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Your Brand’s Journey: The Importance Of Post Purchase Branding

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Austin: Thank you so much for joining us for today’s webinar. The webinar today is called “Your Brand’s Journey: The Importance of Post Purchase Branding.” It is brought to you by ShipStation and Arka and just to give you a quick intro of your presenters today: we have myself, Austin, I’m here on the marketing team at ShipStation and we also have Phil, so everyone say “hi” to Phil!

Phillip: Hey guys, how’s it going? Thanks for having me.

Austin: Thanks for joining us today, Phil. We’re really excited to talk about the post-purchase process and all the good branding stuff. Here’s a list of what we will be covering today [referring to slide]: Branded Packaging and Branded Shipping. We’ll kind of get into the weeds of both of those. We’re really excited to hear about Arka’s perspective. They make some really great packaging. I know a lot of our users are probably really excited to hear everything you have to say today. So, Phil, I’m going to go ahead and pass it on to you so you can talk about branded packaging.

Phillip: Thanks so much, Austin. Everyone, thanks for attending today. I wanted to thank the ShipStation team, as well, for having me. A little about Arka: we essentially make branded packaging, and it is branded packaging made simple. What we say is in the sense that, for any of you who have tried purchase your own packaging in the past, or are currently sourcing packaging, you know that there are many steps involved. Whereas with us, we have a software where you can simply go to our website, select the package, brand it with your logo, and click “buy.” We take those myriad of steps and consolidate them into one. We have a free customizer where you can visualize your packaging and get an understanding of what the branding is going to look like before you actually make a purchase. This can be incredibly helpful as many manufacturers require you to purchase a sample ahead of time, whereas with us, you can just visualize it online! We pride ourselves on being merchant first, in a sense that we will bend over backwards for you, so feel free to reach out to us--I will say that many times throughout the presentation--so we can be there for you.

Let’s take a look at the post purchase process. What’s involved? You set up a store, you organize your orders through ShipStation, and then where we come in is you use print packaging and then ship your products, right? Post purchase is where all the action is. You can use a variety of platforms to organize your orders. We all know you should be using ShipStation, wink-wink. Then you’ll need to ship all your packages. This is where we pop in and send branded packaging to your fulfillment center or location of choice. From there, it will be shipped out and your package can be delivered to your customer.

I wanted to go over some interesting stats for a second [referring to new slide], according to newly released study by Dotcom Distribution, it turns out that the extra bit of cost for branded packaging goes a long way. To go over these three different metrics that are measured: a whopping 68% of online shoppers reported that branded packaging makes it seem more upscale. It creates that sense of special treatment. If you had your product in a branded package, nicely put together, and you have a similar product in a plain brown box (psychologically speaking, you may have considered this while you were purchasing), the product in the better packaging just seems more upscale. We’ve all had that treatment when we purchase something from Apple, who’s really set the stage for what branded packaging means. 61% say that branded aesthetics make them more excited about receiving and opening the package. The “doorstep experience” is a motto that we use in our company: if you have a branded package, you deliver it to somebody, and it’s waiting for them on the doorstep, they know exactly what’s going on. They get your product associated with that excitement. You get that feeling even when you get a semi-branded package in the mail from Amazon. You get excited for that reason. This is one of the more interesting ones: almost half claim that branding reinforces that the product was worth the cost. This decreases the rate of buyers remorse! If someone divvies up the cash and buys something in nice packaging, then they look back and say “worth it.”

Moving on to shipping [new slide]. This is something that ShipStation can help you with much more and go into greater detail. Something to consider when looking for packaging. There are countless options! It’s best to narrow them down based on what’s going on to get the best shipping rates. Shipping costs are determined by three things: weight, dimensions, and distance. You can look at those calculations and feel free to reach out to us or ShipStation to get more information on that. Everything on our website is actually optimized for shipping.

Moving on to stock boxes [new slide]. Just so you know, it is okay to start out with something that is not branded. Stock boxes are unbranded mailers or shippers you can still use to safely ship your products. These are great because you don’t break the bank trying to get out of the gate with a product when you’re first starting out. You can get a stock box, a stock mailer or stock shipper, and if you had something like a branded label--which ShipStation will be talking about later--that’s perfectly fine, as long as it’s a reflection of your brand. You want to get out there and spread the message of what your product is first and foremost. Then you can move on to beautifully branded packaging, which I’ll show you on the next slide.

[New slide] Here are some selections that we’ve actually made for different companies. Phil Heath on the top right, Amber Rose on the top left. In the middle you have Smize, which is Tyra Banks’ box which we made for her. These are all standard boxes that you can get through our site.

