Guide To Shipping Unusual Items

Whether you run a business or you’re simply selling belongings that you no longer need, there might be times when you’re required to ship unusual items. These could be large, heavy, oddly-shaped or very fragile, but whatever the case may be, you need to prepare these correctly.

Essentially, you need to make sure that you protect and package your goods carefully. You must also know the correct weight and dimensions of your goods and ensure that they are labelled properly.

This makes it easier for courier services to know what to expect and for their team to manage and handle your packages accordingly. This way, they can make sure your goods reach their destination in one piece.

But if you’re not sure where to start with sending your goods, then this guide is for you.

Below, we’ll offer some top tips and techniques from an expert shipping provider so that you can pack and send your usual items with peace of mind.

Carefully choose the right packaging material

One of the most important parts of shipping unusual items is choosing the right packaging in the first place. There are several things you need to consider at this stage; for example, will you need to use a box, bag or crate as the primary packaging for your items?

Whatever you choose, you need to make sure that your packaging is going to be plenty big enough for your item(s). It’s vital that you don’t cram these in and potentially damage your goods before you even begin.

However, you also need to make sure that the box or bag isn’t so big that your item is not going to slide or rattle around during transit, as this can also lead to damage.

Once you’ve chosen your primary package, you will then need to decide if you’re going to need additional protection, depending on the unusual item you are shipping. Some of the most common and useful materials for protecting your goods include:

  • Packing peanuts
  • Bubble wrap
  • Crumpled paper
  • Corrugated card
  • Foam sheets

These will ensure that your unusual goods sit securely within their box or bag and will add an additional layer of protection for the journey. This is going to be key if you’re shipping something that is fragile or has small, fragile elements to it.

So, the first thing you need to do is determine which primary packaging and additional protection are going to be best suited to the items you are sending.

Always test your packaging

But before you load up your packaging and stick the label on, it’s important to test that it’s going to be strong enough to make the journey in one piece. Therefore, it’s a good idea to always test the strength of your box or bag right away, particularly if you’re sending heavier items (more on this next).

You don’t have to test this with the item you’re shipping if you’re worried this could cause damage. Simply find something of a similar shape or weight and pop this inside the box or bag instead to make sure that it is going to hold out and protect your items during transit.

After all, the last thing you need is for the bottom of your box to give way and your goods to drop to the floor and break before they’ve even reached the courier.

If you’re concerned about the strength of your chosen packaging, you might wish to reinforce this with items such as corrugated card or choose a bigger, stronger box even if this costs a little more to ship.

Packing different items

There are lots of reasons that you might not be able to simply put your item in a standard box or padded bag and send it off.

These items might be deemed unusual and need a little extra care because of their shape, size, weight or fragility. Below, we’re going to look at how to deal with a few specific examples to give you a better idea of how to package your unusual goods. These include:

Oddly-shaped items

If you’re packing an oddly-shaped item, you might find that you’ve had to place it in a box that is much larger than the item itself just because of certain elements on it. For example, if you’re shipping a musical instrument or piece of furniture like a chair.

In these cases, you may need to use padding and additional packaging to fill in the gaps and pad out any additional space within the box. This will help to protect and steady your item during transit.

Heavy items

If you’re packing a heavier item like building materials, stone items or something made of metal, a reinforced cardboard box might not be enough, particularly if these are large items.

In this scenario, it might be worth placing the item on a wooden pallet even if you then put this inside a box. Be sure to strap the item down or tie it to the pallet in some way to stop it from moving around. Alternatively, you could use a wooden crate for packaging heavier items.

It might also be worth adding an additional label to let the courier know quickly that this is a weighty item that requires extra attention.

Fragile items

If you’ve got to send something that is fragile, for example, something ceramic or made of glass, you’re going to need lots of extra packaging elements such as bubble wrap or packing peanuts.

Find a box or bag that the item fits in snuggly but without being forced, and fill the additional space with the aforementioned protective packaging. Be sure to add a label that says fragile to let the courier know that they need to take extra care when handling your parcel.

Dismantle your items where possible

Finally, if you’re able to dismantle your unusual item and package each element separately, this can drastically increase the level of protection during transit. This is particularly important if you’re shipping larger items or those with lots of different parts.

Let’s say, for example, you’re shipping a drum kit. If you send this in one piece, you increase the risk of damage, plus you’ll need a much bigger container to fit in. Alternatively, you can take this apart and wrap each individual element, giving them more protection.

Of course, your ability to take the item apart will completely depend on what it is you’re sending and whether this is practical.

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8 Reasons To Choose Irish Parcels

8 reasons to choose Irish Parcels

At Irish Parcels, we provide a fast, reliable and affordable parcel delivery service.

We strive to simplify the shipping process, resulting in both businesses & individuals saving valuable time and money. Whether you’re sending a gift to loved ones or a package to a customer, our service is perfect.

Listed below are the 8 reasons why you should choose Irish Parcels:

1 – Competitive Prices

Offering you competitive prices by comparing multiple couriers. 

Competitive Prices | Irish Parcels

2 – Local & Worldwide Shipping

Whether you’re shipping from Sligo to Sydney, or somewhere in between, we ship to over 200 countries worldwide.

