Top 5 trends in Packaging Industry

Consumers today are more conscious and more aware. They care not only about the product they need, but also how using that product is made more convenient for them. And packaging plays a very important role in that. The primary reason of packaging always has been the protection of the product that is being delivered. But today packaging does a lot more than that. Packaging is used as a canvas where the brand communicates with the consumer. It not only attracts the customer, but based on the information that is printed, the material that is used for packaging and the shape and size of packaging; it conveys your brand values to the customer. It tell the customer what your brand stands for, creating a unique impression about your brand, even before your product has a chance to be seen by the customer. Needless to say, packaging in itself has become a key differentiator.  Here are some of the top trends in packaging industry.

  1. Sustainability: Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues. They are changing their buying habits to be more environmental friendly. They are increasingly looking for signs on the packaging that manufacturer has a green conscience and increasingly wary of greenwashing. And expert white paper by PWC goes on to explain how sustainable practices have become essential to the perception and identity of the brand. A top sports company has also produced an environmental profit and loss statement highlighting the impact of their sustainable practices on environment, in dollar value. It has become imperative that brands continue to carry businesses based on sustainable practices and also communicate them to the consumer. Sustainability is no longer just an add on. It has become an essential part of the packaging industry. The complete story of where the product comes from, how it was made, is becoming an essential factor in buying decisions of the consumer.
  2. Healthy living: Just like environment, consumers are increasingly adopting healthy lifestyle and practices. They are more conscious of health quotient of the products they consume. In fact there is a whole segment dedicated to products that promote healthy consumptions habits. Packaging is not immune to this. In food and beverage industry, the ingredients’ were always listed as required by regulation. But that is no longer enough. The health benefits of the product also need to be communicated to the customer. Is it organic? It is low in sodium, does have daily dose of essential vitamins that will help to boost the performance while playing the sport? The packaging must focus on communicating the unique benefits of the product and offer transparency in the label. Innovative methods of preserving and displaying fresh food will become the key to long term success. The size of the product, the smaller servings for snacks, which reduce the  intake of sodium, fat and other things to just the required amount, while satisfying the hunger pangs of the consumer will become standard. After all when you are hungry you reach for the box says cookies even if it’s just 2 cookies inside.
  3. Convenience: The way the products are being used by the mobile consumer is very different than how it was consumed at home. The standard box packing of food is not longer suitable for on the go consumption. Be it a beverage, or a sandwich, more and more people are consuming these while walking, or while driving, or when they are simply sitting on the bench in the open park. The design of packaging makes it an important factor in a buying decision is such cases. The smaller, lighter and easily disposable packaging makes the consumption on the go, easier. For other product categories, the ease of transportation and ease of use becomes important factor. Innovations such as dispensers and no mess applicators eliminate the need for additional packaging and make disposal easy. In supermarkets, in food section, many product now coming in reseal able packs. Many producers are moving from plastic to paper based packaging for food items, which is more environment friendly and easier to dispose off. When the competing products are more or less similar, the convenient packing goes a long way in aiding the impulse purchase decision of the consumer.
  4. Cost –effectiveness: This one seems to be a no brainer. However, it has wider connotation than just base packing. Global economic uncertainty is increasing. Consumers don’t want to pay more than what they have to for their goods. And as consumers get savier, they are looking at all costs, the base packing of the product, the transportation, storage and disposal of the packing material. The paper based packaging may look good and meet initial ‘eco friendly’ criteria, but if the consumer needs additional packaging for its transportation and storage, then it’s no good for the consumer. If the packaging is strong and will last longer, much longer than the product itself, again it is of no good to the consumer, if it cannot be reused in some way at home. If consumer is getting his peas in reseal able bags, which he can use for storing other things, after consuming peas, then that’s a very good value proposition for the consumer. The complete cost effectiveness of packaging should be looked at from the point of view of the consumer. After all if he doesn’t purchase the product, the whole value chain is pointless.
  5. Authenticity and trust: There have been several scandals around food industry. Discovery of undesirable meat (eg. Meat of another animal in beef products), Pathogens and foreign elements and inorganic items being sold as organic etc. These deplete the consumer trust for not only the guilty producer, but also for industry as whole.  The origins of the product must be traceable to the source to re establish the trust. Advertising the place of origin on the packaging increases the perception of credibility and authenticity. Packaging should be used to reassure the customer of high quality and truthfulness about product and brand claims.


