Amazon shipped 5 billion Prime orders in 2017 according to Business Wire. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in… that’s orders from one service that one large retailer has accounted for. Can you imagine just how many parcels get shipped from retailers to consumers worldwide every year? And your parcels make up part of that number.
Today on the podcast I’m going to be taking you through what I think are the basics of shipping packages in a professional way.
Shipping Packages 101: What to do before you start shipping
Every business needs a protocol for exactly how they ship their products, because consistency is the key to brand delivery. To strive for a level of consistency from day one I recommend looking at creating the following basic system, which is adaptable in all cases.
Decide on how your products should be packaged – some items will need more care and attention during transit, so deciding how you will package your products for shipping is important. However, there’s a step before that and that is product packaging. Product packaging can be as little as a ball band on a skein of yarn for knitting, or it can be a pretty, branded box for a piece of jewellery. Ideally it needs to have several functions; firstly, it needs to be branded with your company logo, secondly it needs to be visually strong enough to help attract buyers at a craft show, or on the shelf in a shop and thirdly it needs to limit any possible damage to your product during transit. For example, sending a fine silver chain necklace with a glass pendant in some tissue paper and a mailing bag is not good for any of the above criteria, as the pendant and chain will almost definitely become damaged during its journey to the customer and even it’s hopefully short life in your stock boxes. It seems sensible to package up that particular product in something much sturdier to protect the pendant and also packed into that packaging so that the chain won’t get broken or knotted. This box should also make a beautiful display for your pendant if sold in person.
Buy the right type of shipping packaging for your product – At this stage we have a product in its branded product packaging. Now we need to decide how we will ship our precious creation. The important things to remember are that; our item may travel distances and in circumstances we cannot foresee (like the time a skein of my yarn travelled on horseback up a mountain to a customer in Fiji, so I had to double wrap it because of the change in air and condensation.) We also must assume that the third-party carrier will not know how much we love our precious creation, so it might get knocked about a bit! Choosing the perfect shipping package solution is critical.
Brand your shipping packages – being able to stand out among the billions of packages being shipped each year is important, because receiving a package for a customer is exciting and showing off where that package has come from is a great way to get your customers excited about their orders from you. There are two ways you can do this; firstly you can opt to have your packaging specifically designed for you (if you have an Etsy shop and you are interested in using Etsy Plus, then they have an option for you to create branded packaging through a third party service), secondly you could invest in buying coloured mail bags and envelopes inspired by your brand colours and use these with a branded address label.
Choosing your third-party carrier services wisely – Third-party shipping services are not created equal and different shipping companies have different services, handling protocols and fees. Choose the one that works best for you and your customer in the most economical way, by delivering your products safely and on time.
Create a shipping station – Once you have everything worked out on how your shipping packages should look, work and be delivered you are in a better position to streamline your shipping process in-house. You do this by setting up a packing station that works for you. It should be set up in a way that allows you to be methodical in your approach, timely with your processing and consistent with your packaging.
Shipping Packages 101: What needs to be included on your packaging every time
Moving on from how our shipping packages should look in terms of branding and the types of packaging our creations require for safe transit, is knowing what our carriers need us to include on our packages every time for safe delivery. In most cases we will feel like this is common sense, after all we have all sent letters and gifts to friends and family before. I do feel there’s always room for a little reminder though.
Client’s address – this should always be on the front of you package and placed centrally. It should include;
Client’s full name
House number and street name
Country (international post)
If this is handwritten, then make sure that you use an indelible ink pen, or biro so that if your package gets wet the address remains clear and legible.
I used to use the invoice folded and set into a document folder so that only the client’s address was visible. This is because sending up to 100 packages a week would have taken me a long time to write out by hand. Equally you could print address labels
Return address – I used to include mine as a sticker on the top left of the package and across the seal at the back of the package.
Customs Forms – these are for international post only and usually are set out by your carrier. For example here in the UK we use CN22 forms for anything up to the value of £270 (please check with RM here) and CN23 thereafter. Elsewhere in the world you will have different names for these forms. It is your legal responsibility to make sure these forms are filled in correctly, so make sure you speak to your carrier before you fill in the first one so that you know exactly what to do and how to do it.
This is partly why I included my invoices on the front of my parcels, because if needed I found it helped move things through customs quickly if they were stopped as part of routine checks.
Making sure that you send your shipping packages correctly is one thing for your business but taking care to design how these packages look before you send them helps your parcels stand out from the crowd when they arrive. This goes a huge way to how your customers perceive your products and services and if you get it right could lead to a second order.
· More shipping and packaging ideas at Customer Retention: How To Absolutely WOW Christmas Shoppers
Do you have any tips you’d like to share from your shipping experience? If so drop them in the comments.
Thank you for watching! I hope that was helpful, or at least thought provoking?
If you have any questions or comments, please pop them in the comment section below.