With customers looking further and further away from the shelf, packaging and product designers will need to take into account the small-screen appeal of the work and basic operation.
Heavily pregnant with my third child, the allure of Amazon’s next-day delivery readily won out over the prospect of fighting through the Oxford Street audiences in the run up to Christmas. No thanks. And what began with a small number of requests is now, ten years on, pretty much all of my purchases, from beer to bog roll.
No more do shoppers see your advertisement and then appear in the aisle armed with money to acquire the brand in hand. Rather, most will now do some type of’pre-tail’ sleuthing: they will Google it, read consumer reviews, and possibly do a cost comparison, piecing together all of the requisite facts that direct their future buy.
This shows how the consumer travel has changed monumentally. Greater importance needs to be put on design innovation across new customer touchpoints; greater consideration has to be given to the way every step on this new journey must earn its place to engineer a potent brand experience. The Centre for Retail Research forecasts ecommerce will take 18% market share this year, so the opportunity to do so is now.
On the back of the shift, product design should deliver on real and virtual shelves. Brands should create a clear identity that works across both mediums — hitting a sweet spot at which appearance, feel, message and psychological impact are constant in pixels and in person.
From the context-less world of digital, products now must pass the’thumbnail evaluation’ where simplicity and clarity are crucial. Brands needs to stand out on screen — instantly recognisable through high quality, hyper-vivid visuals. And even in the micro scale of cellular, product information needs to be clear, readable and present to fulfill the demands of consumers that are time-starved yet information-hungry. Any superfluous information has to be stripped off so the crucial purchase-trigger messages land in an emotion-evoking point of connection.
Many direct-to-consumer manufacturers have grasped the significance of designing digital-to-physical adventures that perform with these new rules, stealing a march on their retail-only competitions. Beauty manufacturer Glossybox and shaving manufacturer Harry’s are examples which show how digital can surpass the transactional to take customers on a more emotionally-driven journey. For Harry’s, it is about buying into the narrative of this brand and its creators, and in the event of Glossybox, it is about surprising and delighting readers with a door-drop of products tailored just for them.
Making the consumer experience heart of your job
Getting up close and personal with customers this manner is one of the crucial pillars of delivering merchandise existence or shelf shout from the ecommerce age, where customers have become accustomed to the one-to-one nature of electronic communication. Unilever’s direct to customers skin care manufacturer Skinsei, which has launched in beta in the US, does precisely this, prompting users to take an online diagnostic test that determines the contents of a customised — and beautifully-presented — health pack despatched through the post.
An illustration of Skinsei’s packaging work
Companies like this, that are designing adventures that optimise each stage of participation, are reaping the benefits of higher customer loyalty and brand affinity. They finish one client journey on a high note, which makes the end user feel understood and unique, and invite them to return for more.
Some have been surprisingly slow to accommodate — an estimated half of companies aren’t even giving consideration to the way the rigours of e commerce delivery are impacting on their own brands.