How many box openings does it take to create a box that is a consummate joy to open?

While this sounds like a daunting brain teaser, Apple answers it concretely through usability testing.

Only a select few of Apple’s packaging designers have the mundane privilege of opening hundreds of prototype boxes in a secretive packaging room at their headquarters. 

This probably doesn’t surprise you, if you bought an Apple product in the past decade.

Opening the box to your first iPad or MacBook Air might have been an indelible, memorable experience, one in which you couldn’t contain your excitement and surprise as you unraveled the packaging, piece-by-piece. 

If your experience was similar to mine, opening the Apple package was probably so delightful that you may have ironically struggled with the idea of parting ways with the box!

Emulating Apple’s packaging design principles, Bonobos, an online brand of tailored men’s pants and shirts, applies a like-minded, beautiful packaging experience to men’s fashion. 

Each order comes in a branded box with the product regally wrapped in tissue paper and a sealed sticker as well as an easy-to-use return label.

The unboxing experience is so impressive that customers are posting their unboxing videos across the internet. Unboxing an iPad feels just as good as getting a new pair of pants.

In the lifestyle and cosmetics category, Birchbox, a company that offers monthly subscription boxes of cosmetic samples, delivers a personalized selection of cosmetic samples with a beautifully done letter in a branded box made out of Birch trees.

Glimmering with excitement, many beauty trendsetters are obsessed with receiving their latest Birchbox—they even recurringly post a YouTube video in a series, unraveling their latest Birchbox with their fans.

Image credit: 3stinkyboys&me

If a box can be made emotive insofar it evokes the perfect emotional response upon opening, marketers and retailers can also take the packaging experience to another level by re-marketing to customers inside of a box. 

Like building exciting in-store experiences, ecommerce stores can create engaging in-package experiences that bring the customer back onto their website or mobile app.

A retailer, for example, can include a QR code, website URL, and mobile text number on a personalized thank you letter or card, giving them a special offer once they connect. 

In addition, when customers connect, not only can you capture their interest for digital re-marketing, but also, you can encourage them to share an offer or notable event via their address book or social networks.

While these offline-to-online marketing methods are effective, they still require some manual effort from customers.

Alternatively, lighter and cheaper sensors may lead the way in in-package marketing in the future. With a disposable sensor as a small sticker or apparel tag inside the package, the sensor can automatically and dynamically re-market an offer to customers onto their nearby smartphone or tablet while they open a box. 

Promoting sensor technology for retailers, Siteworx, whose iBeacon technology powers proximity based promotions, provides a glimpse of what sensor technology can do for both online and offline retailers when it matures. 

In addition, there are many interesting ways to curate and personalize a brand’s offerings to each customer inside a box. 

Based on customer profile data and/or the customer’s online behavior, you can include a gift or sample that is likely to upsell and cross-sell a customer into a different category or product line.

For example, Birchbox curates and personalizes samples based on skin care profiles that customers fill in. Each delivered sample highlights a unique web page URL, through which a customer can learn more about the product and purchase a full-sized version.

This offline-to-online purchasing model has been immensely successful for Birchbox, with more than half of its customers having purchased a full-sized product on the company’s website.

Tying the in-package experience to digital marketing, today’s tools give marketers a complete content and campaign management suite and tools to store and manage their current and potential customer profiles and market to them across various channels.

After your customer opens a package and connects with you and your offer online, these tools will enable you to re-market to them throughout mobile and the web. 

For any ecommerce company, the shipped package represents one of the most direct touch points to the customer, but it’s often under-utilized when re-marketing to customers.