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There's more to packaging than meets the eye. A its most basic level it simply has to protect its precious cargo, but with a bit of thought – and not much expense - your packaging can work much harder for both you, and your customers.

Without much work your packaging could:
• make a statement about you and the way you work
• have a second life – saved and re-used as storage
• promote your store and your work - which could mean more sales
and best of all
• create a sense of excitement and anticipation on arrival. (Which could also mean more sales!)

Who doesn't want their customer to be overjoyed at receiving something they've made? You've put a lot of work into the item, people should be excited about receiving it! And the more excited they are, the more they love it - and the more they love it, the more they'll talk about it and show it to their friends. And we all know recommendations from a friend are best kind of advertising for your store.

We're very interested in crafting and making things in the MOO office. Some of the team make things of their own, others are avid consumers of sites like Etsy. And Of course we also love packaging - we take a lot of care with our own!




What prompted this article was the recent arrival of two very different packages in the post.

Once out of the padded envelope, one item was wrapped in a clear plastic sandwich bag, with a printout of where it had come from and a receipt. We opened the plastic, threw it away, looked at the slip of paper quickly, and couldn't think of a reason to save that, so we threw that away too. Was the item nice? It was lovely! Were we excited to open the package? Not really - there was no anticipation, no feeling of having bought something really special. It wasn't remarkable, and now we've thrown away the slip of paper, we'll need to search online to find the store again.

The other package came in a little brown paper box, carefully wrapped with a strip of floral paper and twine. Opening the box was like opening a gift! Inside was bright paper, gently protecting the item. It felt precious, and special. It also came with two colourful business cards (we're not biased, they actually weren't MOO MiniCards or Business Cards!) and the owner of the shop had stamped her url on the outside of the box. There was also a little note to say thanks for buying from the shop.

What did we do with this packaging? We saved it all! Every time we open it to take out the item, we love it all over again. And more to the point, we have the url of the shop on hand all of the time. When we want to get something else, we know where to go. We kept the business cards too, because they were so pretty we didn't really want to throw them away. Luckily, as we have two, we can pass one on to a friend.

Of course custom ordering packaging can be expensive, but that doesn't mean it's difficult, or expensive to create something wonderful. We thought it might be handy to do a round up of some of the great ideas we've seen and show how some people are using MOO, to promote their business - and hopefully get more sales.

This article is part one, and concentrates on three main things, boxes, paper and plastic.



Boxes


We know boxes can be expensive - and they're not appropriate for every item. But, if you're a jeweller, sending something delicate, they're the perfect way to add some protection. Not only that, they're ideal for the customer to save and re-use. If the item is ultimately a gift, a nice box will make both the giver and the receiver feel really special.

These smart black boxes look like gifts from an expensive store. c-urchin has tied each one with coloured ribbon to match the photo on the MiniCard – and each MiniCard has a photo of her work. Such pretty cards, they're sure to be kept or passed on, meaning the url and name of her store is easily found - perfect for repeat orders.



But perhaps your work has more romantic feel? Less city chic, and more country cottage? These boxes by Nest Decorating again look like a wonderful gift, but create very different emotions to the boxes above:



Using thin ribbon and simple twine, she's threaded her MiniCards to the box, and added a simple bead. Again, sure to be kept, these MiniCards promote her store and will surprise and delight her customers. If this is your style, do check out Tamar's other uses of MOO they're a real treat!

These are the main things to think about when using a box
• they protect your items
• they'll probably be kept by the recipient
• they have a 'gift'-like feeling - perhaps you could offer it as a paid-for extra?
• they can be easily personalised, or branded with a sticker or stamp
• they can be easily accessorised with ribbon
• they can be more cheaply accessorised with twine, or wool, sometimes the box itself is special enough.




Tissue


Tissue is much cheaper than a box, and a lot easier find - and store! It still gives extra protection to the item inside, but at the same time, creates a sense of eager anticipation. That noise as you rustle the paper! Should you tear it right off or open it gently? Either way, you're already excited as soon as you've opened the envelope.

This item, is again packaged for the Nest Decorating store. Using just simple tissue paper she's added a special touch with a bright ribbon - and again, a great use of a MiniCard.



And this little package is actually for a swap, rather than a sale, but it's so nice, we thought you should see it anyway! Wrapped by Laura Fallulah, it includes a little charm, and several sheets of MOO Stickers. These stickers are actually MOO designs – but would work equally well with photos of your own products (great way to promote your range), or your logo, or url.



stickers are currently only available from MOO's UK store - but we do ship them world wide.

These are the main things to think about when using tissue or paper
• cheap
• easy to store (packages flat!)
• easily available in many colours, so you can find a colour to suit your style
• available in co-ordinating colours so you can wrap many items in co-ordinating style
• simply branded or personalised with a rubber stamp
• very easy (and cheap!) to add nice touches - floral ribbons, stickers, platted yarn or twine




Plastic


Plastic doesn't have to be mean to the environment. It's possible to find recycleable and biodegradeable bags out there, and they're quite cost effective and efficient. When packaged and used well, clear plastic can create a real sense of anticipation - you can see the item - all you want to do is get at it right now!

