Several considerations drive packaging decisions for manufacturers, wholesalers and their retail partners. Requirements vary across industries and individual product lines, so flexible solutions are required, to meet diverse situational standards. Contractors provide services and packaging supplies to meet assorted needs, from comprehensive turnkey strategies, to materials-only requests from in-house shipping departments.
Primary and secondary layers of packaging create fail-safe product protection, and built-in marketability. Regardless of the industry where they are applied, packaging strategies often address these primary concerns:
- Product Integrity – Job one for contract packagers is to present products in their best light, which includes maintaining protection throughout the supply-chain. Special requirements are met during production, especially for food products, which require packaging under controlled conditions. Primary packaging methods and materials are selected for their ability to adequately protect contents from harm during fulfillment, transport, and retail display. Informed distribution departments use corrugated mailers, corrugated boxes and shipping tubes, reinforced with appropriate levels of foam and other packaging materials, to safely convey direct freight to end users.
- Tamper-Proof Enclosures – Marketing to the general public, at brick and mortar locations, requires fortification against deliberate tampering. Pharmaceuticals and other consumer segments mandate tamper evident barriers, while others are applied by the manufacturing company voluntarily. Over the counter medications require a minimum of two layers of tamper protection making it easier to detect that a package has been tampered with.
- Theft Protection – Custom thermoformed enclosures are used to inflate the footprint of small retail products, especially when an item’s value is disproportionate to its size. Phones and other electronics are prized for their small size, but they are too expensive and easily concealed to market in size-appropriate containers. Instead, secondary packaging and other means are employed to artificially bulk-up the presence of an item, making it harder to steal while making the product more visible on the shelf or in a display.
- Merchandising – The manner in which retail goods are packaged influences how they are received by the public and conveys messages about products. Branding is also facilitated by consistent use of particular containers, which become associated with the products they contain. Technology accommodates printed graphics on materials ranging from cardboard boxes to polyethylene bags, creating marketing opportunities on nearly every package surface. Variety packs and other multi-piece units are used to drive sales upward, by bundling multiple items into single SKUs. To maximize point of sale impact, contract packagers integrate viewing windows into combination packages allowing retail browsers to interact with goods without leaving them ‘shop-worn’.
- Inventory Management and Stock Rotation – Packaged goods are easier to monitor than bulk stock and loose-pack items, and products can be rotated according to information contained on external packaging. Production lot codes, manufacture dates, and “Best by” dates are included on primary and secondary packages to ensure regulatory compliance. Efficient warehousing and inventory management is achieved with the aid of tape, wrap, shrink film and shipping aids like kraft paper and stretch-wrap.
- Protect Consumers – Products posing hazards to humans are enclosed in ways that protect handlers. Liquid chemicals and gels require leak-proof packaging during shipment, and rely on secondary packaging to convey safety information.
Established packaging providers utilize cutting-edge technologies, and a wide range of custom approaches, to add value to products, providing protection and aesthetic appeal with innovative packaging solutions. Contract packagers also support self-distribution and in-house assembly, supplying secondary packaging and shipping materials to production facilities and shipping departments.