Everyone likes receiving a package through the mail. It could be an exciting new gadget that you ordered from a far flung destination, or a gift you weren't expecting in the first place.

Buying things online is a pretty regular occurrence for most Brits – with the average shopper spending over £6,000 per year. Encouraging repeat business is often easier than acquiring new customers, with a great customer experience helping that happen.

So how do you make sure your brown box stands out from all the others arriving at your customers' doorsteps?

The key lies in the opening - making it memorable for the recipient for the right reasons will help to keep you and your business front of mind with your customers.

Here you'll find a few ideas of what to include in your next box.

The item itself

OK, let's get this one out of the way first as, despite the actual product seeming like the most obvious thing to include, some companies have left customers disappointed by accidentally sending them empty boxes.

This is a bad move for a host of reasons; first and foremost, you've left one of your paying customers unhappy and frustrated at the lack of goods they've received. You've also wasted everyone's time, and your own materials, in having to send a replacement once you've been informed.

The biggest problem though, will be the negative press you're likely to receive. With everyone ready and waiting to jump on social media to name and shame businesses when things don’t go right, it's a sure-fire way to dent your own reputation.

Packaging materials

It's just as important that your item arrives in perfect, working condition, so be sure to include the appropriate protective materials when packing up your box for sending. Bubble-wrap and packing peanuts are the best options because they're light (to save money on postage costs)and soft (to help protect the contents of the parcel). You could also use old fabrics or bits of sponge, if those are the kinds of things you have lying around. See our pages on packaging advice for more inspiration. 

A simple 'thank you'

OK, with the two essentials covered, we can start looking at what you can do to lift yourself above the competition.

One of the simplest ways to improve your recipient's experience is to include a little handwritten note saying something along the lines of 'Thank you for your business!' It doesn't actually have to relate to the transaction - you could try writing "Have a nice day", or even including a family-friendly joke. Popular amongst independent businesses include hand-written notes recommending another product, based on the item a customer has just bought - similar to Amazon's 'other customers purchased' feature - but executed with thought and consideration, not algorithms. If you can make the customer smile, you're likely to stay in their mind for a little while afterwards.

Return instructions

Your products are probably great, but it'd be wrong to assume they're always going to be exactly what the buyer expects. A piece of clothing may not fit, for example, or a computer part might not be suitable for the customer's machine. You should have information on your business's returns policy on hand to include with every delivery.

This info should at least give the buyer step-by-step instructions on how to send a product back, and what options they have in the way of refunds and exchanges. If you want to go a step further, though, include a pre-paid shipping label too - it'll make things easy for the buyer, and they should be more likely to order a replacement with you instead of looking elsewhere. It might cost a little extra, but if your margins can afford it, that added convenience can go a long way in the search for repeat custom.

Vouchers and flyers

Talking of business loyalty, your deliveries should be seen as a great opportunity when it comes to encouraging second purchases. If you have a promotion coming up, and it's relevant to the buyer, why not promote it? A flyer will let them know what to expect, so long as it includes all of the right info - think dates, website info and deals. Just be sure to target your recipients using the information you have to keep it relevant. If someone has ordered a PS4 game, for example, they're not likely to be interested in the big Xbox One 'mega-sale' you're running next month.

Once again, you can take things a step further by including some kind of discount voucher with the item. This works particularly well if the product is something consumable; the voucher can be used against the next order of the same thing. It's a great way to encourage loyalty; the recipient feels they've been rewarded for their choice of business, and you get the extra custom - everyone wins.

The cherry on top

Covered everything above? Go all out and include a free gift as well. It doesn't have to be anything expensive or over the top, just a little extra thought to make the recipient realise how much you value them and their business. Bike retailer Wiggle is a great example here - its customers usually receive small packets of sweets with their orders. It might cost you an extra few pence for each transaction, but you'll soon make the money back when the buyer comes back to you for their next order.

Make sure if you’re sending internationally, you check the restrictions and prohibited items for the destination country – otherwise the entire parcel might be refused entry.

In all of this, it's important to remember that a little can go a long way. Aim to make your customers smile and they should return the favour with their repeat custom.


Related content:

Going green with your packaging
How to save money on packaging
Guide to sending large and heavy parcels
Waterproofing and packaging your parcel
Sellers guide to cutting postage and packaging costs


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