These packages by Yarnissima are really something. We've mentioned them here before, but they always strike us as a such a thoughtful and creative idea. Her shop sells wonderful yarn and patterns, and the packaging looks like a fantastic treat!



Crazycatladymel is another one that uses plastic to great advantage - look at these packages ready for swapping! Colourful bags of treats, you can see everything inside, but the candy striped twine and the MiniCard add the perfect finishing touches. You know who ever receives these will spend a few minutes looking at the package before they crack it open it for the goodies inside.



These are the main things to think about when using plastic
• cheap
• easy to store (again, packs flat!)
• works well with bright, colourful items inside
• works well for multiple items
• waterproof (more so than paper) so good for items travelling long distances
• slightly more 'ordinary' so the finishing touches really make it - colourful twine, ribbons and MiniCards.




We hope you've enjoyed these examples - in writing this we've realised there are lots more, different things you can do - all easy, and cost effective. We'll leave it here for now, but we'll be sharing even more ideas in the coming months.

Are you a seller? Or have you ever received a wonderfully packaged item from a seller?


We'd love to share more examples from the MOO community, so feel free to add your thoughts and ideas in the comments. Perhaps you've had a great ideas for your own store, or you've received a great package from an online seller? How did the package make you feel? Please do let us know what you think!

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
3valve
23rd May, 2009 16:23 (UTC)
I love the re-usable box, especially since every time a customer re-uses my box, they'll remember my product. Of course, customised boxes, while perfect for that very purpose, are very expensive... which is why I bought a roll of address labels in complementary colours, and had them printed with my shop information. $6 for a roll of 250 labels, vs $140+ for custom printing? Definitely gets my stamp of approval! Alternatively, a series of the right 3 Moo stickers would probably look super chic on a jewelry box lid.

The boxes match my Moo business cards, mini cards & stickers quite nicely!
moocards
23rd May, 2009 16:39 (UTC)
ooh - I *love* your Cards and Stickers! So pretty! Can i ask if you designed them yourself, or did you have someone do them for you?
Everything you've said is spot on - it's about customising off-the-shelf things - your boxes are lovely.
3valve
24th May, 2009 00:30 (UTC)
Thank you! I designed them myself. :) I was going for a semi-vintage feel, but I live in Japan and my product is origami, so I wanted them to reflect that Asian-ness as well.
moocards
26th May, 2009 21:38 (UTC)
They work really well - lovely colours, and they look great as a set.
shebear
23rd May, 2009 16:37 (UTC)
I'm a seller as well as a buyer on Etsy and I think customers really do appreciate the little extras when it comes to packaging.

I received one order that was wrapped in bubble wrap (a necessity to prevent breakage) but then finished off with a lovely blue ribbon and a small card. I felt like I'd given myself a gift!

With that lesson in mind, I'm trying to give my customers the same sense, hopefully while also minimizing waste in packaging. Here's what I've come up with:

Packaging

Moo card (what can I say, I love them!), speech-bubble Post-It note with a thank you on it, tissue paper (which hopefully the customer might reuse), and a reusable crocheted ribbon to close it up.
moocards
23rd May, 2009 16:42 (UTC)
oh that's so nice! The crocheted ribbon is a great idea - I've never seen that before.

I also like that you've put a hand written 'thank you' in there. It's what makes buying something from a crafter so much more special than buying from a regular store - just a personal human touch.
luna__wolf
23rd May, 2009 16:50 (UTC)
Great post!

I've been thinking about this a lot. I sell environmentally friendly handmade items, and have always packaged the goods in coloured tissue paper with a minicard tied with ribbon. While the paper looks pretty, it inevitably gets thrown away, which goes against the spirit of my business. I'm considering switching to resealable plastic bags, which can be reused for many purposes... only they aren't pretty like tissue paper, and I'm afraid the gift-like aspect will be lost. This post has given me some ideas, though. I'm thinking stickers may be the answer! A resealable bag would get used over and over, and every time it was used, my logo would be right there, on a sticker.
moocards
23rd May, 2009 23:47 (UTC)
Hello, thanks for your comments - I'm really pleased to've posted at a useful time! I think there's two things here:
• don't assume everyone will throw your tissue paper away. If it's nice tissue paper, I think a lot of people do tend to save it and use it again. I've actually just re-used some paper from a gift someone bought me, to wrap a crocheted toy I made as a present for someone else. I think the people that buy handmade often appreciate tissue paper and are potentially more likely to save it - although I am aware that's a HUGE and sweeping generalisation :)

• I was thinking about zip lock bags the other day - as I was wondering where people did buy their plastic bags from. The good thing about zip lock/self-sealing bags is that they feel like you ought to save them - because they'll 'come in handy'.