To go over the different types of boxes specifically [new slide] that you just saw--the mailer, the shipper, the carton--firstly, my question to you is, “What is your product?” That determines which box is best for you and your product, your product fit, and shipping rates. On the far left is the epitome of what comes to mind when you think of a subscription box. Arka optimizes for this. Our customer service staff are all here to help save you money so you know what’s the best for your product. As you see here, we have a mailer on the left which is great for small products like makeup and skin care subscription sample boxes. Mailers are great because they have that “unboxing” experience, where you physically take out the slots from the side and open it. It’s like a treasure chest, and there’s your product. The shipper on the right, in the middle actually, would be great for heavier products, like stacks or clothes, appliances, or wine. They’re great because they’re actually made from a beefier material and you can lug around products without any worry of there being damage. Finally, on the far right, you have cartons. I’m throwing them in as a third option. Cartons make sense for primary packaging. Although the first two--the mailer and the shipper--are good for putting your product in for the branded packaging experience, cartons on the far right cannot be shipped. But if you are shipping multiple products in a shipper or a mailer and you want to have an additional layer of the “unboxing” experience, when you compartmentalize those different products inside of the bigger box, then cartons can come in as a great experience for customers who want to try out your product and have a specialized unboxing experience for each one of those products.

So why is all of this important? [new slide] All of this helps boost retention rates, brand advocates, brand awareness, and customer loyalty. If you need any more advice or have any questions about this, feel free to reach out to us at support@arka.com. We are willing to bend over backwards for you and answer any questions you might have. With that, I would love to hand over the mic to Austin to talk about branded shipping!

Austin: Thanks Phil! It’s really exciting to see all the really cool things you are doing at Arka. It drives home the branding message that we talk about here: delivering that full branded experience for the customers.

To get started on the ShipStation side [new slide], first I want to talk a little bit about shipping. Phil mentioned optimizing your box size and all that to get the best shipping rates, another aspect of that is that your brand loyalties starts before the customer purchases at check out. Abandoned carts are usually caused by high shipping costs or slow delivery speed, and a lot of times if there is an unfair or non-existent returns policy. A big part of our advocacy is that you need to make your shipping costs and your speeds very transparent. If they’re not very good, then you need to improve them. You want to make sure that your returns policy is up front and center, not only at checkout, but all the way through the shipping experience. The actions that we have: offering fast and free shipping if possible and offer an easy returns policy, not just a fair one, but an easy one where there’s plenty of time and an easy way for your customer to initiate that return.

Talking about services and timing [new slide], something that’s really relevant this time of year is your shipping services, and being sure that you know the speed and costs associated with those carrier services. Every year at ShipStation we put out “Holiday Shipping Deadlines” infographic. This is just to provide everyone who’s selling on line with an easy access point to when certain services are going to be cut off. That way, you know what to expect for what you display on your check out for what you’re offering your customers. You don’t want to be offering a free ground service all the way up to December 20th and then realize that they’re not actually going to get their order by the holiday season if they’re buying a gift. What you want to do is take this kind of information and do your research now, rather than later. Ideally, you would do this before Black Friday so you can have it all prepped and ready for your website. This is a big part of your brand, and a big part of your retention. If you’re communicating transparent prices, services, speeds, then more than likely you’re going to build that brand loyalty, just by making sure that you have the most up-to-date shipping services. If you only offer a couple of options, like “you need to order by the 12th or the 14th and you’ll be able to get a free shipping service and get it in by Christmas as a gift,” that transparency alone will help your customers build that loyalty with you and they will know that they can trust you and your brand. That’s a big part, when it comes to shipping.

Moving onto the actual physical part of shipping [new slide], what we have here is not going to be near as exciting as the colorful and beautiful boxes that we saw from Arka. What you can do with your shipping label is you can compliment your branded packaging just by putting a logo on the label itself. Ideally, you’ll have shipping software or a service where you can put your company logo and then maybe also be able to put a message on the label, as well.

You can see on the next slide [new slide] that there’s a wide array of options that you can do when it comes to branding your logo. On the far right, you can see your standard logo on your label along with a message. On the left, you see this crazy looking shipping label with the items listed, you have a rewards program. It’s basically an entire pop out catalogue where the label would normally be on your package, but you can pull it out, you can look at it. It’s almost like looking at a little flier attached to your box. That’s kind of an extreme really cool way to use your label space on your packaging. Either of these I would consider a really good move forward if you’re not already putting your logo on your label. Just that small touch, your customers are going to notice that and they’re going to think, “Wow! These guys really have attention to detail and that means that they care not only about their brand, but that they care about the brand followers.”