Local & Worldwide Shipping | Irish Parcels

3 – Quote & Book Online

Our website allows you to Quote & Book instantly 24 hours a day,  7 days a week.

Quote & Book Online | Irish Parcels

4 – Pay-as-you-go service

For your convenience, we’re a pay-as-you-go service. Our secure online payment system allows you to pay by credit/debit card with no additional billing or invoicing required.

Pay-as-you-go | NI Parcels

5 – Door to Door Service

Once you book, we’ll collect your parcel and deliver it. Providing an estimated delivery time frame.

Door to Door Delivery Service | NI Parcels

6 – Full Online Tracking

You can monitor the progress of your parcel with our full online tracking.

Full Online Tracking | NI Parcels

7 – Irish Customer Support

As well as our extensive support section online, our Irish customer support team is available should you require assistance. You can contact us via phone, email or online chat.

Irish Customer Support | Irish Parcels

8 – A brand you can trust

At Irish Parcels, we’ve been trusted by thousands of businesses and individuals across Ireland, and currently, we are rated EXCELLENT 4.8 out of 5 with Reviews.io

A brand you can trust | NI Parcels

Get an instant quote here.

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4 Payment Processing Options For Online Businesses

There are lots of reasons to start and run an online business. It can help to eliminate some of the costs associated with having a brick-and-mortar business, it opens you up to a much larger customer base, or you could just use this to support sales alongside a brick-and-mortar shop.

Of course, there are lots of important aspects to consider when setting up an online business, such as web design, branding, how to market your products or services and shipping options. However, arguably one of the most important things is getting the right payment solutions in place so you can actually take payments.

After all, without this, how are you going to make any money?

Not only this, but today’s consumers are used to having multiple options when it comes to payment. They like to pay quickly through online portals without having to search for their card in their bag. They also like options such as buy now, pay later or the ability to pay in monthly instalments.

However, it’s worth noting that not all payment processing platforms were created equally, and they often serve different purposes. Therefore, you need to choose the option that is going to be best for your business and your customers.

If you’re not sure where to start or how to meet customer demands, you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, we are going to look at four top payment processing options you could choose for your online business, weighing up the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision.

Let’s get started!

1. Square

Square is one of the easiest out-of-the-box payment solutions you can use. It is also one of the most complete, offering a huge range of online payment tools for free. That is if you don’t want to upgrade to the paid plan.

And even if you do decide to upgrade to the paid plan to access the extra features, you are not tied in by a contract, which is great news.

Some of the key features of this platform include a payment gateway, links, buy buttons, click and collect options, invoicing and recurring payments. Best of all, you can integrate Square with lots of other partner apps, such as accounting software or takeaway platforms, depending on the needs of your business.

In terms of cost, debit and credit card transactions have a fixed rate of 1.9% per online transaction, which is pretty reasonable. Though for non-European cards, these charges are slightly higher at 2.9% per transaction.

The slight downside is that these fees are non-negotiable unless your business is turning over more than £250k a year -which is a lot of money! Not only this, but customer support is only available on weekdays, which can be problematic if you get into a spot of bother over the weekend. After all, most online businesses are available 24/7; they don’t shut down at the weekend.

2. PayPal

PayPal is probably one of the better-known payment processing platforms out there, as it was one of the earliest innovators in this field. Often, the familiarity of the brand can be reassuring to customers, and they feel safe making an online payment in this way. Not to mention that most people already have a PayPal account set up, making it very convenient.

It’s free to sign up to PayPal as a business, and there are some features that are free to use without upgrading your account. These include an integrated checkout, payment links, buy buttons, QR codes and email invoices.

However, this is not the cheapest platform when compared to others on the list. For advanced features such as virtual terminal and advanced checkout solutions, it’s a monthly fee of £20 a month. Plus, transaction fees for the standard features are set at 2.9% + 30p. Cross-border fees include an additional 1.29%-1.99%. Those with a monthly turnover above £50k can negotiate to get better fees.

As this is an online portal rather than a bank account, money is paid into your PayPal account when someone buys through your site. This can then be transferred across to your bank account in just a day or two.

3. Worldpay

Worldpay is a solid payment processor that has been trusted by thousands of businesses for decades. In fact, as much as 40% of all card payments made in the UK go through this processor, making it the industry leader.

One of the biggest selling points here is that in order to sign up, you must have a conversation with a Worldpay representative. They will tailor your quote based on your sales volumes and the type of business you have. This is ideal for getting personalised rates rather than generic monthly fees and saving your business money.

There are two different types of contracts available, either long-term or 30-day rolling and businesses are given their own merchant account. This means that Worldpay is regarded as more reliable than some of the other platforms on this list.

Transaction fees are competitive, though a continued online turnover of at least £2,000 a month is required. This can be trickier for smaller businesses just starting out. As such, this is often a better platform for more established brands.

4. Stripe

Last but not least, we have Stripe. This is a huge international platform which is popular with businesses of all sizes, from startups to high-growth organisations. Stripe accounts are really easy to set up online without any fees, and you are not tied into any contracts. It also integrates well with other popular e-commerce platforms, such as Squarespace.

Some of the key features include a payment gateway, payment links, buy buttons and virtual terminals. Through Stripe, you also have the option to use payment solutions such as subscriptions.

