February 18, 2010

4 Things Your Outgoing Orders Should Contain

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 11:09 am

When you ship merchandise from your e-tail website, there are certain things your package should contain, in addition to the actual merchandise of course.

1. Branded Invoice
Don’t simply print a receipt from Etsy or Paypal. Instead, design a professional, branded invoice with your logo and fonts. Include details such as date, billing address, contents of the package sent and their price.

Bonus Points: When customers place an order on my retail site, they can check a box to indicate that the order is a gift. When they do this, we mail a gift invoice instead of a regular invoice. Our gift invoice does not include any pricing information and includes a note from the sender. Implement a similar feature on your website so gift recipients get a special invoice with their order.

2. Return Information
On your invoice, or someplace else in the package, you should reiterate your return policy and return instructions.

3. Contact Information
Provide customers a way to get in touch in case there is something wrong with the order. Include your website URL, your contact email address and, if possible, a customer service phone number.

4. Swag
Provide a little something extra that will surprise your customer, preferably something they will keep, like a pen or magnet, although samples may make sense too if you sell edibles, cosmetics or bath/body goods. More on that topic here.

Bonus Points: Enclose a coupon for the customer’s next purchase.

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  1. Great tips every business owner should follow no matter how big or small. Concerning “swag”, I included stickers with every purchase — they can go on a bumper or a binder. What er your thoughts on this type of swag?

    Comment by Mary-Jo — February 19, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  2. great tips!
    already doing #2 to #4, just need to find a way to do #1, thanks

    Comment by fancythatcookies — February 19, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  3. Good ideas, Thanks!

    Comment by Tatum — February 19, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  4. @Mary-Jo stickers are good. As long as they are nice looking people will make use of them. The key is to give people something they’ll like. If it’s plainly just an ad, like a URL or something they may be less inclined to keep it. If it’s well designed it will get displayed.

    Comment by Meredith — February 19, 2010 @ 6:09 pm

  5. All four great ideas and the BONUS idea I hadn’t thought of–giving a coupon for the next purchase.

    I was already doing most of these!

    Comment by anitaspottery — February 19, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

  6. These are all excellent suggestions! Now I need to implement them. I’ve already started including a small cleaning cloth for jewelry. Thanks so much!!

    Comment by Sonja — February 19, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  7. Thanks for the great advice! I am brand new to the online selling, and while I had already implemented #4 right from the start, I never even thought to do the 1-3 other than including a handwritten note with my business card. This is great info.

    Comment by ThinkLocal — February 19, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

  8. Oop. I didn’t realize that a receipt was so important. I figured that the buyer receives digital confirmations upon completing a transaction… multiple, in fact!

    Is a paper receipt really important?

    Comment by Cassandra — February 19, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

  9. Good ideas here! I think you can customize Paypal with your logo, I haven’t tried it yet but definitely plan to. I need to figure out my swag. I have used a handmade envelope before with a thank you note inside, but I’d like to develop something with staying power.

    I have also created a kind of letterhead that I print my labels on. I leave a section blank for the USPS label but the rest of it has a special message and vintage quotes, something distinctive to communicate to the recipient that I have put thought into the packaging and value their business!

    Comment by ZadoodleVintage — February 19, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  10. @Cassandra it adds professionalism and reinforces your branding. That’s why I recommend it.

    Comment by Meredith — February 19, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  11. great ideas! will look forward to using them. Thanks so much for your tips.

    Comment by Michele — February 20, 2010 @ 6:18 am

  12. Wonderful tips, some I am not doing but will be!
    Thank you.

    Comment by jalene — February 20, 2010 @ 7:38 am

  13. Great suggestions. Need to work on #2 and #4!! Thanks!

    Comment by designbylauren — February 20, 2010 @ 7:45 am

  14. Thanks for the feedback. …well I definitely think the sticker is kinda cool. Black & white (black ground) with my marketing slogan / ad campaign.

    I would really love your thoughts on the actual sticker as it’s almost time to place another order, so I’m wondering if I should have it redesigned — you can see it on my blog (mercurios-jewels.blogspot) in the “press” section. I used it as an AD in the Kitten Koffin Zombies 2010 Calendar.

    Please feel free to email me directly. You are such a big help.

    Thank you!

    Comment by Mary-Jo — February 20, 2010 @ 8:15 am

  15. @Mary-Jo Having it re-designed, up to you. It’s got enough visual interest about it that customers might keep it. What I was trying to say above is that if you just send a sticker with a URL on it that’s less likely to be kept.

