Sephora Play Box Packaging | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on October 4, 2017

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It’s been some time since I’ve reviewed order packaging, which was previously a symptom of not having ordered from new retailers. However, I recently signed up to receive the Sephora Play Box, and the packaging is so excellent that I felt compelled to share it.

Sephora packaging is mostly great to begin with, but they have taken advantage of the opportunity to create something that will be the same size every month, so it is highly customized. Let’s take a look.

Customized and striking!

OK, this is what REALLY sold me. The tape on the box is custom tape, so that you can barely see it. This wasn’t necessary but is AMAZING. I can’t tell you how happy this tape makes me as someone who is highly invested in commerce.

They are clearly committed to the black, white, and red color palette for the outer packaging. You receive this card to get 50 extra points if you go into the store, and the backing folds open to give you details on each product in the bag!

Not only is this super cute, but this is an item in the box that you can use again. (The premise of the box is that you receive a number of deluxe beauty product samples each month.)

Little touches like an extra mention of the Play URL are not necessary, but create a pop of color in the bottom of the box, and are informative. When this box is being reprinted, I would like to see something here prompting the customer to leave a review of the box online, including a URL of where to do that.

Here are the samples included in this month’s box. I was impressed by the size of the liquid lipstick and the brow gel. These will actually last a while, and I think that the box might be well worth the price.

However, for this inaugural box in my subscription, the packaging is what really made my day. Congratulations to Sephora for recognizing the value in impressive, customized packaging.



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ASOS “We Miss You” Email | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on October 2, 2015

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I recently received another email asking “where did you go?” from ASOS. Let’s take a look.

This is really cute. It’s short and to the point, gives you the info on a 20% off coupon code right away, and then underneath, there are four buttons to choose from, to indicate what the reason might have been for your lack of shopping.

  • Nothing’s rocked my world enough to buy it
  • I’m broke
  • I got treated badly last time I shopped
  • ASOS who? I’d forgotten all about you

Naturally, I tried out all four buttons, because I wanted to see where they would take me. I am slightly disappointed in some of the results here. Please note that all four buttons sent me to the same product page, but with different messages.

This one is pretty straightforward, ASOS is pointing you to product you might have missed.

The “I’m broke” button doesn’t send you to the sale page?!? It’s a simple message promoting the ASOS Collection, but this is not the page for the ASOS Collection. A landing page with proper links to the ASOS Collection (and obviously also the sale page) would have been better here.

This one has a link, which makes the previous one that much more painful. This one is very direct, indicating that ASOS cares about your issue and wants to have you back as a customer, and reminds you to please contact Customer Care with any problems. And there’s a link to Customer Care! The previous landing page should have the same thing.

Another miss here? I cannot decide. If someone has forgotten, how are they getting this email? Were they not on the list before? Since I’m not certain how someone would have forgotten them and then still received and opened this email, I’m going to guess that it would be a good time to direct them to where they can control their email subscriptions, to make sure they are in the loop for product in which they are interested.

Overall, it’s a great idea. The playful nature of the different options is wonderful. As with most things, it would benefit from a bit more thought and planning.


{ Comments on this entry are closed } | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on May 16, 2013

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Another Brand Experience post, another adventure. My introduction to was through my coworker Laurie. Laurie knows about the Brand Experience Project and brings me boxes and such to look at when she receives her items. Big shoutout to Laurie.

My intention was to go onto the site and make a purchase, but the prices were not as competitive as Amazon on the item I was looking for, and so I will not be ordering a new bottle of Fame perfume from However, I do want to talk about their boxes, and the note that comes inside of them.


This box is not kidding with branding. The purple is everywhere, along with their cute perfume bottle icon.

This boxing is reminiscent of The Body Shop which also utilized all of the available space on the box.

The only thing I would do differently here is to include a reference to their user names on these social channels. I work with a single name for all of them and would expect that from others as well, but it looks like one might have to hunt around to figure that out. It just makes it easier to find the account you are looking for if it is all consistent.

Love this! A coupon from the outside of the box. This is especially great when you consider the fact that a package delivered to your job will probably be seen by multiple parties. What would be the harm in scanning someone else’s box to get a discount? I’m sure is not upset about it.