Stripe’s payment system is scalable, which is great for growing business, and it offers effective sales reporting and fraud prevention tools. Another key selling point is the competitive card transaction fees, starting as low as 1.4% + 20p depending on which version of the payment processing system you use.

The downside? Stripe can be pretty tricky to set up if you’re not a web developer.

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A Guide To Commercial Liability Insurance For E-commerce Stores

Whether you’ve opened up a restaurant, set up an accounting firm, or you’re a freelance photographer, getting the right insurance in place should be a top priority for any business owner. This means sorting out commercial liability insurance to help protect the key aspects of your business, such as your property, products, employees and customers.

However, when you run an online store, especially a small one, it can feel like perhaps this insurance is less of a priority. After all, your business is just out there in cyberspace, there isn’t always a huge amount of physical space involved, and you don’t interact with your customers in person.

So do you still need commercial liability insurance?

The simple answer is, yes, you do. There are still important aspects of your business that you need to protect; therefore, getting the right policy in place is a must.

If you’re confused by the complex insurance landscape and subsequent jargon, we’re here to help. Below, we’ve created a guide to commercial liability insurance, what this means for your e-commerce store and how to find the right provider.

So let’s dive in.

What is commercial liability insurance?

Commercial liability insurance is not just one thing. In fact, it is the general term used to cover multiple different types of insurance policies, all aimed at protecting you and your business. These different types of insurance might include public, employee and product liability insurance.

The idea behind these policies is that they protect you from potentially damaging issues that might arise, such as loss, injury, damage or theft, in different situations. These might also cover claims made by your business, an employee, a customer or even a member of the general public.

Who needs commercial liability insurance?

Now, you might be thinking, a lot of this sounds like something you need if you have a physical workplace with a lot of foot traffic – but what about an e-commerce store? Particularly those that are smaller and run by just one or two people.

Well, it is advised that every business gets commercial liability insurance in one way or another.

For online retailers, whether selling goods locally or shipping internationally, there are still lots of risks that you need to consider. And this is true whether you make and sell your own products or use sites like eBay or Amazon to advertise your goods.

Getting commercial liability insurance that is tailored to your e-commerce store can help you feel safe in the knowledge that you’re protected. Which, ultimately, is what every business wants.

What are the risks for e-commerce businesses?

If you’re still not sure why your e-commerce business needs commercial liability insurance, let us help. Below, we’ve pulled together a list of the potential risks you face that could end in an expensive compensation claim or disruptions to trading. These include:

  • A customer making a claim if they are accidentally injured by one of your products
  • Technical issues cause your website to crash, so you can’t make any sales
  • A shipping of your products gets lost, damaged or stolen
  • Stock issues mean you have to turn customers away
  • Your e-commerce store is hacked or tampered with, possibly even leading to a data breach

These are just a few potential issues you might run into, but by having the right insurance, you can protect your stock, avoid losing income, deal with claims and stop the need to pay any unnecessary legal fees. That way, you can run your business with peace of mind and without worry.

What types of commercial liability insurance do e-commerce stores need?

As we said, commercial liability insurance is actually the name given to the different policies required to cover your business. The type of policy you choose in the end may vary, but you should certainly consider the following:

Products liability insurance

This protects you should one of your products harm someone or do damage to their property/belongings in any way. This policy ensures your legal fees and any compensation are covered, so you don’t end up out of pocket.

Employers’ liability insurance

If you employ multiple people to help run your e-commerce store, you might need employee liability insurance in case one of them becomes injured as a result of their work. Again, this covers you for legal fees and compensation.

Stock and property insurance

If you’ve got a lot of stock and possibly even a shop or warehouse, you need to protect these too. Stock and property policies can help to replace any damaged, lost or stolen stock. It can also be used if your property becomes damaged and anything that is stored at the property, such as products or devices like computers.

Business interruption insurance

If you are unable to trade as normal due to technical issues or perhaps issues beyond your control, such as a power cut, business interruption insurance ensures you don’t lose out on your earnings.

Cyber and data insurance

Something hugely important when you run an e-commerce store is cyber and data insurance. Firstly, it helps to get your business back up and running again if you’re hacked. It can also cover compensation and legal fees if a customer makes a claim due to loss or theft of their data.

Public liability insurance

You may or may not need public liability insurance depending on whether you have a physical store as well as an e-commerce one, or perhaps you take part in pop-up events. In this case, dealing with members of the public has potential risks, and you want to be covered against any claims they could make.

How to get the right insurance policy for your business

There are lots of providers out there offering differing levels of cover for your e-commerce business, so how do you know which policy to choose? Well, in this final section, we have put together some top tips to help you out:

  • Always shop around for insurance policies; never settle on the first one you find
  • Make the most of the internet to help you find policies
  • Use comparison sites as well as your own research to find and compare policies
  • If you are concerned or looking for advice, consider working with an insurance broker instead

Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to find the right policy for you in no time.

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How To Set Up Buy Now, Pay Later On Your Online Shop

Buy now, pay later

Does your online shop offer a buy now, pay later (BNPL) option yet?

If not, why not? You could be missing out on a lot of sales!

