eCommerce brands have relatively few direct touchpoints with their customers, making it much more challenging to build brand loyalty. When opportunities arise, you need to grab them with both hands.

With the holiday season fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start thinking about your customer relations plan. The holidays are the ideal time for businesses to pick up new customers. So, making a good first impression is essential to turn seasonal traffic into repeat business!

On the surface, offering free holiday gift wrapping might seem like a minor detail. But if you want to improve brand perception, loyalty, and customer retention, it's well worth adding to your customer experience strategy.

Best of all, a free gift wrapping service isn't something to only have available during the holidays - there are even bigger benefits to offering it year-round!

Why Should I Offer Free Gift Wrapping in My Online Store?

Premium Packaging Boosts Brand Perception

How do you want customers to view your brand? This is a question that all businesses should be asking themselves.

There’s one simple approach you can use to ensure a premium brand experience. Treat every customer as though it's their first time shopping with you.

If it's the holiday season, there's a pretty high chance that this actually will be the case! According to Deloitte, 75% of consumers are open to shopping with new brands during the holidays.

If your business can deliver that extra wow factor, you stand a much higher chance of getting repeat business in the new year and beyond.

But the holiday season aside, free gift wrapping is a simple way to create a more upscale brand image year-round. Why? Because consumers associate these extras with the luxury end of the consumer market. Upmarket stores such as Tiffany & Co have offered complimentary gift wrapping for decades, which has fuelled this perception.

The Tiffany & Co 'blue box' with its white bow has become is an iconic example of year-round gift wrapping.

Putting this extra care and attention into your order fulfillment makes customers feel special and exclusive - making your brand a lot more desirable. In fact, 40 percent of customers would consider making a repeat purchase from a brand that used ‘gift-like’ packaging!

Free Gift Wrapping Gives You An Edge Over Competitors

All retailers know that the holiday season is a competitive time of year. Small businesses are up against the likes of Etsy and Amazon, who dominate the marketplace with the breadth of their product ranges.

For branded retailers, whose products may be sold by multiple vendors, it isn't possible to compete on this basis alone. So, what does that leave?

According to Forbes, Customer Experience Management (CXM) is set to be the biggest brand differentiator by 2020. Why? Because if a certain product or service is offered by a variety of brands, how they treat customers is what determines whether we want to shop with them.

Online stores with free gift wrapping have a clear advantage. It's a pitch to your customers that purchasing from you gives them a much more tangible return on their investment.

Let's say that two competing lifestyle brands are stocking the same t-shirt. Both brands offer it for the same price, but there is a crucial difference. One offers free gift wrapping - the other doesn't.

If you were a customer, which would you pick? It isn't rocket science!

It’s Becoming an Expectation

Gift wrapping isn't just an attractive extra - it also offers your customers major convenience.

We all love the look of beautifully-wrapped parcels. But it turns out that most of us don't enjoy putting them together. Depending on the size and shape of an item, it can be a real struggle!

According to a survey by Virgin Trains, 67% of us dislike wrapping gifts. Further results by Statista show that the main reasons for this are the time investment, and the need to buy elements such as gift tags and ribbon.

Moreover, studies show that free gift wrapping with purchase is actually becoming an expectation. Keenpac found that in certain product categories, premium packaging was seen as 'extremely important' by consumers. This is prioritized the most for cosmetics, jewelry, and specialty food items.

If your brand revolves around lifestyle offerings, free gift wrapping will help you to fulfill customer expectations. Consumers in this area tend to see themselves as buying an 'experience' as much as a product. So, a thoughtful unboxing experience can really make all the difference!

Why Not Charge for Gift Wrapping?

There is an argument that small businesses shouldn't have to absorb the cost of offering gift wrapping. A complimentary service cuts into your profit margins, especially with the extra time it adds to the order fulfillment process. If Amazon charges extra for gift wrapping, why shouldn't you?

This is where you need to put yourself in the position of your customer. If your gift wrapping service adds $5 or more to each order, it can hardly be considered a 'value-added' service. It will appear to consumers that your business is trying to boost its average order value through add-ons.

This is a problem when consumers are becoming more price-sensitive. Studies show that 8 in 10 consumers are actively looking for ways to save money when they shop. This certainly involves considering what free extras their purchase entitles them to. There’s a reason why searches like ‘what stores offer free gift wrapping?’ always spike around the holidays!

To a price-conscious consumer, charging for gift wrapping can make your brand look 'cheap' and unwilling to invest in a positive customer experience. It's not going to generate much goodwill, which runs the risk of pushing your customer towards a competitor.

What Kind of Gift Wrap Should I Use?

The moment of delivery is a vital touchpoint with customers for eCommerce brands. It's your final interaction with them following a purchase, which makes it the perfect time to push your brand story.

