I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “First impressions are everything.” Well, in the world of indie clothing companies, this couldn’t be more true. First impressions can make or break a new brand, and most first impressions in this industry come in the form of a package on the customer’s doorstep.
If you haven’t picked up on it already, packaging and product presentation are kind of a big deal – especially when you’re starting out and trying to make a name for your indie clothing brand. This in-depth tutorial should give you several ideas on how to improve your packaging and product delivery efforts.
The single most important concept to consider when packaging is simple:
NEVER CUT CORNERS. If you cut corners, you may be saving time and money for now, but you’ll only be screwing yourself over in the long-run. Now let’s get started.
If you’re trying to rack up those customer complaints, make sure your product is dirty, wrinkled, and covered in smoke/hair/breakfast before you pack it up and ship it out!
…But seriously. Clean it. Fold it. Simple, right? You wouldn’t believe how often this step is overlooked.
Hang tags attached to your products serve two main purposes:
1) Branding. Hang tags that include a name and/or logo will familiarize customers with your indie clothing company. You can also include info about the brand, along with a website and other important information. Customers want to know about the people behind the product, where the product came from, and where to find other brand products.
2) Professionalism. Let’s face it: anybody can make a shirt and ship it out, but somebody who goes the extra mile to include a hang tag on their product gives off a much more professional appearance. To the customer, a hang tag shows that the brand isn’t just in it for a quick buck, but actually cares about the little details.
Including goodies in your orders is usually a great idea. You can throw in anything from a few stickers to vintage trading cards or tasty candy. Everybody loves when they get something they aren’t expecting – almost like an awesome prize. Be creative and have fun!
Packaging slips with order details aren’t 100% essential, but it’s nice for the customer to have a record of the order – especially if there are several different products in a single package. Another pleasant touch is writing some sort of Thank You note, showing the customer that you are actually a living, breathing person, and not just another multi-million dollar corporation robbing them of their hard-earned dinero.
Before throwing everything in a box and slapping on a label, I prefer to package each and every product in clear plastic bags – the kind with the self-sealing fold over cuff. If I am shipping several shirts in a single order, each shirt will have its own clear bag. Not only do these bags give off a professional appearance, they also protect the product from any dirt, debris, or water that may occur during shipping. You never know what the postal employees are doing with your packages!
You have several choices when it comes to the final packaging. Many of the more established indie brands, such as Johhny Cupcakes and Linty Fresh, have custom boxes and mailers to reflect their brands. While this is a nice touch, sometimes you just can’t squeeze it in the budget – especially when you’re just starting out.
If you can’t afford custom packaging just yet – that’s OKAY! All you really need is something that is durable and professional. Poly mailers are my packaging of choice. They are typically white or grey with silver lining and self-sealing flaps. Not only are they ridiculously inexpensive, they are also lightweight, water-resistant, and they look great. Believe it or not, I get compliments on my poly mailers at the post office!
Other packaging options are USPS Flat-Rate Priority mailers, bubble mailers, or cardboard tubes. Whatever route you choose to go, be prepared to stock up on a large amount of shipping supplies. If you run out of supplies and delay an order, be on the lookout for those customer complaints.
Other than packaging, the shipping label is the very first thing that the customer will see – so make it count! Because my handwriting is not the greatest, I tend to avoid hand-written labels. I decided to create a word document template that has been sized to fit my printable shipping labels, and manually input the recipient for each and every order. It’s kind of a pain, but it gets the job done and makes no room for mistakes. Your shopping cart system may have implemented a shipping label service, or you may prefer to write out the labels for that true indie vibe.
Keep in mind that this tutorial may not represent the ONLY way to packaging and ship your products. While these techniques work for me, there are always alternate methods to everything. Be sure to research and find out what works best for you!
Loren - Beetnik Aesthetics