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By Sarah Corbin
With the holidays fast approaching, people are gathering, placing and soaking in ideas for what their corporate gifts might be, what they are going to ship to family and friends in other states. Corporate gifting season has already been in full swing. Get your gift boxes out, with pricing and examples for your customers to see. Send out your photos to your email list.
As a shopper, I try to support local businesses as much as possible. There are times when I know I would love to have them ship a little bit of something out of state for me. On the other side of things, I sometimes don't shop locally and have things shipped to me. And as a business owner - I've been the shipper. I've paid attention each time I shipped, gotten packages and sent gifts.
I think there are best methods for a fun engaging package that makes the receiver and giver love you even more when you are small business.
Here are some tips and tricks.
1.Brand your boxes. I included a picture of the outside of the box from Northern Brewer. I've seen some awesome boxes at Marion Street Cheese Market.
Certainly it costs a bit more to have a box with printing. If you are worried about the overwhelming amount of boxes you would have to order to get a good price, get a stamper, make some BIG branded labels to put on the outside of the boxes. If you are an artsy type of business, or a child based business, get some kids or employees to decorate the boxes. If you do have your folks or kids decorate the outside be sure to give some specific instructions and examples.
2.Include your information and materials with the gift.
It's such a waste to send off a great branded gift from your store if you don't include any information for the receiver about yourself. The receiver may decide to gift your merchandise themselves. Or frankly, the gift giver could be shipping locally and you may have just won one more fabulous walk-in customer. And yes, make sure this is a professional representation of you.
3. Use plenty of tissue and packaging - but keep it festive or branded.
One thing that I loved when we had the Great Harvest was the windmill branded food safe tissue paper for bakery boxes. We ordered branded tissue to use in our packages that we shipped all over. And yes, if we didn't use enough tissue, we could expect a call about broken cookies. Don't send out a gift for someone only to have it arrive at their loved ones place broken. Ouch.
4. Include a personal note from the packager letting the receiver know who put things in the box.
Northern Brewer sent my husband a package this week and we got the best notice ever about who packed up our box! See photo. But just a small note written in sharpie on the flap of the box would work just as well, " Have a great holiday, Sarah put everything in this box with loving care." Or you could completely copy Northern Brewer and be AWESOME.
5. Have a bounce back thank you option for the receiver.
With your delightful branded information flyer that you put in the package, include a bounce back coupon for the receiver. "Love your gift? Get some more! Order by January 15 and get %20 off your order. Tell us coupon code blah blah blah when you call."
6. Keep shipper address for a specific January thank you mailing from you.
Do the same thing for the person who sent the package. Keep addresses and send a thank you card to them January 1st. "Put your feet up, enjoy your day, and accept our thanks for letting us help you survive this gift giving season. Use this coupon in our store for $5 off your $20 purchase."
7. Keep the cost to ship simple.
Don't ask your customers to pay for shipping by wieght of the package. Too many "big boxes" include free shipping from the safety of your customers' mobile devices and home based computers. Charge $10 for anything anywhere. Or charge nothing but increase the cost of a preselected gift assortment to include pricing for wrap, box, time and shipping. Be sure that you have an option for custom gifts that includes shipping too. Whatever you do, don't undercut the cost of your gift. The holiday season is NOT the time to bankrupt yourself to increase cash flow.