I love rediscovering paper mementos. Recently, I was rooting around in a box of postcards and came across a couple of sweet packaging inserts from past online purchases that brought back fond memories.
I found myself scrolling through their Instagram feeds to check out their latest work and even messaged them to tell them about the lasting impression they left on me. Eva and Nienke replied and were super excited that I’d reached out to them about their art. And all this happened thanks to a few pretty pieces of paper!
Looking to make a similar mark on customers’ memories and up the odds that they order from you again? Then it’s time to think inside the box with personalized packaging inserts!
Sending your customers a little something extra in the form of a packing insert is a great way to surprise them and boost word of mouth marketing. If what you send is really well-designed, they’ll want to talk about it and share their unboxing experience with others.
This blog post is jam-packed with everything you need to know for customizing your Printful packaging and gives you 10 out-of-the-box ideas, including examples from our customers.
The first thing your customers will notice when they open their orders is the packaging. With Printful, you can rest assured that your orders are handled with care.
For example, t-shirts are neatly folded and placed into polymer mailers, and posters are shipped in triangular cardboard boxes to avoid the use of plastic caps. To learn more about how specific products are packaged, have a look at this Help Center article on packaging.
Just go to your Printful Dashboard > Settings > Stores > Branding > Packing Slip (or click this link) to add your logo and custom message! Since your message will be displayed for all your orders, be sure to use universally applicable wording.
Printful also lets you add bold bonus items, called packaging inserts (“pack-ins” for short), to your orders. Popular pack-ins include thank you notes, stickers, and business cards. They’re a surefire way to make your brand stand out from competitors, and they increase the likelihood that your customer will keep ordering from you.
First, I’ll cover all the practical details you’ll need, and then give ideas for how to enhance your brand with pack-ins. If you just want the inspiration, click here:
You can send any non-perishable items as pack-ins as long as they meet these guidelines:
I’d recommend grabbing a tape measure and/or scale to get a tangible grasp on what these specifications mean.
For now, pack-ins are available for orders shipped from the following fulfillment locations:
They cost $0.50 / €0.45 per pack-in added to an order and a minimum of $25 / €22 in monthly warehousing storage fees, which we’ll charge you on the first calendar day of every month. For more on storage fees, head to our pack-ins page.
Follow these 4 steps to add custom pack-ins to your orders:
To add pack-ins to your orders, you’ll need to submit them to us for approval first. When you click the link above, you’ll be asked for a photo of the pack-in as well as its weight and dimensions.
When you’re ready to mail your pack-ins, submit a shipment so we know they’re coming our way. Double-check that they adhere to the size and weight requirements I mentioned earlier, otherwise we’ll have to send them back to you at your expense.
Once we’ve received and sorted your pack-ins, we’ll send you an email. Then, we’ll automatically start adding your pack-ins to all your orders. You’ll also get an email if you’re running low and should restock soon. We recommend sending enough stock to last at least a month.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s decide on your perfect pack-in! Note that you can’t choose which pack-ins to fulfill with specific orders, so go with meaningful items that almost anyone can enjoy.
Here are three guiding questions for your pack-in brainstorm:
Evoking a feeling of novelty or exclusivity in your customer is one of the best parts of a pack-in. Even though all your orders will have the same packaging insert, think of ways to make it seem like it was made specifically for the person opening a given order.
Simple touches like handwriting instead of (or in addition to) typed text, a heartfelt greeting, and sincere messaging go a long way.
A custom packaging insert is an easy way to help customers visualize your brand identity. So if you have typed text, make sure that you use a font that’s consistent with the rest of your branding, pick colors that fit your brand’s palette, and definitely consider adding your logo!
Need help creating a logo? Use our free Logo Maker to create a downloadable file you can add to your pack-ins.
It’s best to design pack-ins that won’t get tossed out right after your customer is done unboxing your product. With sustainability in mind, pack-ins should ideally be valuable, reusable, or informative. Value can be purely sentimental like being stuck to your customer’s fridge or saved in a box of mementos, or it can be monetary in the form of a coupon or discount code.
I’ll give a couple ideas below for specifically reusable pack-ins, but at the very least, your pack-in should contain actionable information. For example, you can plug your social media accounts or ask customers to leave a review.
With these prompts in mind, let’s get to the pack-in inspo!
