It sounds so simple and unsexy. An envelope that a receipt goes into for shipped parcels. The goal is to make the customer feel good about their purchase and the quality of the brand they have bought from. Some companies have elaborate packaging to along with their receipts. As my company was beginning to elevate our packaging this piece was decided to be the beginning of this process.
We began with a concept: Put a folded 8.5 x 11 receipt into a 5×7 card and then that into an envelope, and then attach that envelope to the parcel bag. It should be noted that our parcels are shipped to one person who then distributes them to all of her friends who shopped at her home, hence why they are put into bags and not individual boxes in order to keep shipping costs down.
There were several problems brought up with this concept. The first is that an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper folds weirdly to fit into a 5 x 7 card. Second, there is no automated process for folding it in this way, so quality control would be a problem, and it would take our fulfillment center longer to process orders. Next it takes time to then stuff the folded piece into the envelope adding more cost to fulfillment. When you are shipping millions of garments, every second to each shipment costs money and it adds up quickly. Last, there wasn’t a real good way to attach the envelope to the parcel, even with the aid of a sticker, that would keep the envelope attached and the contents within the envelope without spending more time sealing the envelope, which would cause more quality control problems.
I began approaching each problem one at a time. The first: folding an 8.5 x 11 in an efficient and aesthetically pleasing manor. There is a reason most mail is folded into a trifold, it can be automated and done in a way where the address is always facing up. I redesigned the receipt to work in this manor. It would now fold nicely into a trifold, and the customer’s name facing up, while keeping the order information below the fold and private. This would be reassuring to the customer as their Hostesses distribute their orders. We knew we wanted this to go into a vertical envelope, so the name was turned 90 degrees to compensate for that and to peek out of a custom window.
Next was the envelope. There were a lot of prototypes created for this and a lot of different ideas explored. At one point a request was made that the envelope hold both a receipt and a catalog of a different size. I did come up with a prototype that would work for this, utilizing a fan fold and some self-adhesive strips, but the problem with that was the cost of the envelope and the time necessary to use the adhesive strips. After that point the idea of holding a catalog was scrapped. Then I explored different types of closing envelopes and we faced our next hurdle. It took too many seconds to stuff an envelope for our fulfillment. We still needed some kind of container like an envelope, but it needed to be made in a way that it could be stuffed in less then ½ a second, so no folding, gluing, or any other dexterous motion.
What was finally created I wouldn’t actually call it an envelope, but more of a slip (I can’t think of a better term).
So as you can see from this die line it is the basic bones of an envelope, but a lot has been removed. There is no longer a flap. It glues together on the outside for the short edge, and the long edge only glues halfway up the envelope. The front is a tiny bit smaller then the back creating a little lip or slip area. The reason why the short edge is glued to the back rather then the inside is so that there would be nothing for the paper sliding in to butt up against. The long edge flap only spans half of the space to increase ease of stuffing. Why is the font slightly smaller then the back? So that you do not have to manipulate the holder in anyway to slide materials inside of it and it allows you to seal both the front and back with a single sticker applied to the front.
All of this allowed for a receipt to be automatically machine folded, grabbed by the fulfillment worker, slid into the slip, and then attached to the parcel in less than 3 seconds total, while increasing the perceived value of the brand to the customer (note before this solution, we were just taping the receipt in our old branding to the top of the parcel in a haphazard manner) and easing customer use and distribution.