Welcome to Craft Venture ““ business and marketing tips for indie online business owners. Im Brenda, owner of Phydeaux Designs on Etsy and 1000 Markets, and Phydelle Designs on Etsy. Last week, we talked about international shipping as part of our series for the retail season: the holidays. This week, we’ll talk about packaging for holiday shipping.
I confess. It’s after 1:00 a.m. and I’ve just finished packaging a couple of orders from one of my shops. One order is going to another part of my state and the other is going to Canada. The postage was easy: PayPal for the domestic and Endicia for the international. The packaging process was more time consuming though, and I thought talking through the process would help you with your own packaging.
Packaging isn’t just about which mailing service to use, although that is a crucial decision. Packaging is everything from how you fold and/or wrap your items, the receipts and other pieces of paper you send with your package, how securely your pad and wrap your shipment, and which services you use (if any) to ensure safe receipt on your customer’s end.
Let’s imagine for a minute that you’re the customer that you’re sending your package to. How do you want it to look when it arrives? If the postal service trashed the envelope (which happens ALL the time), will your item still be okay or will it be destroyed? What if your package sits on a porch in the snow? I like to think of my orders as boutique purchases, so take care to fold nicely, wrap in a couple layers of tissue, tie with a big organza bow, tuck in a thank you card or note on a business card. When Fall and the holidays arrive, I make sure I seal each item in a secure zip lock bag (I have all sorts of sizes of these at next to nothing from Uline), and include the receipt (which I usually only ship with international orders, in case of customs inspections) inside the zip lock. I then fit everything into one of my tough but lightweight mailers, add a bit of strapping tape to the edges of the flap where moisture could seep in, weigh, rounding up for the mailing label, print up my postage, and I’m done. Almost. I start a stack of complete orders at my front door to either leave for my postal worker or take to the PO directly.
What are the most important elements in the above? I think it’s the following: zip lock bag, secured flap edges, customs inspection. I want to protect my shipment as much as possible from the elements, particularly this time of year. Not only against snow, rain, sleet and wind, but also against exponentially high volume in the post office, with inevitably results in lost, bashed, torn and crumpled packages.
Last week, I couldn’t fit a package into my local blue drop box – it was cram packed! I shudder to think of what the envelopes looked like as the mail person struggled to empty it! Would your shipment survive being crammed and crushed into a mailbox with too many other items?
Packaging is an opportunity for your brand and care to shine through. You don’t have to spend a great deal of money for safe, pretty and effective packaging. This is an opportunity for you to tie your packaging to your brand via your product tags, business cards, the boxes and/or wrapping that you use. Year round, packaging should combine pretty or “wow” factor with function: keeping your package safe and sound. For the holidays, though, you can take it to the next level and offer gift wrapping at no extra charge or for a n nominal fee. Even if you can’t afford to cut into a narrow profit margin with wrapping, there are lots of fun things you can do to make your package extra special for the holidays, from holiday-themed stamps or stickers on kraft paper or even newspaper to buying wrapping paper and ribbon in Christmas and holiday clearance bins every January.
I read in the forums of online marketplaces mixed reviews on packaging. Some folks get peeved to have to deal with packaging and others are peeved if their order wasn’t packaged nicely. If you’re torn about what to do for your own business, give your customers the option to opt out of wrapping or packaging. Or simply use the packaging required to keep your shipment secure, but dress things up with a ribbon to keep a box closed (and to tuck a business card into).
Packaging for the holidays allows you to operate at a level higher than some of your competitors. Nothing makes me happier at Christmas than to have my holiday shopping complete by the first week of December and to not have to wrap everything. I go out of my way to find items that will arrive on my doorstep quickly, safely and prettily wrapped with ribbons and bows. Holiday wrapping is both invaluable and essential for me – such a timesaver! Think ab0ut how you can make your own customer’s lives easier, so that they’ll want to come back again!
What is your own packaging perspective and experience? Share with the rest of us your tips and tricks for safe and secure packaging that stands out!
Image credits: 1. Jewelry packaging from Leaves of Glass; 2. Vintage toy mailbox coin bank with key from Multer