A packaging insert is an additional item that ecommerce retailers can put into shipments before sending them off to customers, and they’re a great way to level up your shipping and fulfillment strategy. Packaging inserts (also referred to as packing inserts) are usually unexpected and can build goodwill with new customers.
Customers don’t have to pay anything extra for a packaging insert. Instead, a packaging insert is something a brand will use to spread awareness about campaigns and promotions and to provide added value. Overall, package inserts are a cost-effective and versatile gesture for building a relationship with your customers.
7 types of packaging inserts to consider
1. Tips and tricks guides
A tips and tricks guide is a great way to help your customers get the most out of your products. This can be anything from tips on how to use your product effectively to instructions on how to dispose of your product in an eco-friendly manner.
Curology does a great job of providing tips and tricks guides in each shipment. The guides usually include how to apply Curology products and what to do if you have unwanted reactions.
Here are some things to consider when creating your tips and tricks guide:
- Make your tips and instructions clear and friendly.
- Choose a guide style that works with your brand. For example, if your product is a DIY kit, your guide could be safety precautions your customers should keep in mind.
- What type of paper and finish do you use? Whether it’s rustic kraft paper, matte card stock, or lamination, make sure it makes sense for your brand.
2. Discount offers
One of the most popular and straightforward types of product packaging inserts is a discount offer. Though you can deliver these by email, including them right in the box ensures your customers will receive the offer in their hands instead of in their spam folder. Plus, it leaves them with a tangible reminder.
If you’re an online beauty brand, for example, you can make use of several types of packaging inserts to drive customer loyalty. Customers can receive a few packaging inserts, including a discount code for 20% off on their next purchase.
One of the most cost-effective ways to create discount or deal offers to be included with your ecommerce packaging is printing them at business card size (business cards are such a commodity at this point that they are extremely inexpensive).
You can use a service like Overnight Prints or the premium brand MOO and upload your images for print. You may want to consider including two discount or coupon cards with each purchase, one for the purchaser and one for the purchaser to give away to a friend. You may also want to test out different types of offers to see which one your audience responds best to.
- Free Shipping on Your Next Order
- $10 Credit Toward Your Next Order
- 25% Off Your Next Order
- Free Gift With Your Next Order
- Free Upgrade on Your Next Order
3. Product samples
Samples can be a great value add to the unboxing experience of your packages for a few reasons. First, depending on the products you sell, you can sometimes get samples for free from your vendors. Second, product samples provide a great way to cross-sell customers and introduce them to new products and product lines that they may not know about or have been curious about trying.
If you have a range of products, includes free samples in your package. This way, customers can try your other products as well. It’s also led to good word-of-mouth referral for the company, as it’s observed many customers share the samples with their friends and family.
4. Small gifts
Much like samples, small gifts can be a great way to surprise and delight customers without making them feel like you’re trying to sell them other products. The gift you give doesn’t have to be expensive (it can be as simple as a sticker with your company logo on it). Since it’s unexpected, most will be pleasantly surprised by any additional gifts.
Grilla Grills, which sells smokers and grills, knows exactly how well additional inserts can impact a customer’s experience. They include a couple of free gifts in their packages to add value and leave customers with a smile. They also add a custom box insert by including a handwritten thank-you note with each purchase.
These small, often inexpensive gifts make people feel special, and it puts the law of reciprocity to work for you. It’s a powerful psychological trigger that leaves people wanting to return the favor, and can help encourage repeat business while leaving everyone feeling great about the transaction.
5. Thank you cards and personal notes
The simplest, least expensive, and most personalized insert you can add to customer packages is a handwritten thank you card. A simple card can be a really thoughtful gesture that can help build loyalty.
A custom box insert, like a card, may be particularly effective when first starting out, as it’s a competitive advantage that most larger-scale companies can no longer offer. Use this to your advantage.
One great example of a personalized packaging insert comes from The Drinks List, a boutique ecommerce business that sells wine. The Drinks List includes a handwritten note with every purchase. This small thing can help make each Drinks List shopper feel seen and appreciated.
Here are some quick tips on writing thank you notes to your customers:
- If it's financially feasible, use quality stationery.
- Be sure to use the customer's name.
- Express your gratitude, clearly stating the reason for sending the note.
- Mention details about what you enjoyed about your experience with this customer (a fantastic opportunity to be specific and thoughtful).
- Allude to your future interactions with the customer.
- Close with a professional but warm sign-off and a signature. (i.e., Best, Kindest regards, Sincerely, Cheers, etc.)
6. Product review or a “share on social” request
Since the shipped package usually represents the end of the transaction for most customers, packaging inserts can be a great place to ask for a product review or for customers to share their experience on social media.
Frank Body, a coffee-based body scrub, encourages social interaction at almost every touch point. This includes adding an insert that further bolsters its brand and a request for customers to share their experience on social media.
As a result, Frank Body has built a massive community of fans (808,000 on Instagram) promoting their product and providing social proof to others, increasing Frank Body’s brand exposure.
Slyde Handboards also includes a packaging insert to encourage social media sharing. It uses the insert to let customers know their discount offer will be sent to their email, which engages users on yet another digital platform.
7. Return form or return shipping label
It seems counterintuitive to include a return form or return shipping label as a part of your packaging needs, but it’s actually a great way to gain customer loyalty. According to data collected by Invesp, 92% of customers will buy a product again if the return process is easy.
Take Warby Parker, for example. A return shipping label is built into Warby Parker’s packaging design. Its entire business model is centered around allowing you to return glasses you don’t want, without any hassle.
Creating a return form is easy. You can include a hard copy return slip with each purchase, or a card with a website link or email address where customers see your return policy and start the process.
If you want to create customized prepaid return shipping labels for your customers, you can use apps like Shippo. There are other Shopify apps that will take care of the entire return process for you as well, including:
Why are packaging inserts so useful?
Every shipment will either fall short, meet, or exceed your customer’s expectations. There are many ways, some even out of your control, that will cause you to fall below expectations. If everything goes well, like the post office isn’t late and the foam inserts you chose did their job protecting fragile items, you may meet your customers expectations.
It’s the little extra things though, like using the right packaging insert ideas, that will help you stand out and exceed expectations. Let’s take a look at some of the other top reasons packaging inserts are so important:
- Packaging inserts can be low-cost. You don’t need to invest a lot to bring packaging inserts into the mix. Each of the examples below are low cost but can yield high return.
- Inserts can be highly targeted. The recipient is already a customer, and you know what they bought. You can tailor your package insert to the exact person receiving it.
- The cost of delivering the message has already been paid. The package is already being shipped, so you might as well make the most of it.
- Package inserts are perfect for cross-selling. Because you know exactly what your customer already likes, you can add highly targeted cross-sell opportunities.
- Package inserts are a great way to liquidate merchandise. Hard-to-move merchandise can be converted to a marketing expense and bolster your relationship with current customers.
- The right inserts increase loyalty. Customers are more likely to return to a brand that appreciates them, and packaging inserts can help your customers feel special.
Package inserts seem pretty simple—just throw a flyer or coupon in the box whenever you ship an order. But there are many options you can use to deliver more value and build greater loyalty with your customers. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of packaging insert options.
Prep your packaging inserts for customer loyalty
In the end, packaging inserts are really about providing more value by exceeding expectations and matching the right offer with your particular audience.
As with all direct marketing efforts, be sure to test different package insert programs and different offers to build your own successful program that will increase loyalty, sales, and profit for your business.