The importance of packaging

The importance of packaging

Right now eCommerce is booming! August 2021 was the biggest month for Australia Post EVER, surpassing even Christmas last year! So while you may be running off your feet, or seeing a nice little increase it’s important to maintain your standard of quality, especially your packaging.

So why is packaging so important? 

Customer Experience

Yesterday I received 2 parcels in the mail, one was some tile samples and the other was a sparkly pink skirt I had been waiting for! I was obviously far more excited for my sparkly skirt! I’d been watching this brand on Instagram for ages, they have a range of fun, bright coloured clothing. One of those brands that makes you want to buy something just because it looks so fun! So although I had been a long time follower, this was my first time purchasing from them and I was excited! 

Then when the parcels arrived I first opened the tiles, they were in a cute branded brown box with a big pink sticker on it “Instagram Story your unboxing @tilecloud”. How clever is that? Right before you even open it they are encouraging you to whip out your phone and start filming their brand and products. Then on opening they had beautiful custom printed tissue paper and I could tell everything was wrapped with care. It also included a discount code for my order and some tips on planning my tile project. It was a really nice parcel to open even though it was just samples, I enjoyed the experience.

Now the package I was waiting for…. I expected it to come in really bright packaging as the brand is all about bright colours, but much to my surprise, and disappointment, it came in a black plastic postage bag. Now as an environmentally conscious consumer, this was the first disappointment.

Inside the skirt was wrapped in yet another plastic bag with a printed picking slip. It was clear this was either drop shipped or sent from a 3PL without much care.

I was going to write there was nothing else in the bag, however upon further inspection today when I picked it up for the photo I found 2 postcards inside, one with their returns policy and one had info about their business and a coupon for my next order. These were nice, but I didn’t notice them when I first opened the parcel yesterday.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, the skirt was awesome! They delivered on their promise, I purchased the skirt and they sent it to me, but I was left feeling very underwhelmed by the experience of receiving it. What I had perceived was a fun, bright brand that delivered dull and boring plastic packaging with no pizazz! 

With so many people in lockdown we are looking to online shopping to fill the void of going to the shops and getting our retail therapy. When your customers receive their parcel you want them to have a great experience. Nice packaging, a handwritten note and maybe even a surprise as simple as a lollypop can make the experience of receiving their parcel enjoyable, which makes them want to do it again!  

Opening a nice eCommerce parcel is like opening a birthday present to yourself! It makes us feel special and we want to repeat the experience.

Gifting

This year Christmas shopping in person will be harder than ever for most of the country.. Instead of hitting the shops many people will be heading online to purchase for their friends and family. I want my friends to have that great experience from the parcel I send them, I certainly wouldn’t send them anything from the shop above – even though they may like the product.

So by offering a beautifully presented product you straight away put your best foot forward for people to think of giving that experience to someone else. Whenever I receive a great parcel I always make note that it would be a great gift for someone.

To make it even easier for people to use your store for gift giving, be sure to offer direct to recipient shipping with gift wrapping and a personalised message. Even if a store has a great product and nice packaging, I’m not going to waste money and resources shipping the product to me just so I can then wrap it and ship it on to my friend. I want something easy that I can just write the message and the store takes care of the rest. 

You can install a gift wrapping app on your website to make this process simple. 

I recently received a beautiful gift delivered straight from the store she purchased it from. It not only included a handwritten card with my friend’s message, but also a handwritten note from the business owner as well as an extra card and postcard as a surprise gift. The package came in a beautiful pink box and was sent in a biodegradable pink bag – very on brand!

Consumer Generated Content

Consumer generated content (content created by your customers) is great for building trust for your brand and provides you with free content for your socials.

When your customer receives their parcel is the perfect time to encourage them to take a photo or video and post it to their socials, tagging you. You can include a postcard, swing tag or sticker like TileCloud encouraging people to tag you. I recommend going one step further and incentivising them with a competition. 

They obviously like your product as they just purchased it so enticing them with the chance to win more, or a gift voucher is a great way to get them to go to the effort of posting. They will likely also put more thought into the quality of their photo or video.

Consider how much it would cost you for a lifestyle photoshoot each month. For the cost of a product or a gift voucher, I recommend at least $50, you can get a whole lot of customer photos and save yourself the cost.