    The likelihood of a customer hanging onto a promo item (or passing it on to someone else) generally depends on how useful/pretty the item is. I like stickers if they’re cool looking. Postcards even make sense if your focus is illustration/painting/etc. I like things like pens or magnets for all kinds of businesses because they’re functional and people won’t throw them away.

    I order stuff online constantly and I can’t tell you the names of most of the companies I’ve ordered from. However, if they gave me something like a pen or chip clip I probably kept it and can use that to remember who I got the cats’ favorite toy from or last year’s running shoes. If it’s an artistic company and they sent a cool looking magnet, my friends will probably see it on my fridge and ask about it. Hope that makes sense.

    Comment by Meredith — February 20, 2010 @ 9:37 am

  16. I never thought of including the return policy but I think it is a must!! And little extra good be very nice as well.

    Comment by margarita — February 20, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

  17. makes perfect sense. very informative

    Comment by Maria — February 20, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

  18. I know that this is the common wisdom, but I’m increasingly irritated and upset at the amount of trash included in things I buy online. I rarely look at an invoice and I certainly don’t keep them. I don’t like junk and I hate having to throw away stickers, magnets, keychains, etc.

    For my shop I do not include an invoice. The person can print their receipt if needed. I shipped 1000 orders last year, so I saved a whole ream of paper and a ton of printer ink :)

    Comment by sarah — February 20, 2010 @ 6:57 pm

  19. To each their own, Sarah. I think most customers expect a receipt and it is a good place to reiterate return and contact information if the customer has a problem. As for promo items, if it’s a good promo item most people will probably use them. It depends on what the promo is. Obviously whatever you choose, some people will disagree with it.

    Comment by Meredith — February 20, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

  20. This is really great advice. I always go the extra mile when shipping my packages. I wrap the item in pretty tissue paper and add ribbon and super cute hand made tags, then I wrap in transparent packaging wrap, and usually put a huge bow on the front, or tie with string. Of course I add my business card, and I’m working on including a small free gift with each purchase.


    Comment by Creativebutterflyxox — February 20, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

  21. Can you point me in the right direction of a sample invoice you’d recommend as a template? I agree it’s a must, and I’d love an example to model mine after.

    Comment by Lauren — February 21, 2010 @ 5:47 am

  22. Some really good ideas. I never included a invoice unless,it was something form Amazon.
    But I do like the ideas.
    I am going to try to preprint a 1/4 page invoice with my return policy etc, that I can fill out hand for each item.

    Do you think that hand writing the sales info lessen the effect?

    Comment by kelly — February 21, 2010 @ 5:48 am

  23. Great points about the branded invoice! I’ve always just printed off my Etsy invoice as a matter of convenience. From a marketing standpoint, it also makes great sense.

    Comment by Jen — February 21, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  24. Thanks for the great article and reminder! I hate getting packages with *just* the product in there, without a clue as to who it even came from!

    However, I agree with #18 – I do not include an invoice, and I think it’s a huge waste of paper to do so. I never keep invoices I receive and rarely unfold them to take a peek.

    Two more things should be added!!

    BUSINESS CARD(s)! This goes along with contact info, but a business card is small and accessible, for the wallet, fridge, bulletine board, etc.

    HAND-WRITTEN THANK-YOU! This is in lieu of an invoice. I handstamp a small piece of colored cardstock, and handwrite a thank you with the customer’s first name – it goes something like this: “Susan, thank you so much for picking up my dinosaur studs! I hope you love them and visit again soon. Xo, Anna” … with my shop logo stamped at the top. This applies to me because I sell handmade goods on Etsy, but might not apply to someone who re-sells commercial goods – I guess it depends on how your site is oriented, your demographic, and what it is that you sell.

    :) Thanks!

    Comment by Anna — February 21, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

  25. @ #20 – gift-wrapping in some way is always a nice touch, especially if it’s automatic with every purchase. All my jewelry is gift-wrapped in kraft boxes, handstamped with my shop logos, and tied with a ribbon/hemp bow. I get a lot of compliments on it, even some directly referring to “great branding!” or “such cute personalization!” I think it’s a great idea to put your logo/name on everything you can – without getting too tacky, of course! haha :)

    Comment by Anna — February 21, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

  26. Excellent tips, thanks! :)

    Comment by kim jones — February 21, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

  27. @Ana, sounds like what you’re describing achieves the same goal as a branded invoice. The handwritten note seems like it would be a reasonable alternative for your situation.

    @Lauren, here is what a branded invoice might look like http://smallerbox.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/sample_invoice.jpg

    @kelly a pre-printed mini invoice with handwritten details is fine if you’re fine with it. It depends on what kind of image you want to present to customers. If you want to seem more professional you’d probably want to print your invoice. If you want to seem more informal and personal, handwritten might be more your style. I think as long as the customer has access to the pertinent information about contact and returns it should be okay. I like something with the company logo on it since it just helps reinforce your brand.