Anyone can walk to their closest stationery store and buy some generic gift wrap. To really capitalize on offering this service, why not consider a custom-branded design? With low MOQs for custom packaging more widely available, it's easier than ever for small businesses to take advantage of this strategy.

Putting your branding collateral right onto your gift wrap or gift bag shows that you take pride in your brand. It drives home that this experience has been brought to them directly by you.

noissue custom tissue paper is the perfect gift wrapping accessory for businesses of every size. For one, it’s completely eco-friendly and can be recycled, unlike conventional wrapping paper which is usually laminated with a plastic coating. As consumers grow more conscious of packaging waste, investing in some plastic-free gift wrapping is the right way to go!

Best of all, this is a strategy that works at any time of year. If customers are gifting your products to loved ones during the holidays, recipients may not have encountered your brand before. A branded gift box with some tissue paper wrapping is an easy way to spike their interest - and potentially gain you some new customers!

How Do I Add a Gift Wrapping Option to My eCommerce Site?

All of the major eCommerce platforms have a gift wrap option built into their software. This makes it easy for businesses to offer gift wrapping through their online store, as either a permanent feature or a fun seasonal extra.

How to Offer Gift Wrapping on BigCommerce

BigCommerce is one of the easiest eCommerce platforms for adding a free gift wrapping service. All you need to do is go into ‘Advanced Settings > Gift Wrapping > Add a New Gift Wrapping Option. You can read their full guide here. BigCommerce has put a lot of effort into keeping the process as user-friendly as possible, including associated areas such as order fulfillment and shipping:

"With BigCommerce, using our built-in gift wrapping feature, brands can easily offer shoppers the option of having their purchases gift-wrapped. You can set this up to be free, or offer different price levels and options. If you only want gift wrapping to be available for specific products, that's easy too. We also partner with leading shipping, fulfillment, and 3PL providers to help manage all of your packaging and shipping needs, regardless of the complexity." Corinne Watson, Partner Content Marketing Manager

The most useful part of BigCommerce’s gift wrapping feature is that businesses can upload finished photos to be displayed on-site. This is a major advantage, as your customers get to see the final product before they place their order. It turns your free gift wrapping into a much bigger selling point!

How to Offer Gift Wrapping on Etsy

You can easily set up gift wrapping in your Etsy store by going to ‘Settings > ‘Offer Gift Wrapping > ‘Enable’. Here, you can also include a message to your customers about how items will be wrapped. You can find full instructions on their website.

However, the downside of Etsy’s feature is that it does not allow you to set the price at $0, as Shopify and BigCommerce do. If you want to offer complimentary gift wrapping through your Etsy store, it’s better to dispense with this tool entirely.

Instead, you can simply add ‘free gift wrapping included’ to your product descriptions and upload photos of your gift wrapping in action, as our customer The Fox in The Attic has done:

It’s also a great idea to encourage your customers to leave reviews about their experience. We tend to trust other people’s experiences far more than a brand’s own marketing efforts. A bit of user-generated content goes a long way here!

A customer review of Cat Artist Niaski

How to add Gift Wrapping to Magento

Magento’s gift wrap feature allows you to set gift wrapping options for either individual items or an entire order. This is very convenient for customers who aren’t just buying gifts. Magento also allows you to include multiple designs for your customer to choose from, if your eCommerce store offers a range of gift wrap options.

You can find this option under ‘Admin > Store > Other Settings > Gift Wrapping.’ For full instructions, click here.

How to Add Gift Wrapping to Shopify

If your eCommerce store is powered by Shopify, the process for adding a gift wrap option differs depending on whether you are using a ‘sectioned’ (e.g. a ‘drag and drop’) theme, or an ‘unsectioned’ theme. Note: If your store uses a theme that was released before October 2016, it is unsectioned, which requires a bit of extra code.

Compared with BigCommerce and Etsy, Shopify’s gift wrap feature requires more coding to customize, making it a bit more complex to implement. You can find the full guide on their site here.

If the platform you are using doesn’t have this feature, don’t worry! You can still market your gift wrapping in other ways. You can always add ‘free gift wrapping’ to all your product descriptions, and make a point of advertising it on social media to your followers. Remember: gift-wrapped parcels make for compelling social media content!

If you have to charge for gift wrapping on your platform, you could always launch a ‘wrapping presents for charity’ campaign. This is where you donate all the proceeds to a charity nominated by your business. It makes customers feel that they are making a positive contribution by supporting your brand - and they get a beautifully-wrapped parcel in return!

Online stores with free gift wrapping services have a definitive edge over their competitors at any time of year. It gives your offerings a higher perceived value in the eyes of consumers, which is vital in a crowded marketplace. It also allows your brand to channel a more upmarket image. Whether it’s the holiday season or business as usual, free gift wrapping provides your brand with that crucial point of difference that will bring customers back for more!

Looking for some seasonal inspiration for the holidays? Check out our seasonal packaging guide!