Scratch does this very well. They are a subscription dog food company and if you post a photo of your dog with their delivery and tag them you could win your next box free (approx $80 value so worth the effort). They offer a weekly competition, however you could do monthly. 

It’s resulted in heaps of great customer pics like these.

Reduce Refunds

In order to reduce returns you can use your packaging to reinforce that your customer has made a good decision with their purchase. All the great info you told them in the lead up to their sale, on your socials and on your website can be mentioned again on your packaging. 

Scratch also does this well reminding the dog parent that the food is ethically sourced, fresher and grain free – all on the shipping box before they open it.

So hopefully this has you thinking about how your products are received. 

If you’re not sure where to start think about:

  • Sending parcels in a branded box or biodegradable bag
  • Using custom branded tissue paper rather than plastic bags (Try https://noissue.com.au/)
  • Include a thank you note 
  • Include a surprise such as a lolly or small product
  • Included something to encourage consumer generated content
  • Include a note such as “Think your friend would love this? We can ship your gifts direct and offer gift wrapping with a personalised note”

 

Written by Karyn Parkinson

Karyn AKA Karyn with a Y is an eCommerce marketing specialist specialising in Facebook ad funnels and website optimisation.

When she's not behind the computer you'll find her at the beach with her fur babies or on the roller derby track as Pink Fury!

Mental Health for business owners

Mental Health for business owners

Today is  R U OK day, although we really should be asking each other this question every day, not just today.

Australians spent $50.46 Billion online in 2020 up 57% year-on-year and this year continues to grow. Australia Post just employed 4,000 additional people to keep up with demand and will be delivering on weekends for the rest of the year. You could say there’s no better time to have an online store. 

However, despite all the amazing figures, it’s also the hardest time to have an online store, especially if you’re stuck in lockdown. 

Juggling a business, home-schooling kids, supporting your family and being isolated from the ones you love is bloody tough and I know many of you are feeling the effects.

What many people don’t know is that I first started working for myself because I was suffering from depression and anxiety and could no longer work for someone else. I needed to do something that could still make me an income even if I couldn’t get out of bed some days. The freedom and flexibility of working for myself has certainly had many other benefits over the years, but this is what kicked off my entrepreneurial journey back in 2011. 

I’m here to tell you it’s OK not to be OK. It’s OK to reach out for support and it’s OK to say no to things you just can’t take on right now.

If you are your business and you wear all the hats then your business relies on you to succeed. Your business can only thrive if you look after yourself, and give yourself a break when you need it. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

It’s OK to take a break

If you aren’t coping right now, it’s OK to take a break. The country feels you and people understand it can’t always be business as usual. Your community, the right people, will understand if you need to put orders on hold for a while so you can look after yourself and your mental health. Trust me, it’s more important than any sale. 

There are a few ways to do this – you can be completely honest and communicate with your customers that the store is closing for a little while so you can take some RnR. Or if you’re just taking a short amount of time, such as a week, you can just make the shipping expectations clear so they know things will be a bit longer than usual. Taking a short break now, may stop you from having to take a much longer break later.

Find Your Community

Thanks to the internet, we can be more connected than ever, even though we are apart. Megan and I run this business together yet haven’t seen each other for nearly 2 years. Since we last caught up we’ve both had babies! 

We run a free Facebook group, Unstoppable eCommerce Entrepreneurs which is a safe space for online store owners to connect, learn and support each other. Sometimes just finding other people who are on the same journey as you can help. There may also be local community groups you can join online and who knows maybe one day you can even catch up with them in real life! 

Take time for yourself

Self care almost seems like a bit of a buzz word these days, but it really is so important. I know the idea of taking time for yourself can seem impossible if you’re homeschooling and juggling your business but even just an hour a week where you just do something for you can make a huge difference. Take a bath, read a book, meditate, whatever helps you rejuvenate. 

Turn off notifications

When you’re stressed, a phone buzzing with notifications of things you have to do only adds to your stress. Turn off your social media and email notifications and just make time to check them once a day. This will help you get into a routine and stop them interrupting you all through the day.

Checking your emails at set times during the day will also stop you having to put out fires all day long. I recommend checking them when you start your work for the day (not when you first wake up) and again in the afternoon. Avoid checking them all day long.

