eBay Think Outside The Box

eBay has recently announced the launch of a recycled and reusable box for sellers to use when shipping items out to buyers.  Fairly obvious I know, but this is a really good idea.

It ticks all the boxes (pun not intended) for use of a sustainable, and FSC approved, product material whilst also mentioning the fashionable and practical buzzwords like “recycle” and “reuse”. To be honest re-anything gets positive attention at the moment. Having said all that though, the box is actually so much more, the product design goes deeper into the customer experience by tracking the box and telling the story of its journey. And we all like stories, don’t we?

The box itself is the result of this year’s Innovation Expo in which eBay provides an environment to encourage “prototypes for new products and breakthrough innovations”.

San Francisco based design studio Office designed the box with a friendly and encouraging feel to it. Just looking at it makes you want to use it, and, although recycled, I’ll bet a similar thought process went into the final finish of the card too. I’m on the waiting list for one of the initial 100,000 pilot boxes to be sent out in October so if I’m one of the lucky ones I’ll be able to comment on that in a few weeks.  If each box is used only five times then the scheme will save around 4000 trees, 2.4m gallons of water and enough electricity to power 49 homes for a year!

The pilot boxes will be available in three traditional sizes of small, medium and large, sign up with the eBay Green Team if you want to be in with a shout too.

Whilst engaging graphics adorn the box, there is function to the decoration too. Space created allows shippers to write messages and comments for the buyer, and over time as and when you reuse the box to send onto another buyer the messages build up, a timeline and geographical tail becomes mapped out.

In an entirely geeky way, and given some of the more bizarre items available on eBay, a well used box’s information mapping may be more interesting than the contents! Insightfully, and pre-empting this geekiness in more than just myself, eBay will allow you to track numbered boxes online to see which have travelled the furthest, or most frequently, giving an idea of the box’s lifetime.

Now I’m by no means a Power Seller, but I do sell the odd few items on eBay, and I’d definitely use this product given a chance. I have a drawer stuffed full of old jiffy envelopes and bubble wrap which tends to get used, but it’s hardly an elegant or efficient solution.


I often end up using much more tape than necessary, and perhaps compromise on the size, plus it’s so impersonal. This new box assists you in providing an improved service to your customers, whilst offering handy tips on how to re-use other materials for packing and minimising the use of tape. Oh, they know me so well!

Let’s not forget, as well as doing their bit for the environment (and given an estimated 90million users worldwide last year this could be quite a fair bit) and improving their green credentials, eBay stand to gain something else from this product too. It’s a form of branding and advertising, and over time a form of re-branding and re-advertising on a global scale as boxes move on and around the world.  eBay graphics surging through our postal systems and being packed and stacked into FedEx trucks will add a whole new dimension for them.

So I guess it’s win-win. The environment is better off and so is eBay, and to a degree I guess we, the buyers and sellers, will be too. Better make that win-win-win then.

Nod to Creative Review for the original spot on this.

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1 Response to “eBay Think Outside The Box”



  1. 1 Inspirational Function Trackback on September 15, 2010 at 8:32 am

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