thought leadership

Sponsored by Sealed Air

Deliver. Dispose. Delight: SEE The Difference

Ahead of Sealed Air’s apparel e-commerce packaging virtual summit, in partnership with Just Style’s parent company, GlobalData, the packaging company reveals how enhanced logistics, sustainable packaging and luxury design are changing the apparel experience.

The growing role of packaging in shaping Apparel E-commerce

The tumultuous last few years have had a significant impact on the global Retail market. There have been obvious short-term consequences – on consumer demand, the financial health of global companies and the structural implications on operating models. At the same time, there has been an acceleration of longer-term trends, especially in relation to the shift towards online.  

Nowhere has this digital shift been felt more than Apparel. According to GlobalData, while total global spend on Apparel items plummeted 19.7% in 2020, Apparel expenditure via the e-commerce channel grew 18.3%. Moreover, e-commerce apparel spending then grew by a further 14.3% in 2021. During the pandemic, many consumers switched their spend to digital channels, while retailers and brands ramped up their online propositions, investing in their websites and fulfilment capacities.

Packaging has a key role to play in driving brand experience and differentiation

Online Apparel has traditionally lacked interesting experiential packaging. Items often arrive in simple plastic mailer bags, with the items inside contained within individual transparent plastic bags. This highlights that these items have often come straight from a distribution centre rather that the premium store environments that shoppers are used to.

In responding to the demands of premium apparel brands, and shoppers alike, Sealed Air is focusing on developing packaging solutions that meet the varying demands of the consumer post-order experience. Sealed Air has developed three pillars: Deliver, Delight and Dispose.

Deliver: ensuring that products arrive in a good condition and convenient manner

Convenience is more important than ever to time-pushed consumers; brands need to get the customer experience right. This includes trust in the safety and robustness of deliveries, and the ease of which returns can be made. 

At an absolute minimum, it is vital that items arrive in good condition, in packaging formats that are both robust and easy to transport. 

Taking this one-step further using snug or lean packaging can serve to both help optimise logistics and transportation of products, while also making it easier for items to be delivered or collected.  

A best-in-class ‘deliver’ solution meets each of these demands, at the same time as more broadly ensuring that packaging is human-centric. This means easy opening and closing for returns, and the integration of ‘smart’ features, such as QR codes, to help provide more information and context with respect to delivery.

Delight: leveraging packaging as marketing tool

Brands operating in the premium Apparel segment must ensure that their primary and secondary online packaging presents the products in a stylish way. In many cases this can be achieved via methods such as elevating product presentation through wrapping the product with branded tissue paper and stickers 

Brands should be capitalising on the potential for packaging to project wider brand image, with innovative design and branding helping to provide an experience that is in line with their identity and that enhances the purchasing journey 

A best-in-class ‘delight’ solution leveraging to packaging to have conversations with customers; helping brands to differentiate from competitors and build long term customer relationships. This can be achieved through the inclusion of personalised messaging, storytelling, or gifts, can help to create an exciting unwrapping experience.

Dispose: packaging that can meet evolving sustainability demands

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the damaging impact on the environment of excessive packaging, in addition to the carbon emissions related to last mile delivery. 

Indeed, sustainability considerations are increasingly driving consumer purchasing decisions, with GlobalData research highlighting that 74% of consumers are willing to pay more for products that are delivered in more sustainable packaging.  

While sustainability considerations are driving packaging material selection, it is imperative that this doesn’t have an adverse impact further down the line, as a result of higher levels of product damage and less efficient transportation.  

Sealed Air takes a material agnostic approach to supporting the sustainability goals of brands. This ranges from light weight solutions to support in reduction of overall material usage, to the development of renewable experiential paper solutions. Key to this approach is the understanding that each material has its pros and cons, and that material choice should consider factors such as renewability, timeframe, energy sources required for obtaining and converting the material.

The future of online packaging in premium apparel

It is imperative that brands consider the important role that packaging plays in the e-commerce purchasing journey. In particular, packaging can drive consumer buying behavior because it is buyers’ first exposure to the product and creates lasting impressions during the time of purchase and consumption 


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