Zip lock bags tend to have quite a bit of space above the closing strip. Perhaps you could try hole-punching that and threading through the ribbon and a MiniCard? You could tie the ribbon with a bow, or get the kind of ribbon that curls when you run it over an edge - sometimes ribbon like that is paper based / recyclable. If you add a sticker too, it could be enough to make it look gift-like? Might be worth a little experiment?

As you said, if you print your url or shop name on the sticker, it's something that hangs on just that little bit longer. Let us know how you get on, we'd love to know :)
bekscilla
24th May, 2009 00:44 (UTC)
I have a ziplock bag that my friend sent me a lot of thread in (cross-stitch thread is a LOT cheaper in america than australia, so I got her to send me some), and that bag is used for just about every cross-stitch project since then, to carry my bits and pieces in. Sure, this was just a friend sending it, but if I'd recieved a ziplock bag from a business, and it had a sticker on there, I'd see that every time i got out my stitching. I think you're very right about the re-usability of things like that :)
linepau1
23rd May, 2009 19:17 (UTC)
I'm a Seller on Etsy, as well as a buyer. This article gave me some wonderful ideas, especially as I'm new to the game. Normally I send off my jewelry in a clean, clear plastic bag with a Minicard, and a hand written thank you + personalized message on a colored cue card. Not very appealing, other than the cards and the actual product.

The last thing I bought came wrapped up in bubble wrap, and inside the wrap was a beautiful red, soft fabric pouch. It really complimented the charm on the necklace inside of it! Plus it came with a note, and a second note with details on how to let the seller know I received my purchase.

As a design student on summer vacation, I've been doing a lot of my own research into the field. Reading and viewing online, buying books, and trying new techniques. Hopefully next time I'll have a photo of something better than a plastic bag for you to see =)
ladylyonesse
24th May, 2009 14:44 (UTC)
good packaging and more
I wanted to put in that I am always giddy to receive a shipment from The Loopy Ewe.

The order contents arrive wrapped carefully and snugly in white tissue paper, which is sealed with a sticker with the shop logo, name, and URL; every shipment also includes two cards with yarn samples saying the yarn manufacturer and colorway. (She's already gotten me to purchase a yarn I'd never heard of this way, because the sample was invitingly sproingy and I'd never seen one like it before) In addition, there is often a small gift. The most recent shipment included yarn and a pattern for a tiny red sock, keychain size. Finally, on the printed invoice, there is a personalized note handwritten at the bottom to say that the owner knows customers have a choice and she's glad you chose her shop.

Outside of the packaging, I also like the various incentives the shop provides to folks who shop there regularly, without making new customers feel like they're missing out on some exclusive club. It's a delicate balance to strike and I think they nail it.

All in all, I am always excited and happy to receive a package from The Loopy Ewe -- I love the way she does business all around. (I am in no way affiliated with the shop, just a very happy customer who admires the shop's business methods)
moocards
26th May, 2009 21:40 (UTC)
Re: good packaging and more
'sproingy' is a wonderful word :)
Thank you for this - it's really useful for everyone I think, to see what a difference little things make. It's like buying yourself a real gift.
(Deleted comment)
moocards
25th May, 2009 22:19 (UTC)
Good Lord, you are completely correct. That'll teach me to write work posts at 8am on a Saturday morning. Apologies for causing you undue stress!
razz
29th May, 2009 16:11 (UTC)
I really enjoyed this post! I keep wanting to order some mini cards, and this really fueled my incentive. Currently, I sell zines through my etsy (just added block prints), and I just slide them into an A4 envelope with photocopied flyers (in the DIY zine spirit), so packaging is pretty low-maintenance (or I'm not creative enough to think outside the envelope). I appreciate the creative kick, though. I will now resist the urge to spend the next 3 hours, researching places that sell nice packaging.

Hopefully, all of my parenthetical phrasing won't stress out any lurking grammar cops. I'm a copy editor by day, so I have to turn it off when I'm not on the clock or my head would explode. ;)
moocards
31st May, 2009 11:19 (UTC)
I used to draw for zines a lot, when I was in college - music ones mostly. Just trying to think of our favourite things then, and actually it was stickers, now i come to think of it - but we had no money, so usually just photocopied ones :)

We sell Stickers in the UK MOO store only at the moment - but we do ship world wide - and you get 90 Stickers in one go.

Can you use photoshop? I wonder if you could use a template like this on your cards, to advertise more than one thing at once:
http://dawnm.com/fresh/2008/06/moo-minicard-templates-for-pho.php

Or actually, now I think of it, bookmarks would be sensible - a little gift that you'd keep, because it would seem silly to throw it away:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/emmalynne/1130436061/

Although now I've just realised I've given away one of the ideas for part two of this article :)

razz
1st Jun, 2009 05:21 (UTC)
Wooh, you read my mind! I thought of doing bookmarks a couple of days ago. I've seen people string ribbon and twine through hole-punched moo cards, and I thought that would be a nice bookmark. I can't wait to see part 2! And thanks again for further ideas!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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