The most straightforward use for a pack-in is to express gratitude to your customer. Thank yous have infinite possibilities, but I’ll share just 2 examples. You can handwrite a note, scan it in, and have it printed on a card, like the one that I saved from Eva Stalinski:
Eva even wrote out her social media profiles and illustrated the Instagram and YouTube logos! You could also design a thank you that includes your logo, like Printful customer and host of the Coffee with Crainer podcast, Linden Crain did:
“A brief thank you sure goes a long way. And thanks to Printful and their pack-in option, each of my customers is able to receive a token of appreciation—a small thank you card for their support.”Linden Crain
In the same vein, you can customize a postcard to say thanks or highlight your brand.
Or, you can create a postcard for your customer to send to a friend or loved one! Our premium matte postcards allow you to add a design to the front side and leave the back blank for your customer to write on.
This is a simple way to give customers a physical copy of your contact info. They can keep it as a handy reminder for when they’re looking for their next gift or treat for themselves, or pass it along to a friend.
Business cards often get a bad rap for being boring, but you can make them interesting by choosing a unique shape or pattern. Look at this house-shaped card by Nienke Siegers (accompanied by a handwritten note in Dutch that says “Thanks for your purchase”):
She’s got her contact info on the back, and the front is an illustration that anyone would want to tack up on their wall or fridge!
You already know your customer is a fan of your products. So why not give them a discount code or voucher for their next purchase?
You can incorporate a discount code into a thank you note, or make a separate branded card.
If you’re feeling extra techy, consider creating a custom QR code that leads to a funky Instagram filter when your customer scans it. Using a tool like Spark AR Studio, you can make an Augmented Reality (AR) filter that encourages your customer to share their unboxing experience on social media.
Custom stickers are arguably some of the most fun pack-ins to receive! Your customer can stick them to their notebook, laptop, car, etc., and in turn, they’ll be reminded of your brand on a daily basis. You could make your logo into a sticker, or whip up an exciting design in the style of the rest of your brand’s graphic elements.
Printful stickers are cut in the shape of your design, and you can send one or a whole sheet as a pack-in. Even better? You won’t have to deal with sending us pack-ins; simply place an order for your desired quantity and select the warehouse where you’d like them stocked in at checkout. We've also prepared a great list with sticker ideas for your inspiration.
Give your customers something informative or entertaining that’s related to your store’s theme. For instance, if you sell coffee-related products, like mugs and tees for caffeine fiends, you could include some of your best coffee-making tips or breakfast recipes.
If you sell apparel, you could slip in a lookbook for inspiration on how to wear your garments, or give illustrated descriptions of how to care for your products.
You get the idea: send your customers something that will engage them.
Even if your store isn’t geared towards bookworms, a bookmark with your logo on it or a thoughtful message in your brand’s colors is a great way to make sure that your pack-in will get used again. Here’s a vintage-inspired one from my favorite online bookstore, Blackwell’s:
It’s got an understated black and cream design that embodies the rich history of the shop, and it’s a great way to show off its physical location for those who can’t visit in person. Pick a nice thick cardstock that’ll hold up for many uses, and experiment with different geometric shapes!
There are tons of paperless freebies you could send your customers. As long as your knick-knacks meet our weight and size dimension requirements, you’re good to go.
Try putting one of your most popular designs on a pin or magnet, or send an old-school friendship bracelet or patch. Even though these tokens are tiny, they’ll have a big impact on your customer.
This idea will require a little extra thought to stay within the size and weight guidelines, but if you sell mostly clothing or engraved jewelry, you could stock fun fabric pouches or mesh bags as packaging inserts. Your customers could reuse them for traveling, protecting delicate items in the wash, or wrapping a gift!
Why stop at one pack-in? If you have multiple bright ideas, go all out. The more, the merrier!
Just try to coordinate them thematically and visually, like in this example provided by Leah Birhanu, visual artist and owner of Leah Birhanu Creative:
Her business card and postcard contain the same sunny yellow shade and match up with the sun embroidered onto the baseball cap. From this snapshot, you get an instant idea of her brand and illustration style!
“I love using my packaging inserts to send a piece of my heart with every order. Printful’s warehousing services allow me to send some sunshine with orders that I don’t pack myself, and ensure that every package leaving my store brightens someone’s day!”Leah Birhanu
To further spark your imagination, browse our custom branding board on Pinterest:
Hopefully this blog has given you some ideas for pack-ins to treat your customers to an unboxing experience that lasts long after they’ve unpacked their order. Visit our branded packaging inserts page for more design inspiration and take the next step towards next-level packaging.
And be sure to drop your personalized pack-in ideas in the comments below!
This article was originally published in November 2016; it has since been updated.
Hannah is a Content Marketing Specialist who loves playing with language to make even the driest ecommerce topics (like shipping) interesting. Using her degree in literary studies, she pays attention to details, be they in sentence structure or marketing trends.