Four Tips to Make the Most of Packaging this Holiday Season

  •    Rob is a creative content strategist from Detroit. When he’s not developing integrated marketing campaigns, he’s probably watching Netflix.

Do you know the expression "you should never judge a book by its cover"? It's great advice for meeting new people, but not so much for product packaging. When you run a small business, the way you package and ship your products can have a tremendous impact on how people perceive your brand, which is especially important for holiday packages.

At a time when shoppers are looking for just the right gift for that special someone, packaging and shipping can make a huge difference. Below are four tips to help you nail packaging, wrapping and shipping this holiday season.

1. Make Your Packaging Useful

For the most part, packaging material ends up in the trash. But what if it didn't have to? If you can provide some kind of utility with your packaging, you can not only keep packaging material out of the landfill, but also give your customer a surprise bonus gift.

Consider "wrapping" your product in a cute reusable tote bag with your brand's logo. The customer gets a nice surprise and you get free advertising every time they use it. Another idea is to include small accessories as part of the package. From custom gift tags to reusable ribbon, these extra touches show your customer that you've put time and effort into the packaging of your products.

2. Think About the Environment

Making packaging reusable is one way to be more environmentally friendly, but it's not the only way you can show your customers how socially responsible you are. Using newsprint or simple brown craft paper as wrapping is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint.

Another fun approach that can make a big impact with customers is to use maps, calendars or even pages from old books as your wrapping. Finding these unique pieces may take a little time, but the end result can be stunning. If making your own wrapping paper sounds like too much work, check out Wrappily, which offers a wide range of clever designs on recycled newsprint.

3. Add a Personal Touch

While many shoppers will turn to mega retailers and big box stores this holiday season, there are still a sizable percentage who like to shop small. Whether they're looking for a unique item, or just enjoy the idea of supporting small business owners, it's important to let these customers know you appreciate their business. Adding a thank you note, a complimentary item or another memento to the package will help you make a connection with the customer and show off your own personality.

Alternatively, you can let your customer add their own personal touch to a gift. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you can set up a wrapping paper station in the store with a range of options for your customer to choose from. If you are an eCommerce business, consider how you can give your customer multiple wrapping options as part of the checkout experience.

4. Make Returns Easy

Of course, no matter how great the wrapping is, there's always a chance that the customer will need to return the item. If that's the case, you should strive to make returns as painless as possible and that starts with being super transparent about your return policies, not only on your website but also during the ordering process.

Another way to reduce the stress of returns is to ship your items in a reusable package and include pay-on-use return labels so that the customer can immediately return the item if needed. Finding the right shipping partner to give your customers flexibility while also minimizing your costs can be tricky, but is essential if you're going to compete with the convenience of the big retailers of the world.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday spending will range anywhere from $678.75 billion to $682 billion this year. Put another away, the average consumer will spend nearly $1,000 on their holiday shopping. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of money, which is why wrapping, packaging and shipping can't be an afterthought. To win the holiday season, you have to think of every detail and these tips will help you get there.