Thinking Inside the Box

Who hasn’t heard the phrase, “we need to think outside the box”? It has been invoked everywhere from whiteboard-heavy meeting rooms and bored board rooms, all the way to, we’d bet a hundred bucks on it, the Situation Room at the White House.

After all, innovation leaders, management consultants, and desperate-to-win marketing execs, have called on this phrase for decades to reinforce Albert Einstein’s famous dictum, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Thanks, Alberto, we appreciate your wisdom. And, for what it’s worth, we’re pretty sure you’re right on the whole E = mc2 thing, too.

Philosophy and physics aside, we think this holiday shopping season needs more “in-the-box” thinking. Please note, by “box” we mean shipping box, gift box, shoulder box, silk box, collapsible box, etc. The box type, size, color, and function go on and on. Including the Tiffany Blue box (okay, unless you are Tiffany’s, that might not be an available choice).

This might be a good jumping off point. Think of the branding meaning and connection that conveys when someone is gifted with an iconic Tiffany box. Is there any doubt that chocolate in that triangular box is Toblerone? Even if you trip over an Amazon box delivered to your door, likely the smile printed on it will perk you up.

Back to our in-the-box thinking. You do not have to be a decades old multi-zillion dollar brand to make a strong impression on your customer with boxes.

The whole point

Beyond brand impact and strengthening the relationship you have with your customers, the whole point here is that your “boxes” can also be a profit center and boost your AOV (simply divide revenue dollars by total orders).

In practical terms, this means you could add separate SKUs and give your buyers choices:

  • maybe a really beautiful collapsible gift box (and ribbon!) for apparel
  • a jewelry box for, of course, jewelry, but also for any small knick knacky thing to add gift-unwrap-drama
  • even an over-the-top beautiful box for a crazy (or crappy!) white elephant gift exchange can be fun

And don’t forget, there are other items to toss into a box to entice your customers:

  • printed pieces offering price discounts tied tightly to your holiday promotion calendar
  • if you have one, a catalog or a mini-catalog you create for the season is a great order-producing ride-along
  • they are inevitable, so why not send your customers a “how-to-return” instruction piece; making returns easy is a great brand builder

Pro tip #1: not all of these ideas need to turn into a big-deal design and printing project; we’ve seen simple ideas like heading to your office supply store and having business cards printed with your message work well. Get a thousand printed for twenty bucks! Works great for discount codes, customer service telephone number alert, and first-time buyer discount codes.

Pro tip #2: don’t forget the impact of a direct mail promotion. Slice and dice your customer data to pull your top buyers (whether it’s a hundred or thousands) and send them something special in terms of an offer. [Editor's note: this is “outside-the-box thinking.]

Want to notch-it-up big time? Companies like IgnitePOST, Letter Friend, Postable, and others, can create handwritten notes (maybe featuring a discount code) and send them by traditional snail mail to your best customer segments. IgnitePOST, for one, even has a Shopify App available.

If you need a “reason” to believe, we know of an e-commerce site that offered a very fancy gift box as an option. Price? More than $10. Cost? A fraction of that $10. Granted, this is the kind of online store that sells almost “precious” items (not precious stones, just items that are very memorable). Their result was a 31% take rate on nearly 10,000 orders. Talk about precious!

If you're still at that stage where it is all-hands-on-deck to handle holiday orders, maybe there is someone in-house that has excellent handwriting skills that could be your scribe for personalized message cards going into gift boxes. Better yet, a choice of messages that customers can choose from (and you produce ahead of time).

You won’t need hundreds of choices. “Thinking of you this holiday season!” can cover a lot of gift giving. Ever use the Amazon “write-your-own-note” feature? With due respect to Jeff Bezos and his team, the typewriter-like message was sucky!

Whether in- or out-of-the-box thinking, we hope this stimulates some new ideas for your holiday sales promotions.

And since we are talking about it, don’t forget that Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) might create another opportunity for holiday season sales.