Once upon a time, corrugated packaging had a simpler existence. It moved from manufacturer to distributor to retailer, typically changing hands about six times. Now, for a product in the e-commerce channel, it’s estimated a package will encounter 20–30 touchpoints before reaching the consumer.
This increase is driven directly by the shift to omnichannel selling, where food manufacturers and other companies process orders from big-box stores, e-commerce retailers, direct-to-consumer purchases, subscription services, third-party resellers and more.
Today, thoughtful packaging design and sturdy construction are more critical than ever. From protecting the product in transit to creating a consistent brand experience to maximizing sustainability, companies who seize every opportunity to optimize packaging can protect their profits and brand equity.
Re-think supply chain for omnichannel packaging
Adjusting your corrugated packaging for omnichannel sales can improve customers’ brand perception, loyalty and satisfaction.
“Brands should consider all aspects of the supply chain and customer experience,” says Lloyd Kennedy, Director of Paper Packaging and Automation for Veritiv, such as:
- Optimizing the manufacturing process and number of SKUs
- Right-sizing packaging to fit the product and minimize DIM weights
- Selling through new channels to reach new customers
- Increasing package durability and safety throughout transit
- Streamlining reverse logistics, including returns
- Improving sustainability
Kennedy recommends choosing a packaging partner who understands these needs, brings deep experience and a range of resources and a vendor who can grow with you as your business evolves.
For example, an experienced packaging partner might recommend designing a food product’s primary package to also function as the shipping container. This streamlines fulfillment and can meet e-retailer requirements, too.
“Some customers come to Veritiv looking for help with food product branding and packaging style,” says Kennedy. “A skilled partner can assist with the entire packaging process.”
After the Veritiv team understands the customer’s business objectives and distribution channels, they create structural designs and layer graphics on top. This approach results in innovative packaging solutions that drive efficiency in the supply chain while attracting consumers.
Future of corrugated
New technologies and opportunities abound for food products and other brands that want to use corrugated and other materials to stay competitive, delight customers and increase safety and transparency.
Here are key trends to watch:
- Fit-to-product and build-on-demand systems. These methods reduce shipping costs, help create the smallest possible package, eliminate some custom packaging and decrease the inventory that’s needed.
- AR and QR codes. Popular in international markets, these interactive packaging elements help consumers learn more via their mobile devices.
- Active packaging. This packaging preserves food freshness, kills pathogens and extends shelf life.
- Traceability. Traceability enables manufacturers, including those in food and pharmaceuticals, to track and trace a product through the supply chain, which can help reduce contamination and food-borne illnesses.
Corrugated packaging is here to stay. While there may be growing pains as big-box and other retailers adapt, companies that learn how to be agile, efficient and thoughtful about corrugated packaging set themselves up for future success.
Contact Veritiv for your corrugated and other packaging needs.