Exercise + eat healthy

It’s a vicious cycle that when we don’t feel great we start to go without the things that help us most – we skip that walk and we start turning to bad food (I know I do!). A healthy diet and exercise however is crucial for maintaining your mental and physical health. Try to go for a walk every day, even if it’s just around the block – the fresh air will do you a world of good.

Seek help

There is lots of help available if you are struggling, so please don’t go it alone. Beyond Blue has developed a program ‘NewAccess’ specifically for business owners. It’s a free and confidential mental health support service available to anyone aged 18 or over who owns a small business, from any industry including sole traders. You can find out more at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/newaccess/newaccess-for-small-business-owners

From personal experience if you’re feeling down, or just not quite right please see your doctor. Life really can be so much better when you treat your mental health like you would any other illness.

If you are struggling and need help right now you can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Check in with others

Check in on your friends and family, send them a message, a fun photo or give them a call. Let them know you are thinking of them and help them find support if they need it. 

 

Written by Karyn Parkinson

Karyn AKA Karyn with a Y is an eCommerce marketing specialist specialising in Facebook ad funnels and website optimisation.

When she's not behind the computer you'll find her at the beach with her fur babies or on the roller derby track as Pink Fury!

Ditch the default for better conversions

Ditch the default for better conversions

Chances are when you first built your website you may have used a theme. 

Themes are a great way to build a good looking website and save you time and money. With a theme though comes many defaults which are often overlooked when editing.

I’ve talked about when it is important to colour between the lines but there are other times where it is important to ditch the default to make your website stand out from the crowd.

I’m talking about adding personality to your website with your brand voice and customising the little things that can make a big difference.

So let’s take a look at where you can ditch the default to make your website your own.

Menu

Ditch the stock standard menu of ‘Home, About, Shop, Contact’ and use the menu to highlight what it is that you sell. You can remove home as people can click the logo to get back there and the others can go in your footer. Then use up to 8 menu items to showcase your main categories such as ‘tops, bottoms, jewellery, accessories’ or ‘bathroom, kitchen, living, bedroom’.

Call to action buttons

As part of our suggested blueprint, your home page should have a featured hero image at the top with a headline and subheading underneath and a call to action button. The default button for most themes in “Shop”… um BORING! 

This is your time to add some personality and bring through your brand voice so consider a call to action that talks about the next step they are taking and what they are going to get from shopping with you rather than just “shop”. 

Update all the call to action buttons on your site to showcase your brand’s personality.

Here are some great examples:

Headings

There are a range of headings around your website such as “categories”, “sale items”, “blog”. Rename these to keep the brand voice strong throughout your whole site.

BigBiteEco does this very well throughout their home page to make it super clear what they are selling, without the boring. 

Default Theme Language

Some things are just standard with your theme, for instance most Shopify themes say “Tax included, shipping calculated at checkout” on the product page. 

In Australia all tax has to be included by law so it’s a waste of precious space saying that. It also makes no sense saying “shipping calculated at checkout” if you offer free shipping on your products as that will just confuse your customers.

To update this default text on a Shopify store simply go to Online Store > Themes > Actions > Edit Languages.

Search for the phrase you’re trying to change using the filter. Then simply override the default text with what you want it to say and save. Keep in mind this will update that text sitewide and is not product specific.

Leave the section blank to remove it all together.

Cart

Your shopping cart is another place full of default language.

You can use the same method as above to customise this and include important messages for your customers, provide actual shipping rates or let them know Afterpay is available at checkout. 

Natural Approach has used this to promote that Express and tracking upgrade options are available.

So there you have it, a few ways to customise your website to make it yours.

Let me know in the comments which changes you’re going to make.

Written by Karyn Parkinson

Karyn AKA Karyn with a Y is an eCommerce marketing specialist specialising in Facebook ad funnels and website optimisation.

When she's not behind the computer you'll find her at the beach with her fur babies or on the roller derby track as Pink Fury!

When to colour between the lines

When to colour between the lines

Your website conversion rate is so important, it’s one of the biggest factors when it comes to your eCommerce store being successful or not. We talk a lot about how to be creative and even how to ditch the default to add your own brand and voice to your website. Sometimes, however, it is important to colour between the lines and use the stock standard layouts.

