With more than 226,000 different decorative pillows to buy on Amazon, you could spend a week just browsing for them. And then you could use another week to peruse all the pillow choices on the other online marketplaces, like eBay and Etsy.

Suffice to say, you can find a ton of options online for just about any trinket you need. On the other hand, if you are one of the millions of online sellers, you have an awful lot of competition. So, sellers really need to differentiate themselves from the pack to earn customers, especially repeat customers. 

We see an opportunity to stand out from the crowd via creative packaging. That’s right, the ubiquitous cardboard box could be an innovative marketing tool. For instance, how about a colorfully branded parcel that pops even as it sits on the doorstep? Or packaging with technology like augmented reality or a QR code built in?

Our latest paper, Thinking Outside and Inside the Box, explores some of these innovations and also looks at ways that the U.S. Postal Service could promote parcel enhancements that help companies differentiate themselves. We researched potential enhancements and innovations and highlighted eight of them in the paper, six of which are for the outside of the box, and two are for the inside. Among the ideas:

  • Co-branded boxes — The Postal Service should expand the program that allows large shippers (over $250,000 annually) to add their logo to Priority Mail packaging for free through the Postal Service’s box printer. An expansion would let smaller customers coordinate the package design with a broader advertising campaign.
  • Integrated technologies — These technologies, which include QR codes, augmented reality, and near-field communication tags, give businesses another avenue to reach consumers. Mobile users simply scan the box, and content, such as a website, video, or app, is launched. These technologies could be used to start the returns process (if needed), to suggest related products, or to launch a message to a recipient, such as a happy birthday video.
  • Temperature and security sensors — Simple sticker-sensors attached to the outside of the box could give customers an idea of whether it got too hot, too cold, or was dropped during its journey.

Do you notice the box your shipments come in? Do you see other opportunities for shippers in the how they use the parcel packaging?

Comments (3)

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  • anon

    Please get us a reg carrier

    Apr 30, 2017
  • anon

    The most innovative way would be looking for reasonably priced alternatives to USPS. Shipping cost for the small "from home" business are simply outrageous and do not even allow to compete against anybody selling at amazon.

    Apr 29, 2017
  • anon

    Very Interesting! I did not realize companies could add their logo to Priority Mail packaging.

    Apr 25, 2017

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