the importance of good packaging

It’s easy to forget about packaging when your product is sold online. However, since your customers don’t get to experience your work in a brick-and-mortar shop, how you package your product becomes the customer’s first impression. Once I started thinking about Hello Tenfold packaging, I realized I had a lot of questions. Who better to turn to than Shannon Riffe of Rifferaffe, Kate Hibbs of Paperleaf, and Danni Hong of Oh Hello Friend? All three take packaging seriously, putting extra effort into making the outside look as pretty as the inside.

After the jump, I’ve asked each business owner the same 5 questions about their packaging. To find out what they had to say (or, to just see more beautiful pictures!) CLICK:

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Shannon Riffe is the talented woman behind the etsy shop Rifferaffe and the craft business blog Make It. Shannon’s soaps and cards are beautifully packaged, and she’s a great person to talk to about shop branding and packaging! In addition to the great information on Make It, Shannon is a contributor to the Modish Biz Tips with her column The Etsy Way.

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What are three tips you’d give to someone trying to figure out how to package their product?
Figure out who your audience is, how much you can afford to spend on packaging, and whether you want to use handmade packaging or outsource the making of it.

Why is it important to spend the extra time & money on beautiful packaging?

First impressions are everything. The way you package your product is a way of putting your best “face” forward to a potential customer when they encounter your work for the first time.

Where do you look for materials? Do you buy things in bulk?

I buy all of my paper products from www.mrfrench.com. I like that they are an eco-friendly, family owned business, based in Michigan (where I am, also). I do buy in bulk, which is great because it saves me on shipping fees and I have material around to work with when inspiration strikes. The downside is figuring out where to store everything in a home studio.

Do you standardize your packaging, or switch it up for each sale?

I switch it up for each sale. The packaging of the soaps are standardized but the envelopes and thank you cards vary from package to package. It’s important that my product be recognizeable, which is why I standardize it.

Do you include personal notes or personalize the package in any way?

Yep! Alot of people shop at sites from Etsy because they enjoy the personal interaction with the maker behind the product. I have a “Thank You” stamp that I had made at http://www.thestampmaker.com/ and I use it to stamp pieces of cardstock and sign my name below. It only take a few seconds but it makes a big impression on the recipient.

Do you design & screenprint the wrappings yourself?
Yes, I do. Designing and screenprinting my wrappings gives me total control over the final result. I can change colors up or add a new design as I want to.

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Once you’ve seen Kate’s beautiful paper goods, it might surprise you to learn that she’s a grad student at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oxford. Her gocco skills are as impressive as her scientific background, and Kate puts the extra effort into her product packaging, too. You can find Kate at her blog, Paperleaf, and also at her shop by the same name.

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What are 3 tips you’d give to someone trying to figure out how to package their product?

1) Try to coordinate your packaging with your products, and choose complimentary materials. For example, all of my cards are recycled so I use biodegradable bags for individual cards, and recycled kraft paper bags to put everything in. To personalize my packaging further, I stamp my bags using my gocco after I’ve finished a batch of cards, which doesn’t take much time at all and I think adds a nice personal touch. You could also do this using a rubber stamp with your logo on it.

2) Don’t miss the opportunity for branding! Put your website or email address on your packaging, and slip in a couple of business cards. I always put 2 cards in each order so that the recipient will hopefully pass one onto a friend.

3) It’s always nice to pop in a free sample if you can – I usually include one of my handmade gift tags or, for a larger order, a couple of extra cards. I’ve received lots of cool extras in the past when I buy handmade – little stickers, sweets, samples or cards. It’s always nice to get a little unexpected treat!

Why is it important to spend the extra time & money on beautiful packaging?

It shows the recipient that you are passionate about your product, and reinforces the handmade ethos – that your product has been lovingly made and packaged by hand – not by some machine in a factory! Everyone loves receiving beautifully wrapped gifts, so if your products are packaged in such a way that the recipient feels like they’re opening a little present, even if it’s just a couple of greeting cards, it will hopefully brighten up their day and make your business stand out, so hopefully they’ll return! It’s not necessary to spend lots of extra money – you can reuse packaging or materials you already have lying around – for example tissue paper and ribbon. Since I buy a lot of handmade things that usually come beautifully packaged, I always keep that packaging for future use!

Where do you look for materials? Do you buy things in bulk?

I buy my biodegradable bags from my stationery supplier in bulk, every time I order card I order enough bags to package that batch of cards. Since my cards are made using Gocco, I generally do print runs of between 50-100 cards at a time. I get my paper bags from Ebay – they are super cheap, around £2 for 100.

Do you standardize your packaging, or switch it up for each sale?

Most of the time it is the same, but I’ll use different materials to tie around the bags – ribbon, string or twine, depending on what I have lying around.

Do you include personal notes or personalize the package in any way?

I always, always include a personal note! I think that is very important, again reinforcing the handmade, personal touch. After printing my paper bags, I print a batch of postcards with the same designs and use those to write a little note to the recipient.

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Danni Hong “fell into” graphic design (with help of her mom) and just graduated from design school in 2007. Today she is a freelance designer, blogger, and owner of the popular online shop, Oh Hello Friend, where she sells jewelry and more.