These are services that allow customers to order what they want and pay for it in instalments – usually around four to six instalments – rather than in one lump sum. This can be great news for both parties!

But if you’ve decided you want to offer a buy now, pay later service to your customers, you might be wondering how you go about adding this payment option to your website, which is why we’ve created this guide.

Below, we’ll look at some of the benefits of BNPL services for your customers before looking at the different platforms and how you can set these up on your site.

Why is buy now, pay later so beneficial?

There are serval reasons why BNPL schemes are great for your customers, and some of the key benefits include:

  • They don’t have to find the full sum of money right away
  • They can still buy the things they want and pay smaller monthly instalments, which is particularly great for large, expensive items
  • They don’t have to pay interest as they would on a credit card – providing they make their payments on time
  • Those who don’t have a credit card can pay off their items slowly

Of course, providing a better experience to your customers also has a very positive impact on your business and some of the key benefits of BNPL for your business include:

  • Securing customers that might not have otherwise been able to afford your goods right now
  • You get paid upfront by the BNPL service provider, reducing the risk of fraudulent payments to your business
  • You can use this as a marketing opportunity to attract more customers
  • It improves the customer experience and gives them more options, which means they’re more likely to a become loyal and returning customer

But who offers these buy now, pay later services? Well, with lots of companies starting to see the benefits, there are more and more providers emerging all the time. That said, some of the top BNPL service providers include PayPal Pay in 4, Klarna, Afterpay and Affirm.

How to set up buy now, pay later on your store

Although it might seem like it’s going to be a long and complicated process, setting up a new payment option through your website doesn’t have to be. To set this up, you need to:

1. Decide which provider you want to use

First and foremost, you need to decide which service provider is going to be best for your business.   When doing this, there are several key things you need to take into consideration, and these are:

  • The cost of their services – you need to find the most budget-friendly option
  • Whether they offer additional features such as pay-in-30 or six-month financing
  • How easy it is to integrate the new service with your online site
  • Whether they assume fraud and credit risks for all purchases

Once you’ve done your research and decided on your provider, you can begin the technical part of setting this up on your website.

2. Back up your website

Before you begin installing your new payment option, you need to protect yourself just in case something doesn’t quite go to plan. So, as you should do before you make any changes to your online store, you need to back it up. This way, if something goes wrong, you can return your site to its original working state.

3. Add a buy now pay later option at checkout

Now for the technical part of getting your BNPL systems in place. The strategy you use will depend slightly on the provider you’re using, as well as the platform you use to host your online store. Below, we’re going to cover some of the most common platforms, therefore, the most common ways to add this payment option to your website.

If you run a WooCommerce store through WordPress, it can be fairly simple to install your new payment gateway. Once you’ve selected your provider, let’s say, for example, Afterpay, you then need to download the Afterpay Gateway WooCommerce payment plugin.

Most of the big providers will have these plugins available, and they will be easy enough to find and download, then activate on your site. For some service providers, you’ll have to download a Zip folder, upload this to the Plugins section of your WordPress admin dashboard, before installing and activating.

If you’re using platforms like Shopify for your online store, the process is pretty similar. Go to the app store and find the relevant plugin or extension. For example, when using PayPal Pay in 4, you need to go to the WooCommerce + PayPal page and click Get PayPal Checkout to download the relevant extension. You can then install this before going to your settings to activate it on your site.

Finally, if you or someone else has built the website for you, then you might require a few lines of code to add this payment option to your store. The good news is big BNPL providers like Klarna make this simple enough to find; they even have online guides on how to copy the Javascript Library you need and add this to your HTML file.

That being said, if you’re not confident in your coding abilities, it might be better to seek professional help rather than messing about with the HTML, as this could essentially break your whole website.

4. Don’t forget to market your new BNPL options

Finally, your work isn’t done just because you’ve got the plugin or code in place – you still need to make customers aware of your new BNPL functionality. So, once everything is up and running and you’ve made sure to test the integration, you should create some advertising or content that lets customers know they can buy now and pay later.

You might wish to run some adverts on Google or social media or simply create some engaging posts to share across your channels to let everyone know. You can also ad banners to your web pages, create landing pages and run an email campaign for those already on your mailing list.

This way, you can attract both new and existing customers, letting them know that you’re finding different ways to make their experience even better when shopping with your brand.

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6 Things To Look For When Sourcing Wholesalers

Wholesalers

Whether you want to switch from your existing supplier or find you’re trying to find a wholesaler for your new business, this is one of the most important decisions you can make as a business owner. After all, you want a supplier that you can form a good relationship with and that offers a greats service and equally impressive products.

But how do you go about finding the right supplier?

Well, the good news is there are several things you can look out for when choosing a wholesaler, and we’ve pulled these together in a list below.

So, before you settle on a supplier, be sure to look out for these six important aspects.

1. The cost of goods

When looking for a new wholesaler, it’s likely that one of the first things you will look at is the price. After all, this is going to have the biggest impact on your profit margins.

But you need to consider cost carefully when choosing a supplier.

This is because prices between wholesalers might vary, and you want to find the best price for the best product, as well as ensuring that the prices aren’t so low that they’re too good to be true.

