Top Five Considerations for Retail-Ready Food Packaging
A key finding from a 2015 Microsoft Study reported by TIME Magazine was that the attention span of consumers has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. This seems accurate and noticeable in today’s digitized lifestyle. In addition, over the past few years, retailers have learned how reducing store staff (stocking) hours positively impacts their operational costs and their bottom line. So, retailers continue to challenge brand owners, food manufacturers and in turn packaging professionals to provide innovative ways to package food and other products so they are:
- Easy to Shop – Attracts consumers attention quickly
- Able to save time and money at all points of the supply chain
- Contributors to increasing sales and profitability
Today, most retailers have set guidelines for accepting and requiring retail-ready packaging.
What is retail-ready packaging?
There are three types of packaging:
1) Primary – the packaging directly in contact with the product. The package the food item comes in.
2) Secondary Packaging – the packaging that a group of the foot items comes in. Like a corrugated box.
3) Tertiary Packaging – the packaging that many such secondary packages arrive in to the store ie: pallet, shrink wrap etc.
Retail-ready or shelf-ready packaging (SRP) is secondary packaging that is displayed in store to the end consumer.
It refers to the preparation of a product so that it is delivered to a retailer in a ready-to-sell merchandised unit. Products which come in SRP can be easily placed on the shelf without the need for unpacking or repacking.
As you can see by this definition, “without the need for unpacking or repacking” is key to a retailer’s ability to reduce staff hours.
Top five considerations with regard to retail-ready packaging:
1) Understand the market. At the front-end of the packaging development process ask for retailer and marketing input. Get some shopping data to understand customer preferences. Learn what forms of packaging have been working for the retailers and keep those in mind through the development process.
2) Focus on Holistic Packaging - Retail-ready packages should be thought of holistically, primary package design has an impact on secondary packaging and on pallet optimization. Reducing material thickness may cuts costs, but a common pitfall is not having heavy enough carton weight, or strong enough seals, to hold the contents securely during shipping.
3) Involve Supplier Early. Always work closely with suppliers in order to optimize the retail product SKUs and features before starting the actual project. Make sure there is a clear understanding of the customer’s requirements. Shelf dimensions, rate of sale, automated warehouse systems, and distance travelled all can have an impact on how successful any retail-ready package is. Plan for lead time in sorting out problems along the way.
4) Maximize the experience for retailer staff. Keep it simple. Do some research and understand the culture and habits of retailer staff and how they interact with existing retail-ready packaging. Make the packaging intuitive for the stock person to display correctly. Develop easy-to-follow graphic instructions as long as they don’t detract from the overall visual design. Construct a package that contains a reasonable quantity of product, that can be loaded in a single action, and that is easy to swap out and dispose of with minimal waste. When reasonable, make reloading possible even with some quantity of product still in the retail-ready packaging, to avoid stock-outs.
5) Maximize the experience for consumers. Always design with the consumer in mind. Make sure the packaging is not only easy to stock on shelf and looks great, but also that the consumer can remove the primary product package from the retail-ready packaging easily. With the short time you have to get the consumer’s buy decision, you can’t afford to be hard to pick up at the crucial moment of sale. Square-ness and perpendicularity are critical to a sturdy, stackable presentation, but avoid sharp corners and edges for customer safety and comfort when reaching into the retail-ready packaging.
When working to meet the growing demands of retailers and retail-ready packaging it is important to consider all the factors - advantages and disadvantages - and act strategically.
Contact Century Flexible Packaging to assist with your primary food packaging needs.