A Guest Post by Megan Nichols
You have many responsibilities to juggle while owning or managing a small business. What the enterprise needs regarding packaging may not be among your first concerns. However, it’s crucial to your company’s reputation and longevity. Here’s how to make and implement a packaging strategy that works for your business and helps you avail of outsourcing benefits as appropriate:
1. Determine Your Goals and Most Urgent Requirements
Starting your packaging strategy means deciding what factors you most need in your packages. From there, think about your company-wide and department-specific goals.
Perhaps a box must be of certain dimensions to accommodate an unusually sized product. Alternatively, if the packaging is for a retail environment, its design might include a clear pouch so people can see the contents, plus a cutout at the top that allows it to hang from a peg.
Get feedback from your stakeholders and determine how their aims could shape your packaging strategy. For example, the marketing department might want the packaging to feature your brand name and logo prominently. At the same time, the customer service team may ask to have the company’s contact details printed somewhere on the packaging.
2. Understand the Link Between Packaging and Customer Satisfaction
Appropriate and effective packaging is also crucial since it could influence how people feel about the product and brand. If a person buys a product and finds the packaging difficult to open, they may feel so fed up that they decide to purchase from another company.
The other side of things is that you can delight and entice customers with excellent packaging. Many people in stores don’t have specific brands in mind, or they make impulse buys. When packaging catches their attention for all the right reasons, it increases the chances that they’ll buy the product and do so repeatedly.
When companies receive feedback from customers about how to improve packaging, brand representatives may discover they don’t have the internal resources to make meaningful progress with the public’s suggestions. One of the outsourcing benefits particularly useful for small businesses is that third-party companies often have advanced machinery and well-trained employees. They can advise on packaging improvements and scale up to meet a client’s needs.
3. Understand Packaging Regulations Associated With Transport
Perhaps you have an e-commerce company or plan to expand your brick-and-mortar small business to fulfill online orders soon. In that case, you’ll need to learn about UN packaging codes assigned by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. They contain details about the type of material used and whether it suits hazardous materials. The code also indicates that the materials passed packaging testing.
There are three styles of codes — all made up of letters and numbers. They give details about the package type and material. For example, the 4D code matches a plywood crate, while a plywood barrel gets a 2D identifier.
There are also separate packaging groups concerning degrees of danger, as well as the transport of hazardous materials. Moreover, people using packaging for shipments must schedule vibration and drop tests. There are other assessments required in some instances, too, such as for packages carrying liquids. Becoming familiar with the requirements for what you want to ship is essential for avoiding pitfalls.
4. Research Your Packaging Providers
The packaging companies you work with during the operations of your small business could have a tremendous impact on your ability to grow, evolve and surpass customer expectations. Those are some of the reasons why it’s essential to study your vendor options carefully and think about the pros and cons each one provides.
For example, you might prioritize a fast turnaround time for a new type of packaging, even if that means paying a bit more. Speaking of price, check with the vendors on your shortlist and inquire whether they offer bulk discounts. Similarly, see if you can guarantee low rates for a particular period. Vendors often provide them to encourage loyalty. How many packaging types does the vendor offer? Knowing that could aid in switching materials if your needs dictate.
Get details about a company’s resources, too. Many small businesses find that one of the outsourcing benefits they enjoy is the peace of mind from knowing a third-party provider can meet their current and future needs. External providers are integral parts of an optimized strategy, but only if they can respond to your changing needs. Have honest discussions about what you anticipate needing later and how a packaging partner could assist you now.
Packaging Supports Professionalism
You probably understand that dozens of factors can affect how people see your business. Following the suggestions here can help you ensure that people draw all the right conclusions concerning your packaging. Working with outside providers to fulfill specific needs can also strengthen your business by making it more responsive to feedback.
After creating your initial packaging strategy with some of the tips above, treat that plan as a flexible framework. You’ll undoubtedly have some needs that stay constant, but others will change as your business does. Being proactive by adjusting your packaging game plan as required boosts your company’s success.