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It’s amazing to me how much packing products for shipping has changed over the years. I remember my early college days as a youngster working at The Wiz selling computers and how large the boxes were for each computer. Even if the computer was a small desktop (with a powerful 386 processor!), the carton that the product was delivered to the customer in was huge. Even though most manuals are never read, they weighed a lot, were large and required room in the box.
Fast forward to 2004 when I purchased my first laptop (I had work laptops prior to this date) – the Dell laptop was purchased on what is still referred to as the best computer deal ever (50% off all Dell 700m laptops). The box didn’t seem that large but had a lot of extra room and had a separate box inside the main box with all of the manuals and CDs.
When I purchased my next laptop in 2009, a Dell refurbished laptop, it came in a much smaller box. I didn’t realize how much smaller the box was until I decided to sell the Dell 700m laptop when I decided to move to Texas. Even though the new laptop was 1″ bigger, the box on the old laptop was considerably bigger in all dimensions.
I’ve furnished most the new office with products from Ikea. I’ve been amazed at how well Ikea packs their products for transit. A few times I thought I had the wrong product because the box was so small only to open the box and see how smartly packaged the item was setup in the box. It’s almost like the way they setup the box, the inside materials actually provide support for each other without the need to add tons of additional packing materials.
Yesterday I received my new laptop from Dell – also a refurb, though a 17″ Inspiron. I opened the box with my box cutter and when I pulled back the flaps, I was completely shocked. I thought for sure something was wrong. There was not one piece of foam, not one packing peanut, no air bubbles and not even those big bags of air. Nothing. I could see the laptop right there in front of me.
I pulled out a piece of cardboard that the laptop was attached to using what looked like a piece of plastic wrap. The cardboard said, “DO NOT CUT PLASTIC” and had a simple diagram of how to pull the flaps forward to release the laptop. Sure enough, a moment later the laptop was free and ready to power on. And power on it did. The refurbished laptop looks brand new (just like all the other refurbs I’ve purchased from Dell) and an initial test worked fine. I wonder if Dell ships all of their laptops with this new packing system. The manuals for the laptop were very small – CD sized and there were no extra boxes inside of the main box.
As an aside, I am also impressed with Whole Foods here in Texas. Their receipts print on both sides of the paper — just think about how much paper this will save over the course of a year. I wonder why the Whole Foods stores in NYC don’t use this same paper saving receipt system.
So where can we improve? My new car came with two huge manuals – perhaps a better way is a downloadable PDF or the manual on a USB stick. You would only need a small manual with emergency procedures (like if the Bluetooth won’t connect to Twitter).
I’d also like to see ATM machines that offer email receipts inside of printed receipts.
Next week I will buy my first Apple iPod Touch – knowing Apple, the packaging will have the environment in mind.
Products are getting smaller and now packaging is following suit. It’s so amazing to watch companies of all types invest in packaging. It will mean less waste in landfills, less shipping expenses and less space needed to store all of our product boxes.
If anyone is interested, I can take some photos of the packaging from the Dell refurb laptop.
By far the most popular question entrepreneurs ask me is, “how do I get coverage for my startup?” Many ask me about specific steps to get on x blog, y newspaper or z television show. My first reply is typically to go where your customers are. Usually I get either “a-ha!” or dead stares in reply.
To illustrate the point of spending time where your customers are, check out the below campaign my friend Mark sent me last week. You can check out the full campaign on the FreshHome website. The Ikea campaign is running in the subway tunnels of the Paris Metro system. Frankly I would most likely never purchase a couch or a bed at Ikea. In my apartment, I have many Ikea products that are not actively used (e.g. lamps, storage, etc.). By placing Ikea couches and tables around the Paris Metro stations, it gives consumers like me a chance to test out the goods before buying. It also helps me keep the Ikea brand top of mind. Instead of sitting on a hard subway bench, you wait for your train on a comfy Ikea couch. Instead of hoping that customers will think of Ikea when they need a new livingroom set, they have brought the goods to the consumers. What better place to get customers to “play” with their products than the idle time of waiting for a subway.
So the tip for today is to think about working for press and promotions where your target customers are instead of hoping and praying that a few blogs or newspapers cover your startup.
Ok, this might be as useless as 90% of Twitter apps, but at least this one is fun! It’s called, “The Blogadilla Swedish Furniture Name Generator” and as you might expect it allows you to enter your name and then it morphs your name into an “Ikea-like” product name. A product photo is also displayed and each time you refresh the page you receive a new name and product. (sshh, you can also enter friend’s names and send them the resulting images)
So far I have been morphed into ÄLLENRA which is a bed and ÄLLENBY which is a dresser. All it needs now is a “tweet my ikea” button. And don’t forget to check in on Nils.
Last month we reported on Nils, a German man stuck in a house with no furniture. He was patiently waiting for the new Ikea catalog to arrive so he could select new furniture for his apartment. What made this experiment by Ikea so interesting is that you could actually communicate in real-time with Nils using Facebook and Twitter. I admit that I was addicted to watching his interactions with the outside social media world.
Today we can all rejoice as Nils has his furniture. The Ikea delivery agents showed up with the new furniture and helped him get it all together. The room looks pretty nice – that sure is one wall of bookcases! I would have opted for more seating and probably situated the television a bit higher.
Here’s a video of progress in the room – it’s clear the video isn’t in real-time as all of that furniture required assembly:
Ikea launched a new online interactive advertising campaign in Germany this week. The campaign is called ”Warte bis September“ (“Wait until September”). The man in the video is Nils and his home has no furniture or accessories because the new Ikea catalog has not arrived yet. Let’s hope the catalog arrives soon!
It’s similar to the Big Brother series; you can watch two different camera angles on his apartment. The phone rings ALL DAY and he rarely answers. From what I can tell, he has friends come over to eat and chat (in German). His doorbell is the one jingle I absolutely hate!
If you want to interact with Nils, you have three options:
- Twitter him (this seems to be the most likely way he will see your message)
- Email Nils
- Call him – +49 40 22 61 11 61 (use a voip provider so the call is cheap)
Here’s the video or go to the site to watch it fullscreen:
Earlier this year, Ikea was named one of the top 10 corporate brands using YouTube.