When you are selling handmade goods online, you are selling the packaging also. The beauty of a well-designed package with a unique product. The promise that the product will arrive across the globe safely. My very first experience learning the importance of how I wrap my stuff came in the form of my first vendor gig. I was selling at a local boutique and noticed something peculiar. There were quite a few children at this event, and seeing that I had miniatures there were several children asking their parents if they can have something. At the time, I was first starting out and my prices were very low, with some pieces even being around 10 cents a pop, but nevertheless a lot of parents said no.
At the same time though, I had quite a few adults buying my pre packaged sets. To set the scene, I was selling both prepackaged gift bags/boxes, and then I had separate pieces at a cheaper rate. Same quality, different cover. Almost all packaged sets sold, and only a couple individuals sold. So why did people spend more money on these sets? Because good packaging=better. The better the packaging, the happier the customer.
So today we are discussing some tips on how to package your products for the best possible outcome.
Knowing Your Brand
Before making decisions about packaging, you will need to have an idea about what your brand is. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
- Style: what style(s) would you use to describe your brand? Do you produce products to make a fashion statement, such as gothic or preppy? If you are selling products for the home, are you designing for a modern home or a cozy country nook?
- Ethics: If your brand has an ethical stand, you will want to keep this in mind when designing packaging. For example, if you pride yourself on being eco-friendly, you may want to choose recycled materials in natural tones.
- Business or neighborly attitude: Despite the number of people working for your shop, whether it be multiple people or just yourself, you can describe your brand as either a neighborly or more business oriented. Think about whether you want to describe your shop as its own entity, with straightforward policies and predictable packaging, or a personal endeavor.
- Price Range: Think about the price range of your products. Who are you selling to? What you use for packaging will largely play into pricing and style.
- Symbolism: This will come back to your products. Think about what objects/symbols describe your shop, as you may want to incorporate these elements into your design.
For my shop, I sell primarily polymer clay jewelry and miniatures, although I am planning to expand into clothing in the future. My products are usually gothic, steampunk, or kawaii in style, although with the expansion I will be touching on vintage and modern styles. With such a broad range in mind, I have kept my designs friendly to each style. Cute, playful, fashion-forward elements are a big part of my aesthetic. Now that we have our brand laid out, let’s move on to packaging.
Packing Options for Mailed Goods
If you are mailing products, as is the case with an online shop, you should definitely put thought into the most effective way to mail your products. No matter how UPS treats our packages, no matter the weather, our products should arrive to the customer safely. This is both important for you and your customer. When it comes to Etsy, for example, they provide a site to list products but normally stay out of shop-customer affairs. So if a customer is unhappy with the treatment of their product or any other element, that is on you. Not to mention, Etsy can revoke your shop status at any time, with no warning.
The most basic decision of course is the outermost package, will you use boxes, flats (envelopes), or both? You can also use cylindrical tubes for items such as posters. For me, I do sell items ranging from very small to a little bigger, so I use both flats (padded with bubble wrap) and small mailing boxes. I buy these items in bulk.
In addition, if you are using boxes, you will need to surround your item in materials that absorb shock from incidences such as dropping. These items include packing popcorn and bubble wrap. To protect very fragile items, you can also use soft fabric and foam cloths. If you are looking for a more environmentally friendly option, you can use paper for filling extra space (but keep in mind this does not absorb shock if you are selling breakables). If you are selling paper products, such as small prints, you can use cardboard inserts to keep the item flat.
Make sure you also purchase packing tape, and don’t be afraid to use it. Sometimes I have up to three strips keeping an edge of a box secure. I also write “fragile” on my boxes, just as another precaution. Don’t rely on this however, as a UPS driver needing to reach his/her quota probably isn’t abiding by that message!
Containers for Your Products
Now that you have decided on how to mail your projects, it’s time to make them look professional. Depending on the product you are packaging, there are different containers and elements to use.
