5 Technologies Brands and Retailers Need to Improve Packaging
With a boom in e-commerce, packaging items has become increasingly complex. Brands and retailers must optimize their packaging to satisfy their customers' expectations of innovative design, while also using durable material that protects their products. Recent trends require brands and retailers to showcase their distinction through their packaging, with 43% of consumers stating that packaging should illuminate a brand’s personality. This move, combined with a high number of e-commerce orders, means a quicker turnaround time for packaging design and a need for agility to meet consumer demands. Therefore, brands and retailers must find new, cutting-edge ways to package their products. Check out these five technologies brands and retailers can use to optimize packaging:
When automation is married with Artificial Intelligence tools, this kind of technology can be integral for packaging needs. To mitigate human error, brands and retailers can employ software that automatically analyzes assembly verification and packaging classification in logistics centers or 3PLs. This automation can help streamline inefficiencies and provide transparency into the packaging process, letting brands and retailers know what part of the operations needs to be fixed (e.g. is packing items in a certain type of parcel slowing systems down?). Moreover, automation can give brands and retailers more peace of mind by letting software, instead of memory and manual labor both of which can lead to human error, handle all information needed to package products.
Traceability is key for ensuring that there’s a record of when and why a change in packaging occurred, regardless of what part of the supply chain it occurred in—such as manufacturing, logistics, marketing, etc. For a more robust and seamless supply chain solution, brands and retailers should keep an ongoing ledger of these changes. Through data management on blockchain, businesses can easily track origins, product details, and geographic movement, in addition to feedback given by senior leadership regarding certain packaging. This real-time ledger allows brands and retailers to make changes as soon as possible, saving time on an otherwise longer process. Moreover, full traceability on blockchain helps businesses protect against identity fraud, theft, or damage.
In the past, packaging designers would spend months creating mockups for brands, who would then critique the design, forcing the producers to go back to the literal drawing board and create an entirely new concept. Using virtual reality, however, designers can now showcase 3-D prototypes to brands and retailers who can see the packaging idea through a headset from a multi-angle view. If a brand or retailer needs something changed, designers can alter the packaging model instantaneously, saving organizations money and time. Once creators finish a design, they can send digital prototypes to consumer panels, allowing brands and retailers to know relatively quickly which model will be the best and most user-friendly for their packaging.
Brands and retailers used to run into the problem of receiving packaging from designers with incorrect artwork, such as the wrong logo, color, or text. These mistakes could be costly and time-consuming, forcing brands and retailers to order an entirely new shipment of packaging. However, new technology in computer vision compares files and scans pixel-by-pixel, catching any errors in the packaging in real-time. During printing, this software will scan for any similar issues, preventing a brand or retailer from receiving misprinted packaging material, while also removing the cost of overrun for the manufacturer.
Unified Commerce Platform
One integral asset to have around packaging is connectivity. Though computer vision and virtual reality can help with the packaging design process, brands and retailers need transparency once a product starts getting fulfilled and packaged, and is on its way to end consumers. This is where a unified view of all supply chain operations comes in, to prevent brands and retailers from falling behind in a crowded and competitive market. Suppose a brand or retailer has specific packaging requirements dependent on product or channel. In that case, a unified commerce platform helps define and track value-added services at the channel, order, and product-level, increase VAS (value added service ) accuracy, set VAS goals, and track against VAS time. Moreover, a strong unified platform can also upload custom packing slips, labels, and instructions with ease.
In the current e-commerce landscape, packaging will remain a signifier of a brand or retailer’s success, with 72% of Americans saying that packaging impacts their buying decisions. Newer technologies will help alleviate and streamline the process by which businesses design and choose their packaging, decreasing costs and ensuring quick turnaround times. To be ahead of the curve, brands and retailers must consider these technologies to have more uniform operations and showcase beautiful packaging to their end consumers.