It’s easier than ever to enter the world of e-commerce—but it’s also tougher than ever to stand out in such a growing crowd. Plenty of established online retailers are dead set on shipping things so quickly it’s almost time travel, but how can you compete as a brand new online store? It may sound cliché, but sometimes it pays to zig when others zag. Concentrate on these 6 big dos and don’ts for e-commerce businesses that are new to the online scene, and you’ll easily stand out in that growing crowd.

Do: Simplify your packaging style

Boxes are always a great choice, but in the world of e-commerce they’re often oversized or need too much void fill inside. By focusing on simplifying the package size, you’ll see a big improvement on your bottom line. Your shipping charges will be lower, packaging materials will cost you less and take up less space, and your team will be able to pack faster.

Tip: A bubble mailer can replace the use of a box and void fill.

Don’t: Concentrate on speedy shipping (at first)

Everyone loves fast shipping, it’s true. But when you’re starting out, the urge to get things out the door as quickly as possible can backfire on you. Employees will feel the strain and potentially make mistakes in packaging and shipping choices. That can cost you time, money and reputation—something that is critical to build at this stage. Nail down your techniques first, then refine and streamline.

Do: Create specialized packaging stations

Over 30% of consumers say that wastefully overpacked shipments make them question if you know what you’re doing. Simplifying your packaging is an effective way to avoid that opinion of you.

Carve out at least one space for packaging shipments in, and stock it with the supplies that satisfy your shipping needs. If you’re able, specialized packaging stations for each kind of shipment you make can speed up your efforts greatly—for example, one designed for packing up regular boxes, another for packing mailers of all types, and another for packing custom or e-commerce boxes.

Tip: If you’re using multiple supplies per shipment, think about buying them in pre-measured sizes (like packing paper or bubble cushion dispensers). You’ll save money on materials as your employees won’t be able to overpack.

Don’t: Let just anyone pack your shipments (at first)

Without proper training, employees can easily under or overpack shipments—leading to irate or unimpressed consumers. Nearly 40% of them say that damaged shipments will keep them from shopping with you again. By combining education on proper packaging techniques with a centralized packaging station, you’ll turn your team into veritable packing experts. Everybody benefits!

Do: Make it memorable for your customers

Every day, more competition enters the fray, making it more difficult to differentiate yourself based on product line alone. That’s why you’ve got to concentrate on your customer’s experience with you, and the best place to do that is right as they open their package.

Never underestimate the power of a personal touch. A thank you card with their name on it and commenting on their purchase—or even how often they’ve shopped with you—will make them take notice. Coupons and discounts on future orders are always welcome, and gifts such as candy, samples or add-ons related to their purchase will go a long way to cementing a customer’s loyalty.

Don’t neglect working on a really solid returns policy. Include a returns label inside their shipment, or simple instructions on how to print one out. It may seem counter-intuitive, but studies have shown that longer, more forgiving and easy-to-use returns policies actually create more sales in the long run.

Tip: If you’ve been around for a while, or have the packaging budget, look into creating customized packaging. Anywhere your shipments go, people will take notice, and your customers will be filled with excitement when they see your packaging approach them.

Don’t: Focus on promotional sales and loyalty programs (at first)

Promotions and initial discounts are a great way to attract new customers, but it isn’t necessarily the best way to keep them. Sure, big sales and deep discounts for signing up will likely get you their business at first, but without a reason to stay their connection to you will wane fast. Work on being memorable, establish a reputation, cement their faith in you—and then bring down the house with a flashy sale.

These dos and don’ts are a solid guide for starting your new e-commerce venture off right. Good luck to you and your team—The Packaging Company is here for all your packaging needs!

Any dos and don’ts of your own to share? Let us know!

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