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Consumer Research

E-Commerce Packaging Insights

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In today’s digital world, saving time and cutting costs is as simple as opening a new tab on a smartphone. E-commerce lets consumers search for products that fit their budgets without spending time and energy walking down aisles or driving to multiple stores. And, the connected consumer can easily read product reviews to make informed purchases – wherever, whenever they want.

It’s no surprise that e-commerce is growing. Mix in the purchasing effects of COVID-19, and we start to see off-the-charts numbers. Emarsys reported that 43% of all online purchases since mid-March, 2020, were made by first-time buyers.1 As more consumers get comfortable with digital, e-commerce proves prime for purchasing.

As you plan for e-commerce trends, here are three packaging insights to keep in mind:

Step 1

E-commerce shoppers might not wander down physical aisles in brick-and-mortar buildings, but they still care about product experience. Packaging can be the conduit to connect consumers to your brand, allow consumers to interact with your brand, and prompt consumers to share your brand with their social circles.

Consumers can connect with the brand through design. How is your product conveying a consistent message? Shipment container, protective packaging, labels, instructions – each functional element can double as a brand awareness piece.

The package can also include ways to interact with brand. For example, QR codes could link the consumer to recipes featuring the product as a key ingredient or videos demonstrating how to use the product.

Finally, consumers may share your brand with their social circles. Unboxing videos and pictures of an open container with product(s) artfully displayed are often shared on social channels. Is your package ready for today’s consumers turned marketers?

Today’s consumers are known for connectivity through technology. This connectivity is not only reached through online purchasing but also through interaction with your brand and shareability of your brand once the product is received.


There is an increased risk in product damage for online purchases compared to in-person purchases, according to GlobalData2. Damaged products can cause a host of monetary downsides for your company. With more touchpoints comes more need for attention to protection, something Sonoco’s Pack-Out and Fulfillment Services can offer.

Dropoff, a courier company, cites statistics from its 2018 consumer survey further reinforcing the desire for un-damaged packages:

  • 79% of consumers would not purchase from a retailer again if the delivery was damaged
  • 56% of consumers received damaged packages

It may sound simple, but consumers want in-tact products in undamaged packages, and the care put into this functional portion of the package could lead to repeat purchases. However, ensuring that products and packages are undamaged must not compromise sustainability.


According to GlobalData, “For the environmentally conscious consumer, excess packaging is a major concern, and when it comes to online purchasing, you do not know how the product is going to be packaged for posting.”3

As we’ve learned, consumers care about connectivity. They will share their product/package experience on social media platforms. And now, digging deeper into the e-commerce experience, we know customers care about sustainability in packaging. GlobalData cites that 75.5% of consumers think living an ethical or sustainable lifestyle is important or very important.

Two key questions to ask when developing packaging for e-commerce:

  • Have I eliminated excess packaging?
  • Is my packaging right-sized for the product in the package?

The consumer desire for sustainable packaging includes shipment packaging. Eliminating excess packaging and ensuring a right fight between product and shipment packaging are two ways to be responsible in the e-commerce space.

Ready to Help!

The Hive℠ Design Services and Sonoco are equipped to guide your ideation around these insights and more. Recognizing the need for effective e-commerce packaging, Sonoco is a part of the Amazon Packaging Support and Supplier Network (APASS).

At The Hive℠ Design Services we are ready to help by designing custom research programs to uncover your customers’ brand connection, preferences, pain points and usage behavior, while revealing themes that you can use to build your strategy for enhancing consumer engagement and brand loyalty. Our certified moderators, research and packaging specialists will build the qualitative and quantitative studies you need to test your concepts at scale, from insights to prototyping.

For more information on how we can help you convert insights to opportunities, email us at or visit our page

1 Emarsys, 2020. “COVID-19 Commerce for the Week of April 27, 2020.”

2  GlobalData, 2019. “Adapting Packaging to E-Commerce.” (Subscription Required)[]=e-commerce&IsSearchApi=true&exactword=1

3 Ibid., p. 26.