If you’re in the habit of ordering goods online then the chances are that on occasion you may have discovered something a little bit extra within your package.

Usually something small, lightweight, possibly fun, possibly edible, but most importantly, always free!

I’ve used the ‘free gift and note in the parcel’ strategy for some time and I’m pretty convinced it’s very effective when it comes to extracting positive feedback from buyers.

And today I want to tell you about some easy tricks you can use to ensure your buyers are happy…

Let me tell you a little story as an example.

Just this week I ordered an item of clothing from an eBay seller. I ordered it from eBay because it was a very reasonable price and fast dispatch was offered as standard.

So, I was extremely impressed when after ordering I received an email from the seller less than 2 hours later, telling me that she was currently offering a free gift with my product which then basically made the item into a ‘set’.

Then she asked me what colour I would like so that she could dispatch my order that day. That was surprise number one.

I hadn’t noticed anything about a free gift on the listing so I was delighted with the prospect of receiving something for free which meant I was already feeling positive vibes from this seller and I hadn’t even received the goods yet!

So, having replied to the seller with my colour preference I didn’t think any more about it.

The following day my order arrived – it had been dispatched by 1st class post even though the listing stated ‘standard’ – that was surprise number two!

I unwrapped my parcel, which had arrived in a pretty pink mailing bag – nice touch! And inside was my beautifully wrapped item plus my free gift, nestled in pink tissue paper along with a note from the seller thanking me for my purchase – that was surprise number three!

So impressed was I that I lost no time in logging on to eBay and giving extremely complimentary 5 star feedback to the seller – even before I’d inspected my items properly – or tried them on!

Now you might be thinking there is a ‘but’ coming with this story? Well there isn’t.

The items were perfect and with very little extra effort the seller had secured herself a 5 star rating from me right across the board and a lovely positive feedback comment.

And all because she had exceeded my expectations.

Now, I must point out that some ‘surprises’ which you can use to exceed buyers’ expectations are easier and more cost effective than others if you would like to try this.

So, here are 6 very useful options for you to consider…

1. Source sweets to add to your parcels 

I’m not talking about chucking in a couple of liquorice allsorts or a KitKat though. You should think more along the lines of a tiny bag of chocolate sweets – like those old fashioned chocolate buttons with the sprinkles on top  – presented in a small clear gift bag and tied with a ribbon.

Or a mini bag of fudge or toffee – you get the idea.

You might think this is a lot of effort to go to not to mention the extra expenditure (you can source sweets, bags and ribbon in bulk to keep costs down though) – and if that’s the case then test it first and see what a difference it makes to your feedback to put your mind at ease.

Buyers like surprises (good ones) and quite frankly this is a great way of putting a smile on their face before they’ve even looked at their goods.

2. Add a small, inexpensive gift to each of your orders. 

You should try and think of things that complement the original order.

So for example, if you sell handbags, add a free mini coin purse in with the order (these can literally cost pennies sourced from China).

If you sell torches and you already offer batteries as part of the order, send an extra spare set free of charge.

If you sell cosmetics, add a free make up brush to the order.

If you sell fishing tackle, add some free fishing hooks – just be sure to make it complementary to the original product, and your buyer will be delighted.

3. Now, ‘handwritten’ notes…

This doesn’t cost anything – however it is of course very time-consuming and to be honest I wouldn’t expect a handwritten note from any seller who is sending out more than 10 orders a day.

The note from my seller earlier this week wasn’t actually handwritten – but never-the-less it did the job because she had bothered to thank me for my purchase and had taken the time to add the note to the parcel rather than shoving my item into the mailing bag on it’s own.

All you need to do is construct a generic thank you note, print it out in advance using a handwriting style font and add one to every parcel you dispatch.

Don’t forget to add the name of your website or eBay shop to the note so that buyers know where to go when they want to purchase from you again.

4. Use classy packaging materials

This is a cheap and very simple way to exceed your buyers’ expectations. It’s much nicer to receive an exciting attractive parcel than to receive a dull brown parcel, although I have to say that we girls are probably more excitable about things like this than men!

Nevertheless, coloured packaging only costs a little more than plain and it’s worth a go.

Finally, those last two little tricks.

5 & 6. Dispatch faster and use a quicker delivery service 

The first one I am in total agreement with. Dispatch as fast as you can!

Buyers are impatient and want their orders to arrive yesterday so if you can, dispatch same day or next day. The quicker an order arrives with it’s recipient, the more likely they are to give you great feedback.

But using a quicker delivery service than you state in your listing isn’t always a good option.

Firstly, if you state second class (but actually are dispatching first class) you may miss those potential buyers who really want first class dispatch but think you dispatch second class if that makes sense!

Secondly, it will cost you more to dispatch first class so you must remember to build this in to your profit calculations otherwise you could find yourself out of pocket.

So, by all means try this strategy and see how it works for you, but in my opinion the other ideas I’ve detailed above are safer.