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What are 3 tips you’d give to someone trying to figure out how to package their product?

1) Figure out what works and what won’t work: obviously you have to take into account if your product is fragile, can’t be bent, etc. Then you can go from there!

2) Try different things out. I’ve gone through about 3-4 different revisions of my product packaging and it’s really a lot of fun each time!

3) spend some time researching, looking for ideas and gathering inspiration: http://www.flickr.com/groups/nice_package + http://www.flickr.com/groups/etsypackaging

Why is it important to spend the extra time & money on beautiful packaging?

I think product packaging is so important because it is the essence of your company image. It really portrays your company branding and identity. It is in a way a special experience to receive a really lovely package. I think there is such a world of difference when I receive a product that has just been thrown in an envelope, verses one that has been packaged with love and care. Your customers definitely notice – I often receive many comments from buyers saying how much they enjoyed opening their package: some people even tell me they liked the packaging as much as the product! ; ) I think that’s a good thing, lol.

Where do you look for materials? Do you buy things in bulk?

I find materials from all over but mainly etsy, ebay, office + craft stores. I do like to buy things in bulk, so I am not constantly ordering supplies over and over again. Plus, you can always find different uses for your packaging materials. For promo materials, I’ve used:

Business cards: overnightprints.com
Stickers: UPrinting.com
Postcards: vistaprint.com
1″ promo Buttons: FunkyRecycling.etsy.com (they don’t have the buttons in their shop, you have to message them. but they have the best service!)

Do you standardize your packaging, or switch it up for each sale?

I used to switch it up each sale (like hand sewing each package closure!) but realized that as much as I loved doing this, there wasn’t enough time in the day to hand sew every single jewelry envelope. So now I have a packaging system down… and it’s pretty standard but still nice. ; ) I also really like to include a little extra or promo item because I think it’s nice to receive something extra. (extras include items such as buttons, postcards, stickers, etc! they’re inexpensive and are great to add into your package.)

Do you include personal notes or personalize the package in any way?

I usually try to with every order! I stamp a tag with a date stamp + I like to include a small message.

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Thanks so much to Shannon, Kate, and Danni for participating! Also, thanks to A Print A Day for the embellishment on the hangtag in the first image. Be sure to visit their shops to see more!

33 Responses to “the importance of good packaging”

Ibeth Moreno

August 3, 2009 at 10:03 am

Hi Ellie! i´m a mexican designer, who loooves your blog, this is the first time i response something in your wall (yei!) ´cause definately this is the post for me :) I was confused about packaging very nice my product or just good! for saving some money, but after reading this I now what i have to do ;) thanks so much for all your post!!! and congrats for your beautiful wedding!!!!!! My best wishes

Ibeth

Jess

August 3, 2009 at 10:39 am

Wonderful information – I agree that the personal touch is what sets Etsy and other handmade online sellers apart – and is one big reason why I always look forward to receiving any goodies I buy online direct from the maker!

kelly

August 3, 2009 at 11:25 am

thank you so much for this post! i absolutely love packaging. whenever i’m giving a gift to someone, i always make sure that the packaging is on par. some of my friends tease me and tell me i take it too seriously, but i agree, i think presentation is a key element to a gift. it says a lot about you as a person too and how much you care about your work.

Kate

August 3, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Thanks for asking me to participate in this, Ellie! I’m honoured to be featured alongside such talented ladies :D I can vouch for Danni’s gorgeous packaging having bought one of her necklaces a while back, just beautiful!

Shaz from Oddsox at Folksy

August 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm

What an excellent article and great contributions. Loads of good advice. I so agree that receiving a package that’s had care and attention put into it does make a difference and sticks in your mind – which is always good when it comes to repeat purchasing!

paula

August 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

this is great. right now my husband and are are trying to find a cool way to package our photo DVD’s (photographers) that we give out. this gets my mind buzzing.

julie green

August 4, 2009 at 3:48 pm

great post idea, and well executed. i love seeing and hearing what other people are doing. i’m saving this one to come back to in the future, too. : )

Heidi

August 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Great article, tips, and photos! Totally agree with trying things out. Packaging for my Etsy orders tends to involve lots of illustrating and mail-art for the personal touch. It makes me happy to create an original postal experience each time :D

Kate

March 2, 2010 at 5:28 pm

GREAT post! Packaging makes all the difference in the world. it feels especially thoughtful when you receive a beautiful package in the mail. it’s that little extra layer of care that keeps me loyal to my favorite online shops!

d_estralita

September 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm

C’est tres chic! I’m a brand communications manager in an airline, and i’m inspired! :) Awesome post Ellie!

Mano Bello

November 15, 2010 at 8:54 am

Great helpful info…I just ordered all of my professional packaging to “serve” my designs in…I can’t wait to see it! I think it’s extremely important to provide to your customers. It just makes the item more appealing…and customers will remember it!
Thanks for the links, to!
<3

Silvia Macias

July 10, 2011 at 12:06 am

Great post. Good examples too.
As a graphic designer as well as a jewelry designer, I know that nice packaging really does make a difference. Not only is a another chance to promote your branding; it’s also another opportunity to make your customer feel special.
Thanks for sharing.

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