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A Packaging Approach That Conveys Efficiency

By: Elizabeth Boch
Posted: November 19, 2010, from the December 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The density and weight of your inner and outer packs are one place to concentrate. Consider eliminating the use of cardboard boxes and opt for reusable containers to save on waste disposal costs. This move could also please retail partners, who are increasingly pushing sustainable packaging mantras to their suppliers. Consider the latest move by Whole Foods Market to issue sustainable packaging guidelines to its more than 2,100 personal care product manufacturers. In addition to switching to recycled bottles for a number of their own body care products, brand owners had one year to reduce their use of plastic packaging, promote switching to glass and increase their use of recycled materials. New brands coming onto the shelves must also meet these guidelines before their goods can be sold in any of Whole Foods’ 300 locations in the U.S., Britain and Canada.

If your research concludes it would cost too much to make such dramatic materials changes to your packaging, take a look at smaller but equally effective options such as improving pack-out. Consult with expert logistics providers who specialize in your product on ways to increase case and pallet density. These companies are skilled at identifying ways to reduce the amount of air you ship with your orders and can cut your transportation costs. This will also help increase your score on retailers’ sustainability and packaging scorecards, which will strengthen those relationships and keep your product on the shelves and out in front of consumers.

The Three P’s: Packaging, Provider and Perfection

Once you’ve managed to at least make some minor adjustments on material use, there is still room for improvement. Cosmetics, body lotions and other similar products definitely come with special logistics needs, not the least of which is ensuring the packaging, designed to entice the consumer just as much as the eye shadow color or the scent of the body wash within, is secure and free of scratches, cracks and chips when those cases reach the retailer. That requires balancing aesthetics with sound logistics. Your operations department knows cutting logistics costs is impossible if lighter or fewer packaging materials increase the likelihood of damage or contamination. The key to success is finding an efficient solution using both sturdy and attractive materials, something offering a comprehensive solution.

A reputable provider will understand the complexities of your products, placing them in the appropriate location in the warehouse, likely an area designated for pick-and-pack orders if you ship cosmetics. They will also know not to place your perfumes or other odorous goods near other products that are porous, helping to prevent cross-contamination.

Also consider the additional benefits of working with a logistics provider: volume transportation, and warehousing pricing and collaborative programs. Working with hundreds of carriers and securing pricing for sometimes thousands of customers allows providers to offer substantially discounted rates, in addition to direct contact to the warehousing floor and a singular point of contact for all orders and claims.