We’re having a blast helping you get your online store ready to rock its first holiday sales season. Now that we’ve covered the finer points of holiday shipping schedules and surcharges, it’s time to plan for something more hands-on: wrapping your customers’ gift orders and packing them for shipment.
Put on your elf hat and start thinking about your packing workshop. Your store’s holiday season will go better if you have everything you need on hand and plenty of room to work when those first gift orders start coming in.
Here’s a quick rundown of all the stuff you’ll need to get your products wrapped, packed and on their way.
Gift wrap options for online stores
Gift wrap is an easy upsell at the holidays, especially if you have great options and promote them well. You’ll need gift paper and invisible tape, gift bags or gift boxes. You’ll also need cards for your customers’ messages to their loved ones. Ideally, you’ll brand your gift wrap in some way, so the recipient knows where their awesome gift came from.
The options you offer will depend on your skills and your budget. Wrapping paper is great if you can turn sharp corners and fold neat edges. Otherwise bags and boxes will be easier and look better. Decide how much you can spend on gift wrap before you take to the internet to order supplies.
The most cost-effective way to brand your gift-wrapped orders is with paper or gift bags (usually a dollar apiece or less in bulk) and a custom self-inking stamp. You can order a stamp for less than $20 and then stamp your logo on whatever you want. Custom stickers cost about 50 cents each, for a dressier but still inexpensive branding touch on your bags or paper.
When your holiday gift wrap options arrive, it’s photo shoot time. For inspiration, check out #giftwrappingservice on Instagram to see how professional gift wrappers make packages pop:
Dress up some of your products and take photos for your website. You can create a special page for your holiday gift wrap options as soon as your photos, descriptions and pricing are ready. No need to make it live right away, as long as the draft is ready to publish when you launch your first holiday promo.
Peanuts, paper, air pillows, bubble wrap, Styrofoam—whatever you need to protect your products on the way to their new homes, stock up on it now. The storage space you give up to hold it all will be worth it when you can fly through your order packing process this winter.
While we’re talking packing materials, are yours worth using in your marketing? For example, if you use compostable cornstarch packing peanuts or recyclable air pillows, you can mention that on your shipping page and on your product pages.
Boxes and envelopes
Make sure you have enough shipping boxes, padded envelopes, mailing tubes and other shipping containers for the volume of orders you expect and then some.
Order what you’ll need soon, so you’re not stuck making trips to the post office or the store along with lots of last-minute gift senders.
Labels and ink
Make sure your printer is good to go, with a couple of extra ink cartridges and lots of printer paper and labels—especially if you’re including return labels and gift receipts with your holiday orders.
Tape, tape and more tape
Get a boatload of packing tape now. Get a couple of dispensers, too, so you’re not hunting for your scissors and trying to lift the end of the tape off the roll (ugh) during peak shipping season.
If you haven’t set up an online account with your shipping carriers yet, do it now. If you can set up a backup online payment method now, do that, too.
Being able to buy postage in bulk will save you a lot of online time this holiday season, and it will keep you from having to stand in line at the post office or shipping store.
Other important order shipping supplies
Consider adding these items to your workspace if you don’t already have them:
- Postal scale: Handy for making sure you’re not overpaying for shipping if your carrier charges by weight.
- Scissors: You may need to trim labels to fit boxes, cut bubble wrap and other mundane but critical packing tasks. Having scissors within reach will save you time and frustration.
- Sharpie markers: Handy for marking boxes before you add shipping labels to keep your orders straight. Just write the destination ZIP in the spot where you’ll cover it with the label.
Set up an order packing workspace for your eCommerce store
Ideally, you’ll be shipping a lot of orders this holiday season. The easier and more efficient you make the physical process, the more time you can spend on customer service, site maintenance and marketing. Your back will thank you, too.
A place that stays clean. Set up your “assembly line” in a space free of pet hair, cookie crumbs, coffee, bugs and odors like smoke that could affect your products and packaging.
A work surface. A table, desk or counter at a height where you can work comfortably is best. The floor can work in a pinch if you can keep everything clean.
Room to store your supplies within reach. Shelves are ideal, but storage tubs or rolling bins can work, too.
For more setup inspiration, search for “packing station ideas” on Pinterest, #shippingstation on Instagram and “gift wrapping station” on Houzz.
A process. Look at your current packing workflow to see if it needs improving. A typical flow makes it easy to:
- Wrap gift items.
- Pack products into boxes or envelopes.
- Weigh packed orders.
- Print postage and receipts.
- Add return labels and gift receipts.
- Seal the package.
- Attach the shipping label.
- Store packed items for pickup.
What comes next?
We’re about halfway through getting your new store ready for your first holiday season! Once your order packing space is stocked and set up (or ready to set up fast when the holiday season hits), it’s time to start thinking about getting paid.
Our next Rock the Holidays post will show you how to know which payment methods your site should accept and how to set them up. Watch for it soon!