I was recently at the National Retail Federation conference in New York and I noticed something: the conference brings together countless thought leaders, innovators, tech experts, and people experts, but nobody is talking about how to differentiate themselves through ecommerce delivery.

All the buzz was about the in-store models of companies like Apple and Urban Outfitters and how to replicate these experience-focused stores. This new model entices customers with lunch, a trendy atmosphere, music, and interactive displays. It’s all about the in-store experience.

But what about the nearly $350 billion-dollar industry that is ecommerce retail?

It’s an industry that sees very little change. Think about it: this brown cardboard box is delivered at your front door, in full view of your neighbors, and then you, armed with social media and a million digital connections, open it up in your living room. The industry itself is less crowded at the top and more so in the middle where retailers need to stick their heads out to get noticed. So how do you disrupt the ecommerce experience? It’s time to infuse that process with the flash and excitement that was driving the presentations I saw at the NRF conference.

Here are three distinct solutions to help retailers stand out and replicate the in-store experience model inside their outgoing ecommerce parcels.

Using the box like an art gallery (or at least a bumper sticker)

Which is more interesting? A bight colorful peacock or a brown turtle dove with darker brown wings? Here’s a better way to look at this: which one is going to cause people to stare a bit longer and read the company name on the box?

This type of thinking has been explored by the online subscription box industry. Companies like Birchbox, Sprezza Box, and FabFitFun use bright neon colors along with bold patterns targeted towards one thing… standing out. After all, when John or Jane Doe goes to pick up their box from the front office, what would they rather carry? A brown boring box, or one designed with bright pink flowers?

Think of this as the shopping bag of the future. Potential customers see these attention-grabbing boxes, pull out their smartphones, Google the company and are immediately pulled into the new customer acquisition process. But what if we could make that process even smoother?

Infusing packages with social media

It wasn’t long ago I was being asked by companies to aid with social media marketing simply because I was younger. Now it seems like every company has a team of marketers dedicated to content creation and data analysis specifically for social media.

Need proof? Look no further than the recent Mr. Clean Super Bowl Ad. The new and “improved” Mr. Clean mops the floors, scrubs the kitchen, wipes the glass – all to a R&B soundtrack. May seem a bit odd but that advertisement has already seen over eight million views on YouTube and over 25,000 social interactions.

Never would I have imagined that Mr. Clean, a brand that largely targets older women and home owners, would be making such a splash within the world of social media. Yet here we are.

From a retail delivery standpoint, breaking in and using social media is no longer just a good idea; it is a must. One of the best ways to begin is by using the one thing that guarantees an interaction: the delivery. Placing links on and inside the box will encourage people to post on Twitter or Facebook. Each time someone does you are getting free advertisement to their followers which drives web traffic.

However, altering the box for either of these methods can prove to be costlier than expected, and, if that is something you’d like to avoid, this last suggestion is perfect.

Ecommerce sampling

Ah, the world of sampling. Gone are the days of tiny plastic cups full of an unidentifiable liquid being handed out by sweet old ladies at the grocery store. Today, sampling can be more of a value add than ever before for retailers thanks to the power of surprise and delight.

By placing relevant product samples inside your outgoing ecommerce orders, you can add an extra layer to the unboxing process for your customers. Now not only will they get their shirt and pants, they can get a Tide pod sample to wash them with.

Surprise and delight can be a powerful tool and should be leveraged heavily. It’s cheap, different and a great way to stand out in an increasingly cardboard world. Plus, who doesn’t love free gifts!