Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Apr 16 2013 07:40:16

Do You Like Surprises in Your eBay Packages?

By: Ina Steiner

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Part of the charm of buying from sites like eBay, Etsy, Bonanza and other marketplaces is the fact that you may be dealing with mom and pop businesses, artisans and individuals - real people. That can also be a two-edged sword as far as some shoppers are concerned.

Nowadays, even the smallest online sellers place marketing material or coupons in their packages. We recently wrote about a company that pays online retailers for placing samples in their packages to customers.

But inserts inside packages go well beyond marketing material and coupons. Here are some of the items that sellers place inside their packages: handwritten notes, candy - and two of the most controversial - religious pamphlets and dryer sheets! So far I've never heard of sellers including political material in ecommerce packages, but it probably happens.

Some sellers use pretty tissue paper and handmade labeling in their packages. What kinds of inserts, if any, do you place in your packages? And what are some no-no's?

Do you like surprises in your packages?




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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Apr 16 08:08:13 2013

With postage rates as they are, I'm not sure why one would want to add extra weight.  I've always viewed these gimmicks as not being very professional, but some buyers love it and I have no problem with it if this is what the seller wants to do.  

At the same time, some buyers hate it.  I've heard stores of candies melting onto clothing and colored tissue paper or newspaper print bleeding onto items.  I've also heard stories of diabetics who were outraged when a seller sent them sweets.  (A little over the top I think---just don't eat them.)

I personally hate packing peanuts or any packing material that makes a mess.

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by: This a joke, right? This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 16 08:18:20 2013

Theoretically, I don't like the practice but when I have done it I have gotten good results.
I also used to buy from one supplier that always included several free samples with every order. It was always fun to open a shipment from them

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This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Tue Apr 16 08:21:43 2013

On the few (?) occasions when I screw up an order, I place a complementary object in with the package.

That's about it, other than the New York Times when I package up items that need some protection like books. Maybe that's a political statement? But in fair & balanced fashion, I also include the Connecticut Post.

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This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
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Tue Apr 16 08:46:56 2013

As a buyer. I don't like to receive extra stuff not related to the item I bought. If I bought some nice Non-Sport Cards, I don't want to get hundreds of baseball or hockey cards as extra stuff.  

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by: nothingnew This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 16 08:55:11 2013

I just write Junkables.com on the outside of my shipping boxes. Never inside

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by: Sunflower This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 16 09:01:52 2013

As I sell cosmetics, I sometimes place a small sample or a small extra item in with some packages. I don't do it so much for international anymore due to the shipping increases, but if they pay for flat rate I do. I have had great results and people seem happy to have received a little extra something.

As a buyer I have received numerous items, some are very nice, some are just okay. I think it is nice that the seller took the time and enclosed a little something extra. The one thing I do not like is the religious pamphlet.
I do not wrap items in wrapping paper or tissue paper. I package so the item will not be damaged in transit.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Apr 16 09:03:00 2013

Absolutely HATE those dryer sheets. The people that put them in don't consider that many people have allergies to fragrance!

Although I appreciate the sentiment, I don't particularly care for free jewelry, gifts etc….  I MAY hang on to a coupon or a magnetic calendar with your store name on it, but that is all.

Once I received the remains of a large bug in with a clothing item. I didn't even say anything, I'm sure the seller didn't have a clue.


My folks get tissue and a flyer with a big Thank You,  return instructions if needed,  how to contact me if any problems, and the web address of my eBay store. If anything else crawls into the package, well, hopefully it is treated with kindness.

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by: MaD Mercantile This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 16 09:07:18 2013

I have been adding free pencils or pens to orders for 2 or 3 years now with every pen sale. The only reaction I get is positive, Some times Very positive Thank you e-mails to nice feedback remarks. I believe it does in-fact bring some customers back for more.

I feel freebies are fun way to say ''Thank You'' to buyers who chose my item over the many other options available.  

