Thursday, January 24, 2008

Professional Matters

Being a small business means having to compete with the big boys. Some people don't give Indie designers the respect they deserve and it is up to us to earn that respect with extra effort to customer service and professionalism.

I buy a LOT of indie stuff. I love supporting artists and crafters and I have found some really unique and special gifts that you can't find at Walmart or Target.

As a buyer, not just a seller, of Indie designs I pay very close attention to the way a person conducts themselves as a business entity. Do they contact me after my purchase? Is my purchase shipped quickly? And when received is it professionally presented?

Tips for Professional Presentation:
  • Go the Extra Mile - Do not simply put your item in an envelope and ship it off. It's tacky. Take time to carefully wrap it to protect it if needed. Add a ribbon or something special to present it to your customer. Even a simple piece of gift tissue paper with a sticker works.
  • Do Not Reuse if it's Not Clean - I reuse bubble wrap and peanuts but that's it. I do not reuse bubble mailers. I sometimes will be able to salvage tissue paper but that's only if I haven't ripped it. If I ship in a bubble mailer it is new and clean. I find it very tacky to receive a used bubble mailer taped up and patched when I've ordered a new and clean item. I *will* reuse boxes if I can completely remove or cover writing and make it look new again.
  • Creativity is One Thing - This goes back to the reusing issue ... Some people seem to think that they have to use every piece of cardboard or paper in their home. I've heard of packages shipped in cereal containers and toilet paper rolls used to package items. Not cool. Would you ever receive a toilet paper roll from a major business??? NO! Even businesses that are so called "green" would not do this. It's tacky ... beyond tacky. Just recycle your food containers and toilet paper cardboard, k?
  • Include an Invoice - Especially if you sell supplies, but anytime you ship an item that was purchased you need to include an invoice of some sort. Even half a slip of paper with the purchase written down is better than nothing. Have you ever ordered from a major business and not received some sort of invoice? Nope. Not going to happen. I know it is an "extra" piece of paper but do you really think a forest will die if you include an invoice? Use recycled paper if it bothers you that much.
  • Thank you - Thank you goes a long way. Include some sort of hand written note thanking your customer. I have received packages with absolutely no personal touch at all and I hate it! At LEAST write thank you on the invoice. At the very least. I include a hand written special card with a couple sentences handwritten thanking my customers for their purchase.
  • Make It Pretty - When I open my package do I "oooo" and "aaaahhhhh"? Or do I at least smile? I hope that my customers enjoy looking at their purchase before they even see it. I have custom boxes that I tie in a ribbon. Inside pieces are placed in a silky custom gift bag. I believe it's a lovely presentation. You don't need to be that fancy but it should look like you put some extra effort into your packaging.

It is the small things that make customers remember you. Your packaging also helps brand you. The more they see the same logo or packaging the more it will be associated with you. Tiffany's won't be changing their little blue boxes any time soon. =)


monamigreetings said...

I love your tips, and totally agree! Thanks for sharing.

RetroRugrats said...

Thank you, Casto for your excellent tips. I need to improve in this area and you've given me a great starting point.

Rosanne said...

I don't run a business but I do purchase a lot of indie stuff online.
I appreciate it when I get my package in the mail and it looks so nice! I think that it show that the seller is proud of her work and wants to present it looking it's best.
I hate it when I do not get an invoice! You are right..even a small sheet of paper is better than nothing! Someone actually sent me a pair of earrings taped together with scotch tape and just put in an envelope! And that was it. Nothing else in the envelope! I knew who it was from because they put the return address on it. I guess I was lucky it didn't get ruined in the mail. But what a disappointment. I will not order from her again.