Shipping and Packaging: Creating a Unique Customer Experience that Drives Return Traffic

It’s hard to miss much of the retail news being covered by mainstream media today, this store-eating monster they call “The Retail Apocalypse”, but is this really accurate?

Is this a downturn in retail, or is this simply the evolution of retail? And what does this all mean for boutiques?

One word…Opportunity.

As our customers and clients seek new experiences while shopping, it’s up to us to ask questions and create the change in our businesses customers seek in order to stay relevant.   One of the biggest areas of opportunity as more millennials and Gen Z create buying power, is the need to create a valuable and memorable customer experience.  These generations seek impact, personal touch, and unique shopping experiences over all else. Simply providing a great selection at the lowest price doesn’t guarantee a sale.  

This should be exciting for you since the ‘experience’ is what the foundation of boutiques and specialty stores was built on. While many retailers today thought they had to become more streamlined and Amazon like, the reverse may actually be true for many business models.

So how can you take advantage of this change and touch consumers in a new way?

Besides offering traditional in-store sales, you may be offering options for your customers to shop online, over social media or simply by calling the store and asking to ship.

As you begin sending packages to your clients, let’s take a look at one of the key ways retailers can create a unique customer experience in just one area of the sales funnel, that is after a purchase with your store packaging and follow-up model.

Studies show that for many boutiques, 80 percent of your revenue may only come from 20 percent of your customer list, so treating them well to keep them coming back for more and telling their friends, is crucial.

Here are 5 key factors to consider in your packaging and shipping experience:

  1. Unique Packaging Exterior –  Anyone can order from Amazon or any said big-box retailer and receive a priority shipping envelope and paper invoice…pretty boring.  Thrones of YouTuber’s have taught us that the unboxing or unwrapping experience is as crucial as product quality, so make sure your attention to detail in packaging is on point.  This may mean colored poly mailers with customer logo stickers, a custom printed poly mailer from StickerMule, or even a printed box with your logo and unique brand messaging included so not only will your customer be excited, so will the mailman!
  2. Unwrapping – Once the customer sees your package’s unique arrival, they will be thrilled to open it up!  Don’t let this area disappoint.  Are your clothes perfectly folded or thrown in a crumpled ball?  Personally, I’ve received both, so make sure you or your packing team knows the difference!  Neatly folded items should be wrapped in equally neat tissue, or some kind of wrapping that makes the consumer feel like they are opening a gift on a holiday!  Scents, ribbons and extra surprises like a set of stud earrings are also an added touch that many boutiques use to create a lasting experience and delight through packaging.
  3. Policies Matter – Don’t forget the most critical part of your packaging besides the product itself, it is the printed materials also included. Generally, inside of your packaging, you will be sending an invoice signed off on by your packing team, perhaps with a handwritten ‘Thank You XOXO’ on the bottom. This invoice should also include clear return policy instructions on the bottom or reverse making hassle-free returns simple.  While some retailers cringe at the thought, E-commerce powerhouses like Zappos have made the art of the return one of their biggest factors in return customer statistics. Happiness matters.
  4. Call To Action – So your customer made a purchase, but now what?  Sure you might throw in a business card with 10 social media channels listed, but this doesn’t give the consumer any clear follow-up action to take.  Choose one thing, one action that you feel is most important for your marketing, that a consumer should take after a purchase, and only ask for that one action on a well-branded package insert. This might be to snap a picture of the product and tag you on Instagram, to join your Facebook Group, to use a coupon code on their next purchase, or it might also be to refer a friend using a unique code – you choose and be clear with your intended outcome.
  5. Follow Up – Here is where the online and offline experience can come together.  Once a customer purchases an item, do you simply forget about them? Or do you come back to them, check in, and work to build a lasting relationship?  Follow-up actions like email automation, text messaging services, good old-fashioned postcards, or even a quick phone call to a handful of customers prove to your customer that you are in this for the long haul and their business matters to you. They are no longer just a number, but a customer who you value.  This often forgotten about step is perhaps one of the easiest ways to ensure your customers come back to you again and again.

How will you take your packaging and customer follow-up to the next level and drive increased revenue despite what the media calls the Retail Apocalypse?  

Seek first to hear your customers needs, then provide them with something memorable that will keep them coming back for more.  Customer experience matters, and when you get it right, they tell their friends, and in today’s fast-paced marketing landscape social proof, recommendations and relationships matter.

Don’t let your customers be just another number, here’s your chance to skip the apocalypse and build a lasting impact with a simple, often forgot about touch, your packaging.

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Hero Image: Cute Closet Boutique

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Ashley Andrews-Alderson
Ashley Andrews-Alderson
[email protected]

Ashley is the Founder at the Hub, and has a slight obsession with boots, jewelry, coffee and 80's Country Music. She may or may nerd out when talking about Facebook Ads and boutique owner business strategy.