Social media star? You'll need packaging to match

Customers expect your logistics to match your online values
Benjamin Scherpenbergs

Long gone are the days when social media was merely a platform for connecting with friends. Today, it is recognised as a powerful tool for influencing consumer behaviour and driving shopping habits. With 4.95 billion people using social media worldwide as of 2023 its colossal reach is undeniable, offering brands direct exposure to a global audience and shortening the journey to purchase. Facebook and Instagram are just two such platforms that enable users to purchase directly within the app through the integration of the ‘buy’ button, allowing for quick, frictionless conversions. According to a report from Deloitte, 29% of social media users are more likely to make a purchase the same day of using social media – emphasising the acceleration of power these platforms possess.

As tactics such as ‘shoppertainment’ and influencer marketing also rise in popularity, the impact of social commerce will only continue to grow, with brands increasingly adopting this platform to provide a more interactive and engaging experience for their customers. Not only are celebrities being leveraged for social commerce, but micro-influencers – every-day people with anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 followers online - are increasingly targeted by brands to showcase their products in a more honest and genuine way, simultaneously capitalising on a particular audience base and demographic.

Taking advantage of a new route to market

To cash in on the faster purchasing decisions and global reach of social media, brands must have a concrete order fulfilment strategy in place post-click to ensure the experience promised online converts into reality. The influence of social media is critical for brands to remain competitive in today’s digital era, but brand reputation can crumble on these platforms just as quickly as it’s built if expectations aren't met.

Accurate forecasting and being prepared for surges in popularity for certain product lines is crucial to ensuring how these needs can be fulfilled – and fast. To ensure ample stock is available, brands should use historical data as a reference point to anticipate demand surrounding key events. It is also important to focus on where stock is located via an effective warehouse management system so that stock can be leveraged from areas closest to the customer in order to minimise delivery time and make use of stock availability. Whether that’s leveraging stock from a neighbouring warehouse part of a multi-node fulfilment network or the store floor in a brick-and-mortar retail location – having visibility of stock across various locations is crucial to fulfilling orders in the most time-effective, and often most sustainable manner. With the experience online from browsing to purchasing becoming faster than ever, consumers are less inclined to want to wait for their delivery to arrive, with next-day delivery often the preferred choice.

A seamless post-click experience…

Fast delivery is important, but there are additional factors that impact this part of the customer’s experience. Brands need to take a closer look at all of the touchpoints they have with the customer – from product packaging and the unboxing experience to the aftercare provided via customer service – to ensure a seamless end-to-end journey and effectively manage any issues that come up.

Packaging is a very tangible reflection of the brand and is key when considering how to elevate the post-click experience. To meet the expectations set via social media marketing and potential influencers, the packaging must mirror this. For example, a customer purchasing an item presented to be more luxurious would expect high-end, even personalised packaging with a luxurious look and feel. On the other hand, someone purchasing a product advertised by an influencer who champions sustainability might expect something recyclable and environmentally friendly and be put off by oversized, unnecessary packaging.

Consumers using social channels crave the convenience it offers. If any friction occurs when it comes to the experience that follows, this can be particularly damaging to their perception of your brand and ongoing relationship. Customer service therefore must be seamless, offering digital and self-serve methods of communication in addition to human interaction via a telephone call. No matter what channel the customer makes contact through, the respondent must be able to offer an effective solution, and this requires customer service systems that are integrated with order management and fulfilment. Only through empowerment through these tools can a customer service agent service the customer effectively and provide a seamless experience.

Don’t forget returns!

Whilst brands can take advantage of increased sales thanks to consumers shopping mid-scroll, this can also result in more frequent returns due to wrong sizing or the customer later regretting the purchase. Reducing any friction within the returns process, therefore, should be another key focus for brands – again reflecting the seamless experience at the front end of the customer journey.

A robust omni-channel strategy plays a significant role in reverse logistics and creating that seamless experience, by offering the customer the option to return through a channel best suited to them – whether that be by bringing the item to their closest store, sending it back via post, or in some cases having the item collected.

With the right systems and strategies in place throughout the whole post-click journey – from stock location to delivery, aftercare and reverse logistics – brands can capitalise on the influence social media holds. The opportunities on offer to reach new audiences and inspire loyalty by remaining relevant to consumers are endless, but brands must ensure they can match expectations with reality to truly reap the rewards.

Written by
Benjamin Scherpenbergs
Written by
April 12, 2024