Bedsheets brand Beflax was looking for a way to give its shoppers a luxury unboxing experience, but it did not want to use extra materials that customers quickly discard.
Beflax sells $300 linen sheets, and sustainability is one of its brand values. Many online luxury shoppers have come to expect an online package to arrive with ample tissue padding sealed with branded stickers, paper filler and ink branding on the box, says Katerina Rothman, founder and CEO of Beflax Linen.
“I want to give the best experience to customers,” Rothman says. “They are paying on average $300 per set, and people want to see the value — even in the box when they are receiving and opening it. There is still a missing link in the majority of consumers. Even if they are more sustainably minded and ecofriendly, they still want to have this luxury experience of all this tissue paper and opening a nice slick box.”
Initially, Beflax shipped its orders in an unbranded cardboard box — Rothman refused to use a plastic bag — with recyclable craft tape instead of plastic tape and extra tissue paper to connote a luxury unboxing experience.
“It’s against my principles to put the product into plastic bags or plastic tape over the boxes,” Rothman says.
Often, when a box is branded with too much ink, it can no longer be recycled. Rothman was close to signing a contract for custom boxes that included Beflax branding while still recyclable, but she decided against it.
“The price was good, but the part was killing me — there was no guarantee the factory in China was working up to ecofriendly standards,” Rothman says. “And it logically didn’t make sense to me to ship products from across the world.”
Beflax is based in Denver and manufactures its linen sheets in Portugal.
How shipping with LimeLoop works
In Q3 2022, a colleague introduced Rothman to LimeLoop packaging. The vendor provides reusable ecommerce packaging to retailers. The bags are made of recycled polyester, mostly old billboards, on the outside, have a zipper closure instead of tape and are a recycled cotton on the inside. On the outside, the package has a sleeve for the retailer to insert the shipping information, instead of using a sticky label.
After a few weeks of negotiating and a month of implementation, Beflax started using the LimeLoop bags as its packaging. Here’s how it works: Beflax ships all its products in one of three sizes of reusable bags to the shopper. The shopper receives the product, which includes a card for how to return the bag. The bag will have the return shipping label on the back of the main shipping label, which the shopper will flip over on the front of the package. The customer then mails this bag using any U.S. Postal Service box, and it will make its way back to Beflax.
The bags can be reused at least 200 times. After that, LimeLoop will recycle them again into new reusable packages. Beflax rents the bags from LimeLoop for $1 per bag per month. Currently, Beflax rents 50 bags, which it can use multiple times per month. Beflax, which launched in 2017, has annual revenue around half a million dollars, Rothman says.
On average, it costs Beflax $16-18 to ship the product and about $4.50 for return shipping. Beflax absorbs some of these costs as it charges shoppers $15 for shipping. (Beflax provides free shipping for a consumer’s first order.)
Reusable packages works in practice for Beflax
The cost for Beflax is comparable to what it would cost the brand to purchase traditional shipping materials, including unbranded boxes, tissue paper, tape and sticky labels, she says. And the main return on investment, Rothman says, is that it’s the right thing to do.
For each LimeLoop medium bag, a retailer reduces 92% of carbon dioxide emissions and 99% of water use compared with shipping that order in a medium-sized cardboard box, according to LimeLoop. Similarly, for each small LimeLoop bag, a retailer reduces 42% of its carbon dioxide emissions and 9% of its water use compared with a polymailer plastic bag, according to the vendor.
Beflax has not conducted a poll about how shoppers feel about using the LimeLoop bags. Rothman, however, is confident the bag provides a luxury unboxing experience, describing the bags as slick with very nice inside fabric. The inside of the bags are so soft that the brand doesn’t wrap the sheets in any additional packaging, such as a polybag, Rothman says.
Beflax has not had an issue with shoppers returning the bags in the three quarters it has used the bags. If a customer is ever slow to return its packaging, Beflax contacts her reminding her to send it back, and she does.
Beflax also sells its products on Wayfair Inc., Etsy Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Because Beflax doesn’t receive the customer information when selling on these platforms, it does not use the LimeLoop bags and uses its previous, disposable packaging, without the extra tissue paper. It’s too big of a risk to send out bags without the shopper information, Rothman says.
Brands search for more sustainable but luxury unboxing
Bernardine Wu, executive managing director of digital strategy at digital consultancy OSF Digital, says LimeLoop is an interesting packaging vendor to watch, as it provides a sustainable packaging initiative that can scale and make an impact.
“Retailers and brands should focus on the approach that makes most sense and is most viable to their business, but at the same time, it is important to make sure that sustainability initiatives are aligned to the customer values, and it has to be a sincere and prioritized effort,” Wu says.
LimeLoop launched in 2018 and has 45 online retail clients, mostly small businesses with annual revenue less than $5 million. It does have some enterprise clients, with a handful in the pipeline, a spokesperson says without revealing more.
EcoPackables is another ecommerce vendor that provides sustainable packages to ecommerce merchants, including recycled plastic, recycled cardboard and compostable materials. EcoPackables has been in business for four years and has more than 100 enterprise clients, such as Ted Baker and Revolve, and more than 2,000 small businesses, many of which are Etsy sellers, that use its products. It does not count many luxury sellers in its client roster, however. Founder and CEO Shervin Dehmoubed says this is because many higher-end brands are reluctant to give up the extra tissue paper “garnish” in their packages.
“The reason why we don’t do high-end packaging is it goes against our ethos. The amount of waste in that packaging is crazy,” Dehmoubed says.
But Dehmoubed is hopeful that this might change as more brands want a better sustainability story and more consumers demand it. In fact, it may even come down to social media influencers not doing unboxings with confetti coming out of the box but to having recycled paper in there one day, he says.
Toad and Co. reduces packaging with LimeLoop
Similarly, apparel brand Toad and Co. also thought deeply about its packaging and wanted it to tell its brand story in a robust and rich way, says Steve McCann, marketing director. For example, many new or luxury brands, such as Apple Inc. will tell their brand stories within the packaging and will include a booklet highlighting the products’ features or other details about the brand for a luxury unboxing.
“You say, ‘I want this for my brand,’” McCann says. “Then you ask yourself, ‘Is this what my brand stands for? And you say ‘No, that is so much waste.’ And how do we get beyond that? How do we still have that story while being minimal and being responsible?”
And so, Toad and Co. went minimal, with no inked boxes, no attached hang tag and no booklet describing its brand. Instead, it gives shoppers the choice between recycled paper mailers and reusable LimeLoop bags.
About 12%-15% of Toad and Co.’s online shoppers select the LimeLoop package option, and 20% of those who chose LimeLoop as their fulfillment method choose it again, McCann says. These are healthy numbers, McCann says, especially when considering how many new customers Toad and Co. has, he says without revealing more.
“When brands have an option and it’s different and it’s addressing the issue, they love it and grab on to it,” McCann says about the LimeLoop bags.
Toad and Co. is No. 1623 in the 2022 Digital Commerce 360 Next 1000.
Do you rank in our database?
Submit your data with this quick survey and Digital Commerce 360 see where you fit in our next ranking update.Favorite