    Comment by Meredith — February 21, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

  28. Wonderful information! I will have to step it up some more! I love learning and this is great. Thank you!


    Comment by Renaissance Austin — February 21, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

  29. I don’t agree about the swag. Don’t send me cute little erasers mass produced by slaves in China creating layers of gunk in our landfills and poking holes in our ozone. I bought a pair of elegant earrings, not a Hello Kitty Pencil pouch.

    Comment by Secondhand Addiction — February 22, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  30. @Secondhand Addiction, the free swag you get should be related to the kind of company you shopped with. Some companies do sell pencil pouches and for them a free pencil is a sensible promotional item. For a jewelry company, maybe a small jewelry travel case is a better option. For those looking for fair trade, eco-friendly promotional items, check out http://www.fairware.ca/

    Comment by Meredith — February 22, 2010 @ 9:22 am

  31. That makes so much sense, than you! I actually like my stickers too, so I think I’ll keep ‘em. However, I just might be adding something else to the mix…I never seem to have a pen around when I need one. *wink*

    What are your thoughts on high-end promo/premiums? I’ve been toying with the idea of something that costs almost $3.00 per piece with a 500pc MOQ, and I would be giving it away. Honestly, I don’t really have the sales to justify that expense. But we need to spend money to make money. Please feel free to email me.

    Comment by Mary-Jo — February 22, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  32. Cost of promo items should be somewhat related to cost of what you sell. If you sell a $100 item, a $5 free gift is reasonable. If you sell a $5 item, you probably want to stick to freebies under 25 cents.

    Comment by Meredith — February 22, 2010 @ 10:46 am

  33. Seeing that my product is always for the family dog, I like to include a little free gift for Mom. These tips are great…I always do 2,3,and 4 but never even thought of a personalized invoice!

    Comment by Astrid Nicole — February 22, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  34. Sarah-

    I totally agree with you! Because there are online receipts available through both etsy AND paypal, it seems a little superfluous to send another receipt in your package.

    I do think it’s very very important to always send a business card, and to package your jewelry really nicely–whatever works with your products.

    I choose to send my resin in ivory organza bags with a little TTV tag image with a crow that says “thank you” on it, with my shop address too.

    As for extras–I don’t add them unless I ave repeat customers. However, when I was first starting out I found that adding an extra pendant here and there was really a great idea.

    As for gift wrap–I think your package should always be ready to be given as a gift. That way, you don’t have to constantly shift what you’re doing. :)

    I also think the outside of your packaging is super important! I print out my labels on a little brother p touch-500 and I order my return labels from vistaprint with my little avatar on it…I think it both saves time and looks a ton more professional than writing.

    That’s all I’ve got–and I know I’m jinxing myself here, but after 1400ish sales or so, I’ve had no negative or neutral feedback, ever.

    Comment by Beth — February 22, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  35. I also don’t send receipts, mostly because it is a waste of paper when an e-receipt has already been sent through paypal and etsy.

    But I do always package my items with love and care! I make origami envelopes or gift boxes (depends on the item) out of patterned craft paper and tuck the item, a business card with a hand written thank you note, and a coupon in there. I’m still working my way up in terms of sales, but I have had customers comment on the cute packaging!

    Comment by Lindsay — February 23, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

  36. You have some great tips..I think instead of a free gift like a magnet or pen..I would offer free shipping or a 5.00 off the next time the customer bought from my shop..I always hand write a Thank You and tuck inside..Always include my business card..keep up with convos..I do try to recycle when possible with packaging ect.I think most people are in for the green..

    Comment by Arlette Montefusco — February 23, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

  37. I always gift wrap my sales as I want my customers to feel like they are being spoiled! I take great pride in choosing ribbon and tissue paper that coordinate well with my business card (which matches my avatar. I take branding very seriously. I am a clay artist so I make little hearts out of my scraps of clay to include as free gifts. My customers LOVE them.

    I enjoy being generous because I love the sales in return! I have never included an invoice but I will probaly do that after reading this article.

    Comment by Joy — February 23, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

  38. Wow, thanks for all the great tips. Branding is so important as well as appearance. I love some of the ideas that everyone had about how to enhance and make their purchases extra special.

