Is it Human? Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging

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Amazon.com launched its initiative, “Frustration-Free Packaging,” to combat what it calls ‘Wrap Rage’ in 2008 as CEO Jeff Bezos spent too much time unwrapping gifts for his kids one holiday. Check out Amazon’s video, Fighting Wrap Rage.

Just recently, Amazon.com announced it has 80,000 products signed up to the plan that also reduces the amount of packaging – so it’s good for customers, the environment, and manufacturers. So it would seem valid benefits all around, right? Certainly, human beings deserve better packaging. Who’d argue?

Still, who knew “wrap rage” was such a pervasive affliction? Sure, unwrapping toys makes me feel a bit incompetent as a parent – which makes for a humbling experience as your child watches you grapple with the infinite number of twist ties. Yet, it’s part of the Christmas morning ritual at our house – package wrangling. And believe me, I know how to show that packaging who’s boss (or at least fake it so my kid still has respect for me). Hey, I shop at Ikea and if I can beat product assembly into submission, then I can master unwrapping and unfriendly packaging.

I like the idea of frustration-free packaging. Amazon looked at the entire customer experience and actually made improvements that add value. That’s true. And, if we believe the press, it looks as though this initiative also benefits the environment: frustration-free means fewer materials are used and, thus, less material that ends up in land-fills. Kudos to Amazon for “influencing” manufacturers to innovate. Is it human? It seems to be.

My only question: why isn’t Amazon.com doing more to promote this program? And why aren’t more manufacturers doing this with in-store packaging already? Why isn’t more packaging this way? This is a great example of end to end customer experience design that addresses a real human need and does add value, rather than just making an interesting marketing “gimmick.” Granted it addresses a ‘human need’ that wasn’t extremely painful on the spectrum of life challenges (and not that any of us would admit it!), but one that certainly exists none the less.

Still frustrated? Take it out on that packaging. Hey, it knows what it did!

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