As such, it’s important that you shop around a bit. This will give you a good idea of industry average prices and any places in particular that are offering a good deal. This way, you can make sure that you’ve weighed up all the options when it comes to costs and choose the supplier that is best for you.

2. The quality of the products

There is often a correlation between the cost and quality of the products from a wholesaler. Therefore, quality is another important thing you need to look out for. In many cases, if a wholesaler is a lot cheaper than their competitors, this could be a sign that their products aren’t of the same quality.

An important step when choosing a supplier is to weigh up cost and quality. Would you be willing to pay more in order to offer your customers a better product? Or are you looking for products with the biggest possible profit margin?

You need to think about this and weigh up your options carefully before choosing a supplier. You could even order some samples from them beforehand to get a feel for the quality of their goods.

3. A reliable service

When you partner with a wholesaler, you’ll be forming a long-term relationship with them. Therefore, you want to choose a supplier that offers a consistently reliable service, so this is something you should look out for during the selection process.

To do this, be sure to look for testimonials from other businesses that use them or perhaps look at review sites like Trustpilot and social media comments. This should help you to get a clearer picture of the service they offer and whether other businesses are happy with the treatment they have received.

After all, the last thing you want is to let your own customers down either through the shipping process or with poor/damaged products because your supplier is not reliable. This can cost you loyal customers and ultimately, cost you money.

Plus, customers will be unaware that the supplier is the problem and will leave poor reviews or comments for your business. This can have a negative impact on your reputation even though it might be out of your control.

4. Delivery times and options

If you go through a lot of goods or materials, you’re going to need a supplier that can get these to you in good time. As such, you need to make sure you find out about delivery and lead times.

To do this, speak to the supplier and find out what the average delivery time is, but also how often they experience delays or issues with their delivery. This is because you don’t want to find yourself short of products and unable to get any more in a hurry.

It’s also a good idea to choose a wholesaler that offers tracked delivery so you can keep an eye on your goods in realtime where needed.

5. The location of the supplier

Something you might not have put too much thought into is the location of your supplier. Of course, there are so many shipping options out there nowadays that you can get products sent quite some distance.

However, if you’re a local business, you might prefer to use local suppliers or those near your area. This is particularly true if you’ve built your reputation as an expert in your area and one that hopes to support other local businesses.

What’s more, if you are hoping to ship internationally, you might want to look for a supplier that is based further afield and can supply different areas of the business. Ultimately, you need to consider the location of the wholesaler before settling on any one particular supplier.

6. The scalability of the supplier

Finally, if you’re thinking of growing your business in the future, you want to choose a wholesaler that can scale up to accommodate your needs. The last thing you want is to sign up with a supplier, only to find you quickly grow beyond their capabilities, and you have to start all over again finding another wholesaler.

Especially if you come to love their goods and services and then have to give these up as they cannot scale up to meet your demands, so, it always pays to choose a supplier that can offer a lot more than you currently need. This way, they can grow with you and help to meet the changing demands of your business.

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How To Build An E-Commerce Funnel On Social Media

social media funnel

Did you know that there are more than 4.4 billion social media users across the globe?

Is it any wonder then that there are hundreds of ways businesses choose to use social media for marketing their brand and reaching out to both existing and potential customers.

From working with social media influencers to advertising campaigns, businesses are forever coming up with new and creative ways to engage with their target audience.

However, when it comes to using social media for each stage of the customer journey (from discovery to the point of sale and then advocacy), there tends to be a gap.

Which is why we’ve put together this guide.

Below, we’re going to look at how you can build an e-commerce funnel on social media that leads to increased sales. And by the end, you’ll have a better understanding of exactly how social media fits into each stage of your sales funnel.

What does a sales funnel look like?

Let’s first take a quick look at the different stages of the sales funnel, just in case you’re not familiar with the traditional model. Then we can then begin to understand how social media can be used to achieve your goals. The five stages of your sales funnel will include:

• Awareness
• Consideration
• Action
• Engagement
• Advocacy

With this in mind, we’ll now take a look at how you can use social media as a tool to move consumers from the awareness stage through to the advocacy stage.

1. Raising awareness

Your social media funnel begins with raising awareness of your brand. This is because potential customers might not be aware of your e-commerce business, and therefore, you need to let them know your brand exists.

However, this first touchpoint is not the time for a hard sale. Instead, it’s about simply showing the value of your goods or services and letting consumers know who you are. And there are several ways this can be achieved through social media. These include:

• Creating great content that people want to share with their followers, for example, blogs, videos, guides and webinars
• Creating social media posts and content that answer the questions your target audience are searching for
• Paid advertising campaigns can improve awareness if you have the budget
• Utilising keywords to boost your SEO through social media can lead consumers to your e-commerce website organically
• Using relevant hashtags on your posts to help potential customers find your content

Ultimately, you can use one or more of these tactics to increase awareness of your brand – and we recommend a mixture of these.

2. Supporting further research

Now that potential customers are aware of your e-commerce brand, it’s time to get them through to the consideration stage of the funnel.

This is the point at which they begin to look for more specific information about your goods or services. This is also when they begin to research how and why you’re better than your competitors.