    I will definitely be rethinking how my product goes out. Love the swag idea for my cards. I am thinking I will take some of my original prints from my cards and turn them into gift tags and include a couple of those for my customers…..:)

    Comment by Celeste Welch — February 23, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

  39. To be sensitive to the environment, I no longer add a paper invoice to my package. Instead, I send the invoice along with my notice of shipment, as a pdf and give my customers the choice to print it or not. I can’t tell you how many folks [particularly, environmentally concerned] have appreciated it. My pdf is branded…it’s basically my invoice but in an on-line form. It also saves me a fortune in ink, pay-per-click printing, paper costs and filing space!!!!! It’s also a plus for my brand perception. Not to mention how wonderful it is for Mother Earth!

    Comment by Pamela — February 23, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

  40. I like the idea of swag, I am a seller but as a buyer swag sits at the top of my list!
    Thanks great ideas!

    Comment by Philip Lewandowski — February 23, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

  41. How do you go about offering a discount or free shipping for the next purchase they make ? Once I received a card with a 20% discount on Etsy and I couldn’t figure out how to use it. I tried but couldn’t so she lost the sale! Do you have to ask them to convo you for a new discounted listing ? That seems like a pain…

    Comment by urbanolive — February 23, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

  42. @urbanolive, unfortunately there is no way to actually use coupons on Etsy. IMO this is one of Etsy’s many shortcomings and on my list of reasons online merchants need their own websites. (I wrote an article about this last month http://smallerbox.net/blog/branding/reasons-i-have-my-own-website/ ). If you rely on Etsy, the only thing you can do is ask the customer to send a message with the coupon code and work it out that way.

    Comment by Meredith — February 23, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

  43. I completely agree with all four. In terms of including swag, I use my own products as swag. I’m a fashion designer and I send a small accessory item for the swag item. It doesn’t cost much to create or take a lot of time to make. Customers love that! It’s a great way to build brand and trust.

    Comment by Michelle — February 23, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

  44. I LOVE all of these ideas. These are so great you guys! I am cooking up some awesome ideas as we speak, and super excited to use them. Now, all I need is another sale.. hmmm. thanks!

    Comment by janean davis — February 24, 2010 @ 12:10 am

  45. I agree with Sarah no. 18, and some others below who state the same. It’s bad enough that industrialization caused so much trash to be thrown about our planet, I think that being an indie seller means that you provide an alternative, and dont add items that others will never look at or dont want, and will throw out.

    I think NOT having branded invoices and the like makes us different from brands and make people feel like they bought from an actual person, which they did.

    I do agree that it is nice to have one thing extra, to see that there IS a person at the other end, will it be a little thank you note or coupon. but no need to exaggerate.

    Comment by Naomi — February 24, 2010 @ 12:35 am

  46. Very useful article! Swags keeps customers happy and feel a sense of belonging to the brand. :)

    Comment by Alberta Leong — February 24, 2010 @ 12:40 am

  47. This article was very helpful. I sell Indian art-prints on Etsy and follow 2,3 and 4.

    Regarding the invoice, I always send a PDF file electronically, that saves paper and simplifies the flow of things, plus does not add to shipping cost (I mean I can add an extra free print that the customer would appreciate much more in place of a printed invoice, especially considering that in Swiss post, literally every mg counts!!). The branding part about the invoice is a splendid idea.

    Thanks so much for the suggestions and support!


    Comment by Dithi — February 24, 2010 @ 4:54 am

  48. great article, i use the paypal invoice and having a custom invoice is a good idea. i always wrap up my jewelry in a nice box and bow from TheFlamingPearl.etsy.com In my DestashWalrus.etsy.com store I always include (whenever possible) extra beads from my stash and people are very responsive and appreciative of this. I haven’t figured out how to send something “extra” from my 3rd store RetroHeaven.etsy.com having a guest receipt is also a fabulous idea! thank you!

    Comment by Pamela Pollock — February 24, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  49. Being fairly new to Etsy I found this information very helpful. I had not been including an invoice in my packages but a hand written thank you note, business card, and a calendar magnet. I too wrap my items in tissue paper so the customer feels like they are getting a present but now I will start working on an invoice design. Thank you for the great ideas!

    Comment by Terry — February 24, 2010 @ 11:18 am

  50. Return info! Why didn’t I think of that? Thank you so much. Regarding swag, I always give something even if its just a handmade thank you card. I send them blank so that my clients know how much I love them and like the idea that they can pass them along. In my alter-ego shop (ReDesign Technologies), my gifts are huge because clients are making a substantial investment and I appreciate that.

    Comment by Penelope Bridge — February 24, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  51. Wow, great tips! So simple and yet so easy to forget the details. I always send a thank you and a little gift and contact and return information. Branding is important so I’d better get on that one. Thanks for the post!

    Comment by Linda — February 24, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

  52. I love the ideas that I see here. I think that I prefer that handwritten note and including the return policy just to reiterate.