The retail market is changing. Consumers are getting savvy, more eco friendly and more cost conscious than before. They are more demanding on all these fronts. They now understand that the overall cost of the product is not just retail purchase price they pay. Packaging plays an important role to clam the customer and reassure them that the product as a whole will meet their expectation.

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Reasons why touring your potential 3PL Company is a good Idea

A 3PL provider is not just an outsourcing agency for your logistics requirement. They are more of a partner to your business. For manufacturing companies, you visit the manufacturing premises, meet and talk to the people working on your product and ensure that apart from your specifications, your core idea behind the product is understood by the manufacturing team, so that the spirit of the product along with the quality of manufacturing is maintained. Similarly, you should visit your logistics providers so that your logistics team understands your business values and helps you achieve them. You also need to be comfortable working with the logistics team of 3PL working on your project. Paying them a visit is a great way of achieving that mutual comfort. Let’s look at the objectives of visiting your 3PL provider in a little more detail.


Meeting the team: It is important to meet and understand the people who will be working on ground for your project. You might not meet every person on the team, but it is always a good idea to meet the key people, who will oversee your operations to understand how they work. Are they very formal or easy going? Are they relaxed and efficient or stressed and enjoying it? Are they laid back or stickler for the processes? While there is no right answer (you may not want someone to stick to the last letter of the process, when it is stuck, but just get the things moving), you may get a great understanding of their behaviour and see what works for you. Do you understand each other when you communicate i.e. In colloquial terms, do you speak the same language? Are they pro-active enough to spot the issues with incoming shipments and alert you before your shipment goes to the client?

The key here is to understand their personalities and build a rapport with them. You will be working with them every day. Knowing how they work and letting them know how you work, will make this relation more productive. Once back, you should be able to just pick up the phone and talk to them to get the problem sorted. Similarly, are you open to their suggestions? They might have some good ideas that you may have never thought of.


Understand the facility: You can’t put everything down on the paper. While you have read about their facilities, their equipment and verified that your needs are met, seeing the actual facility is something different. Especially so, if your product requires specific handling. For example, the ongoing cleanliness of the facility cannot be captured in a still photograph. For food products, how good is their cold storage? How do they arrange different SKUs in their cold storage? How is the meat and vegetable stored separately? (A well separated way of storing meat and vegetables could become another marketing plus for you). For fragile products, how sensitive is their handling equipment. Many times, packaging requirements of the product need to cater the requirement of storage as well. For example, if the warehouse does not stack your products one on top of other instead puts it on the shelves, then the packing material of your product can be a little less strong and thus save you some money. Similarly, a review of the loading facility may also help you optimize your packing needs.


Understanding their processes and procedures: During the contract, you stated your requirements and they are complaint with them. For example, if you are handling food items or medical supplies, they have the required certifications and thus will follow the strict procedures required for the continued certification. However, many well established 3PL players know that certifications ask for bare minimum. There’s a lot more than can be done, and some 3PL providers go beyond those minimal requirements, because they understand the benefits of doing so. Understanding their processes also gives you a chance to see if you can optimize any of your processes of packing and storage, during manufacturing. You can perhaps pick up a best practice that can be followed at your manufacturing processes (for product handling). How do they handle returns? How do they handle shipment of defective products back to manufacturer? You also need to know their systems capabilities and maturity. How deep or wide is their reporting capability? You can perhaps use some of the additional reports, that their systems offer, to your benefit. What will it take to integrate their systems with your systems, so that information can flow seamlessly. You are sure to get an understanding of such questions when you visit the facility.


Strategic fit: Every business has growth plans. They either want to grow rapidly in one vertical or one kind of product, or diversify to different products. Also, businesses usually set themselves a growth target i.e. how fast they want to grow. Personal visit will help you understand if your 3PL providers can support your growing needs. Are they large enough to handle your growing volumes? For seasonal business, can they handle the spikes in volumes? When you plan to diversify, do they have the storage facility for the different product lines that you are planning for, in future? What about transportation. Do they have tie ups with enough transporters to provide you with options (speed and cost)? What about backups transporters? How good is their service for your primary target market area/geography? What about your future market geography? Do they provide service in that region? You need to consider these questions if you are looking for long term partnership. Remember, these companies are also looking to grow and they too like to work with people who are moving ahead on their own growth path.


