It’s These 7 Special Touches That Make Us Love Online Shopping

A couple open a package on their couch.
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Your heart quickens as you spot the package at your front door. You rip open the box and stare at the contents inside. But it’s not just the new dress from your favorite indie vintage seller that has you jazzed.

The dress has come wrapped impeccably and hand-stamped with the brand’s logo. Inside are a few stickers and a handwritten thank you note from the store’s owner. And you look forward to buying something else if for nothing else than you know you’ll get a birthday card.

As an online entrepreneur, don’t you want to create this type of loyalty?

There are many ways to create a successful online retail business. We’ve written about how to take photos that will sell products and provided tips on ways to make more money off of Craigslist. This piece considers the ways that you can make your product an experience with the packaging.

7 Ways to Dress Up Your Packages

Part of selling any good online is creating an unboxing experience. When customers spend money on an object that they won’t originally see in person, opening the package is a highlight.

And for online sellers who want to stand out, packaging and presentation is one way to make your customers remember your shop — not just for the goods you sell, but for the experience you provide.

But for those of you who don’t know where to start or who suspect you can up your mailing experience, we have all the advice you need.

1. What Would You Want to Get in the Mail?

If you’re starting from zero, the best question to ask yourself is: How would you want to receive a package in the mail? Are there any local stores with wrapping or presentation that stick out? 

What are the most important parts of the experience to you: visually appealing wrapping, communicating and marketing the brand, colorful, themed packaging for individual goods or a fun box with a few free samples thrown in?

Remember that cohesion is important. If you’re a brand with an ongoing following, you’ll want to provide an experience to customers that you can replicate time and time again. If you’re thinking too extravagant and luxurious, you might run into an issue repeating the aesthetic down the line.

2. Make it an Experience

Jennifer Robinson owns The Blue Peony, a Langley, Washington, home goods, accessories and sundries business with an online store and physical shop. She’s honed her presentation practices over the years.

But one of the packaging experiences that sticks out to Robinson doesn’t come from her own store. She once received a package that included an envelope indicating that the person should throw its contents in the air when they were excited. Inside was confetti. She loved the interactive element and the fact that the package was giving her something to do — in a controlled setting.

Some business owners opt to include candy or little trinkets with their item. Thinking about the emotions and the actions of your customer is something that can go a long way toward growing a brand. After all, Robinson still remembers that experience.

3. Branding is Key

If you’re a handmade brand with an aesthetic that is more indie than perfectly polished, Robinson has an important piece of advice: invest in a stamp with your logo. Each box she sends comes hand-stamped with her logo and business details.

Buying a stamp that can go on plain boxes or brown paper bags is much cheaper than the alternative: hand-printed boxes. But when designing a stamp, try to keep the information to what you think won’t frequently change, such as a handle or business name, rather than things that might, like an address.

4. Wrap it Like a Gift

Robinson has a standard system for each of her items. She wraps everything in tissue paper and then ties a package together with salvage fabric scraps from past projects. The fabric is another way to provide an experience — it takes time for the customer to untie the object, creating anticipation.

A handwritten birthday greeting was tucked into a package of an online order.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Djinis

5. Include a Handwritten Note

There’s power in a handwritten note. And in our digital world, that’s especially true. Robinson started her career at Brooks Brothers, which drilled into her the importance of sending a note with each package. If a national business could do that, she thought to herself, then she absolutely could.

Every package she sends comes with a personalized note with a comment about where the customer is from or even a story about what they purchased.

She finds that the notes build a relationship between her and the customers. People tend to write back through email and explain how they found her business or whether the item they are buying is a gift. Creating that bond is a great way to keep customers coming back for more.

6. Offer a Gift to Longtime Customers

And for those that are already coming back as longtime repeat customers, Robinson throws in small gifts as a thank-you. She might put in a pot holder or a bookmark or even free samples from her husband’s skin care line. It’s a small investment, but it’s about the payoff.

“It doesn’t cost me much, but it helps with customer attention,” Robinson says.

7. Stickers are Built-In Marketing

If you’ve ordered from your local indie store or a beauty chain as big as Glossier, you may have gotten free logo stickers with your order. Much like a stamp on packaging, stickers are an easy way to promote your brand as an ethos to your customer — and the people your customer knows.

Stickers are meant to be seen, so if your brand logo is slapped on a laptop or a water bottle, people might start wondering about your store. It’s a fun and organic way to spread the word.

Writer Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.