[New slide] Whenever the customer makes a purchase at checkout, ideally, they’re going to receive an email right away that says, “Thanks for placing this order. We’re going to processed and shipped out as soon as possible.” What you want to do with that is follow up with tracking emails. Right as soon as you create the label for your order, you want to be able to automate where your customers are going to receive what’s called a tracking email. The great thing about tracking emails is that, on average, they have really high open rates, very high click rates, and they’re usually opened on mobile devices. People place an order and once it ships, they immediately want to open up that email because they’re excited about getting their order and they want to click on that tracking link and see where it’s at: is it on it’s way? Has it even left the warehouse yet? It’s just all about that excitement! You really want to capitalize on that. If they’re going to be opening these emails more than once, between checking out and receiving their package, you want to include as much information as possible that is going to benefit them and also build that retention with your brand. What we recommend when you send out tracking emails is to include the tracking number and make sure it is linked to the tracking page. You also want to make sure that it is mobile friendly. A lot of these emails are opened on mobile devices and so you want to be sure that it is formatted where it will be easy to read and understand on a mobile device. This is also a pretty cool place to include things like coupons, offers, and discount promotions. It’s also a good place to follow up with your return policy, “Your order is not even there yet, but we want to be sure that you know our return policy, we want to be super transparent about it. Here’s a link to learn more on our website. Finally, this is also a great place to include social media links, website links, whatever you want to be promoting at the time. This email is going to be seen multiple times, so they may get curious, so it would be a great place to include boost your engagement in those channels.

Here’s a good example of what a good tracking email would look like [new slide]. It has the logo right at the top, of the company, it addresses the customer by name, it includes the tracking number and link to the tracking page, and this one also includes a list of the items the customer ordered. This further builds on that transparency, like “Hey, we’re not just letting you know that your order has shipped, but this is actually what is on it’s way.” That way, your customer gets that second touch point: “Oh yeah, that’s what I ordered and that’s why I am so excited about it getting delivered to me.” You can see on the left on the desktop and on the left the mobile. It is important to make sure that whatever email software you’re using or shipping software, that it’s going to automatically create these emails in a nice format that will work on both screens.

Let’s talk a little bit about the tracking page [new slide]. Everyone knows what a tracking number is, but when you click on the tracking number it leads you to what is called the tracking page. Generally, it leads you to USPS, UPS, FedEx, whatever carrier you use. It will take them to that page and then they’re stuck there and there’s nowhere else to go. The crazy thing about tracking pages is that they get millions of requests everyday in the U.S. On average, people track their order several times before it arrives; I think the number is somewhere around 3-4 times that they track it before it arrives. If that’s an average of 3-5 business days between check out and delivery, that’s almost once a day! The engagement is really high on these tracking pages and that is why at ShipStation we believe it’s a really important part of your shipping process to make sure that this tracking page is optimized. Instead of using your regular carrier tracking page, we recommend that you get a branded tracking page. This tracking page will be included in all of your emails. Instead of linked out to your carrier page, it will be linked out to a page that shows off your logo, your brand colors, and they will even be able to see the items that they ordered.

Let me show you a really cool example of what a branded tracking page could look like [new slide]. This is the before--UPS and FedEx. There’s nothing wrong with it, it gives all the information you need know about where your package is at, and that’s great! But you’re missing the whole brand experience with who they ordered it from. If I were to look at both of these pages, I would have no idea which company sold me an order, or that this is even an order. There’s no item list or anything like that.

[New slide] When you move on to what we call a branded tracking page, you get your logo in the top left, and social media links. You have a service menu, a really nice map that shows you the progress of where you’re order’s at. At the bottom is a really cool feature to see all the items that you actually ordered. All that is super exclusive from any normal carrier. Most carriers don’t show what company or what your items are, or anything like that, let alone be able to link out to your social media pages and stuff like that. What’s cool about that service menu is that you can include things like your return policy or links back to your website. Maybe you want to boost the ability for them to go back to your website and keep searching through your product catalogue. You can’t do that with a normal carrier site. Just like we said with the emails, we want to make sure it’s also mobile friendly. As you can see on the right side, on the mobile device it looks really, really good on mobile. This is just a really great way to show off your brand. It will make you look like a million dollar store with just a simple tracking page that cuts out all the fluff that a normal carrier page would have and just focuses in on your brand.

[New slide] Another really great way to keep your customer engaged, all the way up to delivery, is the actual delivery email. Delivery emails are a really great way to alert customers when their order has arrived. It’s a valuable touchpoint to bring them back to your website or brand. If anyone’s ever ordered on Amazon, you probably know what a delivery notification looks like. If you have the Amazon app on your phone, you will probably get a little pop up that says, “Hey, your order’s arrived!” or maybe if you order from another marketplace, you’ll get an email that says “Hey, your order’s arrived, it’s at your door, hope you enjoy it.” At ShipStation, we think this is a really important part of that post-purchase process. Sending the email and automating it so that right as the carrier makes the update in their system, you want to automate it so that the customer gets the email right away so they know the package is waiting for them. Get that automated! The deliver email is not opened near as much as the tracking email because when you see “Hey, your order’s been delivered,” you may not even open the email. But for the folks that do, this is a great place to include promotions and also include your return policy again. With these promotions, if they’re opening the emails, more than likely they’re really engaged customers, so this is a great place to put in follow up coupons (like 10% off your next purchase). It’s also a good place to put your top performing products, you can promote it there, “We’re glad you made this purchase, here are some other really cool things that we have for sale this holiday season.” It’s a really cool place to put that kind of stuff.

