Thinking inside the box


No matter how easy it might be to get a product out of the box, it’s usually a nightmare to get it back in there later. For products that are designed to be carried around, like mobile phones, this probably doesn’t matter: you just stash them in a bag or your pocket and off you go. But non-portable items may require special packaging or transportation procedures to keep them safe. Some companies even warn you that improper transit may void your warranty. With this in mind, I would like to see more companies include repacking instructions with their products, or perhaps provide this info online.

For products that come in a traditional cardboard box, this might take the form of a laminated reference card, or could be printed on the inside of the box itself (like on the flaps). But for items that come in those horrible plastic containers (the ones you have to rip to shreds to get open in the first place), these instructions aren’t enough. You also need to find suitable packaging to put the product in, since there’s nothing left of the original container. In this scenario, the repacking instructions could tell the customer to pick up a standard box at the post office or other places, referencing the exact box size and amount of packing materials needed.

Besides helping reduce shipping damage when people need to transport a product, repacking instructions provide a marketing and sales opportunity. For instance, the instruction sheet could remind customers about regular maintenance and supply needs, e.g. providing a way to easily order cleaning kits and extra toner for a laser printer. It can also remind them about related products and services that might be of interest, like high-quality paper stock. I’m sure there are other clever variations, too. Given the low cost of providing this information to customers, and its potential to prevent product damage while promoting accessory sales, it’s probably only a matter of time before some smart manufacturers give it a try.