So, in order to move them through this stage, you need to make sure that you have plenty of helpful information readily available through your social media profiles. This can be done through:

• About us sections on your business pages
• Access to guides and tutorials that you have shared on your social media channels
• Links to your e-commerce website
• Reviews or comments from customers that have purchased your goods or services in the past
• Retargeting ad campaigns for those who have interacted with your website or content before but haven’t gone any further

By making it as easy as possible for consumers to find out more about your brand and your goods or services, you increase the chances of them making a purchase.

3. Encouraging action

The consumer is now equipped with more knowledge about your brand, so now you need to encourage them to make a purchase. If you’ve nurtured the relationship effectively up until this point, potential customers will now be at the stage where they don’t mind being sold to.

So, you should gently nudge them in the right direction to encourage action. You can do this by running more retargeting ad campaigns, sharing testimonials from happy customers and offering incentives through your social media channels. For example, you could offer purchase incentives such as new customer discount or free shipping.

In fact, according to a recent study, free shipping is the sales incentive that 88% of online shoppers want the most. As such, incentivising consumers in this way can be just what it takes to make that first sale.

4. Continuing your engagement

Once you’ve made a sale, it’s important that you don’t then forget about your customers. After all, you can’t take for granted that once they’ve made one purchase they are a lifelong fan.

However, this is the part of the funnel where lots of e-commerce brands fall down.

Because of this, you need to continue to nurture these relationships if you hope to gain their trust and loyalty. And again, there are serval ways you can use social media to do this. These include:

• Creating personalised content and social media posts based on their previous purchases
• Continuing to offer discounts and flash sales, advertising these on social media
• Starting a hashtag and encouraging consumers to post pictures of your goods or services being used
• Sharing interesting and useful content such as videos, blog posts and new product launches
• Using platforms like Twitter to start chats or run live videos on Facebook or Instagram, giving customers a chance to get involved in real-time

Again, consider using a mixture of these techniques to keep building relationships and encouraging engagement with consumers.

5. Converting your customers to fans

The final stage in your social media sales funnel is advocacy. Since you’ve made a sale and continued to build on your relationship with your customers, it’s time to go one step further.

You can do this by showing gratitude to your customers, either replying to their comments to thank them for their purchase or offering them personalised rewards. You can also offer further incentives such as discounts for customers who recommend you to their friends or entering them into a competition draw if they are happy to leave a review on your social media profiles.

So there you have it; while traditional sales funnels definitely still have their place, creating a social media funnel for your e-commerce business can be hugely effective for boosting sales in today’s digital world.

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Guide To Working With Influencers To Promote Your Products

Influencer Marketing

Using influencers to promote your products is called influencer marketing. This is a type of collaboration between your business or marketing team, and a social media influencer, in which they help to bring attention to your goods or services.

The original form of influencer marketing was celebrity endorsements, but in today’s digital world, there are now millions of people sharing content through social media. As such, this has lead to a boom in influencers who could offer value to your brand.

So if you’re considering working with an influencer on your next marketing campaign but you’re not sure where to start, this guide is for you.

What is a social media influencer?

Put simply; an influencer is someone who can influence other people. This is most typically done through social media platforms.

The right influencer can help you to engage with your audience, build trust in your brand and drive traffic to your website and other channels.

They do this by creating original, engaging content. But to ensure they’re creating content that your target audience will enjoy and engage with, you need to make sure you choose the right influencer. Someone whose values align with your own.

How to find your ideal influencer

In order to find the right influencer, there are several things you can do.

Start by deciding which channels you want to use. For example, are you looking for someone with a lot of influence on Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc.

Then, once you’ve determined this, you can start doing a manual search on your chosen platform.

Searching for hashtags and business accounts using the search functionality is a good place to start.

You could also put a poll or question out to your followers to ask them what types of media they prefer and if there are any influencers in the industry they particularly admire. This can give you some useful insights to work with.

There are also lots of tools out there that can help to connect you to influencers, tools like Famebit.

Once you’ve started to compile a list, put this into a database, noting down as much information as possible. This should include:

  • The number of followers they have
  • How much engagement their average post gets
  • If they’ve worked with other brands – if so, who are they?
  • Their niche
  • Their other social media channels
  • Any strengths and weaknesses
  • Any contact information

Then you can begin to weigh up your favourites until you determine which influencers you want to reach out to.

Plan your influencer campaign

Before you start reaching out, there is one final thing you should do. You need to at least get a campaign plan in place so that you can give the influencer an idea of the kind of things you want/expect.

This means you need to create a unique message and some ideas for themes.

You also need to think about the amount of content you’d like – for example, two mentions on their Instagram story and a dedicated post.

At this point, you also need to put together a statement about your company values and the aim of your campaign. You can then explain why you think they’d be a good fit for your brand.

Start reaching out

Once you’ve done the above, you can start reaching out to these influencers or to their agents/representatives if they have them.

If you’re going direct to the influencer, it’s usually best to start with a friendly message and only send over the full details if they express an interest.

But whatever you do, you can’t expect everyone to say yes, and you might not always get the one you want. As such, you need to stay positive and keep reaching out to the top people on your list.

Negotiating this type of relationship might take time, but it’s worth it in the end.

Be willing to be flexible and to give up some creative control

Once you’ve got your influencer on board, the work can begin. However, you need to remember that these people are experts at what they do, therefore, they might have some ideas of their own to contribute.

