5 reasons your packaging may fail online

Kahlia Pyle of design research agency The Big Picture outlines five reasons why your packaging might fail online.

Digital FMCG grocery shopping is growing, and growing fast. And with big names like Amazon Fresh entering the market, that trend looks set to continue.

But The Big Picture's recent market research with online grocery shoppers revealed a problem: packaging is typically designed with the bricks-and-mortar store in mind, and that often means it doesn't work very well in the digital realm.

From that study, here's our top five reasons why your pack might fail online.

01. Premium detailing

Belvoir fruit cordial is rich in illustrative detail – but that doesn't come across online

That beautiful, crisp, foil-blocked edge detailing to your typography looks a million bucks in hand. But when your pack gets reduced to 150px square, that investment is wasted.

02. Small icons, not big ideas

The Bean Company (left) tries to convey its selling points via a multitude of icons that get lost online; conversely Equal Exchange Coffee's message comes across loud and clear, even at a small size on a screen

On-pack icons and claims have long been a limited way of getting across key selling points. But while there might be a chance of them getting some engagement in store, there's no chance when it's reduced to a thumbnail online.

03. Brand blocking

In UK stores, Heinz have a wall of red that defines its aisle. Online, that market dominance doesn't have the same strength of presence

In store, big brands can merchandise their products together into a wall of their colour. But online, that wall has been broken down. At best, your brand is broken up by the white background of the website. More often, they're not seen together at all, because consumers are searching by keyword. RIP, brand blocking.

04. Structural sameness

Method laundry detergent's differentiated packaging structure helps it stand out from the crowd online

While graphics suffer when reduced, structure wins. The shape of your packaging suddenly becomes a lot more important when the graphics are reduced – but adopt the same shape as your competitors, and that opportunity is squandered.

05. Designing just for shelf, not shipment

A gift from me to me: online grocery shopping creates a new moment of truth where the emphasis shifts from salesmanship to seduction

The shelf is known as the 'moment of truth'. But for online shopping, that moment has moved from shelf to shipment – so rather than focusing on selling, design to delight at the moment of receiving the packaging at home.

Words: Kahlia Pyle

Kahlia Pyle will be presenting The Big Picture’s findings on the role of pack design online in a webinar on Monday 24 November, 3pm-4pm GMT/10am-11am EST. Visit this link to sign up.