1. What is shelf-ready packaging?
Considered as a secondary option by many brands, shelf-ready packaging (SRP) has recently gained the attention it deserves.
It has been one of the overlooked parts of the convenience stores and mini supermarkets lacking effort and creativity put into the overall design, in spite of the obvious fact that when it is well-invested shelf-ready packaging works wonder in making the product outstanding on shelves.
Nonetheless, following the developments of late, it seems many companies are conscious about the positive influence of shelf-ready carton. A dozen of catchy and greatly creative corrugated packages have appeared on supermarket shelves lately.
So this negligent part of the packaging world finally receives the attention it deserves.
2. What makes the popularity of shelf-ready packaging go up so fast?
Shelf-ready packaging has not been chosen by brands and designers as the top choice for packaging, says to Jon Stubley, the managing partner at Elmwood’s Leeds studio.
He shared that it had been a footnote at the end of the projects and the collective team has viewed it a daunting task to insert a logo on a teeny tiny strip.
Things are different now. It’s time of lowly corrugated box when every piece of collateral proves its great impact in whichever category it is placed on.
“SRPs are increasingly considered at the beginning of the journey because they have a fundamental effect on the much desired ‘crafted to within an inch of their lives’ products that they house.”, he says.
His opinion received an agreement form Kate Fischer, an account leader at Sun Branding Solutions – innovative. From her perspective, shelf-ready packaging is receiving the attention it deserves when the number of retailers who are looking for better and more creative packaging is incessantly increasing in recent years.
According to Tony Foster, sales and marketing director at DS Smith, retailers show their enthusiasm towards shelf-ready packaging since it is a great tool to boost sales as well as enhance the efficiencies in the supply chain cycle (businesses, retailers, and customers).
“Leading supermarkets know that the days of spending time decanting products from plain brown boxes are long past and the advent of SRP means that the product is ordered from the customer, distributed to their sites and put out on the shelf by shop staff much more efficiently,” explains Foster.
“Product lines are replenished more quickly, which keeps the shelves looking full and there is much less waste in the back of the store, as products are much easier to identify.
Due to these efficiencies in restocking the shelves, retailers are also finding that their staff on the shop floor can spend more time with customers and be more attentive to their needs.”
As a side note, despite the fact that many retailers may have been more active in offering in-store shelf-ready packaging, they still do not fully understand the potential benefits that this kind of packaging delivers.
Retailers ask suppliers for more and more shelf-ready packaging, however, they do not treat them well and regard them as transport boxes and still manually put them on the shelves, which in the meanwhile overlooks the essential functionality of this special packaging.
“And therein lays the opportunity – to create value, a practical ‘usable’ piece of equity that makes everyone’s life better. Helping your brand stand out in a warehouse to help staff find it and make sure that your product is never out of stock is as important as helping consumers find it.” he says.
Elliot Wilson, strategy director at The Cabinet shared that not only retailers but designers must also have taken another approach to SRP. Some still seemed to be vexed at SRP existence and growing popularity.
According to Wilson, SRP has not been evaluated in terms of doing creative FMCG branding. The number of designers who has shown their enthusiasm when mentioning this part of the design process is a big zero. Shelf-retail packaging is clearly not used as an innovative tool for any breakthrough ideas thus far.
Nick Dormon, managing director at Echo Brand Design shared the same viewpoint. “Until recently they have been the bane of packaging designers who are informed that they can’t use the bottom 30mm of the pack for important design elements as it will be covered by the SRP,” says Dormon.
But things change recently. As packs are smaller and lighter (for sustainability purposes), there are more opportunities for brands to thrive. In concrete, thanks to enhanced digital printing on consumer-facing spaces, shelf-ready packaging helps brands easily convey their messages to customers. For example, Sure and Dove used SRP to communicate their messages in the latest campaign.
3. Technology enhancement
A significant boost in print technology helps SRP bring about many advantages rather than just allow shop assistants to unpack and get products on shelf quicker, states Julian Freeman, sales director at Rigid Containers.
“In particular the use of clay-coated papers and high-quality flexographic printing methods using up to six colors, has seen a large shift in the quality aspirations of brand owners with regard to what can be expected from SRP,” explains Freeman.
“There is also no doubt that as the digital print techniques continue to evolve that we may see further promotional tools being used on the SRP boxes with regional messaging and possibly even personalization.”
