Packing and shipping your items might seem like a meagre task, but what you are doing is sending the buyer a piece of your personality. You can't be there in person, so you have to send a good representation of yourself. A good packaging job can mean the difference between repeat sales and one time buyers, and it is up to you to give them a little bit of magic with every parcel you send. Just think of it this way - it's like Christmas or a Birthday for the buyer, so WOW them! Make it personal, make it beautiful, but most of all - make it memorable!
These ten thorough tips will get you started on packaging your beautiful products in a way that will make an everlasting good impression on your buyers. To make it easier, I will also include examples from my own experiences. So here we go!
- Packaging should reflect you! Come up with a style of packaging that matches the items you sell. If you send your items in cute yellow polka dot gift wrap, and your shop doesn't even have an ounce of cuteness, you are going to look like you are either having an identity crisis or that you really just don't know how to coordinate. My shop is basically white with many additions of lime green, purple, and black. I generally ship my items in lovely white boxes tied with green polka dot ribbon and purple tissue paper - it matches the colours of my shop!
- Don't be a grub! We all try to cut corners to save a buck when we can, but if the box that you are planning to ship in has been mashed up and torn - don't use it! Rips, tears, and other damage will always been seen as carelessness. The best rule to follow is to use new packaging products. If you decide to reuse old packaging supplies, just make sure that they are in excellent condition. Wrapping things in newspaper, Christmas wrapping paper (if it isn't Christmas), old Chatelaine magazines from 1976, or worn & old bubble envelopes are an absolute no-no and will put off your customer in an instant.
If you make your own boxes or bags, do a good job - don't just throw them together. Remember - presentation is of the essence!
- Serve and Protect! It is a real downer when you open a package only to find that it's been damaged or broken. Do all you can to make sure that your items are safe and cozy, because postal workers tend to play football with your parcels, sometimes. Things like tissue paper, cotton, shredded paper, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, plastic balloons, and bubble envelopes are a good way to protect your items from damage as well as the elements.
- Keep it clean! Nothing is more disturbing than finding pieces of pet hair, human hair, and fuzzies in a brand new parcel. It's un-hygienic for sure, but it is also a turn-off. Always keep the area where you package things free from dust, hair, and smoke. Do not eat or drink around your shipping area, as cookie crumbs and soda stains are no fun either. One of my biggest pet peeves is receiving an item that wreaks of cigarette smoke. If you smoke, don't smoke around your items - or better yet, smoke outside.
If you pride yourself in being green, recycling is definately a regular part of life for you. Recycling boxes and packaging supplies is not necessarily a bad thing unless it is in bad condition - so think before you use it!
- Keep shipping realistic! If you charge too much for shipping, you might not even got as far as a sale, at all! All you have to do is visit your local post offices' website or pay them a visit and ask them a few questions. An example of a no-no would be the actions of the majority of eBay sellers: Many eBay sellers give you a great deal on the product, but shipping is through the roof to compensate for a low selling price.
Only charge what is realistic for shipping. Invest in a moderately priced digital scale and measuring tape, and get your shipping fees down to an art before you start selling. Any costs such as boxes, tissue paper, bubble wrap, and other packaging prices should be incorporated into the items selling price - not the shipping price.
On the other of the spectrum, do not under price your shipping. By doing this, you are reaching into your own pocket each and every time you sell an item and are undercutting any profit that you make from the item. If you plan on selling as a business, you need to think business. If your shipping prices are on the high side but are realistic, all you have to do is explain why, and most of the time people will understand. If your product is good, the shipping price is always worth it in the end.
- Include a business card! Business cards can be made for rather inexpensively. I personally use Vista Print, and their cards (in Canada, atleast) start at $17.99 for 250 cards. Stick the business card on your package; or better yet, stick a few in with the package. If you include more than one card, chances are that the buyer will pass them on to somebody else who may be interested in your products.
- Offer coupons and freebies! How many of us flock to free sample stands in the grocery store? If it's free - we love it! Try adding a little something with each package that you send out - such as magnets, stickers, and buttons with your business name on it. It's such an inexpensive way to say thank-you, and most people will be very happy about it. A great way to coax buyers to come back is to include coupons with their purchases. Things like "10% off your next purchase" or "Free shipping on orders more than $20.00", are great promotions to offer. Just make sure to set an expiry date!
Things not to include are freebies that could result in a mess upon opening. For example, chocolate is a cute gesture but what if the person lives in a warmer climate? You don't want chocolate goo all over the product, do you? The same goes for extremely strong smelling perfumes, soaps, and candles - they can permeate the entire box!
- Personalize your packaging supplies! A plain old box is all well and good, especially if it looks great the way it is, but try adding your own flare to it by stamping your name and website onto the box or adding a sticker with your store logo. Not only does it look professional, but the buyer will be reminded of you everytime they see it!
Don't just think inside the box - think outside! On the outside of the parcel, that is. Add your logo name and website on the outside of the envelope where all the shipping information is. Do you know how many people handle your items before it gets to it's final destination? Many! If your name or logo looks interesting, somebody who handles the parcel might write it down for their own references.
- Write a little thank-you note! Buyers just gush over the fact that their product has been made just for them. It really is a luxury that you cannot find with mass produced items. Your products come from real people with a heart - not a robot. So show it! Write a quick thank-you on a cute stick-it note and make the customer feel special! Because they are!
- Follow Up! Just because the item has been shipped does not mean that the transaction is over and done with. Send them a quick message or e-mail asking if they have received the item and check to see that they are happy with it. If you're on Etsy or eBay, leave positive feedback and ask the buyer to do the same for you. Happy buyers are repeat buyers!