    I also love the idea of including a small gift and wrapping the purchase like a gift. You all have given me some wonderful ideas of how to make my customers feel special. Thank you!!

    Comment by zelda — February 25, 2010 @ 9:14 am

  53. Thank you, I have sent quite a few packages without….but now I know what my parcels need, thank you for a clear and easy to follow guide

    Comment by Robyn Colledge — February 25, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  54. Great professional advice. I will definately follow through on this advice. I did not realize that these suggestions you’ve outlined are things I’ve come to expect from larger companies and it implies respect to a customer. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. Rose Farnsworth Davis

    Comment by Rose Farnsworth Davis — February 25, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

  55. I write handwriten thank you notes, and include a drink recipe (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) on the back. This is in hopes that the receiver will keep my card. But I would like to send printed magnets in the future if I can find a reasonable price.

    Personally I don’t like to receive invoices except for when I buy supplies. Paypal keeps track of all of that for me, so I can check my old invoices whenever I want.

    Comment by tipsytimemachine — February 26, 2010 @ 12:43 am

  56. These are good tips. I just started on etsy in January. Though I have had only one sale so far, I did my research and sent a little swag with it in the form of a little candy and a postcard of one of my paintings. Both were inexpensive yet it felt good to send them. Also a small thank you.
    The invoice is already in the form of Paypal so I don’t send one.
    Thanks again for the tips :~))

    Comment by Sue Betanzos — February 26, 2010 @ 10:44 am

  57. Thank you for all the great advice..always helpful. I love the idea of giving a little something extra to let your customers know how much they are appreciated.

    Comment by Terri Kellison — March 1, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

  58. Great tips for shipping enclosures. I’m already
    thinking of my new personalized invoice!

    Comment by Marty Mason — March 2, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

  59. I already include a personalised thank you note. I don’t include an invoice as the customer already has one. My jewellery comes gift wrapped and I recieve many thank you messages via convos. I would like to include a voucher for the next purchase, but i don’t know how to go about this. Can anyone help with this service?

    Comment by kikiburrabeads — March 2, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

  60. @kikiburrabeads It appears that you sell on Etsy which does not allow you to really use voucher codes. (There is no way for customer to enter one and automatically get a discount.) This is one of the many reasons I recommend that e-tailers who are serious about growing their business get their own websites. More on that here http://smallerbox.net/blog/branding/reasons-i-have-my-own-website/

    Comment by Meredith — March 2, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

  61. My great problem is Australia Post. Anything that won’t fit through a 2cm slot is charged at $9.30 to post. I have to use padded bags to keep the postage costs down. I do include a thank you note with links to my daughter’s shops, and I package my jewellery in beautiful packaging. I too would like to include a voucher, but I don’t know how to create them.

    Comment by alwaysabridesmade — March 2, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

  62. I also exclude an invoice – I state in the note that the customer receives after checkout that “in an effort to reduce paper waste, I will omit a copy of your invoice with your package. If you do need an invoice, please let me know.” I used to waste a ton of time and paper printing up invoices and it’s not necessary. I have over 2000 sales / year so that’s a lot of paper saved!

    Cute packaging, a business card with your contact info and a hand written note are all very appreciated by customers. Swag is okay, but be sure that it’s not something that will end up in the garbage. A lot of us are trying hard to reduce :)

    Comment by Kris — March 2, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

  63. Great Read! I just opened an etsy shop, and want to make it a memorable shopping experience. It will be nice to get this stuff right coming right out the gate. LN

    Comment by Ellen — March 2, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

  64. @Kris
    Have you ever anticipated that your products might be used as gifts?

    Including a gift receipt or invoice will indeed lessen the frustration that a recipient will feel in the process of returning an item.

    We print invoices on the back of our branded return forms. The return forms that we receive from our customers not only allow us to exchange the correct item, but it also allows us to fine tune our product sizing which ultimately creates a better product.

    Using invoices that double as return/feedback forms can generate invaluable data which can be used to market to new and existing customers more effectively.

    Comment by Vero — March 2, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  65. I use a frequent buyer card. Once a person purchases 9 items of equal cost – they receive one free.

    Comment by Ingrid Watson — March 2, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  66. Great tips!!

    I have started using recycled packaging, and do not include an invoice unless it’s requested because I feel it’s a waste of paper. I do include a few business cards, with a sticker coupon on back (instead of a separate paper coupon) that expires within 2 months. I also stamp “We appreciate your business” all over their packaging!


