CORRUGATED PACKAGING IS WELL PLACED TO MEET THE CHANGING CHALLENGES OF THE RETAIL SECTOR, SAYS RICHARD SMITH, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CHARAPAK GROUP…
It is easy to see why cartons and boxes remain a popular retail pack format: they are suitable for a wide variety of products and applications; they are practical and user-friendly for consumers; they provide effective protection; and their design flexibility and high-quality decoration options can help to project a premium brand image.
And in today’s sustainability conscious markets their positive environmental profile is well established and accepted. FSC accreditation ensures the responsible sourcing of raw materials; and recycled content is increasing, fuelled by a comprehensive network of collection and recycling schemes.
In retail markets one of the most important aspects of the buying experience is to engage with consumers, and packaging’s role here is crucial, regardless of the shopping medium. With internet shopping and eCommerce deliveries, for example, online retailers and their packaging suppliers face a dual challenge. It is essential that products are effectively protected during transit so that they reach the consumer in perfect condition – no easy task, considering the countless different shapes, sizes and weights that have to be dealt with, or the fact that several very different items may have to be sent together. At the same time, the purchasing of goods online is a much more sterile experience compared to viewing products on-shelf. An effective eCommerce pack has also to enhance the whole buying experience.
THINK INSIDE THE BOX
Corrugated packs can provide a number of solutions. In terms of protection, it is important to try to avoid air gaps or fillers such as pellets, wadding or shredded paper, which consumers find annoying and which therefore detract from the image of the packed product. Postal packs have been developed for specific items such as books, CDs and DVDs. And for products that do not conform to standard sizes, solutions such as our Wrap & Tack Pack are designed so that the cardboard does not fold along predetermined creases but instead can be moulded to fit around the precise dimensions of individual products.
Equally important, effective design and print help to create a complete ‘Out of Box Experience’ (OBE) – very often, the exterior of the pack has to be innocuous and not give any indication of the value of the goods it contains, so the use of high-quality, impactful graphics on the inside then enhances the opening experience and generates excitement and reassurance in the purchase. A recent example is the special box we created to deliver the ceramic poppies which had been on display at the Tower of London, with the opening of the box revealing a high-impact
photograph of the display.
Another solution is a delivery box with an eyecatching design printed on the inside that enables the original transit pack to be transformed into an attractive presentation box. On the practical side, re-sealable transit packs can also support the buying experience since they allow the easy return of goods. And both these examples demonstrate effective ‘upcycling’ through the reuse of the packaging.
Traditional retailers meanwhile are fighting back against online sellers by creating a pleasant environment and atmosphere for shoppers to enjoy the buying process; and this retail environment offers far greater opportunities for impulse purchases, particularly if goods are enticingly displayed. Corrugated’s high-quality decoration again provides the ideal format to create effective point of sale, with a choice of technologies such as Flexo, Litho and Digital to suit different pack and budget requirements.
Nevertheless, retailers face their own challenges in the form of fierce competition, the need to maximise efficiencies and to minimise packaging in line with environmental commitments. This has led to the growth in retail ready packaging.
TAKE IT EASY
Corrugated offers the strength and durability to ensure that products can be effectively transported and still look good when transferred to retail shelves. The introduction of perforated, easy-to-remove top sections and other innovations such as our own Shelf Easy™ system means strong and secure transit packs can be quickly transformed into high-quality shelf-ready displays with no tears or sharp edges, ensuring clean and consistent presentation. And the same high-tech printing choices mean retail ready packs can contribute to eye-catching displays on shelf to further support brand image and deliver an overall positive shopping experience.
Corrugated packs are also continuing to respond to new demands. On-going development work includes lighter materials that still retain the required strength and durability, and continuous enhancements to printing and finishing techniques.
The retail sector will continue to be a huge influence on packaging – and the flexibility of corrugated packs will be a crucial factor in meeting any new challenge.