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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Boutique Basics: Product Packaging Tutorial

The tutorial I'd like to share with you is one for packaging your product for customers. I do not know about you but I get SO EXCITED about packages when they come in the mail. You will seriously hear me break out singing, "Brown paper packages, tied up with string, those are a few of my favorite things..." Every. Single. Time. 

Why not make your packages extra special? You are a boutique. You are charging (or SHOULD be charging) more than Walmart for your product. Why not package your product in a way that lets the customer know, right off the bat, that what I'm getting is special. What I'm getting is worth the money. What I'm getting was created with love and care and attention! Why not package your product in a way that makes your customers see packages from you as something special? 

I'm here to help you out!! For starters, think about your style. What do you want to portray to your customers? Are you wild and fun? Do you love a modern look? Are you hoping to sell to people who prefer a vintage style or shabby chic? What is your niche? Consider these things and make sure you are purchasing packaging products that go with your style. 

Some things are easier to get in a particular style than others. Start with business cards. My first business cards were "free" ones from Vista Print. I ended up using a pre-made template from them. They weren't hideous by a long shot but when I needed to order a second time I spent a lot more time on the design. I included a quote from a song that goes with the theme of my shop. I used a logo I had designed by a graphic designer. I chose colors that I thought would match the style of my shop better. After that, I ordered packaging supplies. When I first began shipping orders, I put things in Ziploc bags and used poly mailers. Both ideas are practical ways to ship your product. I've shopped around some and talked to people who purchase boutique clothing. I've had many people say they preferred product shipped in tissue paper because it holds the ironing better. Tissue paper can also be purchased in a variety of colors so it's another way to help set the mood for one of your packages being opened!! Another plus is that it isn't a very expensive product to buy. (I bought a TON of tissue paper at Hobby Lobby during their Christmas clearance this year!) I still think the best reason to use it is it mimics the feel of wrapping paper. It gives your customer the opportunity to tear into it like they would for their birthday or on Christmas morning. I like to tie my packages up with baker's twine as well. Once again, it's another way to add color and fun to your packages!! The Shipping Guru on Etsy offers a wide variety of colors if you'd like to try this as well. 

Now, the main thing I like to include with my packages is a handwritten card. I buy cards in the dollar section at Michaels. There are usually a variety of styles and I get a bunch at a time! The cards will change out as the year goes by so if you purchase yours there and find something you are in love with, you may want to buy a bunch! I usually get a variety for myself. I like seasonal ones to ship with Christmas, Valentines or Easter pictures. I like fun and funky ones to go with fun and funky garments. Soft floral cards are the perfect thing to go with a shabby chic dress covered in lace. Really the sky is the limit here. AND most importantly, a hand written thank you card is becoming a thing of the past. Very few people send out thank you cards any more. Our modern, electronic, fast paced world doesn't lend itself to it. However, it's a touching gesture. Maybe even more touching because it's rare. I've had more comments from customers about how much the card meant to them than I have had about outfits. It sends the idea that this is personal. This outfit, I created was special and important. It makes the customer feel special and important. It makes you stand out. And when it's all said and done, if not for the customers, you wouldn't be in business so not only is it a good thing to do from a business perspective, it's the right thing to do. You DO NOT want to lose what makes you a small business. Walmart will not be considering sending out handwritten thank you's anytime soon. 

Alright, on to how I put my packages together. Please forgive the photos, as I'm NOT a professional photographer! Here's my packaging station. I keep everything I need here (unless my kids steal my pens...which usually happens!) I have poly mailers, tissue paper, business cards, my mini-moo cards that have my washing instructions on them, my kitchen scale for weighing my packages, a basket with all my notecards, tape, paper scissors, pens, Sharpies, and baker's twine. I also have some space for laying everything out.

 The first thing I do is lay out my tissue paper. I try and fold my outfit so my label is showing. I also fold my outfit as neatly as possible (after a GOOD ironing, of course!)

 I lay my card with washing instruction on top. This picture shows the wash instructions. I actually lay this face down but I wanted you to see that it actually is my washing instructions!

 See, here's the pretty side for the customer to see first - unless they get really excited tearing into their package! 

Then I carefully wrap the dress/outfit in the tissue paper. I try and make a square bundle with it. I use white tissue paper because that's the look I'm wanting but you could use other colors!! After that, I use baker's twine to tie it together. I slide the twine under the package and bring it to the middle from the left and right sides. I then criss-cross the twine and flip and bring the twine to the top and bottom of the package. 

Then I tie it in a bow on top.

  I write my message on a card. I try to make it personal. This particular card was going out to a giveaway winner. I like to say something that let's the customer know that I'm not writing the same message on every card - even if the messages are similar sometimes.

 I put the customer's name on the front of the envelope and slip it under the bow on the package.

 I slip AT LEAST two business cards under the card. Always send business cards for the customer to share!!

Then I slide my bundle neatly into a poly mailer. I REALLY like to find fun colored poly mailers (I use the Shipping Guru!) but sometimes I have to have the boring white ones - especially for larger orders.

 After that, attach your shipping label, and voila! You have an exciting package headed out to a customer!!

Happy Packaging!
Bethany Whipps

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