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Service Tips for Sellers: Packaging and Shipping

Dear Sellers,
Did you ever think that packaging or the way you ship your product says something about you, your product and your business?
Packaging and shipping services are some of the best opportunities you have to communicate with your customers and remind them why they should be shopping with you instead of somewhere else.  Offering outstanding packaging and shipping services can promote repeat business for your shop. We've scoured the Etsy forums, Etsy flickr groups, and hunted down advice from some of the most experienced and successful Etsy sellers for the best advice, tips, and tricks about packaging and shipping.
  What is your packaging saying about you and your business?
Taking a few extra steps to make sure your product is packaged and shipped with care might make the difference in your customers coming back to shop with you again and telling all their friends and family to shop with you too. 
  • A well thought out, protected, and nicely presented package that arrives on time or sooner will likely make your customer feel confident that you are a professional business owner that cares about the products you sell and your customers. 
  • A sloppy, unwrapped package that arrives later than the customer expected may indicate to the customer that you don't really care about your products and your business might be disorganized.  While your products might speak for themselves, it could deter that person from coming back to your shop again. 
Etsy testimonial from heartworksbylori: "I did receive a package a while back that I was really disappointed in. It was in a plastic sealed bag and my items weren't wrapped, just thrown in there....no receipt, no thank you note, no business card, no nothing! To me, that reeks of indifference...and makes me feel like my money and business aren't important to them. Packaging is so important to me because the customer gets an overall feel for my business and my ethics by the way my jewelry is presented. I'm thankful for each order and I make it a point to wrap up each order as if they bought something from the most expensive jewelry store in the world! I even go to these great lengths when someone buys a $5 chain....just so they feel special when opening it :)"
  • Use your packaging to communicate with your customer.  The little details count and can make your shop stand out and create an experience to be remembered. 
  • Put yourself in the buyer's shoes.  Take a look at your shop and ask yourself "what type of package would I expect/hope to receive in the mail after ordering from this online business?" 
Etsy testimonial from catnapcottage: "I have gotten items that made me feel like it was my birthday when I opened it, smiles and happy. I want my customers to feel that way too and that is what I try to do with my packaging. It is simple, neat, and looks professional. Presentation is everything!"

Packaging and shipping tips and tricksTo make sure you give your customers that "wow factor" that will have them coming back again and again, we've put together some tips and tricks you can adopt as your own practices.
  • Tips for top notch packaging on a budget: Your customers on Etsy are shopping for something that is handmade and a little more special than your average mass-produced products.  Making your packaging by hand will not only save you money, but add to that handmade unique feel of your product and business.  You can get creative and make almost everything from your own wrapping paper, tissue paper, shavings, confetti, labels, business cards to your very own handmade envelopes to ship out your items (here's a download PDF file with a template).  Take advantage of all the different kinds of papers out there: magazine or book pages, menus, sheet music, pattern paper, newspapers, paper from an old sketchbook, etc.  Another idea is to turn your used boxes inside out and stamp or use decorative writing to say you use recycled packaging; you could even use materials that they can use again.  Check out our videos about branding and making your own packaging, branding and making your own shipping supplies, as well as the little details that go into your packaging.    
Etsy testimonials from embellishedlife: "Packaging can cost little next to nothing. I pick up wrapping papers, ribbons and tissue papers at drug stores, Target after the holidays, clearance bins, craft stores. It is always on sale, you'd be surprised. The $1 stores are also great for little knickknacks that can serve as embellishments to the package. We are all crafty and I like that it shows in our packaging!" 
PamperingBeki: "Packaging should reflect the feel of the shop. It should feel like a treat for the buyer to open their package! That doesn't mean there has to be lots of wasted papers and materials, but if you get creative the presentation can be fabulous while still using recycled materials."
  • Personal Notes: Mailing a package is the perfect opportunity to include a personal note. Take the time to write or print out a note even if it's a quick and short thank you.  This would be the perfect time to ask them to leave you feedback. You can also tell them any additional information about the item, such as care instructions.  Including a note is another chance to get creative with details, so think about how well it fits with the overall look of your package. 
Etsy testimonial from Crafterall: "I bought an item from an Etsy shop and opening it was like opening a gift. From inside a big bubble envelope, I pulled a bundle wrapped in tissue paper. It was tied with a ribbon and had a tag with my name on it. Instantly, my purchase felt much more like a gift. Inside was the item, nicely folded, a small gift in line with what the store sells, a business card, and a handwritten thank-you note."
  • Freebies:  A "freebie" is a small item that you include with a package at no additional cost.  Freebies aren't something that is required to make your packaging outstanding, but they sure can help your buyer get excited about their shipment and remember their overall experience shopping with you.  Think about including freebies with your packages like a promo button, a mini sample of something else you sell, a coupon or two that encourages them to come shopping with you again (or get their friends to check you out), or something small and useful that they can use again.
  • Other tips: A great way to show off your unique packaging is by using the 5th item photo of your listing so your customer can know what to expect.  You should be including info about your regular shipping days in your shop policies and item description sections of your shop, so shoppers will know exactly when they can expect their packages.  Try to make packaging details that are truly unique to you, your products, and your business.  For some really great inspiration, check out all the photos in this Etsy Packaging Flickr pool that several of your Etsy peers have contributed to. We also made this video about shipping.
Etsy testimonial from toothfairyminiature: "As a seller I often do double box packing together with bubble wrapping, to make sure the package will not be crushed or damaged during its international shipping adventure. I put my first consideration on the safety and then, on the beauty."

We are looking forward to your feedback and questions.  Etsians know the power of sharing best practices, so we want to hear from you. Please share your own tips and advice for providing outstanding packaging as an Etsy seller in the comments section below.
More about Service Tips for Sellers Series: Running an online business has many perks, like the ability to remain somewhat anonymous behind a computer screen (maybe even in your 'jammies).  But that computer screen does not preclude interaction with customers. Rather, good online customer service may be even more important: it gives buyers the peace of mind that they are buying from a trustworthy and reputable seller.  Being an online entrepreneur offers the opportunity to provide excellent communication, create a friendly face for your shop, and promote repeat business, all while remaining behind the curtain.

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