By Ramon Ray, editor, Smart Hustle Magazine
Online retailers have a distant relationship with their customers. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, they can’t meet shoppers face to face, instead relying on an easy-to-use website and customer service representatives to help consumers form an impression. But for online businesses, the shipping process is actually the prime opportunity to offer top-quality customer service.
Just as brick-and-mortar stores invest in attractive bags that reflect their desired image, online retailers need packaging that enhances their branding. Here are a few important things to consider as you prepare a shipping solution for your e-commerce business.
Protect Internal Contents
No matter how attractive your shipment is, it won’t help your brand image if your items arrive damaged. In fact, shipping issues can kill a business’s positive reputation. The first priority, as you set up a packaging solution, should be to protect your items in transit, preparing for anything that could possibly happen during the shipping process. Items should be safe from moisture, shock, and even being crushed beneath much heavier packages. Labeling is also an important part of getting products to customers safely, since markings such as “fragile” can impact the way shipping companies handle packages while moving them from the shipping facility to the carrier to the front porch or mailbox of the recipient.
Create a Brand Experience
When your customers arrive home to find your package waiting for them, do they immediately know it’s from your business? This is your branding. Whether you choose a uniquely colored mailing envelope or labels that boldly announce your brand name, your customers should see the outside of your package as distinctly your brand. Keep in mind that this might not work for all e-commerce businesses—if you specialize in higher-end products like jewelry or electronics, a bold packaging design might be an easy target for theft.
Professional and Friendly
As important as a professional presentation can be, it’s equally important to add those small touches to personalize the experience. Include a short thank-you note addressing the customer by name. It doesn’t have to be handwritten, but it should be printed on paper that further enhances your company’s branding. One great way to increase repeat business is by including a coupon with each shipment. You can even set it up so that customers receive coupons based on what they’ve ordered for a more personalized experience.
Make It Returnable
Returns can make or break your business—89 percent of people responding to a 2014 survey said they’d shop at an online store again after a positive returns experience. Save customers time by including a return label in case they need to send the package back. Not only will this reduce the number of calls to your customer service desk, it will give customers the peace of mind of knowing they can easily return products they order from you if they don’t work out. This is especially important for sellers of products with high return rates, such as clothing and shoes.
The reputation of your business relies on the customer service you provide. If you’re an online retailer, your shipping processes are a large part of that service, especially if you ensure your products arrive safely and quickly. By putting effort into branding your shipping packaging, you will make a great first impression and increase customer retention rates.
About the author: Ramon Ray has been educating business owners and entrepreneurs for over 20 years. Whether speaking on stage, interviewing celebrity entrepreneurs being interviewed by a journalist, Ramon is always excited about small business success. Check him out at www.ramonray.com