eCommerce Insiders

Shipping Boxes: How to Extract Every Drop of Revenue

As every retailer knows, there’s no such thing as taking a break from marketing.

Marketing is crucial for keeping the brand at the top of the minds of consumers.

Consumers have far more choices at their disposal than marketers have companies, products, or services.

Luckily, there are a variety of ways to perform this crucial function.

Some might feel that the only way to market to consumers is through traditional offline channels (print, radio, television) and through online channels (emails, social media, static websites).

All of these work well, and all of these play their part in the overall marketing process. However, there’s one more avenue for marketing that savvy marketers are using to their advantage.

The best thing about this marketing channel is its extremely low barrier to entry and acquisition. It’s a marketing channel via a product that your fulfillment team is already using, so it won’t cost you that much more.

But the genius of this marketing tool is that it works very well and renders huge returns for such a small investment.

What’s this genius marketing tool that your fulfillment team is already using?

It’s your shipment boxes!

That’s right!

The humble shipping box has been transformed into an extender-arm of your marketing plan. There are several ways to extend the purpose of those shipping boxes beyond delivering consumer products, and below are some great examples that savvy online retailers are already using to amp their revenues (and brand loyalty).

Discount Card Inserts

One of the most common ways to extend your brand while also bulking up your company’s balance sheet is by placing discount card inserts inside all of your shipping boxes.

First, your return on investment is mind-boggling: all you’ll need to do is order a lot of postcards and have the discount copy printed in the cards. As you know, the more cards you order, the more affordable the investment is for you.

In fact, Shopify offers a great example:

One of the most cost effective ways to create discount or deal offers to be included with your packaging is to print them at business card size (business cards are such a commodity at this point they are extremely inexpensive).

You can use a service like OvernightPrints or, for a more premium quality, Moo Cards and upload your images for print. You may want to consider including two discount cards with each purchase, one for the purchaser and one for the purchaser to give away to a friend.

It might seem counter-productive to generate revenue by offering discounts, but discounts are notorious for spurring spending-particularly the type of spending that the consumer never originally intended.

Discounts make the consumers feel that they have more spending leeway, and they’ll often take advantage of the extra spending money (by way of the discount).

Referral Bonus Cards

Referral bonus cards allow the shopper to receive either store credit or a deep product discount for referring a friend (or a family member). In short, your company will reward shoppers who actively bring your company new business (and in turn, boosts your revenues).

Offering the referral marketer a small token by way of discount or store credit is truly small price to pay when you’re able to obtain a new customer, and all without investing in a new marketing campaign.

Thank You Cards

Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and that includes your customers. Sure, you could thank them via email or at the bottom of your shipping invoices. But what better way to make the consumer feel appreciated than to send them a special thank you card?

Bonus points if you (or someone on your marketing team) actually hand-writes the thank you card. Can you imagine how your customers will feel about receiving a hand-written card in the age of emails?

Brandon Eley, the founder of 2BigFeet said this about his thank you card strategy:

One of the ways we encourage repeat business is by sending our best customers a handwritten thank you card with a coupon for future purchase. It’s my goal to send 1,000 cards every year, which works out to just 4 cards every weekday.

I write all of them personally, but I’m automating the procedure of running the reports, making the coupon codes, etc to cut down on the amount of time it takes me every day.

Efforts like this don’t go unnoticed. Brands are able to create explosive brand loyalty, and the loyalists become volunteer social media brand evangelists!

Freebies and Samples

Right up there with a thank you card in showing customers that your brand cares are freebies and samples.

Everyone loves receiving freebies, and what better way to make your customers feel warm and fuzzy inside than sending them either a trial-sized freebie, or perhaps, a full-sized freebie of a product that your company has in overstock?

You can easily write the expense off as a marketing expense, and you might even encourage the customer to spend money on the freebie product, simply because your company introduced them to a new product that they (now) can’t live without!

Random Brand Extension Surprises

This strategy works especially well if you’re a niche or highly-targeted company brand. Say that your fulfillment team is getting ready to package a customers’s order for women’s cozy winter nightgowns.

Why not surprise your customers with related gimmes like packages of coffee, tea, chocolate, or any other products that your customers might associate with wearing the nightgown? If you have these sort of brand extension products in your inventory, then all the better!

There are all sort of new and innovative marketing tools you could put to use, but why not use every resource your company has as its disposal? The humble shipping box is perfect for marking sure that your company extracts every bit of revenue from shoppers (as possible)!

What’s the best “extra” you’ve ever received in a shipping box for a product you ordered? Let us know in the comments!

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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