Packaging your orders nicely ensures a number of things, the first being that your customer will open your package and feel like you really appreciate their order. Another benefit of packaging orders nicely is that if done well, nice packaging can also protect the items inside from being damaged in transit. Finally, (though I'm sure there are loads of other reasons) your packaging can be a very important part of branding yourself and your business. Some considerations you will want to consider when thinking about packaging your items:
- Cost of packaging materials. Make sure to consider the cost of shipping/ packaging materials... for example, I used to package everything individually which would really bulk up my envelopes; think about combining similar items into one container.
- On a related note, think about how much your packages weigh, and how big your items are. Every single one of my items will fit into a bubble envelope, and can be mailed through a regular U.S. post box (less than 13 ounce parcels, meaning I don't always have to go to the Post Office) and that I avoid having to pay extremely high shipping fees. I'm usually never caught off guard as far as shipping prices. You'll have to make the choice for yourself whether or not to ship internationally, though I love all my international customers dearly! Check the shipping fees and restrictions in your area and try to plan your product line and shipping prices accordingly. Your local mail service may also have ways to save you money or time, so it's worth finding out more from a website or your friendly postmaster!
- My shipping prices (listed on etsy) include handling, which is where any money that I have to spend outside of actual U.S. Post fees comes from; this includes the higher prices we pay in Hawai`i for materials, the amount of time and money it costs me to go to the post office, and also the prices it costs for me to package an item. Shipping and handling should never be exorbitant, but they should allow you to cover some of the things mentioned above. Use your shipping profiles wisely, and find a way to let your customers know that they are paying for both shipping AND handling!
I place most orders in either a resealable plastic pouch or a small paper bag, which protects it from getting wet in the mail and also helps it to look more professional. Keeping this in mind, try not to resort to ziploc baggies! Because I sell items in various sizes, I have lots of different bags in all shapes and sizes... from tiny earring bags to large pouches that hold multiple/amigurumi and or a clutch or two.
Two of my greatest investments have been an address stamper and professionally printed business cards, both from Vistaprint (a company I know people have had trouble with... I had a really great experience though!) If you have a lot of orders, I would definitely recommend spending some of your monies on these two things; the stamper saves LOADS of time and the business cards help brand you and also allow your customers to spread the word! Business cards in life are a good idea, haha!
I use bubble mailers for all my items, again in a variety of sizes. Depending on your item, you might want to consider other envelopes (tyvek?) or even boxes. Don't forget that it is often economical if you buy in bulk! It also pays to seal your packages well, with a deco tape for example (regular clear masking tape works well too). The safer the better, I always say! It's also nice if you decorate the package in some way, such as a rubber stamp or a little doodle!
I always include a handwritten thank you note (from paper scraps I cut out after making buttons) and a little extra something, such as a sticker. On bigger orders, I include a little bit more! It's always nice to receive a little something extra :D (just don't forget that including too much will increase the cost of shipping, and your customer shouldn't have to pay for that!)
Finally, let your customers know when you have shipped their items, and give them a general timeframe in which they can expect to receive their packages. I usually tell my US customers it will be 3-5 business days and my international customers it will be 5-7 business days. All of these extra steps will help make buying and receiving items from you a really great/fun/awesome/special experience for customers!