    Comment by Sadie — March 2, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

  67. Where the heck do you get a branded invoice lol. I love these suggestions I’m SO new to this though I honestly have no idea what the difference between an invoice and branded invoic is! Help me peeps ;P

    Comment by lauren — March 2, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

  68. @lauren You design/print your own branded invoice. A branded invoice is one that uses your own logo/fonts/colors/etc. Here is an image of what a branded invoice might look like http://smallerbox.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/sample_invoice.jpg

    Comment by Meredith — March 2, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  69. I haven’t thought of most of these but I do see the value. My concern is the extra time and expense to wrap things up so maticulously. I tissue wrap my products and print an invoice from the etsy site, but at this point don’t do much else. I want to keep product costs to a minimum and if I added ribbons and hand made cards I would be inclined to jack up my prices. I am not sure it will really be cost effective. I am mostly concerned with getting the order out quickly and accurately. Am I off base or missing the boat for this?
    I do like the ideas though and will seriously give it more thought.

    Comment by LarsonsHandcrafts — March 2, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

  70. Great info & great community. For those who want to send receipts – it is a good thing to send a professional looking invoice. I promote using recycled material and reusing material in my packaging, so to send another invoice for me would not be in keeping with my shop policy. However, Paypal allows you to customize your invoice very much like your etsy banner (you could use your banner!) This sends a professional image. Perhaps in the note to buyer upon a sale… “Please print a copy of the etsy/paypal invoice for your records.”

    This is a common suggestion in e-commerce!

    I include a card, handwritten note & an extra little freebie photograph.

    Great thread!

    Comment by Joy — March 2, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  71. I’m an etsy seller too and I see many people asking how to make a branded invoice. I made mine up on a Printmaster card program and have it set up to print two invoices on one sheet of paper. It’s not too small, not too big and when folded, a business card fits nicely inside. I do have a comment about returns on the bottom, but now, after reading about restating the return policy, I’m going to change it a bit.

    I don’t include swag in every order, but if someone is a repeat customer or places a large order, I’ll include another item for free. I’ve also had customers give me wonderful ideas, I ran with them and created something new and I sent them one as a thank-you. I send all my items in pretty little organza bags that I buy from another etsy seller and each item is attached to a small card, which I also make on Printmaster, again with my banner and name.

    I know etsy automatically generates an invoice, but I believe a personal note stating that the order was received and a possible date when it will be shipped out is also important. I make sure to send out a ship confirmation as well.

    Yes, it takes some time and effort to do all these little steps, but it pays off with repeat sales and sales by word of mouth.

    Thanks for the great tips and I wish everyone lots of sales!!

    Comment by Mandy — March 2, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

  72. I guess I’m in the minority here, but I also do not like to receive excess paper, wrapping, cutesy boxes, stickers, or other “swag” in my packages. I bought an item. I expect it to be shipped in a timely way and I want it to be wrapped securely. That is all. Anything else will be regrettable waste. I don’t keep the business cards of people I buy from. I don’t remember who sent me a freebie and who didn’t. Paper invoices go right into the recycle bin. I buy your product because I like your product, not because I like the seller or the packaging style. The only extra thing you can put in your package that will make me a happier customer is a coupon for a discount on a future purchase.

    Comment by Laura — March 2, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  73. Thank you for all four great ideas, I was already doing most of these! :)
    and the BONUS idea I hadn’t thought of–giving a coupon for the next purchase!! That was great!!!

    Comment by http://sofisticata.etsy.com — March 2, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

  74. Love the bonus tip about identifying whether the item is a gift, that’s such a nice feature & eliminates the need for a buyer to have you ship it to them first to verify that a price tag isn’t included.

    Comment by Courtney Dirks — March 2, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

  75. I have to agree with #s 18 and 29. I don’t include and invoice anymore after I realised how much paper and ink I was wasting. Not one person has ever complained and I save a ton of money.

    And, regarding swag…I don’t think I’ve once used ANYTHING anyone has included in their packages if it wasn’t something exclusively made by that artist. Most of it is junk. *Remember, one person’s idea of great swag is sometimes another person’s idea of garbage. Magnets, pens, pins, candy…all of it goes in the trash, leaving me [the buyer] to feel GUILTY about adding more to our landfills.

    For my orders, I wrap my items sweetly…include a 4×6″ card from my last show, which has a sweet image they can hang by their desk if they choose, lists my name, phone, store, etc…and then hand write a ‘Thank You’ note to the buyer on that same card. [I design my own cards and always include a space in which I can write.]

    If I include any sort of swag, it’s always a free sample of one of my other products. This enables a client who has already purchased from me to try my other items, thus increasing the chances that they’ll order from me again instead of going elsewhere for that product.

    I can’t tell you how many people write afterward to say that they appreciate the handwritten note and extra gift of my personal work.


