Packaging as Part of Retailers’ Supply Chain Planning
Consumer goods packaging is a rather complex business in and of itself – just ask any supplier that makes laundry detergent pods.
These days, though, as more retailers play in the traditional CPG space, whether through private label, ecommerce, or other, more consumer-direct initiatives, they would be smart to think more about packaging, too, according to several packaging experts. By doing so, and specifically by paying special attention to how packaging fits into their overall supply chain, retailers could improve their efficiencies, contribute to a more sustainable planet, and even find some hidden cost savings.
The typical retail executive, as well as the local store manager, spends little time pondering over packaging, notes Gary Kestenbaum, an independent packaging consultant based in New York. “Even among retailers with large private label businesses, if you ask the corporate office if they understand everything about their product packaging, nobody really knows,” he observes.
Yet the importance of packaging throughout the supply chain can’t be underestimated, according to Kestenbaum. At the store level, “it’s the packaging that drives consumer interest,” he notes. And way before the product reaches the store, there are plenty of opportunities for logistical wins – or nightmares. In his many years of working in the consumer goods industry, he’s seen a supplier lose an entire trailer of nuts because of the way the product was loaded, and because it didn’t fit the pallet dimensions properly. He’s also seen cases of cereal being crushed because of how a machine loaded product onto the trailer.
“Packaging is an end-to-end process,” he says.
A recent report published by Reston, Va.-based PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, underscores just how complex packaging’s role in the supply chain has become in recent years. “Part of the challenge of increased supply chain complexity for CPGs involves increased pressures on warehousing, transportation and overall distribution,” the “Vision 2025” report notes. “These constraints are affecting everything from case packs, case sizes, pallet sizes, package orientation, and secondary and tertiary packaging reconfigurations that must ‘fit’ into warehouses trucks and onto store shelves.”
Indeed, the complexity of packaging might be overwhelming to the average grocery retailer, but there are two areas worthy of special consideration in today’s retailing climate: sustainability and ecommerce.
- The importance of packaging throughout the supply chain can’t be underestimated, both because, at the store level, it drives consumer interest, and it’s key to ensuring that products arrive intact at their destination.
- There are two packaging areas worthy of special consideration in today’s retailing climate: sustainability and ecommerce.
- A few leading retailers are already prioritizing packaging sustainability as part of making their overall businesses more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
- Having knowledge throughout the supply chain of a product and how its packaging is related is beneficial to suppliers and retailers alike.