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Sustainable Packaging Drives Customer Loyalty

How merchants pack online orders makes a difference. One needn’t look any further than Apple’s product packaging to understand the cherished tradition of unboxing.

But packing materials are as important as the overall appearance. According to McKinsey & Company, more than half of U.S. consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of packaging.

The packing of orders impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty. Increasingly, shoppers look for reusable boxes and cushioning as well as biodegradable materials.

A New York University Stern Center study found that sustainably-marketed products were responsible for more than half the growth of consumer packaged goods from 2015 to 2020. And a study by Accenture revealed that at least half of consumers are willing to pay more for products that can be reused or recycled.

Sustainable Packaging

The demand for more efficient and sustainable packaging is growing. Some of the fastest-growing brands are ahead of the game.

For example, Better & Better offers its organic toothpaste in reduced plastic pouches and ships all orders in recycled materials. Products arrived wrapped in degradable tissue paper, creating a gift-opening experience.

Open shipping box featuring organic toothpaste.

Better & Better packages products as if they’re gifts.

Little Seed Farms, which produces sustainable skincare goods, takes things further. It offers a zero-waste shipping option on applicable products. When selected, the company eliminates unnecessary product packaging. For example, bars of soap are shipped without a product box, comingled with other items in a single order package.

Little Seed Farms product page with an offer to buy a product without any packaging

Brands that sell their own products should consider zero-waste options. Source: Little Seed Farm.

Many companies are eliminating material that winds up in the trash, such as packing slips and third-party marketing materials. Businesses catering to environmentally thoughtful consumers should:

  • Promote on the website and social media their commitment to protecting the environment.
  • Provide details in order email confirmations that shipments have no wasteful materials.
  • Encourage shoppers to support environmental causes.
  • Teach consumers how to help.

Brands that give customers free stuff should ensure it’s relevant to a purchase. For example, a beauty store may include a small cosmetics bag as a gift to someone who purchased lipstick or blush but not to someone who bought cologne. The key is to drop in freebies they are most apt to use.

Some of the best giveaways, though, are ones the customer earns or selects. Beauty brands have increased average order totals for decades by offering “gifts,” such as a complimentary travel kit, with a minimum purchase. Prompting shoppers to select the free items reduces costs and ensures their use.

Sustainable packaging is as effective as the alternative in preventing breakages during shipment. A box should be able to survive a four-foot drop and some rain.

Several fashion brands offer options to ship clothing in reusable packaging that’s returnable via U.S. Mail. For example, Toad&Co, makers of eco-friendly clothing, works with packaging company LimeLoop to give customers the option of receiving orders in bags with a 10-year lifespan.

A black sturdy bag with a plastic see through pouch for holding a shipping label.

LimeLoop is one of the many reusable packaging brands that support return shipping and extensive use.

Sell More

Focusing on sustainability will attract and keep customers. Eco-friendly options aren’t necessarily cheaper, but the importance to today’s shoppers makes it worth the cost and effort. Brands that communicate such actions to customers and prospects stand to sell more.

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