But more than this, they may know better than you what their followers like. So it’s best to be flexible and willing to let them take some creative control over the content.

Give them a rough idea of what it is you want and, of course, check all content before it goes out. But just be mindful that they will need some flexibility.

If you need to send them some of your products, you may need a courier service, this is where Irish Parcels can come in! We ship locally and to over 200 countries worldwide.

Always follow the rules

Before you set out on an influencer marketing campaign, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the rules. Particularly because these have changed quite recently.

Nowadays, influencers must identify when they are running sponsored posts, usually with the hashtag #Ad or #Sponsored. Therefore, you need to make sure that your chosen influencer is clued up and will follow all these regulations.

What’s more, if the influencer is making video content, particularly a review of your products, they must let their followers know that this is a sponsored post both in writing and verbally during the video content.

Now, there might be other guidelines to follow, which is why it is best to do your research and make sure you understand your role as part of the partnership between your company and the influencer.

This will ensure you don’t get flagged or penalised once your content has gone out.

Be sure to measure your results

Finally, as with any marketing campaign you run, you want to see what results you achieve, the return on investment (ROI) and any other insights that can help you to run better campaigns in the future.

As such, you need to make sure you’re using tracking systems and tools to look at how many views, likes, comments, etc., your post gets. You can also use tracked links and tools like Google Analytics on your web pages. This can help you to see how much traffic you generated as a result of your influencer campaign.

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5 Postage & Packaging Tips For New Startups

Package Being Delivered

There was a time when we rarely thought about the packaging our goods came in because to be honest, it didn’t really make much difference to us.

But nowadays, with the retail industry booming, particularly as a result of the surge in e-commerce – things have changed.

In a competitive market, brands have gone above and beyond to create beautiful packaging and to use this as a marketing tool. In turn, consumers have come to want (and expect) their goods to be properly and attractively packaged.

Not only this but there are now other important considerations to think about – for example, sustainability and the environment.

So as a new business owner, getting your postage and packing right can feel like a minefield, which isn’t something you really want to be stressed about when trying to get your new business off the ground.

So if you’ve recently started a business that involves sending your goods out to customers, this article is for you.

Below, we’re going to share with you some of our top tips for perfecting your packing and shipping strategy, so you can boost your brand and keep your customers coming back for more.

1. Think about your packaging needs

In the early stages of your business, it can be tempting to buy lots of different packaging to try out. However, before you go out and buy loads of products you don’t end up needing, stop for a moment and really think about your packaging needs.

For example, in order to choose the most efficient packaging, whether that’s a bag, box, bubble wrap, etc. you need to ask yourself:

  • What am I posting?
  • Is it expensive, fragile, large or heavy?
  • Will it require extra padding to keep it safe?
  • How am I posting my goods?
  • What am I charging for postage costs?
  • Am I using a courier service or going to the post office?
  • Do you want custom packaging made up or will you use generic packaging?
  • Are you an eco-conscious brand?

Planning your packaging carefully in this way gives you time to shop around, find the perfect packaging options and ensure that your goods arrive safe and sounds – all without breaking your budget.

And we’re going to look at budgeting and cutting costs in more detail in the next section.

2. Manage your costs effectively

Sticking to a budget and cutting costs wherever you can is crucial when you’re starting up a business. And your postage and packaging is no exception.

As this can range from the very basic, cheaper options all the way up to some pretty expensive custom bags and boxes, it helps to set yourself a budget.

If you want to choose more expensive packaging to impress your customers, this may mean you need to charge them more for postage, so it’s worth keeping this in mind and deciding if this is something you want to do.

Either way, you need to make sure that your packaging is effective, protective and that it doesn’t end up costing you money on your goods.

3. Use your packaging as a marketing tool

Now for some of the more fun stuff.

Your packaging can be a great marketing opportunity. Think about it; your packages are out there with your name and branding on. This can be a relatively low-cost advertising technique, provided you haven’t spent a fortune having the packaging branded.

Not only this, but in today’s digital world, people love to share pictures and reviews of their latest purchases online.

In fact, you may be familiar with the ‘unboxing’ phenomenon that has burst onto the scene in recent years.

This is where people video themselves opening their parcels and share this with their followers online. If they are raving about your beautifully packaged goods to their hundreds or even thousands of followers, that opens you up to a much wider audience.

So this can be a chance to have some real fun and spend some time getting your packaging perfect.

4. Know your audience

The type of packaging best suited to your goods will vary depending on what you sell. It will also vary depending on your audience, so you need to take them into consideration.

For example, are you selling an eco-friendly or all-natural product? If so, it won’t send a great message to put this in a single-use plastic bag and it’s likely that your target audience won’t appreciate that either.

Similarly, if you sell a sleek or luxurious product like makeup or beauty products, your audience might be more enticed by bold, beautiful boxes that look opulent and mirror the product inside.

So it’s not just important to think about what you want your packaging to look like, but also what your target audience will expect from your brand.

5. Go above and beyond

And finally, it’s not just about what the actual packaging looks like. If you want to use more basic bags and boxes to keep costs down, that’s OK! You can add a personal touch in other ways.

