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Building an e-commerce store and fulfilling orders sounds relatively simple, but it’s a complicated process of making the right choices to market, brand, sell, and distribute. If you make the wrong decisions, you’ll lose money, and customers.
Packaging, branding, and fulfillment methods aren’t just how you distribute your products, they’re part of your brand, and your overhead. Even the largest of companies makes mistakes with fulfillment, but you can learn from every mistake.
For our latest Unboxing, we ordered from Tipsy Elves, a clothing supplier that’s been making a splash for their unique ugly Christmas sweaters. Like other seasonal products, ugly Christmas sweaters only really sell around the holidays, so it’s important to get the branding, the product, and the shipping right.
Here are our takeaways:
1) How Was It Shipped?: Grade B
For a seasonal product, shipping times and condition are incredibly important, because if it’s a gift, it has to arrive quickly, and in stellar condition so no returns are needed. Packaging affects costs, so the size and weight are important, but it also has to protect the sweater. So, how did Tipsy Elves manage?
They shipped the ugly sweater in a green plastic package that doubles as both cost effective, and water resistant. It’s a perfect choice for delivery in potentially bad weather, because the plastic will protect the sweater from rain or snow. Of course, plastic doesn’t really leave a ‘wow’ impression on consumers, but it does the job, and it’s affordable, which is important considering that packaging affects 5-15% of your shipping costs.
We also liked that the exterior of the package was heavily branded, with Tipsy Elves, and the website, written in multiple places on the package, in different sizes so it looks less like an ad and more like a decorative packaging.
The sweater was shipped Priority Mail with 1 day shipping via USPS, and included a tracking number, which is great during the holidays when packages are more likely to get lost. The fast delivery could also help keep Tipsy Elves on top of orders as well, because outgoing orders will leave their system faster.
2) What About Shipping Labels?: Grade B
By examining the shipping label, we can see where Tipsy Elves ships from, what shipping methods they use, and figure out how cost effective and efficient their methods are.
200 Docks Corner Rd #211
South Brunswick Township, NJ 07626
Because Tipsy Elves is located in San Diego California, it’s fairly easy to see that this isn’t their own warehouse. The address is a suite in a large warehouse which rents out spaces to a number of companies, including Total Logistics Control, one of the largest supply and logistics companies in the world.
Total Logistics Control is a 3PL (third party logistics). It’s a smart choice on the part of Tipsy Elves, because they can save money on shipping, distribution, and warehouse storage by sourcing it all through a large 3PL. The company delivers worldwide, allowing them to distribute packages to their own warehouses closest to the delivery area before paying for parcel post, which likely saves Tipsy Elves a great deal on shipping costs.
Tipsy Elves probably saves a lot on postage by using 3PL, but there are a couple of things they could do differently. For example, the packaging label is not branded as Tipsy Elves. They also don’t use EVS (Electronic Verification) despite shipping with USPS. However, the package is lightweight and thin enough to qualify for the cheapest shipping rates, which is beneficial considering next day Priority post is much more expensive than standard.
3) What’s in the Box: Grade C
Inside is a folded return slip, and one sweater. The return slip has a friendly offer of help, a logo, contact information, and everything you need to return the sweater right away if there’s an issue. It also offers plenty of information on how long you have to return or exchange, and how long these transactions take, which is great for potentially stressed holiday shoppers.
The logo on the top is a small amount of branding, but unfortunately, that’s all of the branding inside of the package. Another small issue is that the sweater wasn’t wrapped up or placed in anything other than the plastic shipping envelope. This saves on weight, but even budget clothing brands like H&M usually use individual packaging or tissue paper.
4) Promotion Efforts: Grade D
With the holidays coming up, we would have liked to see a referral program, coupon, or some other incentive to get users to either promote the product and tell their friends where they got the sweater, or to come back and buy more as gifts. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything of the sort in the package, despite the fact that it could have earning potential for Tipsy Elves.
Instead, Tipsy Elves stuck to branding the exterior of the package and a small logo on the return form and that’s it.
Conclusion: Overall Grade: C
Tipsy Elves makes smart choices in terms of choosing a cost effective 3PL shipping provider, but they are lacking in other areas, like utilizing the inside of the package for self promotion. Considering the narrow seasonal window Tipsy Elves has to sell their sweaters, it would be in their best interest to push promotions to get buyers to come back for more, or to refer friends. That aside, the packaging is cost effective, which is necessary considering that they ship Priority Mail.
Finally, thank you for taking the time to read Unboxing Tipsy Elves. Hopefully it’s given you some insight into how packaging and shipping affect your costs and your brand. Looking for more insights from other top sellers? Check out our Unboxing of Thrive Market. As an online seller you should always be learning and seeking the best practices.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by Tipsy Elves in any way, and does not create any false associations with the company.