    Comment by Raven — March 2, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  76. Hi, I am new, and let me tell you that these ideas are wonderful, and as soon as I am somewhat organized, I will be implementing them. Thanks to all of you for all your amazing ideas.

    Comment by maureen barnes — March 2, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  77. hi I was reading a lot here and I do also send my buyers a little extra when possible -but it has to do with the item ,like a craft they order I will put an extra lamp or doll item of the same -this I know they will use and save because they ordered them from me already.I don’t gift them a hair brush with a (set of barrettes) instead I give an extra ty barette .they will use .
    hope this helps others

    Comment by frannj67 — March 2, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

  78. I agree with the person who said buyer should print there own invoice and save it for sellers info, most people throw it away with the box.
    thanks a bunch

    Comment by frannj67 — March 2, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

  79. Thanks for the advice. Just curious if you have any suggestions for programs that can be used to design and develop an invoice. Preferably a free program for those of us who are just getting started. Do you need special business management software or can you do this from Word or something. Thanks

    Comment by Heather — March 2, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

  80. I too was wondering what to send as an “extra”. I received a few small beads from one vendor here on Etsy, and although I haven’t ordered anything else from her, I know that I will. I put them in a tiny plastic bag with the vendors name on it, and put it in the drawer with my beads of the same color.
    I’m thinking of including a small pair of earrings, if they dont like them,they can give them to someone else!

    Comment by Marie Love — March 3, 2010 @ 1:35 am

  81. I think the paper invoice is redundant when they already get one as confirmation of their order. I think a little gift, something that you sell, would be better appreciated. I know I would. Everyone loves to get something “extra” that they can actually use.
    Although, I would probably change that free gift often, just so I dont give away all my profit! LOL!

    Comment by AzaferraJewelry — March 3, 2010 @ 1:42 am

  82. I prepared pretty bookmarks with graphics and my URL, and send them with my items. I also recently ordered recylable lunch bags with my logo, name and URL and will start sending my items tucked into them.

    Comment by Cecilia — March 3, 2010 @ 2:32 am

  83. @Heather, We designed our invoices in InDesign originally, but actually I programmed by website to generate printable PDF invoices (using my invoice design) automatically when orders come in. It gives our warehouse something tangible to use to proof orders (make sure the package contents and package address all match the invoice). I imagine you could design an invoice in a program like GIMP (which is free) or Photoshop (which is not free but very useful for running an e-biz, you can probably get a used version on ebay for a lower price).

    Comment by Meredith — March 3, 2010 @ 7:26 am

  84. Thanks for the advice. I’m always looking to improve my business. Do you have any advice on a user-friendly book-keeping program? I don’t like excel that much. Thanks!

    Comment by Gina — March 3, 2010 @ 8:03 am

  85. @Gina I think Quickbooks is pretty much the standard. It’s not super difficult to figure out IMO

    Comment by Meredith — March 3, 2010 @ 8:15 am

  86. excellent points – thanks for the reminder

    Comment by ArtSnark — March 3, 2010 @ 9:08 am

  87. Thanks for the advice. I really need to make sure customers know and understand they can return items if they are unhappy and how to do it. Thanks!

    Comment by Colby June — March 3, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  88. A paper receipt is always a good idea from a business standpoint. If you are purchasing something for your own personal use or a gift and you already have a copy, you can recycle it.

    If you happen to purchase items that you will reuse in your business, an actual receipt with the sellers information clearly printed along with a description is necessary for tax purposes. I match my printed invoice at the time of purchase up with the invoice in my package to make sure I was charged the correct amount and I got what I ordered. Both copies go in my file for taxes and I usually make notes on my copy if it is an item I really liked, was a great value or was not pleased with to use as future reference.

    Comment by Melissa — March 3, 2010 @ 10:08 am

  89. Such a great discussion. I am new at selling online and still finding my way. I had thought of the waste of printing a packing slip, as I don’t save them myself. Pamela #39, I like the idea of a PDF invoice sent at the time of shipping notification. I made an invoice in Word and merge the customer data from Excel. I include my business card and a large gift tag with my personal thank you on the back as well as my Facebook page. Swagwise, I do make some small items and send a sample in the hopes they will like it and order more in the future.

    Comment by Suzanne — March 3, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  90. What type of “swag” would you recommend for a vintage seller, or is it even necessary? I feel like most people buying vintage are less likely to be repeat customers than, say, a jewelry or ceramics shop where you know everything is a uniform style.

    And while we’re on the subject of packaging, is recycled packaging a huge turn-off? I always re-use boxes and padded mailers to ship things in, so sometimes they are slightly ratty looking, but it keeps costs down in addition to being green. I do wrap things nicely on the inside (pretty tissue paper) but I don’t go overboard with ribbons, etc… again, trying to keep costs down.