Also, SRP still offers more room for marketing purposes in line with smartphone usages. Nicely placed QR or barcode will help brands go a long way in providing more useful information to the customers.
Augmented reality triggers from QR codes are proving the huge importance as they help customers a lot in understanding the way how the ingredients can be put into a recipe or the component into a machine which could apply to car parts and accessories.
However, that long list of opportunities for retailers and brands to dig dip into SRP in the upcoming years, there are still obstacles standing on the way. The conspicuous one is color consistency.
It depends on how on supplier or printer choose the color setting. One difference in the setting process leading to the large discrepancy in colors.
The next challenge is the “reveal ratio”. If SRP is designed to cover more than half the height of the products within, it obscures the packs inside and clearly not the good point for marketing purposes.
Andy Barnetson, director of packaging affairs at the Confederation of Paper Industries once stated there’s a way to help you avoid this.
He said that he recently had a talk with a man who mentioned two-thirds/one-third as a perfect balance for shelf-retail packaging.
That man explained that we should only show 2-thirds the front of the product and keep 1-third unrevealed. This would make you see clearly the thing inside and access it quite easily.
Chris Peach, head of packaging and design at Marketing Sciences said a balance is also required to be related to the role that the brand wants the SRP to play.
He adds that SPR has many roles to play, such as get draw the attention of customers, creating brand recognition, communicating a compelling message or aiding navigation of a range. Yet instead of trying to perform all these roles, SRP should focus on a specific function based on its use.
He also gives an example of a fixture known as ‘brand blocked’. He says: “SRP could be designed to help navigation between different ranges”. He explained that SRP might become more sensible when fixtures are merchandised by the product.
The shop floor staff get packs on the shelf in a very short time for customers is the most important factor, but not the role that SRP is wished to play or the approaches that brands want to adopt.
Rigid Containers’ Freeman mentions the speed of staff to display the goods onto the shelf with very little or no issues regarding the packs is vitally important.
In recent years the packaging industry has already made major inroads to ensure that it’s delivering on the needs of its customers and its customer’s customers when it comes to SRP, but Stubley for one believes that more TLC is needed for SRP before the sector moves further up the budget queue.
He officially gives out the rallying call: “Embrace SRP – consider them as carefully as you would a pack.”
Nonetheless, shelf-ready packaging (SRP) has a lingering photograph hassle that needs to be pointed out. Badly executed packing that blinds the goods inside couldn’t help.
Read more: 8 basic steps in manufacturing process in Vietnam packaging company
4. The harmony of appearance functionality
Despite the fact that tonnes of modern examples of shelf-ready packaging have been featured on the shelves, the packaging looking should look nice and correspond with its purpose. Besides, retail staff have to put the packs on shelves immediately so there might be some consequences.
Challenge comes from color printing
How to remain consistent in terms of corrugated board printing – which plays an essential role in branding is a tough task. But the incessant improvement in printing technology partially solves the problem.
5. Some opinions about the reputation of shelf-retail packaging? Let’s take a look:
“At a recent visit to a store, I commented to a merchandiser that the SRP didn’t seem that easy to open. He explained that he remembered the days when they had to decant product onto the shelf and he loved the SRP concept, so we mustn’t forget where we’ve come from.
There are efforts to improve the appearance of SRP with cleaner edges and selling face and this is improving the image generally.”
“In the eyes of most graphic designers SRP is pretty far down the list of inspiring creative opportunities and, to be totally honest, is normally an afterthought that comes right at the end of a project.
Where you find its reputation is improving is to 3D structural designers who are far more excited by the cardboard engineering challenges that it offers.”
“On the whole, no. The technology is there through digital printing, but it needs the attention and the budgets of brand managers to make a significant shift. While the supply chain guys are in control, the focus will always be on product transportation and not brand display.”
“Yes. Well-designed SRP provides consumers with an optimized shopping experience and the supply chain with a highly functional solution. As brand owners and packaging suppliers work together they can realize the opportunities for improved on-shelf appearance, address the logistical advantages of increased space efficiency, and even explore the use of QR codes and other smartphone apps.”
Khang Thanh – The packaging manufacturer in Vietnam specializes in producing paper bags, rigid box, carton offset, labels, hangtag, books, calendar, POSM and so on. Contact us to support your brand with the right packaging:
KHANG THANH CO., LTD – HOUSE OF PACKAGING
Tel: (+84) 77 8878 222