How does your packaging reflect on your brand? What message do you want to portray? In this post, Cassie Nguyen, creator of the luxe lace bloomer brand 1851, shows you what you need to consider and the steps to creating a great packaging experience for your customers.
If I say the words “Love Actually” and “Gift Wrapping Scene” there’s a good chance you know what I’m talking about. A necklace simply comes in a box, right? Or sometimes a box in a gift bag?
“Oh, this isn’t a bag, Sir.”
“This is so much more than a bag.”
The necklace. The box. The placement. The ribbon. The bag. The dried roses and lavender, a cinnamon stick, more ribbon, another box… And a little sprig of holly. What plays out as a beautifully comic moment in the movie is the perfect exaggeration of something that all business owners, products and services alike, should to take time to consider. When I was in the planning phases for setting up my handmade children’s clothing business, deciding on what my packaging would be took longer than figuring out what my core product offering would be.
And there are a few key reasons for that...
Your Brand Story
We know that having a strong brand identity helps in all aspects of marketing and sales, so it makes sense that like every other aspect of your business, your packaging has the same strong brand identity. This can be reflected in something as simple as adding a trim (like ribbon, raffia or twine) or a sticker seal that features colours from your logo.
There is an explicit connection between the packaging experience you provide your customer, and the perceived value of your product or service. As a consumer, standing at a counter watching the sales assistant wrap your new purchase in tissue paper, sealed with a brand name sticker, placed into a box and into a paper bag with hand-knotted, ribbon handles feels a heck of a lot different to throwing your own purchase into a plastic bag at the self-serve checkout of a major chain.
The high-end, detailed service helps us feel confident in our decision to have paid a premium price, whilst the other reflects our expectations of a low-price, low-value shopping experience. As an online business, we can’t forget the importance of this same moment for our customers, and what it says about our business, even when we aren’t there in person.
Tied in closely with communicating your brand story and the perceived value of your packaging, the care (or lack of) with which you present your items tells your customer exactly how you feel about them. Whether we like it or not, most of our customers will have an emotional response to opening their parcel.
And whilst some clients will tell you that they don’t care the slightest about how their purchase arrives, others will consciously take the time to not only carefully open the parcel but also to read the message our packaging includes - “Thank YOU, dear customer! For trusting us, over all the rest, in providing you with this product/ service/ epically amazing thing!”.
This message doesn’t need to be included in words. No one turning out 100s of parcels a week has time to handwrite a note for each (unless it is a purposefully considered part of your branding / service and the time is costed into your pricing). This message is really just a symbolic one. It enables you to show your customers how much you value them by taking the time to do a little more than just sending them the post office-friendly equivalent of a plastic bag at the self-serve checkout.
The Birth of Your Item in Real Life!
For me, the moment my customers receive their parcels is one of the most important in my entire relationship with them. More so than their first encounter with me on social media, and certainly a lot more than when they clicked “pay now” on my website. As an online business, my items exist solely in the minds of my customers until that very moment. Held in their hands for the very first time, my product stops being perceived through a screen and becomes real and tangible. It is the e-commerce equivalent of holding a newborn! In that moment, I want my customers to gasp a little. To feel the luxury, the elegance and the exclusivity that are the essence of my business. I want them to know, straight away, just how thankful I am for their willingness to support me in my work, and choose my product ahead of others.
Haven’t thought about packaging? Here’s where you can start:
Identify your Business’s Essence:
Sit down and brainstorm a list of words that describe your business, products and services. Choose two or three that you believe sum up the essence of what your offering is about. So, for example, my business essence / keywords are: urban, elegant, luxe.
Seek Inspiration (colours, style):
Take your keywords, add “packaging ideas” and see what Google Images and Pinterest offers you for inspiration. You might be surprised by the amazing variety of packaging ideas and options available, and often at relatively affordable costs. For you, a small, branded sticker from Vistaprint, sealing a cellophane bag might be exactly what is needed to fit into your time and cost processes while still communicating the value and brand message of your business. Or you might decide that custom designed and manufactured packaging is what will see that your customer’s entire journey with you reflects what your business is all about. My signature packaging idea was actually my husband's suggestion - each of my parcels are packaged in a high quality, black box or envelope, and sealed with a gold, custom wax stamp.
Consider Practicalities (size, weight, materials):
Research the postage and shipping options that suit your products. Take time to figure out what size and weight your parcels will be and how much they will cost to ship. You will need to consider any speciality packaging required for fragile items, or whether or not you want to use solely eco-friendly, recyclable or bio-degradable materials. This step is important! The final thing you want to do, is discover the size of your parcel when delivered within your signature packaging. Because the last thing you want is for your shipping costs to increase due to a larger parcel size.
Create a Sample:
Many packaging wholesalers will happily provide you with samples, often for a small fee, or for just the cost of shipping. Try out your packaging ideas to see how long they take you to put together, and to figure out just how much of the materials each idea requires. This way you can be sure that the cost your new packaging is effectively factored into your shipping options and pricing. Packaging certainly doesn’t need to be stressful, and it most certainly needs to fit into your processes and time in a way that adds value to both your customers AND your business. A little bit of time spent getting your packaging right can really heighten your customer service!
About the Author
Cassie was the owner and designer of 1851. She is a wife, mum and maker of beautiful lace bloomers. She created pieces that were the perfect addition to a curated handmade wardrobe.