Who doesn’t love the speed and convenience of ordering online? Want a pizza? Get it with the click of a button. Need a new lamp? A fancy tool box? Beer? No need to leave the house when you can order it from your favorite e-commerce store. Convenience is the name of the game. But, as more traditional sellers embrace the power of online ordering, smart e-commerce businesses are looking for an edge. A way to take the customer experience to the next level.
That’s why we started our unboxing series. We review different boxing strategies from top brands and assess what’s going well and what can be improved. This series is the perfect opportunity to learn from other sellers and discover new ways to improve your own fulfillment strategy and wow your customers.
Meat is harder to ship than most items. It requires very specific care and your customers need to trust you. Buying a steak is a lot different than buying a t-shirt: food poisoning horror stories can destroy a business.
ButcherBox offers a monthly meat subscription service. For $129 a month, customers receive a selection of grass fed beef, heritage pork and organic chicken. This service is perfect for people that want to eat better but don’t have local access to high quality meat. So how do their packaging skills measure up?
The Outer Packaging
Shipping perishable goods comes with its own set of challenges. To make sure that the order is super fresh all meat is flash frozen when it’s at its best and packed using a specific process. According to the company’s FAQs, the cuts go into an insulated, reusable shopping tote. The bag is packed in a box insulated with a 100% recycled bonded cotton and a specially calculated amount of dry ice based on where it’s heading. The ButcherBox brand is built around a devotion to sustainability.
Our order arrived in a plain styrofoam box. While styrofoam is a great insulator and recommended by UPS for shipments containing dry ice, it’s hard to recycle and contradicts the company's values and promise. However, the ButcherBox team doesn’t handle shipping directly. They use a drop shipping service. The meat is supplied by partner farms and the orders are shipped through a distribution warehouse. The type of packaging used could be the result of a breakdown in communication between the two teams or a reflection of a very recent change in policy: we received our order mid-February 2017.
Dropshipping makes sense for a service like ButcherBox. Transporting the meat from partner farms to a centralized location would be expensive and pointless. When you chose a partner, make sure you communicate your expectations. For the partnership to work, both of you have to be on the same page. Your customer isn’t going to take the time to look into why what they got isn’t what they expected. It’s up to you to provide a seamless experience that reflects your brand’s values.
We know that ButcherBox uses drop shipping to send out their monthly subscriptions so the shipping label doesn’t reveal as much as it usually would.
The company offers free shipping on all monthly subscription boxes, priced at $129 each. Depending on where you live, the orders are fulfilled by either UPS or FEDEX. The choice of providers makes perfect sense as USPS has much tighter restrictions on how much dry ice can be used per shipment.
What’s in the box?
Our order was a little out of the ordinary. Butcher Box partnered up with The Honest Bison to deliver 100% grass fed bison meat.
The branded brochure tells you more about their new partner while reaffirming the team’s dedication to working with independent farmers and only bringing you the best food.
This is a great move- it keeps things transparent while helping people learn a bit more about each partner. It helps increase customer trust in both brands.
Every shipment includes information about each cut of meat- what it is, what it’s best used for and how to prepare it for optimum flavor. Most of us can’t really picture the anatomy of a cow, so the ButcherBox team shows us exactly where the meat comes from with illustrations.
ButcherBox does a great job with the marketing materials, using them to renew their commitment to sustainability by giving the buyer real, actionable information. It’s always fun to learn about where your dinner comes from!
The meat itself is packaged in easy to defrost portions and separated by kind. This makes it easy for the customer to transfer it to the freezer and take out the parts they need for defrosting.
In this case, I don’t feel that extra branding on the individual boxes is necessary. The informative materials and recipes included in the box reaffirm all the reasons to keep ordering from ButcherBox. While packaging does matter, the real star here is the meat itself and the extra cost for custom boxes doesn’t make much sense.
ButcherBox makes the search for high quality meat easy. By partnering up with farmers they are able to create a cohesive service that delivers grass fed beef, organic chicken and heritage pork directly to your doorstep.
Shipping a perishable item like meat comes with its own unique set of challenges! Using dry ice means opting for more expensive shipping providers like UPS and Fedex. The orders aren’t light- the average monthly meat pack weighs between 8.5 and 11lb before adding on the extra weight of shipping containers and dry ice.
But, the customer doesn’t feel any of that burden. Instead, ButcherBox provides a seamless ordering experience, shipping for free to the contiguous US. It’s a tailored experience- from the website all the way to the recipe cards. They just need to make sure that their brand values are reflected in every order.
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Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by ButcherBox.
Chad Rubin is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Skubana, a multichannel e-commerce software the enables brands to unlock growth by unifying their back-office operations.