Providing you’re not sending out hundreds of parcels a day, why not wrap your goods nicely in tissues paper, add small freebies or even a handwritten note?

These small, personal touches can make a huge difference to the consumer and can help to build your reputation and keep them shopping with you in the future.

Is it time you re-think your packaging?

So as you can see, packaging is more than just a way of transporting your goods. In today’s competitive environment, consumers have come to expect certain standards from brands and many will even base their shopping choices on aspects such as packaging.

Personalised or branded packaging is great if you’ve got the budget. You should also consider those additional little touches and shouting about sustainable or eco-friendly packaging if you use it.

Keeping these tips in mind, you can perfect your postage and packaging strategy and create a loyal customer base that can’t wait to see your parcels coming through their letterbox.

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Guide To Posting Products To Your Customers

Online shopping

In the era of Amazon Prime, consumers have become accustomed to receiving their goods in just a few short days. With some even requesting next day delivery.

Many also expect their orders to come perfectly packaged as the ‘unboxing’ and branding has also become a huge part of the overall consumer experience.

Not to mention customers are looking for more transparency when it comes to the supply chain. People are increasingly concerned with issues like cost and sustainability.

With all this to take in, how your business fulfils, ships and returns its products must be carefully considered.

To help ensure you get the shipping process right, we’ve put together this guide. Below, we’re going to cover the following:

  • How to create the perfect shipping strategy
  • How to package your items
  • How to ship your items
  • How to find couriers
  • How much does shipping cost?

So, read on to find out more about how you can get your new retail business off to the best possible start.

How to create the perfect shipping strategy

In order to create the perfect shipping strategy, you need to understand your larger goals. There are several goals that most e-commerce businesses aim to achieve through their shipping, and this includes:

  • Increasing conversion rates
  • Increasing the average order value
  • Expanding your target audience
  • Decreasing the costs for both you and your customers
  • Improving operational efficiency
  • Offering the best possible consumer experience

As we move through the next few chapters of this guide, we’ll discuss how you can take all of these aspects into consideration to create the most efficient, cost-effective and user-friendly shipping strategy. So, use this as a checklist to ensure you’re achieving your overall business goals and getting the most from your shipping.

How to package your items

packaging

How you package your products is important for a number of reasons.

Firstly, and most obviously, you need to make sure that the goods are wrapped and protected to ensure they reach the customer in perfect condition. This can be especially true when shipping more fragile items.

Secondly, did you know that 40% of customers regularly post interesting packaging or unboxing videos on social media? This can be a great way to spread awareness of your brand and win you new customers!

As such, there are three things you must take into account:

  • The cost of your packaging – you don’t want this to get too expensive
  • The type of packaging
  • Whether you want to include your branding and personal touches

Your packaging costs will vary depending on what you use, so before you set your shipping costs you need to consider your budget and whether you want to use this as a branding opportunity. But as a general rule, bulk buying your packaging such as boxes, bags, tape and bubble wrap will help you to save money.

What’s more, in today’s climate people tend to appreciate brands that offer more sustainable options which is why so many are reducing plastic waste and using recycled packaging. This might be slightly more costly but can be a big win for your brand.

You can also have boxes and bags made up with your branding and logo on them. Again, bulk buying these will be cheaper though this is more expensive than buying generic packaging.

But ultimately, you need to choose the most cost-effective and protective way to package your goods so these will not be damaged during the shipping process.

How to ship your items

Many big retailers will offer a handful of delivery options, sometimes as many as four or five. Though this may not be possible for smaller businesses and those just starting out.

That said, you should still offer some options to your customers as today’s consumers like variety. You can offer a relatively cheap standard delivery that takes around three days and then you could perhaps offer a courier service for faster delivery. Though this would obviously be more expensive.

What’s more, services like Collect+ allow you to deliver orders to convenient locations for your customers to collect themselves. But offering this type of delivery service will very much depend on your budget.

You must also consider what it is that you’re selling. If your products are fragile, heavy or large, specialist couriers might be the better options rather than relying on standard delivery.

The best thing to do is to take a look at your budget and begin researching the different couriers and postal service out there and in your local area. This will give you a better idea of costs.

You might also wish to offer free delivery on larger shops as this means you’ll cover your costs and encourage customers to buy more.

How to find couriers

If you want to send your orders via a courier service, you need to make sure you choose the right one. That’s where our courier comparison service can help!

To help you choose the more beneficial service for your business and customers, you should:

  • Choose the most cost-effective courier (taking service into consideration, don’t just settle for a rubbish company because they’re cheap)
  • Make sure you’ve read reviews so you can choose a courier with a great reputation
  • Consider local couriers before choosing big-name companies as these can be more personal and effective
  • Choose a courier that offers a tracking service as customers like to be able to track their parcel

Posting your products to customers

Now you understand your packaging and shipping options, you can begin to put a plan in place for your shipping strategy. Spend some time seriously considering the packaging and delivery options you’d like to offer your customers.

Remember, the shipping, packing and returns policies of your company can make or break your brand so look at this as a good opportunity to build customer loyalty and attract a wider customer base.

Once you’ve put together a list of options and costs (for packaging, post, couriers, etc.) you can perfect your shipping and ensure you and your customers have the best experience.

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