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by: AGardenCottage This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 16 09:16:02 2013

Maybe another of the exact same item purchased or a sample of something very similar. However... it seems so easy to 'find fault'  nowadays I prefer to NOT include extra's, other than a TY note with my signature.

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by: Buttons This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 16 09:18:39 2013

On the selling side, I do not need to spend any extra money or add weight to a package by sending a freebie. A handwritten thank you note and careful packaging shows I appreciate the buyer. On the buying side, no freebie ever made me want to buy from the seller again and all too often,it's something I don't want or need.

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by: sellerfish This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 16 09:25:10 2013

We send ebay buyers a 4 x 6 card. One side basically begs for positive FB.
The other side is a cute picture of our little kids dressed as business people with out info on how to buy direct thru our site. Assuring folks that despite eBay's dire warnings that not buying through ebay will get you ripped off often gets us our best customers and adds to our POS FB.

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by: sellerfish This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 16 09:31:56 2013

We also like to make a habit of under promising and over delivering. We always put extra coins in our bullion and coin bags. It is rare to get an acknowledgement of such

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This user has validated their user name. by: Sandymenu

Tue Apr 16 09:38:34 2013

bonanza? i stopped buying on this site for just that main reason alone. The merchandise was bad, 90% of items purchased delivered the stench of cigarette smoke and the extras added had been:

* Foil melted kisses chocolate
* Mints all dried and old
* Tarot cards
* We can save you wiccan inserts
* Extra newspaper provided as padding that either looked as if dog gone had gone on it first
* Oh, and coded discount coupons that weren't even valid at site checkout

The only SURPRISE I wish to get is the item paid for.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 16 09:41:51 2013

Not only have I never gotten a 'freebie' I seem to be lucky to get anything that identifies the seller in or on the package and I don't buy from any less than 100%+ feedback folks either! Just received an international shipment the other day which was hard to figure out on the outside who sent it and there was no packing slip of any kind. I don't understand that sort of thing. ALL my customers get a packing slip showing what they ordered which also includes information on how to get back to our store including contact info and what to put in the subject line of any email so I will be sure to weed it out of my junk mail and a hand written ‘thank you’ on the packing slip. What most of my customers will never know is how hard that handwritten thank you is for me especially when my arthritis is acting up bad, but I feel that it shows that there is a person behind the purchase and it is something that customers have commented favorably on in the past.

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by: JLS This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 16 09:42:34 2013

I recently bought a very inexpensive little eye liner/lip liner sharpener.  Imagine my surprise when my seller included a brand new full sized lip liner in a very useable & neutral color along with the sharpener as a little extra ''gift''!  The pencil itself was worth more than the sharpener I bought!  Very nice!

Usually, the little extra gifts have just been nice little additions.  Have been lucky...no dryer sheets or melted candies though!

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 16 09:44:58 2013

Just curious as to why this topic specified ebay packages? Many of us sell and buy from other sites. As we all now know, ebay is not the only player out there. Let's be sure to include us other sellers that were brave enough to jump off that venue since this is an ecommerce newsletter not an ebay newsletter.  

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by: JohnGermaine This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 16 09:51:48 2013

No, I don't add anything to a package except the invoice and a business card stapled to it. I would not want things I did not order in my package either. Please, keep your religion to yourself, I have one. Smelly dryer sheets - well I have allergies, may not go well at my house. Everything with a scent gets pre-sniffed before it comes thru the door, asthma attacks are not fun.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Apr 16 10:05:12 2013

The only "surprises" I've ever received from an eBay seller is the item I paid for reeking of cigarette smoke, which I am allergic to. This issue, of course, was not disclosed in the item listing.  

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by: Ed This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 16 10:08:55 2013

This is only another way for ebay to collect extra FVF. The more the weight the more the shipping and the more the fees you pay.

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by: golfing in style This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 16 10:24:50 2013

This a a no brainer for me.Because most of what I sell is golf related, I put my business card along with 9 golf tees in a small poly bag in with every purchase.Always get great feedback.I think if you're going to put a surprise in with the item it should be related to the purchase unless it's a discount on your next purchase

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