Whether displayed on the shelves of a traditional high street store or dispatched straight to the doorstep via e-commerce, product packaging holds considerable sway over consumers’ perceptions of a brand. However, it serves multiple practical purposes that vary depending on the method of sale.

 In this blog, we will compare packaging for retail and eCommerce to understand the distinct strategies and requirements that each must employ, and provide some insight into the benefits of variable 2D codes for all packaging types.

Retail Packaging: a brand's on shelf ambassador Product Packaging: Retail Packaging

Retail packaging serves as a brand’s visual representative in physical retail environments. Bold hues, captivating imagery, and strategic placement on store shelves are deployed to capture consumers’ attention amidst a crowded marketplace, enticing them to examine products more closely. Brands may incorporate special features into their packaging to facilitate pre-purchase interaction, such as:

  • ‘try me’ buttons for toys and electronics;
  • transparent plastic windows revealing the product within;
  • die-cut perforations for tactile engagement, as seen with candles or soft furnishings.

In terms of protection, retail packaging typically offers limited safeguarding during the product’s journey from manufacturer to store, assuming minimal stress or handling en route to the end consumer. This trade-off between visibility and protection is a defining characteristic of retail packaging. During transportation, retail packaging is often enclosed within secondary packaging, including corrugated boxes, cartons, cases, and trays.

Moreover, retail packaging is frequently tailored for shelf presentation, conforming to standardized shapes and dimensions to ensure a consistent and aesthetically pleasing display. However, constraints on labelling space pose a challenge for brands seeking to strike a balance between mandatory labelling requirements and design elements.

eCommerce Packagin: Protection for shipping and returns

Product Packaging: eCommerce Packaging

In eCommerce, the initial point of interaction with consumers is the virtual storefront, where clean, high-quality images and concise product descriptions replace the tactile allure of traditional retail shelves, shaping customers’ expectations and enticing them to click ‘buy’.

Unlike the standardized realm of retail, eCommerce packaging is often customized to accommodate the size and shape of various products. With significant expenses associated with shipping and returns, brands must strike a balance between minimizing packaging material to reduce waste and ensuring adequate protection for each item during its journey from warehouse to doorstep.

Protection is paramount in eCommerce packaging, as it must withstand the rigors of shipping and safeguard the product from potential damage. The focus is not solely on presentation but also on ensuring the product arrives in pristine condition, regardless of the complexity of its journey. According to DHL, products in eCommerce may undergo handling up to 20 times more than in traditional retail settings.

Furthermore, in eCommerce, brands have the opportunity to craft a tailored unboxing experience, enhancing memorability for consumers, fostering repeat sales, and cultivating advocacy. In a crowded digital marketplace, a distinctive unboxing experience can differentiate a brand, injecting a personal element into an otherwise transactional process and making customers feel valued and acknowledged.

 Opportunities for Variable 2D Codes

Two-dimensional barcodes, equipped with variable data like the GS1 Digital Link, are gaining traction in both retail and eCommerce environments. These codes offer a compact solution to provide comprehensive information for consumers and supply chain partners, enhancing visibility of products as they traverse through supply chains.

However, the potential of these codes extends far beyond the surface. By incorporating GS1 Digital Link-enabled 2D codes into products and packaging, brands can enable consumers, retailers, and other stakeholders in the supply chain to access a wealth of instantly updatable, brand-controlled product information. This information may include:

  • Details regarding returns, refunds, and reordering
  • Feedback, reviews, and social sharing opportunities
  • Promotional offers and discounts
  • Product authentication measures
  • Marketing initiatives and gamification elements
  • Considerations for accessibility and inclusion
  • Warranty registration procedures

Moreover, furnishing consumers with information through variable GS1 Digital Link-enabled codes allows brands to gather insights and build relationships with consumers, gaining valuable feedback on product usage and preferences.

 Embrace Variable Data Instore and Online

In today’s dynamic marketplace, brands strategically leverage both retail and eCommerce packaging, harnessing the unique strengths of each to ensure that packaging leaves a memorable impact, whether consumers are perusing store aisles or unwrapping a product in the convenience of their homes.

As a leading provider of coding and marking solutions, Codico understands the intricacies inherent in crafting packaging that resonates across retail and eCommerce platforms. We offer valuable insights into how brands can enhance their offerings by integrating variable data coding with 2D codes on their product packaging.

We invite you to reach out to us to learn more about how we can assist you in elevating your packaging strategies and unlocking additional value for your brand.

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