People are creatures of habit, we learn how to use something and then we do it without even thinking about it. When we jump into our Facebook app we know where to scroll the Newsfeed and where to find our profile, but when Facebook makes a change and we can’t find what is normally there we get frustrated.

The same goes for using online stores. We know when we jump on a website certain things will be there and we rely on those things being in the same old boring place so that we can easily navigate the website and find everything we are looking for, without getting frustrated.

Let’s take a look at the typical layout your eCommerce store should follow:

Menu

Your menu should be at the top of your website on a computer, and in a hamburger drop down menu on a phone.

Avoid hidden menus or menus on the side – if someone has to search for it you’re making it harder for them to give you money.

Product Page Layout

When it comes to your product page there are several must haves:

  • Product name
  • Images
  • Price
  • Description
  • Options – size, colour etc
  • Add to cart button

Layout and design vary greatly by theme, however, images on the left and product name, description, options, price and add to cart button on the right is the standard layout. When you switch it up it just feels wrong to the user, even if they can’t figure out why.

This website features large images, but it takes a while to register the product details are on the left.

Category Page

A category page showcases products, all belonging to the same product category such as dresses, tops or bottoms. Just like in a brick and mortar store when things are displayed nice and neat it gives the impression of quality and care. 

When things are mismatched it can create a messy look and give the wrong impression about your products.

Keep your product feature images all the same size on the category pages and, where possible, keep your background consistent.

This site creates a clean, fresh look with white backgrounds.

The two images on the far left look mismatched as they are different sizes to the others. The darker background also looks like it doesn’t belong.

For people (like me) who like things symmetrical, these different size images just don’t look right!

Written by Karyn Parkinson

Karyn AKA Karyn with a Y is an eCommerce marketing specialist specialising in Facebook ad funnels and website optimisation.

When she's not behind the computer you'll find her at the beach with her fur babies or on the roller derby track as Pink Fury!

How to write emails that actually make sales

How to write emails that actually make sales

We’ve talked about how to get email subscribers and the automated emails you should set up to send them, today we’re talking about email broadcasts. 

Email Broadcasts are emails you send to your subscribers all at the same time. Rather than automated ones that are triggered by an action, these emails are triggered by a date and time, or sent straight away. 

If you’re collecting emails (which you should be) then it is important to be emailing your list regularly so you stay top of mind. However coming up with an idea each week can be draining.

A person’s inbox is a busy place and if they’ve trusted you with the keys to their inbox, we want to make sure we’re not filling it with junk or it’s likely they will snatch those keys back with the dreaded unsubscribe.

Now a quick note on unsubscribes – they are totally normal. You will have people unsubscribe from every email you write – that’s OK. They are not your people. There is no point keeping people on your email list who are not going to buy from you. Someone unsubscribing is manually helping you to keep your list clean and full of people who may purchase. It’s also important for you to spring clean your list at least once a year deleting people who never open your emails so you’re not wasting your money (more subscribers usually means a higher monthly fee) sending emails to people who don’t open them.

So now we have that out of the way and you know it’s OK if people unsubscribe. 

Emailing your list is all about building relationships. I find if you picture the number of email subscribers all standing on a football field it helps you to remember each one is a real person, and not just a number of a screen. 

So let’s take a look at what we can send those people to keep them subscribed and clicking through.

Here are some reasons to email your list: 

  • Related news and tips
  • Announce new products
  • Stock update (i.e. back in stock, pre-order now open)
  • Sales or promotions 
  • Seasonal content

Using a mixture of these emails aim to keep in touch with your list at least once per week.

Related News + Tips

I’ve put this one first as it’s something people don’t always realise – your emails don’t always have to be selling something. Shock horror I know! 

If your email is helpful and relevant to your audience, it makes your emails nice to receive and they are more likely to open the next one, which may be selling something. It’s all about building reports and relationships. Remember, people buy from people they know, like and trust.

So have a think about your target audience and what else they are interested in. 

For example if you are selling baby toys you know your target audience is mums. What else might mums be interested in rather than just your baby toys? 

Let’s brainstorm:

  • Baby sleep patterns
  • Breastfeeding tips
  • Children’s development
  • Starting solids
  • Wine! Oh so much wine! 

