While shipping is a crucial part of running an online store, you may not realize how much potential it has for advancement of your brand. When a customer receives and opens your package, you're presented with a chance to make a memorable impression on them — an opportunity most retailers don't take advantage of.
First impressions are extremely powerful, and they often persist in people's minds even through subsequent experiences. Additionally, people seek to repeat good experiences they've had. These two factors are why personalized packaging can improve your standing in a customer's mind regardless of whether they're a new customer or a repeat customer.
There are three main ways you can personalize your shipping to give your brand an edge, and you can use any of these methods alone or in combination with the others.
Personalize Your Packaging to Your Business
Some packaging suppliers offer custom-printed boxes, filler paper, bags, and other shipping items, which are perfect for promoting your brand. Even a simple box printed with your store's logo makes an impression over plain cardboard, although some printers will let you go all-out with a design that covers all sides of the packaging. If you can't fit this level of custom printing into your budget, printed stickers and labels are another option. Both have their advantages.
A side effect of custom packaging is that boxes and other containers can be sized exactly for your products, which can save you some money on shipping — carriers determine their rates around volume as well as weight these days, and consistently paying more than you need to because your packaging is just a little too big will add up in the long run.
Personalize Your Packaging to Your Customer
This can be as simple as including a personal note to thank the customer for their order, and even that can make a huge difference. Customers love to feel appreciated, and that they are "names, not numbers." Besides thank-you notes, you can toss in small free gifts (even better if you know it's something that particular customer will like), or make other small customizations in your packaging, like writing "Hello, [customer name]!" on the inside of the top flap of the box.
The more information you have on a customer, the better you can tailor your shipping to them, so refer to customer records for details (and choose an eCommerce solution that supports a high level of customer recordkeeping). Be specific in your thank-you notes, e.g. if this is the customer's tenth order from you, make mention of it and thank them for continuing to buy from you. Thank new customers too, and welcome them to provide feedback. Almost everyone loves friendly gestures like this, and they're likely to come back to repeat the experience!
Use Your Packaging to Create an Unboxing Experience
Unboxing has become a social media phenomenon, and all it entails is a customer recording the experience of opening their package and examining the contents. Unboxing videos are shared all over YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere, and feature all types of products. If you can encourage unboxing, your brand can gain traction through this type of exposure.
The best way to start making your packaging "unboxable" involves a combination of the previous two personalization methods. You'll need the right kind of boxes, top-fold mailers being the best, as they can only be opened one way so you have control over the first thing the customer sees when they lift the lid. Custom printing, neat and secure cushioning, and items packed in a way that "presents" them to the viewer are all features that cry out for an unboxing video. You can even include hashtags and sharing tips in your packaging to encourage people to post their experience, and then share your customers' unboxing videos on your store's social media. This gives your brand exposure and positive customer interaction simultaneously.
But Shipping Is More Than Just Packaging
Before you delve into the world of custom boxes, personalized shipping, and unboxing, you need to have a firm grasp on the ins and outs of the whole fulfillment process — from the moment you receive an order, until it goes out the door to be loaded on the carrier's truck. We've put together a free Beginner's Guide to eCommerce Shipping ebook to help you get started, so take a look if you want to know more!