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Sun June 2 2013 15:28:32

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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There has been an interesting discussion on LinkedIn about whether or not sellers should include a packing slip with their orders. It had already been on my mind because the other day I bought what I consider a "high end" piece of clothing and it came with no packing slip, receipt, nada. It left me wondering if the seller was ticked off the thing sold for so little considering its retail price.

The seller who started the LinkedIn discussion liked getting the slips and felt it was confusing to not get them: "What has been driving me nuts more and more is the lack of invoices / packing slips with my purchased items. When you order five of the same thing from five different sellers (not unusual for me) and the packages start to arrive, the lack of packing slips forces me to play detective to figure out what I have and what I'm still waiting for," he says.

He sells refurbished computers on eBay and a lot of the parts needed to do that refurbishment also come from eBay, he wrote. "Most of the time matching the tracking number on the package with my list of Purchased Items works. But some people don't upload tracking information and so I'm trying to match return address with the seller's ship from location."

But several other sellers wrote that they felt it was a waste of time and ink. Another said he asked several high-volume sellers why they don't include packing slips and they replied that "it is redundant; i.e., the information is online or they send the packing list as an email confirmation." But he says he personally always puts a packing list on the outside of packages if possible.

With each of my orders, I include the eBay-generated packing slip and write a handwritten thank-you. Also, ever since eBay took away the ability to give negative feedback and added the star system, I ask them to please contact me if they were not satisfied with their order and that I strive for 5-star feedback. It may not be a necessary thing, but I don't think it hurts.

At one of the eBay Live conferences I attended,
Marketing expert Andy Sernovitz advised that sellers put other promotional materials in the box as well: "stick multiple cards, coupons, refrigerator magnets, etc., in your packages so people can share them with their friends."

So are we sellers missing an opportunity here?

How do you feel about packing slips as a buyer and also as a seller? Do you like to get them, or is it just a waste of paper for you? Does it matter if they're on pretty paper or nice stationery, as many Etsy sellers do, or could you care less? Post a comment here!




Comments (37) | Permalink

Readers Comments

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: GMarx This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 2 19:18:31 2013

I don't do it, everything adds to the bottom line, and when I get a handwritten note it goes from my eyes to the shredder.

We did a local pick up and the girl seller who looked and acted like a pole dancer handed us her thank you note on gaudy paper in a gaudy gold envelope. We laughed at how tasteless it was and enjoyed the shredding.

But her cost had to be in excess of 50 cents for the quality of the paper and the envelope

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 2 19:40:18 2013

I never used to care either way about a packing slip or invoice.

But then I read in a seller forum about someone who shipped an item - the shipping label got messed up during shipping, and was difficult to read. The shipping company (I think it was USPS, not sure) opened the package and discovered the packing slip inside.

Since it had the address of the customer, they created a new label and sent the package forward.

If there had been no slip or invoice, it would have ended up in dead-letter purgatory.

Realizing that something similar happening is remote, but still a possibility, that was enough for me. I'll take the little extra time and money to include a slip or invoice.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Sun Jun 2 20:53:51 2013

There are some who swear by it, but we provide them.  We kill enough trees as it is.  We've shipped over 30,000 items and we've never had one complaint from a buyer about not providing one.

As a buyer, packing slips go straight to the trash. Just something else to have to throw away.

I do see how it would be helpful if a mailing label is mutilated during shipment, but my guess is that USPS would take several months to solve the puzzle even with the packing slip inside the package.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sun Jun 2 22:19:20 2013

I always include a packing slip and never thought not to include one. IMO it is just more professional along with packing extremely well. Kind of old school where little things mean a lot.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 2 23:50:39 2013

Julia, I am with you re packing slips. I used to buy many of the same item. Seems like maybe 1 out of 10 would have a packing slip. I usually just go by the return address and hope it matches what it has in the listing. However, many listing just have USA. Cannot go by the name on the return address. Takes time to guess who and write and ask what return address they put on. Some are even put off by me even asking.
Think it is common sense to include copy of invoice or packing slip. But then I come from a business background where it was always included 100% of the time.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: antiquebeak This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jun 3 00:00:02 2013

In 18 years of selling online I never included a packing slip in orders. Then the packing slip topic in a newsletter I received last year made me poll my customers on my Facebook page. Their response was overwhelming: they wanted packing slips. I asked; I listened. Now in year 19 you'll find one in each of my orders unless it's a gift.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
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Mon Jun 3 00:20:30 2013

I began including Packing Slip long time ago. For 1 item and PayPal payment, I just use the regular one get in PP. For multiple orders I use my own custom Packing Slip.

