While unboxing is the finale to what digital brands hope is a memorable buying experience, these same brands are missing a massive opportunity to engage with consumers and build excitement in what I call the “Black Hole” period between the purchase click and doorstep delivery.
Consumers spend days, weeks or even months researching “high consideration” purchases online before they eventually make the plunge and click buy. During this time they consume vast quantities of content from TikTok and YouTube unboxing videos, use AR/VR experience tools, read reviews and much more to help in their final decision making process. The purchase event is an accumulation of built up excitement, but then in many cases, all of the euphoria gets sucked into the delivery “Black Hole”. There’s a big experience void while the consumer sits and waits for their delivery, be it an expedited 2-day, or 5-8 day ground delivery service. All they can do is sit and click refresh on their UPS / FedEx tracking page to only see that their shipment has “Arrived at Facility, Louisville, KY, United States”.
Brands and online retailers should consider investing in the following tactics to help build and retain excitement during the “Black Hole” time period, filling in the experience gap for their customers:
Offer a virtual passenger seat on the pick robot. With increasing automation in fulfillment centers and robots that are already equipped with cameras, why not give the consumer a passenger seat – a virtual tour of the warehouse as the robot (or human with a GoPro) is assigned the pick of the customers order. Sharing a 20 second short form time-lapse video of the robot going to the aisle, retrieving the customers product(s) and delivering to the pack station would be very cool and provide the consumer not only a fun, behinds the scenes glimpse into your warehouse operations, but more importantly, let them know and give them confidence that their order has started its journey to their door.
Rewind the unboxing. While retailers make a huge investment in developing the unboxing experience, brands should consider sharing the boxing process with their online customers. When I buy (premium) apparel in a physical store, I stand and watch the associate carefully fold my garments, pack them in branded tissue paper and place them in an expensive branded shopping bag. It’s all part of a highly curated purchase experience. The exact same thing happens with an online order. Many brands have their warehouse associates put a signed thank-you card into the box. Leg’sN’Roll go a step further and explain on their website how they pack your order, but this concept can be taken into the metasphere and digitized by creating a TikTok style short form video of the warehouse associate carefully packing the customers order into the box and instead of signing the card, they leave a personal thank you message via the video. This can of course then be delivered in real time to the customers phone with a message from the associate – “Just a little note to say to say I just packed your new crossbody bag – thanks for ordering from us. Melanie ”
Share the build. For custom, built to order products that typically have lead times of a few days to weeks or even months to manufacture, sharing the manufacturing process live with the customer can be incredibly rewarding for the expectant new customer. A good friend of mine recently ordered his dream car, a Porsche Cayman which was custom built at the Stuttgart factory in Germany. The delivery time for his order was over 18 months , but on the week his car went into production he received these pictures of his car being built.
This got him very excited and resulted in everyone on his facebook feed knowing about and commenting on his new ride. This approach doesn’t need to be limited to luxury goods. Etsy buyers would no doubt love to receive a personalized YouTube video of their new custom jewelry piece being made by its creator, or get a video of their new customized iPhone 14 being etched by Apple.
Pre-register the product: Many consumer products require registration to activate the warranty. Rather than burdening the consumer with the task of locating the product serial number and completing an online registration form, why not auto register the product and activate the warranty before the consumer even receives their order. That’s exactly what Dyson does and the experience is great.
Announce the imminent arrival: While most carriers have an “out for delivery” event that appears on their tracking site, few actually notify the customer when the delivery driver is a few minutes away from the house. As a kid there can be nothing more exciting than knowing that Santa’s in your street and as adults we still crave these magical moments. Food delivery services like DoorDash have nailed the “your food is almost here” experience, but few carriers offer this kind of experience for parcel delivery. Knowing that the delivery driver who has my new iPhone 14 is just 2 minutes away is a jump out of bed moment (or maybe a turn off the Zoom camera moment) while I run to the front to meet them and take physical possession of the parcel (no I don’t want it left on the doorstep).
Every brand experience has a beginning. The goal for brands is to provide an outstanding experience for their consumers beyond a single package delivery. Keeping them engaged through the process leads to great experiences which lead to future purchases. And like Apple, it’s just that simple.