by Phil Watson, Design Manager
Designing packaging that protects and performs in today’s retail environment is more challenging than ever. Retailers now have access to data and analytics that provide them with detailed information on things like optimal product placement, the amount of time it takes to stock a shelf, and product damage/ returns.
As a result, companies are challenged to develop packaging that not only meets the retailer’s guidelines, but also helps protect and sell the product, is sustainable, intuitive to open, retail ready, and makes it easy for staff to quickly shelve. With all that in mind, when a customer challenges the team to design for today’s retail environment, one of the first things we do is refer to our “Designing for Retail” checklist. The checklist encompasses the things we focus on to make sure we design and develop the best possible corrugated packaging solution.
Here are the top 5 things we focus on:
- Corrugated packaging successfully designed for retail is a balance of 3 key things. The customer vision, the retailer’s requirements, and the packaging company’s production capabilities. A detailed understanding of each item is essential and will get the design team on the right track early on.
- A clear understanding of the customer’s product category is essential in developing and designing packaging that stands out on-shelf. This can be challenging when retailers are looking for uniformity across all brands. It can be even more challenging when dealing with seasonal planograms.
- Designing for retail functionality is key. Ease of execution when a retail associate is preparing the product and stocking it on the shelf is critical. If the associate is unable to assemble or easily open the packaging to display, it will either be discarded or represent the brand poorly on the shelf. This is so important because consumers often associate the quality of the product with the packaging itself.Poor packaging = poor product perception
- Understanding package life cycle and performance expectations is paramount. Being able to account for every touchpoint and function throughout the product’s entire journey is valuable information that needs to be accounted for in the final design. Not accounting for all key parts of the packaging life cycle often results in product damage. From manufacturing, transportation, execution at retail, through to recycling; every touchpoint is important and should be considered in the final design.
- Testing before execution allows for any necessary final design changes and uncovers any potential issues that may have been overlooked. This step is perhaps one of the most valuable. Taking the time to test any new designs, no matter how simple, will instill peace of mind and minimize the risk of future quality issues that could result in costly product damage and/or returns. Always build in the time for proper testing whenever possible.
Phil is an industry veteran with over 38 years of design experience in corrugated packaging. During his time, Phil has designed packaging for a variety of industries and global brands, including several award-winning designs.
His personal motto “Different by Design” drives his desire to solve customer challenges with creative innovative designs. When he’s not pushing the boundaries of corrugated design, Phil is busy teaching packaging seminars to staff, customers, and local schools.