I don't care if people read it or do whatever with it. My principal objective is only to provide some back up if the shipping label is destroy.

As buyer. I see very professional add the Packing Slip.  

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: rosachs This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 3 00:23:00 2013

I started selling pre-Internet, using FIDOnet BBSes to buy/sell/trade across the country.  While not everyone include a formal ''packing slip'', it was always helpful when the seller included something to let you know who it was that shipped it to you.

15 years on eBay and every package has always gone out with a packslip, along with a quick, hand-written ''Thank You'' signed by me personally.  It lets my customers know I'm a real person, more than just an online handle.  It also makes it much easier to remind buyers that eBay feedback is always appreciated, and to give them my direct email address if they have questions or other comments.  With my feedback received percentage over 80% most months, I think it's working in that regard.

When I thought about it initially, everything I buy from catalog/online retailers like Sears, Target, Wal-Mart -- they all come with a packslip.  Why should I value my own shipments any less?  The cost of a single sheet of paper is about a penny.  Laser toner for that page - probably less.  I'd have the printer anyway, and the packslip is my final checklist to make sure I've included everything purchased when shipping multi-item orders.

Maybe it is ''old school''... but then, so am I.  :)

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: joyful17 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 3 00:38:10 2013

99% of the time we include an invoice. Since I am in Canada and 99.9% of my sales are to the US  (with some to Europe) the Canada Post shipping asks if there is a 'document' inside or if it is a gift!
For antiques or works of art, all buyers want and should have an invoice with a description of the item purchased.
I write all of mine by hand in an old fashioned invoice book....a copy stays in the book for my reference.
As a buyer, I too like to receive an itemized list of what I purchased...which I can either file in a folder or the trash!

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: kenhotlanta This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jun 3 01:09:57 2013

I always use a packing slip with a hand written ''Thank You'' and a 5 Star Service sticker asking for positive feedback.
I would love to include some type of gift such as a calendar, magnet, tip chart, etc., but it's not in the budget yet.
My first reason for including a packing slip is in case the package is damaged and the label is lost or destroyed...this is especially important with International shipments.
The customers who remember you and reorder offsets the cost and time of including the packing slip in the first place.  

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: Carol This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 3 01:13:13 2013

A customer complained to me about not getting a packing slip shortly after I started selling on ebay in 1997 and explained that he'd  ordered the same thing from several sellers and needed something besides my return address to figure out whose item had arrived.

Even though I myself throw away packing slips for personal items and only keep those for business purchases, I can see why the occasional customer will feel ill-served if you don't include a packing slip of some kind.

Since you have no way to guess who will need the item number and seller info, there's not much choice but to include it in all packages.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Mon Jun 3 01:19:50 2013

A packing slip is of the utmost importance. It shows that you are professional and not some run of the mill seller trying to make a few bucks. We also have been selling on line long before eBay back when it was all bulletin boards in the late 80's. Before that we did mail order. We always included a packing list plus a flyer with offers and our show schedule.
Now we include a packing list, a sheet with links to our different sites we sell on and for eBay sales a sheet explaining the DSR system so our buyers understand it since eBay does not explain it well enough at all.
This is all what a truly professional seller should do and it is part of Marketing 101.

