A Differentiating Edge for Ecommerce: Packing and Packaging

Below is a guest post from Jessica, a staff writer at Rakuten (aka Buy.com).

WebScout may help you design and develop a smashing ecommerce website that converts like a king, but if you don’t follow through with differentiated packaging during your fulfillment process, you’ll be missing out on high-potential repeat and referral business over time.

Packing, packaging, shipping and fulfillment is a big, big deal in the ecommerce today. When just under 90 percent of all online customers confess to leaving their shopping cart because of shipping costs alone, this is something to examine when trying to build business for an online store.

But creating innovative, smile-producing packaging is also just as critical to generating referrals and repeat orders. Many online retailers think as long as what the customer ordered arrives safely and on time, that is all that matters. Clearly this does matter, but it isn’t the only thing that matters, as the example below demonstrates.

A Question: Which Retailer Would You Choose?

If you were an online shopper and you had the choice to order from two different online retailers, with everything else (including product price and shipping) remaining the same, but one retailer’s package came in a plain brown box while the others’s came gift-wrapped like a present and filled with pretty paper, which would you choose? According to a 2013 survey, more than half of all customers would choose the retailer who sent the items in premium packaging.

How to Make Your Packaging Stand Out

You may think it will cost a lot more to make your company’s packaging really stand out. It will definitely cost you some extra time to scope out how to make your brand stand out from the pack. But it doesn’t have to cost a lot to actually put your plans into action.

Here are some ideas to price out:

– Choose a box color other than brown – preferably one that matches a color in your company’s logo.

– Order bulk stickers and place one above the return address on each package. Place a few more inside the box for customers to use and share.

– Instead of just using a box, package your smaller items in decorative gift bags (available for just cents online) tied with colored twine that matches your company logo.

– Be SURE your products are secure inside the container – no one feels good opening a box to see broken purchases!

– Tuck a note inside each order – on the front is your logo and inside is a handwritten PERSONALIZED note saying “Thanks for ordering!”

– During holidays and special events, have some bulk postcards printed up and add one to each order to encourage customers to take advantage of coupons, sales and freebies.

A Word About Free Shipping

The word “free” and all that it suggests will always be popular among consumers. But the key to offering free shipping is to offer it in a way that will not adversely impact the minimum profit your company needs to make per order.

Here are some ideas that can help you offer free shipping:

– Determine the point at which it makes financial sense to offer free shipping (is it a minimum order of $30? $50? $75?) and advertise that as a perk to customers.

– Hike your product prices to incorporate the costs of offering free shipping.

– Negotiate with your wholesale vendors to buy in larger quantities to get lower prices or change what you order so it is affordable enough to throw in free shipping too.

– Find another way to cut your costs: such as spending less time on inventory tasks, or optimizing your pay per click spending, or using smart automation technology to control ongoing marketing efforts and other operational expenses.

– Shift advertising funds you may have unknowingly been wasting to fund free shipping instead.

– Offer free shipping only for purchases that qualify for ground or media mail delivery.

– Offer free shipping as a promotional perk only at certain times each year.

– Offer free shipping instead of offering coupons or product discounts (many customers prefer the former anyway!).

– Give each customer the option of free shipping under certain sets of circumstances – they can choose the most cost-effective for their needs.

With these tips, your company can reinforce your brand and value to customers and earn referrals and repeat business as a reward!

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who has worked in eCommerce for the last five years.  She currently writes for Rakuten Super Logistics and recommends them for all your online order fulfillment needs to further your success.