Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Etsy How To: Make Your Packaging Matter

I've read A LOT about packaging your products for shipment for websites like Etsy and Big Cartel.  It's kind of a confusing relationship for me.  I could spend hours developing great packaging and then spend 30+ minutes on perfectly wrapping and shipping an item and then go wait 20 minutes at the post office and for what? Well one argument (and in a business sense definitely the strongest argument in my opinion) is that this great packaging is to attract returning customers.  AKA a customer orders from you and not only gets a great product, but also gets a great package, enticing them to return again.  People love to be loved.  You took the extra step to show your appreciation.  My question, however, is how many return customers do you really get because of your packaging?

You may disagree (and please do if your experience proves otherwise), BUT I think that unless you are just haphazardly throwing stuff into an ugly box that will not hold up in the mail, you probably aren't going to attract customers because of your packaging.  Or at least not so many that it would be worth your time.  Think about it... You have probably ordered something from  Boring packaging blah blah blah.  Great product.  BUT---VERY diverse product availability.  You buy again (probably something different).  And then buy again because of the diversity of products.  It's the product that sales not the packaging.  

I say this because, while I think that cute packaging is awesome and to an extent, valuable, you are going to attract customers and create return customers because of the quality and diversity of your products.  If you are spending hours a week creating packages and only making a few sales- rethink your strategy.  Focus that time on creating new and different products for your store.  THIS is what attracts customers.   Amazon has thousands of different products (obviously you are not going to), but that's why people shop there.  They can find what they need.

Think about that for your store.  Do you sell wedding decor of all kinds?  Think about EVERY aspect of a wedding... pew markers, seat assignments, centerpieces, guest book table, gift table, cake, bridesmaids... and the list goes on.  Do you have something that a bride could incorporate into all of these aspects of a wedding?  If you don't, strategize.  Do you want to expand your products?  Maybe your answer is yes.  Great!  Work on adding one new item a week for a month or so.  If you feel overwhelmed by expanding your product, that's okay.  You already have a design of whatever it is that you create, so think about providing new color schemes or sizes.  This will increase views, traffic, and sales. Offering diverse products in diverse price ranges is key to a successful shop.

But back to packaging... I do think that packaging is worth it if you have the time and resources.  For example, I like to include a little freebie.  I include a mini paper garland if they order invitations.  I include one of my blank greeting cards if they order a paper garland.  And so on and so on.  Nothing too too fancy, BUT notice that I'm not including an extra of what they orderedI am introducing them to a new product that they might be interested in in my shop.  If they like it, they will come back.  And they will appreciate the gesture.  I also include a handwritten note and a copy of the invoice (invoice is a definite must).  Then I stamp a little "Thanks so Much" on the outside of the envelope and send it away.  I sometimes include business cards... it's probably a good idea for me to include one every time, but I think a freebie and a note are better communicators of your customer service.  I pass out business cards to people that are interested in buying something... not those who have already purchased. It's not a bad idea to include them though.

This may seem like a lot in my package... and like I said... I can't say I disagree, but if you do ONE THING (besides the invoice) make sure your logo is on/in the package somewhere.  You can see in my personal note that I have it on the front.  My website address is on the back.  The more people see it, the more they remember.  These notes are SO easy to make... just pick up some blank note cards... you can get them at any craft store and just print your logo to the front... or draw it.  And there you have personalized stationary for less than $10 for sure.  Those boring Amazon boxes? They say Amazon everywhere.  Return address... on the sides... on the invoice.  You don't have to go that overboard--- remember products sale, not packaging.  Maybe consider investing in a custom rubber stamp of your logo so you can easily stamp it everywhere.  They are fairly inexpensive and can be used everywhere!

Other ideas to consider:
**Instead of packaging every single item like it's a gift, make it pretty, but then offer free gift wrapping as an option for gifts.

**Lots of articles that I have read say that traditional business cards are outdated.  People just toss them in the junk pile.  While I've got them, consider making pins, pens, magnets, or pocket mirrors that people will use and see often.


**Cellophane bags are cheap and easy for packaging.  I wrap my paper garlands on a piece of kraft paper card stock, stick them in a cello bag and then staple another piece of paper on top that I draw my logo on.

** If you don't want to go the personal written letter route, or it's just a busy week.  Write a little note on the bottom of the invoice.

** Some people like to include a coupon code for return customers.  I haven't had much luck... with my vintage shop at least.  And people tend to give mixed reviews.  Might be worth trying just to see if it works.

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