Bill

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: Monetcourt This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 3 01:30:28 2013

I sold a book on Amazon this year and in the address field next to the buyers name was this "{no invoice, no receipt}" While I always include a packing slip, I assumed that the buyer was more "green" motivated and I followed his wishes.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: pfft!! This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 3 02:04:09 2013

I have NEVER included a packing slip....EVER....We have 5 star feedback and always have.  All this information is stored online/people are free to print them off themselves if they so wish.  
If someone REQUESTS a slip I'll comply, but I can only recall ONE customer EVER requesting one.
We sell a LOT of items online daily.  Handwritten notes?  Oh HECK No.  We're in business to make MONEY.  
Then again, we sell many one of a kind items.  I guess if we were selling office supplies or stuff like that it might be different.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: Eyedeal This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jun 3 02:33:57 2013

We started selling on eBay in 1999.We now sell on Amazon. We also have had our own website just as long.  We include packing slips.  Most of our sales are multiple items.
Especially during the holiday seasons were getting buyers complaining that 1 of the 5 items were missing or 2 of 4 were missing.  In order to keep a record of what we send, we take a picture of each multiple sale with the packing slip and each item placed on that packing slip (we sell miniature figurines which all fit in the picture).  Our buyers seem to FIND the lost items when we send them a copy of the packing slip w/images.

Also we have had our share of shipping labels damaged or water soaked where only by opening the package can the buyer be found.  Yes and USPS does ship onto buyers the items with the damaged labels.  Occasionally at Christmas we send the wrong item to a buyer which belonged to another buyer.  The shipping labels were mixed up. Not surprisingly, mistakes happen especially when we sell 10x as much during Oct/Nov/Dec as we do during the rest of the year.
We buy 500 to 1000 items at a time and if our manufactures did not include a packing slip, we could never match up received  items with sent items.
Packing slips give buyers an easy way to reorder items with all our information on the packing slip.
Our #1 goal is customer service.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: bunnspec This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 3 07:42:00 2013

I have read some truly bizzare posts on SC from a 'buyer' of Jack in the Box coupons-I roll my eyes at his rigid view that no packing slip=a bad FB. I could see a quality item having a slip, but bundles of coupons???

However, personal experience trumps advice anytime...I very rarely included slips-and I sold for 4 years with no complaints, international sales in '04-'08 were pretty easy compared to the scenarios presented today...

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: RAOTFLMAO This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 3 08:09:19 2013

I always include a packing slip/invoice in every box....I have had several packages held in customs until I faxed an invoice so I got in the habit.  Saves time and confusion...adds to the bottom line?  Raise your prices a couple of cents to cover the paper and don't be cheap. When I see sellers cut so many corners to sell an item I think they should be flipping burgers at Mickiedee's and get out of the business.....  

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: Momcat55 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 3 08:20:25 2013

When was the last time you received an order from Amazon or another major  business without a packing slip?

'Nuff said. Professionalism. You may be a small eBay seller, but you can be professional.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: queenkim98 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 3 09:36:21 2013

I always try to include a packing slip.  I always print one, and occasionally I seal up the box and forget to put it in.  

I think its very important.  When I order several lots of the same coupon from different sellers, if an envelope arrives with no packing slip, and no identifying information, how am I supposed to know who it came from.

How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?   How Important Is a Packing Slip with an Order?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jun 3 09:38:38 2013

>>But several other sellers wrote that they felt it was a waste of time and ink. Another said he asked several high-volume sellers why they don't include packing slips and they replied that "it is redundant<<

Interesting as these are SELLERS opinions, not buyers. While I don't mark down a seller for NOT including a packing slip if that is the only negative thing about the order, if they also don't have a return address on the package  or a scribbled, illegible return address (they must have better faith in USPS than I do), and then the item isn't up to snuff, they start falling rapidly into the negative feedback territory. As others have mentioned, several times when I buy something, I buy from others at the same time and it is frustrating to get several packages all of which with problems, none of which let me know what I should be getting or who sent what. We need those packing slips!

The seller's opinion about whether to include them or not isn't what is important. Buyers do like getting them when needed and you never know which buyer will need them. I always include one with every order with a hand written 'thank you' on each one and have had buyers comment on them positively. Packing slips also provide the information, or should provide it, of where the seller's store is or how to contact them again to help generate more sales. As the others have mentioned, the big box stores include them, so they must find it cost effective to do so.

I doubt if most customers will give negatives for not getting a packing slip, but that isn't a reason to not send them. Those packing slips if nothing else can be a marketing tool.

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