Channel complexity brings new focus to packaging

Channel complexity brings new focus to packaging

Veritiv Packaging | October 19, 2020

The advent of retail stores began more than 100 years ago. We’ve been able to purchase items in bulk at membership clubs since the 1970s. And buying items online has been a convenience that dates back two decades.

As consumers, we’ve become so reliant on these purchasing channels and want endless choices. We demand more and more goods to be delivered to our homes, and we want manufacturers to know our every need—and anticipate our future desires.

As packaging professionals, we’re keenly aware of the shift that’s fueled by consumer preferences, the impact of COVID-19 and other societal factors. Customers are being forced to quickly explore and exploit new channels and revisit existing packaging and fulfillment practices—all in the quest to meet channel-specific demand.

Multichannel approach
An omni-channel strategy that focuses on an exceptional customer experience, whether the individual is shopping online from a mobile device, laptop or in-person at a store is the holy grail.

While many of our customers have a history of managing their traditional, core channels quite efficiently, tackling new distribution outlets can be daunting. Whether the uncharted territory is e-commerce, wholesale membership clubs, subscription services or other avenues, two critical areas—packaging and fulfillment—must be considered to mitigate each channel’s complexities. 

Test, test, test
When a business wants to distribute its products via new channels, such as e-commerce, product packaging is often the first area that comes into question—for example, will the existing packaging work for the new channel? Will it conform well with emerging trends and meet consumers’ expectations for that channel?

One of the best ways to answer these questions is by testing existing packaging, including the graphic and structural design, how much interior packaging is needed for safe shipment and how the packaging performs to specific conditions.

The testing engineers and designers at Veritiv’s ISTA-certified lab test packaging for resistance to shock, compression, vibration and thermal conditions. Testing performance before new packaging is implemented across the supply chain is critical. With the right packaging, the product will leave the production line, move through distribution and shipping and reach the consumer in pristine condition.

Fulfillment with an e-commerce focus
Thanks in part to the meteoric rise of e-commerce, fulfillment is huge and growing. In 2019, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 3.53 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 6.54 trillion US dollars in 2022, according to market and consumer data company Statista.

These e-commerce products must all be picked, packed, shipped and sometimes returned, which has brought new interest in fulfillment solutions that meet today’s demands.

“Fulfillment encompasses consumers buying individual orders for their homes and businesses buying items in bulk,” says David Rose, Segment Marketing Manager for Veritiv. “At the other end of the spectrum are those businesses that repackage and distribute goods, such as a company that receives and then repackages a truckload of dishwashers to ship to a big-box retailer.”

Things have changed drastically in fulfillment, even in the last few years. These days, end customers expect products so much faster than they used to. (Gone are the days of “please allow four to six weeks for delivery.”)

But speed isn’t just about getting the product swiftly out the door. Many of the factors involved in optimizing key fulfillment practices and processes are related to partners.

How to thrive as an e-tailer: stay informed
Rose says that it can be challenging for Veritiv’s customers to keep up with the ever-changing environment, including what’s working in the dynamic e-commerce channel.  

“Part of servicing our customers is educating them on the wide array of packaging and fulfillment solutions,” Rose says. “We talk to a variety of stakeholders at these companies—from sales to purchasing to people who work in the plant. It’s critical for each one of our customers to be aware of and understand the packaging and fulfillment options they have at their disposal.”

Simplify channel complexities
Working with Veritiv means regular access to our packaging, channel and fulfillment professionals. Our collective reach and expertise afford customers with the knowledge and flexibility they need to adapt to and sell through new channels, reaching desirable markets and customers.

Ready for us to help you tackle your most compelling channel complexity? Contact our fulfillment team today to learn more.

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Related reading:

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Packaging material innovations – Learn about packaging material innovations, such as rapid renewable fibers, reusing or removing plastic from the ocean and more.