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Packaging and the Supply Chain: 4 Key Considerations

The packaging supply chain has never been simple.

Many cardboard packages in a warehouse.

Even so, it is becoming still more complex as consumers demand more from their packaging, including convenience, personalization, and sustainability. Meeting increased requirements for brand success requires special attention to the packaging supply chain. 

When brands hire packaging consultants, one of the first things they ask their clients about is the packaging supply chain. The problem is, there may not be a “go-to” person from the brand who knows the packaging supply chain comprehensively. Hence, gaining a better understanding of the packaging supply chain from end to end is an excellent first step to a strong packaging design strategy. Here are four key considerations when understanding the packaging supply chain.

1. First Things First: Packaging Must Fit the Allotted Space

Packaging must satisfy countless requirements before it ever reaches store shelves. It can’t capture consumer interest if it’s been damaged, or if it fails somewhere between manufacturer and retailer. Packaging designs must first and foremost contain and protect what’s inside. Additionally, it has to fit pallet dimensions and trucks properly. Then, once it reaches retailers, it must fit on their shelves too. Only after these basic considerations are met will other packaging design features matter.

2. E-Commerce Friendliness: Increasingly Important

Packaging overall is shifting toward a more consumer-directed role, and many CPG brands are ramping up their e-commerce practices for their online sales channels. But for many brands, the same consumer packaging designs that work for brick-and-mortar retailers aren’t quite right for e-commerce because products skip retail shelves and go from warehouses straight to consumers. Some find it more logistically practical to have separate SKUs for e-commerce to minimize confusion and open up new packaging options for products sold via e-commerce.

Delivery driver handing a package to a customer.

3. Support for Brand Sustainability Goals

Consumers and retailers increasingly prioritize sustainability, and brands are doing so as well. Not only can sustainability initiatives appeal strongly to consumers and retailers, but they can also result in savings to brands as well. For example, retail giant Walmart wants to have 100% recyclable packaging for its private-brand products by the year 2025. Packaging designs that use materials efficiently and responsibly may face an initial investment, but it will pay off in terms of reputation quickly, and savings on materials will accrue over the long term.

4. Frustration-Free Packaging for Consumers

Making product packaging less frustrating for consumers often means using less packaging, and this often aligns well with sustainability initiatives. E-commerce giant Amazon offers incentives for seeking its own Frustration-Free Packaging certification prior to August 1, 2019. They contend that packaging that meets its requirements makes order fulfillment faster, while reducing total packaging and making it easier for consumers to use and recycle. But even without Amazon’s influence, frustration-free packaging makes sense due to simple consumer demand for packaging that’s easy to use.

Brands that are experts on their consumer packaging supply chain are better positioned to meet the needs for consumer-friendly packaging that appeals to consumers from retail shelves or the doorstep in the case of online orders. They’re also in a better position to reduce packaging waste, saving money and supporting sustainability. In short, the packaging supply chain is one of the most important elements in today’s branding strategy, and brands that understand this have the best chance of meeting their goals. 

PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news!

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