Finally, I want to talk a little bit about returns [new slide]. We talked about it at the beginning of the branded shipping section. Returns is a big deal. Obviously, you want to make sure that you have a good returns policy. A good returns policy can mean giving them 30-60 days, sometimes even 90 days. I’ve even seen 6 months or however long it takes you to decide if you like this product to send it back, exchange it, or return it. I don’t necessarily recommend everyone getting that extreme with their returns policy, but make it fair, and make it easy. One way you can make it easy is to have a returns portal. With a returns portal, it is going to offer you the ability to your customers that self service part of your website where if they weren’t happy with a particular item or the entire order, they can log in themselves and type in their order information, print out a label and then choose whether or not to return it. Then you’ll receive the return and process it from there. It’s really nice when you can take your hands off of that and focus less on actually communicating via email, “I’m sorry you didn’t like your order, what items did you not like? What can we return?” Then you can email them the label once they’ve confirmed everything, and then making sure they know how to do it. What a returns portal is going to do is make that almost completely automated. The first touchpoint that you’re going to have as a merchant is when the return arrives at your doorstep. You can do configurations like how long they have to return it, what items may be excluded, maybe if there was a promotion on it like it was a final sale or something like that. You can automate all that to ensure that whatever is being returned is whatever would normally be returned for someone anyway if they were dissatisfied in that specific amount of time. Being able to not have your hands in that returns process will save you a lot of time, that is why at ShipStation we really recommend using us just for our returns portal alone. Right around the holiday season and after, in January, is when returns skyrocket. It’s natural. People get gifts that maybe they don’t want, maybe someone didn’t get the right size or color, so you don’t want to have to be in the weeds of all that around the time that you want to be spending with your family. That’s why our returns portal is really nice. It’s something that you can include on your website, in your emails, and a lot of other customer communication.

Just to wrap things up, [new slide] I’ll go ahead and talk a little bit about ShipStation and then I’ll hand it back to Phil to tell us a little more about Arka. Everything I talked with you about today, whether it be branded labels, tracking emails, branded tracking page, delivery emails, and even the returns portal--those are all standard features that come with any ShipStation account. If you’re looking for an all-in-one shipping solution where you can automate your shipping, connect yourself to carts and marketplaces and carriers and inventory tools and all these great integrations, we’re going to be that one-stop-shop for you this holiday season. On top of that, we’re going to allow you to brand your shipping, along with a partner like Arka, who can do the physical exterior of the packaging, we’re going to help you cover that deadzone between the checkout and it arriving on their doorstep. Anywhere from the pages to the emails to the logo on your label, we’ve got your covered! If you don’t currently use us, please check us out at ShipStation.com. Enough about us, we’re now going to hand the mic back over to Phil to follow up on packaging and Arka.

Phillip: Thanks so much, Austin. After what you’ve said, your team truly is an all-in-one shipping solution and a one-stop-shop. I think with our powers combined, online merchants need not search any further for what they need to successfully run the company online. Thank you! In regards to Arka, just a quick recap--you can go to our website and select and brand packaging in just a few clicks. We have a 3D tool to visualize concepts. You can approve and design your proof and you will receive your packaging within ten days. You can choose and select as few as ten boxes. Whenever you place an order and wait for something to go into production, you have a dedicated designer to help walk you through the process. If you want to make any adjustments or additional colors or logos, artwork that you want to upload or take down that you made on our customizer, we will have someone to walk you through the entire process.

[New slide] I see on this last page for Q&A, get 15% off Arka.com. Our offer code is SS15, that’s ShipStation 15 for 15% off. We’re also running a sale right now, not to be overly salesy, we did get an online feature and now would be a great time to hit us up before the ecommerce holiday for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. October and early November is the time to get things situated. Definitely get your house in order when it comes to packaging through Arka and anything you might need through ShipStation. We’re here to help!


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Phillip Akhzar


Phil is the CEO and founder of Arka and has over a decade’s experience in packaging. YC and 500 startups alumnus, Phil worked at Boeing and Silicon Valley startups like iCracked before starting his own companies.


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Austin Canary


Austin Canary is the Senior Content Marketing Producer at ShipStation. He helps lead the team on creative efforts behind videos, guides, blogs, success stories, webinars, and other content marketing projects.

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