    Comment by Aller-Retour — March 3, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

  91. @Aller-Retour I think a pen, chip clip or magnet is pretty universally acceptable. Most people will hang onto that kind of thing since it’s useful and helps them remember your brand.

    Personally, I wouldn’t use ratty looking packing materials. I recycle “used” packing material I get but wouldn’t use them to mail product to customers. If you want to be green you can buy non-ratty looking packing material made from recycled materials. That said, do what you think is suitable for your target market.

    Comment by Meredith — March 3, 2010 @ 3:03 pm


    Comment by frannj67 — March 3, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

  93. I also am very confused when listing categories in but thanks to a few sellers who took the time to give me help on there own time -I am so greatful to them, boy was I surprise, they did not want to see me get kicked off for listing wrong.people are a great help here thanks so much

    Comment by frannj67 — March 3, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  94. Hi, a couple of you have mentioned personalizing your paypal invoice. I went to their site and can’t figure out where or how to do that. Your help would be appreciated! Thanks!

    Comment by Laura — March 3, 2010 @ 3:11 pm

  95. I also cut my shoe boxes in half and reverse the sides for a smaller box to wrap in brown paper, if not doing priority.

    Comment by frannj67 — March 3, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

  96. I thought these were great tips. I just finished designing my own invoice, but after reading some of the comments, I think I will send it to the buyer via email instead of printing it out. I do like the suggestion to have your return policy and “if-you’re-not-happy-with-your-order” instructions on the invoice, particularly for new Etsy buyers who may be quick to post negative feedback instead of getting in touch if there is a problem. Thanks for posting!

    Comment by Averil — March 3, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

  97. I have tried some swag items like jewelry polishing cloths in the past but not found it too beneficial for getting return orders, so I was wondering if including your business card in the package may be a good tactic?


    Comment by Artistic Silver Jewelry — March 4, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

  98. @Artistic Silver Jewelry Did the polishing cloths have your brand name on them? The freebie you include in your orders is going to be most effective if it has your brand name and website on it so people remember where it came from. I think biz cards are okay but customers may be less likely to keep that since it’s not as functional.

    Comment by Meredith — March 4, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  99. Meredith,

    No, the polishing cloths did not have my business info on them, however I do make sure that all my gift boxes carry my business logo and info on them. In the future, I will definitly be sure that my business info goes on any promotional stuff I enclose.
    Again, Thankyou for your tips.

    Comment by Artistic Silver Jewelry — March 4, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  100. @ Artistic Silver Jewelry. I have a stamp that has my business name, email address and website from vistaprint.com and it was free. You could always get one of those and stamp it on a corner of the polishing cloth.

    Comment by Christina — March 5, 2010 @ 12:45 am

  101. Thanks so much for the great tips and especially thank you everyone for the useful comments! I have to agree with many comments that sending an extra invoice is a waste of paper. I liked the idea of sending a personalized online invoice.

    This article has given me a lot of good ideas to add to my packaging. I always include my business card with a purchase as it has all of my contact info on it. I think I’ll be designing a thank you note with space for a hand written message and include either a return policy or care instructions on the back of the card.

    The coupon for future purchases is a great idea!

    Comment by Valerie Lynn Designs — March 7, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

  102. Thanks for sharing, some great tips!

    Comment by Felecia — March 13, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  103. I always include an invoice in every order.
    Because if your package is damaged and the address become unreadable for some reason, the invoice inside that package is the only way that the stuff will ever get either to the customer or back to you.
    Otherwise it sits in some postal processing center for eternity.

    If you feel it’s a waste of paper, then by all means, reuse or recycle it for some other purpose. I do the same with mine.

    Comment by Kristin — March 25, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

  104. Thanks for the tips! I like the idea of including an invoice to add a professional feel. I also like to include a personal thank you note and a business card that doubles as a free sample of my photography. Moo cards allow you to do this: http://us.moo.com/en/

    Comment by Alexa — April 7, 2010 @ 6:12 am

  105. [...] been a proliferation of articles on how to wow customers with amazing product packaging and a lot of discussion on what your package should include. Opinions on these subjects are mixed, but one thing is for certain, you cannot let your efforts to [...]

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  106. [...] 4 Things your Outgoing Orders Should Contain (there is a good suggestion in the comments section about including a discount coupon or free shipping for their next purchase – smart thinking – just need to figure out how to do coupons on Etsy) This entry was posted in Craft Business and tagged craft business, Etsy, online shop, shipping. Bookmark the permalink. ← Writing policies instead of lists [...]

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