When you think about your branding, what do you think about? Do you think about that LinkedIn profile you worked so hard to build? Do you think about your website? Do you think about the email list you’re building? Do you think about your online reputation? Do you think about your mail?
It’s really easy to get caught up in the web based branding efforts of your business. Those, after all, are the most widely consumed. If you deal in any sort of physical inventory or use any sort of “snail” mail in your business, you need to remember that your envelopes and boxes say just as much about your business as everything else we’ve listed…and unless you actually run Office Depot, sending your stuff in generic Office Depot boxes says, basically, that you’re cheap. This is something you should avoid.
Whenever possible, you need to send your products and mail in printed shipping boxes. Why? It adds to your brand’s recognition. Think about it: don’t you immediately feel safer when the box with the smiley arrow on it shows up? You know, right away and without having to look at it, that the order is from Amazon. You know, at a glance, that the big red envelope is going to be from Netflix.
Ebay understands the value of this recognition. While it long ago stopped being a simple startup, it is still the selling service used by many new entrepreneurs who are trying to sell their products. Ebay and the United States Postal Service are teaming up to create and sell co-branded boxes to eBay sellers. While, yes, it’s true that—as an eBay seller—you have the option of using your own branded shipping materials, for those who don’t have the budget for that, eBay understands that sending their merchandise through its branded boxes can help buyers feel safer. Plus, it’s great advertising for the company. Who doesn’t want that?
Of course, figuring out the method through which you should ship your branded package can be frustrating. Most of the traditional options are really expensive, especially if you’re sending something overseas. If you want to save some money, try using a service like Scurri. Like you, Scurri is a startup. It’s based in Ireland and is billing itself as the “Hotwire of Shipping.” You enter in some basic information about yourself, your package and the package’s recipient and then Scurri presents you with a list of shipping options and prices. Pretty neat, huh?
If you don’t want to keep merchandise and inventory on hand, things get a little bit trickier. Most drop shippers and print on demand shops do not offer pre-branded shipping containers to sellers. It would simply be too complicated and expensive for them to do so. Many of them do, however, allow sellers to have their shop names printed on the labels (instead of the drop shipper’s name). Take advantage of those offers.
PRO TIP: Shop-specific box labels are just one criterion to look for when choosing a drop shipper. Use these tips offered up by the Chronicle to help you narrow your choice further.
Another option is to sell and ship your merchandise through a seller that is already widely respected, like Lulu, RedBubble, CafePress or CreateSpace. Amazon is also offering more support to startups that want to take advantage of its services.
Remember: how you send your things matters just as much as the things you are sending. Good luck!
“Image courtesy of satit_srihin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”