Sending holiday gifts to clients is a great way to thank them for their support and maintain these valuable relationships. Two-thirds of companies provide gifts to their clients as a way to keep connections strong, according to promotion strategy provider Incentive.
But getting all those gifts packed and shipped with time to spare can be daunting during an extremely busy time for small business owners. Here’s how you can get client gifts assembled, out the door and into recipients’ hands quickly.
1. Gather and prepare supplies
Once you’ve bought your client gifts and know how many you will be distributing, estimate the number of boxes and amount of void fill, tape and other materials you will need to complete the packing job. Inventory the shipping supplies you already have, then purchase the additional materials you need. If you aren’t sure about certain types of shipments, reach out to a shipping provider for clarification or visit their retail location for help.
Also, look for chances to recycle. Reusing old shipping boxes from packages you’ve received can be a good way to save money and reduce waste. Make sure the boxes are still sturdy, and remove any old address and bar code labels before using them again.
2. Create an assembly line
Speed up your packing process by setting up an assembly line of your gifts and materials. Enlist the help of employees — some might welcome the chance to get into the holiday spirit. Use these tactics to boost efficiency:
- Make a master list of recipients’ names, addresses and the gift you’re sending each so that you can easily reference it and ensure you’re picking the right materials for each package.
- Choose the right packing materials for each gift, such as bubble wrap to protect fragile items or paper void fill to reduce movement. For extra protection, pack especially fragile products or food items in a smaller box that you place inside a larger box.
- Have shipping labels already printed to quickly put on boxes. If possible, make a duplicate label for each gift and slip it inside the package after you’ve put it together. If the outside label is damaged in transit and can’t be read, the shipper can use the duplicate label to direct the package.
- Last, use the master list to double-check that the contents, recipient and address all match before sealing the package with strong shipping tape. Group packages together based on geographic location to make them easier and faster for your shipper to sort through.
3. Use the most convenient shipper services
Look for a shipping partner that offers services that align with your specific needs. Check if the shippers in your area offer these options:
- Completing forms online: Avoid waiting in line by filling out mailing labels and packing slips online before you head to the shipper’s store.
- Worldwide shipping: If you have international clients, make sure the shipper offers fast, affordable shipping to the destinations you need.
- One-stop shop: A shipper that sells packing supplies in the store can keep you from needing to run back to the office for these materials.
- Pickup scheduling: A shipping service that will come to your office at a pre-set time to pick up packages can save you a trip to the store.
4. Ship in the evening or on the weekend
Given how hectic the end of the year can be for a small business owner, some holiday tasks may have to be handled in your off hours. Look for a shipping location that provides extended hours during the holiday rush and is open seven days a week. Having that flexibility makes it easier to fit in your many to-dos while helping to ensure gifts get to clients on time.
When this year’s holiday season is over and you have a minute to spare, look over what gifts you gave clients, how you shipped them and the total cost. Note any problems (like a gift arriving late, a damaged package or an exorbitant rate) and jot down changes you want to make next year for an easier holiday shipping process.