonials in a network of Amazon customers.
The more stars you have, the more people will be attracted to your product when it appears in the search results. In fact, your stars are also directly related to your ability to win the Buy Box—which is the same as placing your item on the most visible display in the middle of the store.
Creative – Product Imagery
People are drawn to creative packaging that stands out from the crowd. Your online product also needs to stand out from the competition in your category. You need to get seen in a creative way. The best way to do this is through product images.
Images are visuals that attract your customer’s attention on the search results page. Photographs and graphics show your consumer the qualities of the product, how to use it, and how it would fit into their lifestyle.
Professional, quality images are crucial to attractive “packaging.” Showcasing the product with lifestyle images, appropriate videos, and how-to pictures are all a great way to attract a curious consumer.
3D renderings are an especially creative and unique way to show your customer all the benefits of your product—and it will definitely help you stand out from the competition’s products. Check out Seller’s Choice 3D renderings that will boost the creativity, distinctiveness, and intrigue of your product listing!
Usable – Product Inserts
Now on to the physical packaging of your product. The way your product shows up at the consumer’s doorstep is crucial to customer satisfaction, ratings, and your relationship with Amazon. (Amazon doesn’t like to hear about bad packaging, damaged products, or inadequate shipments.)
Amazon is strict about not allowing significant promotional branding in packaging. This means that you can’t include your website, your brand story, or incentives to leave a review in your shipped packages.
However, you can work through your product inserts. These inserts are how-to guides about the product, so people can know how to appropriately use their recent purchase. Instructions and information about the product can help minimize negative reviews and boost customer satisfaction. It helps them enjoy the product the right way, so they will naturally have a better response.
Product inserts make the product more usable. This naturally gives them a better response to your product and your brand. From there, they will be more likely to leave you a great review, share recommendations for your product, and be a repeat customer—becoming a loyal follower of your brand!
Sustainable - Frustration Free Packaging
“Green” products are booming in popularity. In this way, consumers are also drawn to clean, simple packages. This should be an especially important if you sell an eco-friendly product or have a socially conscious mission.
You can create this sort of sustainability with Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging (FFP). This is a program that uses recyclable boxes and fewer materials, and the packages are easier to open.
Another great benefit of FFP is that only manufacturers and authorized resellers can list an FFP product. In a sense, this secures your product listing, so you maintain total control and consistency of your private brand identity.
In order to enroll in FFP, you need to first be a part of FBA and Brand Registry. You can then get approval from Amazon by sending pictures of your product packaging and label with branding clearly displayed. Amazon may occasionally ask for physical samples.
The Bottom Line
Although consumer behavior is different in stores than online, certain aspects remain the same. Customers are attracted to visually appealing, comprehensive product packages and listings. They want to identify with a brand and envision themselves using the product just by looking at it. Utilizing these same ideas of package engineering in your product listings can attract potential customers to click on your listing over the others on the “shelf.”