Hey Green Business Owner, Your Boxes Are Talking about You

30 Apr 2009 Hey Green Business Owner, Your Boxes Are Talking about You

What are your boxes saying about you?

I have come to believe that every box has a story to tell about the person or company who sent it. I am quite sure that together with the other packaging/shipping materials being used, the box sends a silent but powerful message to the recipient about the shipper.

  • If you are utilizing “used/recycled” boxes are they saying you are conservative and considerate of the environment or are they screaming, cheap and uncaring about the image you project to your customers?
  • If you are using boxes that are obviously too large for the product(s) being shipped, are they communicating your lack of knowledge and/or concern about the correct use of packaging materials?
  • If your customer’s product arrives damaged, are your boxes saying that you would rather save a few cents than to develop a long term relationship with them?
  • If you are using a standard corrugated box with any percentage of virgin fiber, are your boxes admitting you are willing to sacrifice a few trees in a misinformed effort to save some money or time?

Our Green Customers Are Not Like Everyone Else

And thank God they are not. However, this also means that we as a supplier to them, our packaging not only has to perform as well and be as cost competitive as everyone else’s, it also has to be as green as possible.

“I know my customers and they all appreciate the fact that I re-use packaging materials, including foam peanuts,” stated a green business person as we discussed the importance of eco-consistency. Every year hundreds of books are written on sales and marketing so I seriously doubt anyone has really figured out their customer base and what turns them on and what turns them off.  What I have determined is that it is a big mistake to seriously believe we know them or to lump them in together as if they all think exactly alike.

I am sure some customers do indeed appreciate a supplier who re-uses packaging materials and I am equally certain some dislike it, especially when the materials are not as eco friendly they could be. My advice is always – when in doubt, ask your customer about packaging likes and dislikes, because in most cases, they will tell you what they are thinking if you take the time to ask and don’t assume. Also, save the used packaging materials for friends, relatives and others who have to buy from you. Do not use them for new customers unless you are prepared to risk that it could be a one and only purchase.

Present Economy versus Future Ecology

Don’t misunderstand.  I realize the key to staying in business these days is to reduce costs as much as possible, and used boxes, reducing inventory and using less packaging materials are great ways to accomplish those cost cutting goals. However, the other mandatory component of keeping the ship afloat is increasing sales and whether you believe it or not, your packaging is either helping or hurting those efforts. Your boxes can be a great salesperson for your company or they can also un-do all of the positive things you did prior to product delivery.

I continue receiving packaging from some very high profile companies who call themselves green, and I always make it a point to let them know when their packaging does not reflect what they say. Not as a supplier of green packaging products but as a green consumer I feel an obligation to let them know. Please remember all customers are not as open or willing to share their thoughts. Most simply move on to another supplier.

Here is the bad news – if you are disturbed by what your boxes are communicating, you are going to hate what your void fill is saying about you.
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