One aspect of selling through an online business that can cause a lot of stress is shipping. Striking the right balance between fees that your customers are comfortable with and ones that will actually cover your costs can be challenging. But there is more to shipping than simply figuring out the right price to charge. The care you put into shipping your products goes a long way towards showing professionalism and letting your customers know that they are getting value for those fees.
Adding goodies to your shipment is a good way to make a positive impression on your customer. They can also help differentiate your business from others, especially if you are in a competitive market. Hard candies are the most common goodies you'll find added to shipments. They still make a good impression, though. Depending on your product, stickers or buttons may also be appropriate. Pick items that are unusual and, if possible, relate to your business. If you are using candies, for example, you may want to send ones made by a local confectioner. Always package them in a separate bag or container from the item you are shipping to avoid unfortunate accidents.
Free samples can help make the shipping and handling fees feel like a steal for your customers. Including samples in your shipment is also an opportunity for you to expand the impression you are making on your customer. Samples allow customers to see more of your range of products, which is particularly useful for an online business. Since you don't have a storefront your customers can easily browse, they may overlook product qualities that don't translate well into photographs or written descriptions. This is particularly true for items whose appearance depends strongly on the light, or whose appeal is in large part tactile. Don't include samples of items that you have discontinued. This defeats the purpose of trying to interest your customers in more of your products.
How you package your product for shipment can be just as important as the extras you include. Whether you use recycled boxes or buy packing supplies at your local office store, you want to make sure your packaging is neat and secure. Avoid using battered or damaged cardboard. If you are reusing shipping boxes, one good trick is to dismantle the box and turn it inside out. This way previous shipping labels and markings are hidden. If your product is susceptible to water damage, it should always be shipped in a waterproof bag or container that is neatly secured. Use recyclable packing materials whenever possible, especially if padding for fragile items. This leaves your environmentally conscious customers with a positive impression. Include a shipping manifest, and use printed labels to help emphasize your professionalism.
How you package and ship your products can help ensure repeat customers. Poor or insecure packaging can send a customer looking for another business to patronize. Even if you do offer replacements on damaged items, it's a hassle for everyone. Put your handling fees to good use in ensuring that the item you are sending will arrive safely and your customer will have a positive memory of the experience.