Setting up a small business will see you face all sorts of challenges. Not only do you have to identify a gap in already saturated markets and develop a product or service to fill the niche, but you also have to get your brand out there into the public consciousness. When attempting to root a business or brand as a serious competitor in its respective field, many advisors will emphasise the importance of market research, advertising and expensive marketing campaigns. But a frequently overlooked area that holds huge potential for brand exposure and increased sales is shipping. The postage and packaging options that your company offers can greatly increase your reputation and profits. Here’s how, accompanied by a few tips and tricks to implement the best shipping options in your business.
The further your brand reaches out, the more customers it will draw in. We live in the internet age and chances are that people are sharing images of your stock all over the world. So make sure it’s available to as many people as possible through international shipping options! T
his doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to front the cost. Many buyers will happily cover the exact shipping costs in return for an item that they truly want. You never know where your largest consumer base could be: it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same country that your business is based in. The world is your oyster, so make the most of it.
As your brand grows, larger business and companies will become interested in stocking it. This is where you will have to start considering freight shipping. Invest in freight load boards and a reliable carrier who will be able to take large amounts of stock up and down the country.
Get creative! We’re all used to receiving a plain brown box or envelope in the post. If you deliver something eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing, your customers are more likely to remember their purchase fondly and may even share images on social media (exposing your brand to their own followers).
Remember to make sure that all packaging is still branded, so that customers can associate the positive experience with your brand. This can be done easily by sealing packages with branded labels or stickers, ribbon and perhaps even placing a business card in the package.
Customers are much more likely to purchase a product from you if you offer the option of free returns. The majority of people will never actually make use of the service, so it shouldn’t cost you much. Those who do are simply likely to request an exchange in size or for an alternative product.
Remember, your consumer’s experience should extend beyond the check out. You need to ensure that you continue the quality service right through to the point that they receive their order and have left positive feedback about their purchase. This will encourage them to shop with you again and could help towards establishing a strong and loyal customer relationship.
There can be many things to think about when you need to send out your product to your customers. It’s the way that many businesses operate, with customers ordering online or over the phone and expecting a delivery with their order. Some business owners might sell things directly in stores, but even they might also ship their products to other locations. If you need to ship your products, you should think about how to package them effectively. There could be a lot of things to think about, depending on the products you sell. Some products require special consideration if they’re to arrive at their destination in top condition. Before you just drop something in a box and stick an address label on it, take a look at this guide to make sure you have all your bases covered.
Protecting Your Products
Your first consideration is likely to be how you can protect your products when you ship them. Some items are more fragile than others, so they’ll need more protection and careful handling. There are various ways you can protect the items you send out, using different packaging designs and materials.
From bubble wrap and packaging peanuts to specially designed pieces of foam and cardboard that hold your products in place, you have a number of options to explore. Before you think about sticking your product in a bag, box or envelope for shipping, think about the packaging you use to present it. That too can feature elements that help to protect your product.
Practical Packaging for Shipping
Next, you might think about the right type of packaging for shipping that will work for your product. You need to think about what you’re sending out, and the quantities you’re shipping too. For example, perhaps you print t-shirts, and you have an order for two t-shirts from a customer. A plastic envelope is a practical choice to send out the order.
But if you receive an order for hundreds of t-shirts from one customer, you’ll need to box them up for more practical packaging. Some items might need to be packaged in a box, whereas others might already be packed into a box as part of their primary packing, so they don’t need another one surrounding it.
It might seem boring, but if you want to determine the best packaging for your products, you should consider what’s available. There are many standard types of packaging that will work for various products, from plain cargo boxes to side-loading envelope boxes.
Furthermore, there are more specialised packaging products designed for specific products, such as boxes for shipping wine bottles, storage files for documents, or insulated boxes. You should have a good idea of what’s out there so you can consider what’s best for your products.
Eco-friendly Packaging Solutions
The environment is a concern for many business owners and, perhaps more importantly, for many customers too. If you get through a lot of packaging, you don’t want your company to appear wasteful. Many brands have turned to more eco-friendly packaging solutions so that their packaging can easily be recycled or renewed.
