4 Types Of Packaging That Build Brand Loyalty

4 Types Of Packaging That Build Brand Loyalty

So much of the ecommerce customer experience focuses on making the sale. Getting customers to discover your brand online, browse your products, and add them to their cart all leads to them finally hitting the coveted “purchase” button. We get it, this is the part that generates revenue. But it’s not the only part.

The most profitable customers are the ones you already have. After analyzing data from over 1.1 billion shoppers and 250 thousand ecommerce brands, we’ve discovered that 35% of an ecommerce store’s revenue is generated by its top 5% of customers. After one purchase, a customer has a 27% chance of returning to your store. While that’s not a horrible return rate, if you can get that customer to come back and make a second and third purchase they have a 49% and 62% chance of making another purchase, respectively. 

When you consider these facts, it’s obvious that it’s worth keeping your loyal customers around. But how do you do that? 

One of the best ways to build brand loyalty is by enhancing every aspect of your customer experience. Even the ones that take place after the sale has been made. Packaging plays a key role in dictating the effectiveness of your post-purchase customer experience. Let’s unpack 4 packaging strategies that will build brand loyalty with your customers and turn them into repeat customers.  

Personalize the unboxing experience with custom packaging

As an ecommerce brand, a majority of the customer journey takes place online, without any face-to-face interaction. While you can absolutely still build connections through a screen, using tangible touchpoints can have a lasting impact on customers. For many customers, this first IRL connection with your brand comes in the form of the package they receive in their mailbox. 

The packaging an order arrives in is the first impression a customer will have of your brand. Using custom packaging is a great way to personalize the experience. You can use Arka’s designs to customize the colors, types, fonts, and logos on your packaging materials. 

EMBED: https://www.instagram.com/p/CxIwVewsGPP/  

When customers receive a package that matches or exceeds the expectations they already have of your brand, they’ll be even more excited to dive in! Branded packaging also increases the likelihood that customers will record the experience through the popular unboxing photos and videos that are flooding social media these days. This type of user-generated content builds anticipation and credibility around your brand that future customers will look to. 

Incentivize brand loyalty and engagement with QR codes

As we’ve pointed out, repeat customers are more profitable than first-time shoppers. If customer retention is the name of the game, then customer loyalty programs are the game plan. 

While it’s great to encourage customers to sign up for your loyalty program before making a purchase so they earn points on their order, it’s not the only way to get them to join. When customers shop online they’re deep in the ecommerce sea of product pages, pop-up offers, social proof nudges, and more. Let’s face it—sometimes CTAs like joining your loyalty program get missed. But it’s not time to give up on them, yet.


2 images side-by-side showing Solo Stove’s products. The first image is a bird’s eye view of the silver, metal stove with a small fire inside, surrounded by a fire pit made of bricks. The second image is a close-up shot of someone holding the tag attached to the product. The tag has a QR code with explainer text: Claim your free Firestarter Rewards. Scan the QR code to earn 100 points towards free gear. Create your account at solostove.com/#smile-home.

Enhance your packaging by including QR codes or hand-outs encouraging customers to join your loyalty program. If you sweeten the deal with sign-up bonus points, customers will be more inclined to take action. Take outdoor gear brand, Solo Stove for example. It includes a tag on its products with a QR code encouraging customers to sign up for its Firestarter Rewards program. It drives action by promising customers “100 points towards free fear” just for signing up. 


This is an effective omnichannel marketing strategy that builds brand loyalty by taking your online retention marketing physically into your customers' hands. You simplify the process with digital technology like a simple QR code that guides them along the way. 

Delight customers with thank-you notes and bonus gifts 

Sometimes the best strategy is going back to basics. Never underestimate the power of a simple thank-you. 


Including a handwritten thank-you note in your shipments humanizes your brand, builds an emotional connection with your customers, and leaves them feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. By taking the time to thank a customer for their business, you force them to see how their shopping decision affected an actual person and their dreams. It’s nice to feel valued and customer appreciation is an important step in the brand loyalty process. 

The Breakfast Pantry includes handwritten thank you notes in its orders. Alt: An image of an order from The Breakfast Pantry showing the products in a box with brown crinkle paper and a handwritten thank you note.

You can take your customer appreciation efforts a step further by surprising customers with free product gifts! After waiting for their order, including freebies adds to customers’ excitement and leads to post-purchase delight. You can include products you’re trying to clear out of your stock or new products that you want to encourage product trial of in hopes of a future purchase. 

Offer sustainable packaging and reward for recycling 

Ecommerce experts are predicting that sustainability will become the number one trend in ecommerce in 2023. Although not a new trend, more brands are considering their environmental impact and taking action by using sustainable materials, ways of transportation, and communication methods. 


If not for the environmental benefits, brands are at a place where they need to adapt or customers will not hesitate to abandon them. According to a recent survey from Drapers, 81% of customers are now demanding sustainable packaging. 


Customers can sense green-washing from a mile away, so in order to build authentic brand loyalty you need to be transparent about your eco efforts. One way to do this is by incorporating proper package recycling into your business model. 

An infographic showing the 5 steps involved in Ecoslay’s recycling program—sign up for rewards program, measure your box, fill your box with empty pouches, fill out the form to receive a free return label, and mail off your pouches.

Haircare brand Ecoslay takes its sustainable packaging to the next level by making it a complete closed loop through its Ecoslay Recycling Club. Customers are able to earn 10 rewards points for every pouch they return. Customers are getting value towards their next purchase, Ecoslay reduces its packaging costs, and the impact on the environment is reduced. Talk about a win-win-win.  


With the Arka and Smile.io integration, you can reward your customers with loyalty program points for sustainability events like proper recycling. You can also offer a drop-off site for reusable materials like glass bottles or plastic containers. Incentivizing this through offering rewards not only encourages customers to participate but also signals that you really do value environmental consumerism. 

Make a lasting impression with product packaging 

If you’ve ever seen a child open a present, there’s a good chance they’ll be more interested in the box it came in than what’s inside. If you design your product packaging correctly, you can have the same effect on your customers. 


Your product packaging is the first physical touchpoint you have with your customers and in most cases, the most influential one. It’s the most recent and most tangible connection to your brand in their mind, so there’s a large potential to leave a lasting, positive impression through your packaging. Consider these 4 packaging types that build brand loyalty—custom, personalized packaging, omnichannel tactics like QR codes, thank-you notes, and sustainable materials. 


The physical package is one of the final steps in the customer experience so be sure to pack it all up nicely and you’ll have customers eagerly waiting for their next delivery. 


Ready to put the power of a loyalty program to the test? Get started with Smile.io


Author Bio: Gabrielle is the Digital Marketing Specialist at Smile.io. She is passionate about all things content marketing and helping small and medium-sized ecommerce businesses grow and succeed. 


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