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Ultimately, it’s a quality product that’s going to make customers love your brand. But delighting people with extra touches can go a long way towards making your business stand apart from the pack. Today, we have the experts at ShipStation here to give you some packaging best practices when shipping your products to customers. These are especially important to keep in mind as the holidays roll around and people start getting slews of ho-hum boxes. And to make shipping a breeze, be sure to link your Square account to ShipStation in Square App Marketplace.
You’ve built your e-commerce website, selected your marketplace or shopping cart, found an efficient shipping solution, and are now ready to start sending your products all over the country (and hopefully all over the world). Just throw it in a box, make sure it’s packed well, and be done with it, right?
Wrong. Sure, you’re getting products to customers, but you aren’t taking advantage of shipping to (1) establish your brand and (2) further your connection with your customer. In this post, we’ll walk through best practices for packing your products. We’ll start with the simple things, and then give some tips on how to take it to the next level. Put these practices in place, and you’ll be standing above not only your direct competitors but even the big-box shippers.
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Simple packaging touches that go a long way.
An order comes in. You grab the product, pack it in a box, tape it up, and — stop right there. Open the box back up. Did you include a packing slip? A thank-you note? How about instructions or a care guide?
Odds are, you have a packing slip in there. Almost everyone uses them, and shipping solutions (like ShipStation) often offer a straightforward, customizable packing-slip template. However, your packing slip is a simple opportunity to market to your customers. One idea: Include a coupon or limited-time offer at the bottom of your slip. If the shipment is around the holidays, make the coupon or offer for the post-holiday season. That way, you can continue to ride the holiday sales wave even as you head into what is traditionally your slower season.
You’ll likely be mighty busy during the holiday season, but if you can, add a handwritten thank-you note at the bottom of the packing slip. If your time is limited, cook up a thank-you note template that you just need to sign before you put it in the box. You can’t say “thank you!” at the cash register, but you can when the box is opened.
If you sell something that needs caring for — a succulent, for example — include instructions. Having a guide in hand, as opposed to searching for it on your website, is a simple, effective win that’ll endear you to your customer.
Extra-mile packaging: custom boxes
So you know how to handle in-box materials and want to get serious about making your merchandise work for you. Here’s where we get real big: branded boxes. That way, from the moment they receive your package, your customers know who it’s from (as opposed to a generic box).
According to Miriam Braufman, founder of Packlane, “Professional, custom packaging can make your product beautiful and distinct, delighting and amusing your customers. When designed well, custom packaging can be used to reflect your brand story, influence your customers’ moods, and resonate with your customers’ values.”
But before diving into custom packaging (which can get expensive), there are a few criteria your business should meet:
- Your company has developed or wants to create an upscale image.
- Your company wants to gain brand exposure and stand out in a crowded field.
Your company uses a limited number of box sizes, generally less than six.
- If you decide to go the custom packaging route, you should research what’s out there, check on customization options, and see if it’s worth the investment. Keep in mind, of course, that around the holidays, your customers are getting orders almost every single day. Customizing and branding your packages — even if it’s as simple as getting your logo on there — sets you apart from all those Amazon orders.
Other packaging touches
If you do the above, you’ll stand apart from your competitors by making it a delightful experience for your customers to open your packages. But what are some other ways to add personal touches when you’re shipping products? First and foremost, send shipping confirmation emails. These emails have an extremely high clickthrough rate because people tend to check them again and again to track the status of their package. So take your shipping confirmation email up a notch by adding your logo, linking to your social media channels, and displaying products similar to the purchase. But most importantly, personalize it. Use your customer’s name and some kind words to make it memorable. Perhaps it’s your favorite way to use a product, or a tip on how to make it last longer.
Another idea? Offer free shipping and free returns. This was touched on in our last article, “How to Streamline Shipping at Your Business,” but it bears repeating: Free shipping and free returns can help you close a sale and get more repeat customers. The key here is being smart about how you absorb the cost. We recommend a slight increase in your product prices or only offering free shipping and returns on orders over a certain dollar amount that evens out the expense.
And last, but definitely not least, make your packaging your own. If your customers can identify with more than just a product, they’ll come back. Show personality and style in your packaging, and don’t be scared to let yourself shine through. Especially with the busiest season of the year coming, you want to differentiate your products however you can. Happy shipping!