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October 14, 2021

Branded Freebies: what to include in your ecommerce packages

By: Peter Gregory

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Running a small ecommerce business? Throw a few added extras into your parcels! 

Bonus merchandise is a great way to grow your fan base, elevate your customer experience and differentiate yourself from everyone else out there.

But what freebies should you include? How much should you spend? How do you make sure that your free gift actually gets used and appreciated, and how do you keep yourself under the postage limits?

In this helpful guide, we’ll introduce you to the art of freebie-giving! We’ll show you some of the freebies that other online businesses have tried over the years. We’ll reveal what works (and what doesn’t) and give you some ideas on what you can include with your own product shipments. 

What makes a good freebie?

When your customer opens their parcel and finds an added extra in there, it can create a much stronger relationship between you both. It can win you serious long-term brownie points and boost your chances of a repeat sale.

Branded biros won’t cut it in the clothing industry. For your freebies to work, you need to give your customer something that feels genuinely valuable to them. The gift should sit nicely with your brand, and it should act as a positive reminder of your business for years to come. In an ideal world it should be lightweight and small, too, just to keep those pesky postage costs down! 

Good freebie ideas to consider:

We have hundreds of customers in the clothing and homewares industries. We made a few calls to ask these businesses what freebies have worked for them in the past. The most popular and effective freebies include:

  1. Coupons! Buyer incentives are something that almost every clothing business includes in their  packaging. Coupons are sometimes a physical item (a ‘golden ticket’ style coupon, for instance), but they can also just be a single sentence on your order confirmation slip. You can offer customers a £5 voucher for their next order, a 10% off coupon or a code for free shipping … it’s up to you. All that really matters is that, when your customer opens their parcel, they’re greeted with a good reason to come back and buy from you again.
  2. Samples! This works better for high-end clothing businesses like tailors and couture fashion businesses. It works for soft furnishings businesses, too. Pick up a standard crimping scissors and turn your waste fabric into a swatch. Throw these into the parcel with a note to explain what they are. Your customers will know what sorts of material they can pick from on their next purchase. 
  3. Face Masks! A fabric face mask is something your customers will probably use! COVID is still with us, and there’s a reasonable chance we might all have to cover our faces again this winter. Just make sure the mask is safe and comfortable, and resist the temptation to turn your customers into a walking billboard. If your logo is too big or your branding is too overt, the face mask will probably land in the bin.
  4. Ribbon Gifts! This is something we can help you with here at GB Labels! A small keyring loop or bookmark made from custom-woven ribbon can act as a lightweight, cost effective and classy freebie. We’ve written a guide to promotional ribbon which walks you through some ideas.
  5. Drawstring Bags! If you’re selling a big, bulky item (boots and bags, for instance), you can add panache to your product packaging by placing the item in a drawstring bag before you wrap it for postage. Branded drawstrings look great, and if you make them out of sturdy reusable material, they will carry on being used by your customers for years to come.
  6. Fabric Badges! If you have a passionate group of fans who love everything you do, reward them with a woven badge! A fabric badge can be stitched into clothing, bags and accessories. It’s a permanent memento that your customer will treasure for years to come. We’ve made thousands of promotional badges for all kinds of brands over the years. Give us a call and we’ll talk you through some ideas!
  7. Corporate Gifts! Stuck for ideas? Get yourself a corporate gift catalogue from your local merchandising company! You don’t need to bulk-buy office-style goods like mouse mats and mugs — there are all kinds of gifts available. In the next section we’ll share a few ideas, just to get you started:

Niche Freebie Ideas

In many ways, it’s easier to come up with a bit of free merchandise when you serve a niche market, because you have a better idea of what your customer will be interested in. Spend some time thinking about what your customer is doing and thinking when they’re using your product. What do they need? Where are they? Are they hot or cold? All of these questions will help you find the perfect freebie to throw in the box before you ship.

If you sell swimwear or summer clothing, then there’s a good chance that your customer will benefit from some holiday-related freebies. Drawstring bags are perfect for pool-goers, while luggage tags and inflatables are hits with holiday goers. 

If you’re in childrenswear, keep it light, cute and practical! Branded plush toys are one option, as are bibs and muslin cloths. One of our customers has had great success with shoelaces — they just incorporated their brand colours into a custom shoelace and included one pair in every parcel.

The home fitness & yoga crowd will thank you for some simple sweatbands, which you can pick up from most merchandising companies. If your typical customer goes to a gym outside of the home, then a small branded make-up bag will work well. Exercise bands are good, too. Just make sure that they’re high grade and well-branded.

Active sports like skiing & cycling already involve a lot of specialist gear. Our advice is to avoid branding and posting things like pocket toolkits and gloves, for the simple reason that your customer probably already owns a more expensive version of the same thing. Good options for activewear customers are water bottles and goggle wipes: they’re washable and reusable, and there’s a good chance your customer will actually be glad to receive them. 

Freebies in the homewares sector are often overlooked, but it’s one of the sectors where a gift can really turn heads. If you’re selling warm, snuggly bedding, for instance, a small candle or a pair of fluffy socks can set you apart from your competition. If you make goods to furnish holiday homes, a simple pack of playing cards for rainy weekends can work well, too. 

I hope this gives you a few good ideas! This is just the tip of the iceberg — there are thousands of great options out there.

Nothing builds loyalty and goodwill quite like a thoughtful gift. Spend a few hours thinking about potential freebies, and let us know what you come up with — we’re always happy to hear from our customers!

Thanks for reading!


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