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Study: The impact of online purchase for package design

In today’s world of growing online product purchase, the post-purchase brand experience is a "critical moment of truth."

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In today’s world of growing online product purchase, the post-purchase brand experience is a “critical moment of truth.” That’s according to a new study, “Packaging in an online world,” conducted by Toronto, Canada-based branding and design firm Shikatani Lacroix (, which sought to understand how the development of online sales is impacting packaging.

“The role of packaging in an online world, and how it links to conventional retail purchase behaviors is shifting,” reads a white paper detailing the study results. “The greatest change is occurring at the post-purchase stage of the online experience, challenging the conventional wisdom of creating a consistent brand experience.”

The study identified that once the purchase is completed, the role of packaging changes dramatically, and its primary purpose is to protect the product during shipment. “We have identified the receipt of the shipping package to customers as a new moment of truth to which marketers need to pay greater attention,” says the white paper. “On the most basic dimension, it is ensuring that the shipping carton properly protects the goods during transportation. However, on a greater dimension, it is an opportunity for organizations to convert this functional need to one that provides a unique and ownable experience that builds affinity for the online service provider or branded product.”

Among the strategic implications cited for post-purchase packaging are the following:

• Shipping package needs to ensure the product is not damaged during shipping, and it needs to be made of recyclable material. Easy to open is an added bonus.

• Reduce primary packaging to save costs and consider packaging that supports the premise that customers do not rely on graphics following the purchase process.

• Explore packaging approaches where there are strong linkages to the brand in ways that are more meaningful and distinctive as part of the post-online moment of truth.

The study also delves deep into the significance to the consumer of the primary package and how it is displayed online when making an online purchase. The white paper is available for free at

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