The last exterior box shot. It took a bit of a beating, but still looks pretty good.

Neatly folded packing list/invoice. Snaps for this, it’s so easy to do and when the list looks terrible, it looks like no effort was made at all. (Reminder: this is not my package so the products aren’t here.)

Inside also is this little thank-you note. It’s been discussed before that I love these.

In that same post, I mentioned how I thought that heavy card stock enhanced the experience. This paper choice left something to be desired, but the branded purple is once again in full effect.

Apologies for the darkness – The purple on the inside of the card is the same purple we have seen throughout, and I’m not sure what went awry with the image. The important part is the message. It feels very authentic, and lovely. Plus, coupon code to invite you back!

As someone who manages an e-commerce website, I especially love the “hurry expires soon” because I can only assume that it does NOT expire soon, but it’s meant to get you to come back fast. Those inserts were probably printed in bulk (based on how much it costs to print things), so the coupon code will probably work for some time.

So, I will continue to keep an eye on, and will check back in when I place an actual order.


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Pier 1 Imports | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on May 9, 2013

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As I mentioned at the start of this project, I am excited to present different types of posts related to brand experience. This week, I’m going to share an experience I had while shopping on

At first, I get this highly celebratory email about a big clearance event at Pier 1 Imports. I’m very excited since this was just after the holidays, so I quickly clicked through to the website.

I saw this “capiz” ornament in the clearance section but didn’t screencap that view. This image is the result after using search to find it again. I didn’t notice the “out of stock” in red when I scrolled over the image.

Where this starts to be really unfortunate is on the product page, where there is no indication of this item being out of stock. It even says “arriving soon,” which suggests to me that even if it was on sale that I can purchase it now and that more are coming soon. I then proceed to add 3 of these to my cart because I want them. I also manage to add a few other items before making my way to the shopping cart to start the checkout process.

Side note: How is the Pier 1 website not designed to automatically hide items of this nature? If you have an item in discontinued status, the website should know that the remaining quantity is all that remains, and the item should disappear from the site when there aren’t any left.

This is where Pier 1 Imports lost me. I had shopped their site, and added a number of items from their clearance section to my cart, with the intention of buying said things. Then I get to the cart, and the message says this:

“Your shopping cart can currently not be ordered since one or more of the products in your cart have an invalid price or are not available in the requested quantity. If you have any questions, please contact customer service.”

What. The. Hell.

Seriously, what was my next step meant to be? I saw that the Giraffe Foil Platter was marked out of stock, so I tried removing that from the cart. The message appeared again, and I assumed it had to do with the capiz ornaments because of that little message on the search results page about them being out of stock. However, the cart thinks they are arriving soon, so how am I supposed to know which item is the problem?! The message that “one or more products… have an invalid price” is meaningless to me – I didn’t enter any prices, I have no control over the prices, how is this my problem?  That’s a huge red flag that implies their site is essentially broken.

Needless to say, I did NOT complete this shopping experience. Sending me to customer service instead of just having your site work properly isn’t acceptable to me. The words “customer service” aren’t even a link to a pop-up – at the very least, you should make it easy for me to be able to connect with someone.

So, I was epically disappointed in my sale shopping experience with Pier 1 Imports. I only give report cards to brands that I actually order from – but obviously if I never make a purchase, I would think the score is a zero. I really like some of my Pier 1 products, so I hope they can work on fixing their cart and clearance items situation.

Have you successfully shopped Pier 1 Imports’ website? Let me know about your experience in the comments!


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The Body Shop | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on April 4, 2013

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This post was born from a need to replace a tube of The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector that I think I had for around 5 years. It was finally time to reorder, so naturally, I documented the process.


I really like the homepage navigation callout for “What’s Hot” menu choices. These are also available in the top nav bar, but I think the immediate recognition of what is most popular is fantastic. As I’ve mentioned before, I also really like a clear and prominent mention of what I have to do to get free shipping. It’s right at the top!

My first menu choice was Skin Care/Top Rated.