Cardboard boxes and envelopes are widely recycled, and people often reuse them for storage, as moving boxes, or perhaps to send a package in the future. Some brands like to make unique packaging that can be turned into something else, from practical items like clothes hangers to works of art.
You might want to reconsider using packaging like plastic envelopes, which isn’t so simple to reuse or recycle. Then there are the other materials you use. Shredded paper or card can be better to use than polystyrene.
Packaging and Sending Restricted Products
Sometimes, you need to ship a specialist product, which has requirements for how it’s packaged or labeled. First of all, there are some things you can’t ship using certain shipping methods, so checking the rules on that is always important.
How you must package or label things can be dictated by the law, as well as policies from shipping companies. For example, you need to properly label and classify any packages that contain hazardous materials.
There are also rules for packaging products correctly so that they’re safe and don’t pose a danger to the people transporting them.
Maintaining Cleanliness and Hygiene
For some businesses, it’s also necessary to maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene. Most businesses make some effort to do this, even if they are only small. For example, many crafters will make a point to say that their items are made in a pet-free and smoke-free environment.
However, for some businesses, it’s even more important that high standards of hygiene are maintained. Many manufacturers make sure they use clean room procedures so that they can produce and package products in the right conditions.
This is ideal for products like computer parts, medical devices, and other sensitive items that can’t risk contamination.
Packaging for International Delivery
If you ship your products internationally, or you intend to in the future, it’s another factor you should take into account. It’s important to be aware of rules for exporting and importing to make sure you get it right.
First, you need to know whether your products are not allowed to be imported in some countries. When it comes to packaging and labeling for international shipments, it’s not just restricted items you have to think about. You might need to have a label declaring the contents of a package for customs purposes.
When you ship internationally, you might also need to think about more robust packaging to ensure that what you send can last the journey.
The cost of the packaging you use is also important to think about. Most business owners don’t want to spend a lot on their packaging, but you need to make sure you don’t spend too little either. You need to pay enough that the packaging is robust, without overspending on a product that isn’t any better quality than more affordable options.
Working out the cost of your packaging, as well as shipping, and how you can lower it could save your business a lot of money. You might save money by using recycled packaging or reducing the size of your packages. In fact, changing the design of your product could help you create smaller packages or ship more in one package.
Of course, you should think about what your packaging looks like too. When it comes to external packaging for shipping, many businesses don’t bother with anything beyond a plain box or envelope. However, it could be a good idea to consider branded packaging instead.
Adding branded elements to your packaging can make each package more personal and help to further your brand. Some brands will design unique packaging with their brand colors, while others might add a logo or something simple for a cost-effective way to have unique packaging.
The materials you use inside could also add a more personal touch. For example, you might wrap a product in tissue paper in one of your brand colors and secure it using a sticker with your logo on it.
In addition to using branded colors and images, some companies might benefit from custom designed packaging with unique constructions. Some products will benefit from having boxes or other packaging designed to fit them, whether it’s to protect them, tessellate (checker) several products neatly, or just make sure that an item fits snugly into its packaging.
Packaging could also be designed so it’s neatly folded and easy to store before being used or so it could be configured in a variety of ways to hold different products.
Consider Your Shipping Methods
Think about the method you use to ship your products if you want to choose the right packaging. Are they simply going to be delivered by the postal service? Will you use a courier or perhaps a specialist delivery service?
Some businesses need to use services such as refrigerated trucks. Your packages could be traveling by road, rail, air, or even boat. It’s important to think about the method of transport and how your packages might be handled, as well as the conditions they might be in and how long it will take to deliver them.
Included in Your Package
As a final consideration, you might want to think about what else to put inside your packages, apart from your products and anything to hold them in place. For example, you probably want to include an invoice, although you could also tape that to the outside.
You can also include some extra items, such as special offer vouchers and other printed materials for your business. It’s also a great way to include special offers and advertisements from other brands that you have formed a partnership with or perhaps belong to the same business group.
There’s more to think about than you might think when it comes to packaging and shipping your products. Before you just put everything in a box, give some careful thought to the practicalities and the aesthetics of your packages.