While choosing, a right logistical partner can be a critical element in your customer satisfaction, a right 3PL partner can also ease your own operations. Visiting the 3PL is important step not only to understand their facilities and operations, but it also ensures that you have done your due diligence, so that in an unlikely case, if things head south in future, you have your base covered. On the other hand, 3PL providers can be source of ideas that you might have not just thought of, but are good for your business.

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Do’s and Don’ts before signing up with a 3PL warehouse

Well, your business seems to be growing and you suddenly realize the need to improve your logistics and set up new warehouses to suit the growing demand of your business. But wait, do you really want to set it up all by yourself??? Most Probably, NO! Unless you want to get into hefty investments and hassles of getting a warehouse operational. And trust us, it is a herculean task! So, let’s look at an easy and economically viable solution- Yes, partnering with a 3rd Party Logistics Company and using their warehouse.

A Third Party Logistics provider (3PL) is a company that assists your organization at various points in the supply chain by proving their expert solutions and implementing best practices suited to your need. A good 3PL partner can be your one stop solution to all fulfilment needs. Warehousing is one of the key offerings of a 3PL solution provider and thus must be chosen wisely as it can have huge impact on your revenues and overall business. However, it is not an easy job to find the right Warehousing Partner. Here’s a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you sign up with a 3PL Warehouse. Remember, making un-informed decisions and choosing the wrong logistics partner can be more damaging than beneficial to your business.


  • Do Check the Location of the Warehouse –

The location should suit your overall distribution plan and preferably closer to your high consumption area. The closer you are to your high customer density areas, the faster you can reach out to them and create a brand value with splendid customer experience.

  • Do Check the capacity of the warehouse –

The capacity of the selected warehouse should suit your current need as well as quickly scalable up as your business grows. The warehouse supplier should also be flexible enough to manage fluctuations in your demands.

  • Do Keep your needs clear –

Unless you are clear on what you would need from your warehouse partner you may never be able to make the right choice. Being crystal clear on your current and futuristic requirements is an important step in finalizing the 3PL warehouse.

  • Do Check the hiring and training policies of the warehouse provider-

The warehouse manpower is a key aspect to be considered for the success of the warehouse services. Checking the hiring and training policy of the 3PL provider can ensure that your goods will be handled well in the warehouse by skilled manpower.

  • Do Check their financial stability

The last thing you want to suffer from, is your warehouse partner limping on financials and unable to support your business. Checking the service provider’s financial stability in the market and their track record with other customers can assist in making the right choice of 3PL partner.

  • Do Ensure that they prefer technology over manual dependency-

Evaluate the service provider based on their usage of Technology at their warehouse. Do they have a good warehouse management system in place? Is the material handling automated? Does the system give you correct reports of the inventory? Can they offer live Inventory Check? The more they use latest technology and equipment at the warehouse, the more beneficial they will be as your partners.

  • Do Check the Safety Policies and Procedures of the 3PL warehouse supplier-

Safety at the warehouse should be a prime focus are of the service provider. It should be applicable for their employees, managers, floor staff and even the consignments. Visit the warehouse and check for Fire Safety provisions, warning signs and labels and adherence of staff to other safety norms. Evaluating the safety equipment and norms being followed at the Warehouse, right at the start, can go a long way in preventing losses later.


Don’ts :


  • Don’t go for a provider whose warehouse does not have good connectivity to highways, rails and ports-

Since your shipment time is hugely dependant on proximity to roads, rails and ports, having a partner whose warehouse isn’t close to these may delay your speed to market and have a negative impact on your business. Thus not a very great idea.

  • Don’t Over Analyse –

Restrict your search for a 3PL warehouse to maybe a maximum of 3. If you keep considering more and more options, you may miss on the intricate details that you need to check and focus on before signing a 3PL warehouse partner. Keep your list short and delve deep into evaluating them to identify the partner most suited to your need.

  • Don’t fall into the price Trap –

Certain companies go ahead choosing a 3PL warehouse based solely on the pricing. However, this approach may be quite damaging. While you need your warehouse service supplier to be competitive in pricing and not over-charge you, but what is also essential to check is the quality they will deliver. If the warehouse management does not have the necessary quality processes in place, it is ultimately your business that will suffer.

  • Don’t Rush into signing up-

Take your time. Do a proper due diligence of selected suppliers in accordance to your needs. Check for important things like safety, scalability, flexibility and pricing of the supplier and sign up only when you are fully satisfied. Try to build faith and trust between both the parties at the start. This will go a long way in having a successful and mutually beneficial partnership.