- Liquids/Creams/Scrubs/Oils: To contain projects that are not solid, you will want an airtight container that will keep your product safe. Glass containers are beautiful and more sophisticated, but do consider the weight (price to mail), fragility, and price of the containers themselves. A Styrofoam case may be needed to keep the product safe. If you are open to using plastic containers, these will be a little less fragile/expensive. There are a variety of lids to look for, but in my opinion a lid that twists on/off is going to be most secure. Consider spray or dropper containers for fragrances and essential oils. For more valuable creams, you can choose miniature cosmetic containers.
- Clothing: Clothing is simple in that it is not a breakable item, so a simple box should do (other packaging elements will be described in the next section).
- Greeting Cards/Posters/Prints: As mentioned previously, you can use cylindrical tubes to house large posters or you can use sheets of cardboard to keep smaller prints from bending. Plastic envelope bags are also going to be great for greeting cards and small prints.
- Food: Different foods have different containers, which you can find online (particularly with party supplies). Small air-tight boxes with a clear window are ideal. Here are a few options: 1, 2, 3.
- Small Misc. Items: For other items, such as necklaces, miniatures, and accessories, you can choose between a variety of boxes and bags for holding your items. For a boxed-set option, you can click here. I have also include a few bag options here, here, and here.
Other Packaging Elements
Let’s get to the fun part, designing and decorating our packages. There are a variety of materials and techniques you can use to package your items.
- Ribbon/Lace: Ribbons, lace, crochet, etc. make great embellishments, especially for boxes. You can create bows for larger items, or simply wrap the ribbon around your product for a chic accent. You can also use these to wrap around the tops of jars. There are also a variety of style options here that can drastically change the style of your packaging from one product to the other.
- Paper: Paper comes in a variety of weights, textures, and designs. It is a cheap way to spice up your packaging. Here are some ideas involving paper:
- Misc. Embellishments: Almost anything can be used as an embellishment, but some common materials include paper, ribbon, fabric, metal, ink, feathers, buttons, and florals. Here are some creative elements you can incorporate:
- Stamping: Stamps are another easy way to decorate boxes or wrapping paper. You purchase them from your local craft store or online, or you can make your own. I have included a few tutorials here, here, and here.
- Cut-outs: Either by hand or with a cut-out stamp, you can make cut-outs that tastefully shows your product and incorporates an element from your brand. Here is an example:
- Tags: Gift tags can be produced either by hand or on a business stationary site like Vistaprint. To make your own, you will only need sturdy paper and string as the minimum.
- Stickers: Last, stickers are a quick and easy way to decorate your packaging. You can choose a variety of professional stickers from the scrapbooking section of your craft store. You can also design your own on a site like Vistaprint to label all of your goods with your brand. I have also purchased my own “made with love” stickers in bulk here.
Did you know that when you’re buying products, you’re paying for packaging (if there was something to be learned from the Lancôme highlight flower craze, this is it)? Yes, we buy packaging. Paper, plastic, and packing peanuts galore. To be fair, packaging actually plays a huge role in how we experience products. Part of the reason we enjoy high-end products so much is packaging. How it feels, smells, how much it weighs, everything has to do with our perception of the product. Heavier objects, for example, feel more valuable. As do objects with an interesting texture or gloss, or items that are well designed.
As an Etsy seller or other online artisan, you need to consider how much packaging plays into the cost of your product. All expenses, including packaging, should be considered when pricing items. You will want to know what the packaging fees are for each product. For example, if I were selling a set of earrings, I would factor in the gift box, ribbon, “handmade” sticker, and padded envelope (the cardboard pads the earrings are attached to are made by hand). For the products you buy in bulk, divide the number you get by the price of the set to get the price per unit.
Also keep in mind your audience; is your audience more willing to buy a higher priced product if it’s well packaged? Or are they searching just for the lowest price? Luxury items, such as bath and spa for example, can be priced a little higher at the expense of packaging.
Thank you for reading! Has this post helped you get started? Do you have a shop and if so, what do you sell? How do you package your products? Let us know in the comments below.