Other than not seeing the relation between the description and the section name, I really like the simple and unobtrusive headers.

After adding some face wash to my cart from the Top Rated section, I used Shop Ingredients/Hemp as my next menu choice. I REALLY like the Shop Ingredients option. I think this is especially appropriate for The Body Shop.

The header on this page (the section header, not the overall site header) is great, showing a group shot of the collection, and a great description of the Hemp line of products.

I don’t find much fault with the individual product pages. Super clear, great product information. Reviews are easy to find, and the page takes into account that I already have something in my cart and tells me how much more to spend to get free shipping. I love how right underneath that, it’s also telling me how much I WILL have to pay for shipping if I don’t reach the predetermined free shipping amount.

Added to my cart. Pretty basic, and really selling that free shipping option.

I decided to check out the full shipping page, and WOW, I love this. The information given here is really precise and detailed. This is when they will be processing orders, this is how long each step takes, this is an explanation of the information you will receive—I find this very impressive.


This was my cart. Simple layout, easy to add additional items, there is information on the loyalty program, and as before, an indication of how much more to spend for free shipping. I had what I needed so I decided to pay the $5.95. I certainly will not forget that any future purchases from The Body Shop will have free shipping if I spend more than $50. I do wish that the link to the shipping information was not grouped in with the Verisign logo. I had completely missed that and my proofreader caught it. I completely glossed over it, and when I went back to click it, it opens the shipping info in the same window, which is a pet peeve of mine. Don’t make your users leave the page from which they buy things.

Three customer types! However, my issue with guest checkout is this: Since you have to hand over a bunch of information to make a purchase, why would you not simply create an account? It’s maybe 1 or 2 additional fields. I’m guessing there is enough data regarding page abandonment when people think they have to create an account to justify telling them that they don’t have to. As always, wishing I had access to statistics.

I see this all the time now, and appreciate the step to make my order more shipping-friendly.

All of the checkout information is on one page, which is expected at this point. I especially like this more than the tabbed versions I see where it makes it difficult to look back at your previous steps. I do wish there was a link to that amazing shipping information page in the shipping section, or a pop-up containing it, because it is incredibly helpful.

I do not understand how a website that has been so well-designed wouldn’t give you the option to also print a receipt. I see that I’ll receive something in my inbox, but I don’t think the effort for a printed receipt is too tricky.

I really like the social sharing option for shopping. It’s more of a “why not” than a “why” at this point.

Here’s my email confirmation. It is clear here that if I did not create an account during checkout, I will have to rely solely on emails to track my order. This is another instance where I wish I had access to a company’s data on how many guest checkouts they have in comparison to those with accounts.


My package arrived 6 days after my order was placed.

Although the box seems to have taken a bit of a hit during transport, I’m still pleased. I also really like the customization on the outside. I had to go back to the website to find out what Wood Positive meant. The site says that The Body Shop is committed to growing more wood than is used in their packaging.

Here’s the open box. Note the folded packing list, which arrived in fine condition. The customized packaging continues on the inside as well.

Here’s a shot of the interior printing on the box.

I found this stamp on the packing list. Someone with a number packed my order with care. I find this to be a good way to suggest personal handling without the issues that might come along with sharing someone’s name. This hasn’t stopped Neiman Marcus though.

Here is a helpful message about product delivery and easy instructions on finding return information.

There should be little bubble hearts around this image, because this packaging was SO nice. Yes, that is basic brown paper, but The Body Shop has taken the time to very securely wrap my items, and add a little extra touch with the logo sticker. This is what this project is about. The Body Shop has taken completely standard packaging materials and made me really happy because of the extra effort to treat my purchase this well.

The last image from the package opening experience. My not-too-delicate items, packaged in a lovely cocoon of basic brown packing paper. Sure, I like fancier wrapping too, but The Body Shop has made their mission to not be wasteful with packaging very clear, and they’ve done wonderful things with the packaging materials they have chosen.

Report Card

Other than some small issues, The Body Shop performed incredibly well. I will definitely be going back for more!

As always, I am interested in comments on this post and also suggestions for sites to shop on in the future for the project. Thanks for reading!


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