Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Is packaging pointless? I have to admit, when it comes to certain things, I think 'extremely'. How much does it ruffle your feathers when you see completely unnecessary packaging in the supermarkets (I mean why on EARTH does an avocado need a vacuum form plastic holder AND a plastic bag around that? And dont even get me started on THAT peeled orange in the vending machine).
But on the other hand, packaging can - and does - serve a purpose. I mean, it would be a nightmare trying to get your cat biscuits back from the supermarket without the bag., right?! For a long time, independent creators trying to make their mark in a competitive industry have been turning to packaging to go the 'extra mile' when it comes to getting themselves noticed. Review-driven business models, such as Etsy, require their sellers to provide the absolute best customer service in order to receive that golden five-star review that will ultimately drive sales. Immaculately-presented and delivered orders is one avenue that get those makers that review.
I've been an Etsy customer for a long time and over the years have made multiple purchases through the platform. As an independent creator, I know first-hand the importance of supporting small businesses and giving them the confidence they need to keep pushing to achieve their dream. What surprised me most when I made my first purchase was the sheer effort that the seller had put into their packaging choices. There was branded tissue paper. There was a free sticker. A beautifully-designed complimentary postcard. A handwritten note. And yes, there was even glitter.
But was it worth it? Well... yes.
I mean, of course, the addition of these items was most certainly eating into the seller's direct profits from the sale and yes, perhaps some might say that the packaging was a bit unnecessary (I beg to differ, given that the other day I received an order from a major online platform that had the most ridiculously oversized box for the smallest product - THAT was unnecessary), but it is these small touches that really do - and I have experienced it myself - drive business. Did she get that five-star review? Hell yes. Did I tell people about my purchase the next day? I absolutely did. Did I go back and buy another product? Several, actually.
So, whilst the packaging may have reduced the seller's margins, it most certainly did not do her any damage in the long term. Customer satisfaction is one of the most effective ways of ensuring repeat business. Engage with your customers. Write them those handwritten notes. Include something extra in their order. Follow up with a friendly chat. Be genuinely interested in their experience. Thank them for the nice review. Admit when you have made a mistake but go out of your way to put it right. They will thank you, and they will come back and your business in turn will flourish.