So rather than just sending out another email saying here’s my toys, buy them think about sending something highly relevant to what they are interested in such as:

  • How to recognise your baby’s sleep patterns to get extra zzzzs each night
  • 5 tips to better latching
  • How to know when to teach your child something new
  • When should your baby start eating solids and what should they eat first
  • When is the best time to have a glass of wine when breastfeeding

I can tell you as a first time mum any of these email subject lines would get me opening the email much faster than “our latest products” (even if baby toys are super cute!).

If your target market is mums and you’re going to send out advice style emails, you may wish to team up with a topic expert such as a lactation specialist or a pediatrician and interview them for your emails or get them to write a guest article for your site. This way, you’re introducing them to a new audience in exchange for their specialist information and you don’t have to pretend to be an expert in something you’re not. 

Collaborating or interviewing people can be great in many industries such as guest interviewing a triathlete if you sell bikes or a makeup artist if you sell fashion or beauty products.

So write your own list about the topics your audience are interested in and then brainstorm some ideas of what you could write about in your emails.

Put together a list of people you can contact about collaborating and aim for 12 News + Tip style emails – that’s one a month for a year! 

Announce New Products

Newness is always a great reason to contact your audience. When you have a new product you should be telling them all about it via your social media, paid ads and, of course, email. 

Now as your email subscribers are special, you should let them in on your new product early. 

You don’t just have to email them when it’s available to purchase you can email them:

  • We have a new idea for a product, what do you think?
  • Check out the behind the scenes of our new product design
  • Check out our new product being made
  • What do you think we should call our new product?
  • We’re launching our new product soon, pre-order now
  • Our new product is nearly live, get early bird pricing
  • Our new product is out now
  • People are loving our new product (user images + videos)

You can choose a few of these and touch base more than once around a new product launch. Bonus points for pre-selling before you make it so you know there is demand.

 

Stock Updates

Stock updates are a great excuse to email your list and can be a great way to create FOMO as well.

Try not to just email “this is now back in stock” or “pre-orders now open” think about telling them why they are so popular and ran out of stock in the first place. 

Consider including:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Features and benefits
  • Unboxing video
  • User generated images and videos

 

Sales + Promotions

Sales and promotions are a great time to contact your list. Many people will spend a long time planning a promotion and then just email their list once to tell them about it. It’s important to remember not everyone will open every email, so to ensure the biggest impact for a sale or promotion you should be sending multiple emails. 

Try something like this:

  • Our sale is starting on X date, get your wishlist together
  • Our sale starts tomorrow be ready so you don’t miss out
  • Sale starts now
  • These are the most popular products of our sale
  • Key features and benefits of your product and why they should take advantage of sale
  • Sale ends tomorrow, be quick
  • Sale ends today last chance
  • Sale ends in 3 hours be quick

As you can see, your sales and promotions can be an excuse to touch base several times over a few days or a week. Don’t be afraid to remind people, we all get busy and distracted so they will be grateful for you helping them to save. Remember if they weren’t interested in your product/s they wouldn’t be on your list. 

Season Content

Special days and seasons of the year provide us with opportunities to contact our list.

Think:

  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Easter
  • Christmas
  • St Patrick’s Day
  • Halloween
  • Best Friends Day
  • Summer 
  • Autumn
  • Winter
  • Spring

Download our free planner for all the key dates for eCommerce throughout the year. 

These are all opportunities to contact your list, even if you’re not running a sale. 

You can write tip style emails with the theme based on the season, or highlight products that would make great gifts:

  • Christmas gift guide for Secret Santa
  • How to spring clean your kitchen
  • Chocolate free Easter gift ideas
  • How to dress for your office Christmas party
  • Easter recipe ideas
  • 5 gifts mum will love this Mother’s Day
  • 3 must have looks this Winter

So there you have it, 5 different reasons to contact your email list. 

You can choose to showcase products at the bottom of your emails, or keep a mix of promotional and non-promotional emails.

If you brainstorm ideas for each type of email and put together a schedule you’ll soon find you have enough for an email each week without the pressure to come up with something on the spot.

Written by Karyn Parkinson

Karyn AKA Karyn with a Y is an eCommerce marketing specialist specialising in Facebook ad funnels and website optimisation.

When she's not behind the computer you'll find her at the beach with her fur babies or on the roller derby track as Pink Fury!