Why Does Packaging Matter? How Ecommerce is Driving the Growth of Digital Printing for Packaging

  • By Domino Printing Sciences
  • June 03, 2024
  • Digital Printing
  • General
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Digital printing is a growing segment and is expected to account for almost a quarter of the global value of the print and printed packaging market by 2032[i], but what is driving this growth?

In this blog, we will explore how consumer trends are shaping the digital printed packaging industry and how ecommerce platforms utilising hyper-targeted advertising, particularly to Gen Z and Millennials, are leading the way.

One of these platforms is Etsy, a global ecommerce marketplace for unique handcrafted and creative goods. The number of consumers buying on Etsy has doubled since 2019, from 45.7 to 92 million active buyers, with predominantly younger female buyers spending more, and more frequently.

Responding to this high level of demand is an ever-growing number of sellers, offering unique, often personalised, gifts. The platform has seen almost 270% growth in active sellers since 2017, now at seven million, indicating that small businesses selling on the platform are thriving.

But how can the seven million active sellers stand out from the competition? Eye-catching, branded ecommerce packaging may well be the answer.

Why does packaging matter?

Mondi’s survey into ecommerce trends and customer attitudes to packaging in Europe has shown that nearly two-thirds (61%) of consumers consider the shape, material, appearance, and personalisation of packaging an important or even very important part of the unboxing experience. More than one-third of consumers (34%) would even reconsider future purchases because of ugly packaging.

These insights reinforce the importance of providing a positive unboxing experience to buyers. The unboxing experience also takes centre stage in another ecommerce segment favoured by Millennials: subscription services. Myriad subscription services provide regular deliveries of curated mystery boxes, making the excitement of receiving unknown products a bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly experience.

Box subscribers cite enjoyment (44.4%) and convenience (20.1%) as the key deciding factors in choosing their retail product subscription. The subscription approach enables them to try new products in a category they will enjoy – without having to face the overwhelming number of products available. Subscription boxes and one-off hamper boxes – curated by trusted experts and brands – are now available in categories to suit the whole family – from beauty products to craft beer, and artisan chocolate to children’s creative crafts.

Beauty boxes containing a mix of full- and sample-sized make up and personal care products are particularly successful, as illustrated by the millions of beauty product unboxing videos on video sharing platforms. With this much exposure for the packaging and its contents, having boxes with a distinctive, memorable packaging design can be key to standing out from the competition and encouraging potential subscribers to take a closer look.

Why does packaging matter?

Digital printing for packaging delivers unboxing with a personal touch

Many small ecommerce sellers – and 97% of Etsy sellers – operate from their homes and are unlikely to have the space to store large quantities of packaging that satisfy the minimum order requirements of many packaging providers – it’s simply not an option.

That doesn’t mean that they – or their customers – have to miss out on the unboxing opportunity. With a growing number of service providers dedicated to digital printing for packaging, ecommerce businesses of all sizes can now commission eye-catching boxes. There is no need to dispatch a unique, handcrafted gift in non-descript, brown, corrugated packaging!

Digital printing for packaging offers low minimum order quantities at a reasonable cost, unlocking the opportunity for small businesses to build their unique brand, and enhance the consumer experience with boxes that are as unique as the product itself.

Some sellers add finishing touches, such as digitally printed labels, to their packaging – sometimes as a low-cost option for creating their own branded ecommerce packaging. Even businesses operating beyond the ecommerce sphere, selling their products at craft fairs and farmers’ markets, can benefit from digital printing for packaging and beautiful gift boxes.

A professional look enables businesses to nurture consumer trust, and digital print can deliver a personal touch via inclusion of personalised printed elements. Including QR codes as part of the packaging design can drive traffic to their website, enhancing consumer engagement with the brand and prompting direct repeat purchases without the high selling fees common on many ecommerce platforms.

Digital printing for packaging can also facilitate the inclusion of variable data on product packaging. Serialisation of QR codes powered by GS1 – affordable for even small businesses with a limited product range – can enable one-to-one consumer engagement to nurture those all-important relationships and provide a stepping stone to secure future retail listings on other platforms.

Benefits of digital printing for packaging

Branded ecommerce packaging: an opportunity for converters

Converters looking to respond to the growing demand for branded ecommerce packaging should partner with a trusted digital printing equipment provider who can support them to make the most of their investment.

Digital printing is an excellent option for branded ecommerce packaging. It is also increasingly used as a cost-effective option for producing short and medium runs of variable packaging designs, such as promotional, seasonal, and limited-edition retail packaging. Adding variable data such as regional language versions, or serialised QR codes, is a key application of digital printing for packaging.

Domino is a proven, reliable partner for converters introducing digital printing services for branded ecommerce packaging to their portfolio. Visit our video library to hear from our customers about their experience of partnering with Domino, and learn more about our digital label and corrugated printing presses, as well as variable data printing of 2D codes and serialisation options.

[i] Smithers, The Future of Digital Printing to 2032

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