I’m sure you will all remember that little play on words where you add ‘shm’ to the beginning of a word as a way to signify it’s total insignificance. For example, if you wanted to portray that you were not in the least concerned about pop-up quizzes you would say, “Pop up quizzes, shmop-up quizzes.” Or if you wanted to act like your curfew was just a cute thing that your parents talked about so that you could feel hip like your peers you would say, “Curfew shmerfew.”
I have since learned that this is not the type of attitude I can have about shipping supplies. I’m sure you are all duly impressed that I have upgraded a bit from the days of middle school, as I hope that you also have, but I’m really being serious when I say that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: shipping supplies are the face of your company. They are the first impression someone gets of your business. This is more than a little trivial add-on.
Here’s the thing: shipping supplies are one of the most important investments you can make when it comes to your small business, and I’m telling you this because I have learned it to be true. Buying in bulk and going the route of pre-paid postage have saved me so much time and energy. I have also come to discover a few items that I never thought I would have on hand constantly, but that now I can’t do business without!
- Gift wrapping. I once heard it said that your product is a gift to the customer, and so it should be treated like one. Don’t be ashamed of using tissue paper, twine, beautiful colors, and even a spritz of perfume. People love getting the gifts in the mail, I don’t care who you are: even if they ordered it themselves and know what it’s going to be and when its going to arrive!So take the time to go the extra mile and shed some light and love into someone’s life. One of my friends even includes a small business card that says something witty like, “Your purchase has made my day. I hope this package brightens yours.” It’s cheesy, but people like I swear.
- The motivating business card is an example of going the extra mile, which also includes including something even more extra. I once got a book from a seller and they sent me a reusable shopping bag with their logo on it. I thought that was so cool! (Especially because I shop at Aldi and I need all the reusable shopping bags I can get my hands on…).
- For those of you who might be scratching their heads, since I was just talking about all the other stuff that you could and should be adding to your packaging experience, I want to clarify something. Completely sealing something with packaging tape is not great. If the customer starts having anxiety just trying to get something out of the box than it’s not good or worth it. There are plenty of products out there to effectively protect the product without being ridiculous and problematic.
Okay, so I’m taken some time to give you some tips, but now I want to take some time to suggest some materials that you may not have considered but seriously should:
- A scale. This is not for jumping on and off during the day and lamenting how many pounds you may or may not have lost running around like a mad person. This is for you if you have decided to go the pre-paid postage route, of which I previously recommended (and still do). That being said, scales are on the list of shipping supplies for the most serious of shippers.
- A ruler. Yes, I said a ruler. For all of you that instantly turn up your nose at this idea, instigated by the gnawing fear deep in your gut as you remember how much algebra made you sick in high-school, stop worrying! This is just to make sure that the if you are using wrapping paper of any kind that it isn’t in any other shape than a square or a rectangular. Let’s not make you come across like someone in their cups, if you know what I mean.
- If you are shipping art, then use the appropriate shipping supplies with which to ship it. A friend of mine taught me how to use thick poster board and cut it in the size of whatever piece of art I am trying to ship to use as protection on either side, and then roll it up in a flat piece of cardboard. Bend the sides of the cardboard in, tape securely, and you have a piece of art that could withstand just about anything that the mailing system can, and will, throw at it.
I know that all of this talk about shipping supplies can get really boring, but it’s really important to sweat the small stuff so that everything else can fall into place. If you start at the very basics, taking care of everything from A-Z and really considering what choices you are making and how they will effect your business, you will find yourself becoming a more and more effective business individual.
Finally, offer a discount every now and then. I can’t tell you how often I have gone to buy something online and then discovered that shipping costs were way more than I was bargaining for. And I can’t tell you have many hours I have used to search online for promo codes that offer free shipping, and found them, and used them, and been so very happy in the end that I saved seven dollars. Customers love free shipping, and not on purchases of over a hundred dollars, either. Can I just say that one of the most disappointing companies I know as far as shipping costs go is IKEA? I mean, seriously, IKEA? Apparently you have to live by the store if you want to actually buy any of their stuff and still keep your house to put it in…