The importance of e-commerce friendly packaging

As the pandemic continues, we remain in an era of social distancing. Today, customers want to get the products they pay for as quickly as possible with minimal contact. With many consumers fearing the spread of germs from shopping in brick-and-mortar outlets, it’s no surprise e-commerce is doing so well. Businesses of all sizes are investing more time and investment into e-commerce and shipping. Regardless of the pandemic, many find e-commerce to be quite beneficial, as it allows businesses to expand their customer base at a relatively low cost. Despite the perks, e-commerce still has its challenges. With its interconnected manufacturing, shipping and logistics operations, businesses need to think more about how they create, use and design their secondary packaging.

Secondary packaging plays a crucial role in customer relations

Secondary packaging can act as a product safeguard, protecting goods from the moment they leave the warehouse to the moment they land in the customer’s hands. Consumers are quick to judge a brand based on its packaging. If the product they purchased comes damaged, battered or dysfunctional, many will jump on social media and comment negatively about your business for not ensuring a safe product delivery. That’s why investing in robust and reliable secondary packaging is crucial. In a recent report, more than half of Americans said receiving a damaged package would affect their relationship with a retailer. No business sells the exact same product. Each comes with its own unique specifications that make it fully functional. Your product offerings can determine a lot when it comes to secondary packaging, so it’s important to keep these considerations in mind:
  • Make your package fit the product: In the world of e-commerce, there’s no such thing as “one-size-fits-all.” Products come in all different shapes and sizes, so it’s important to balance efficiency and practicality in your packaging. You want to ensure your products are easy to take out of the box, but secure enough to protect against damage during shipping.
  • Create packaging for “multi-purpose” use: Secondary packaging means a lot more to consumers than you may realize. Many don’t just throw the box away immediately after purchase. Suppose a customer decides to return your product for repairs or a refund, they will likely use that same package to send it back. Because of this, you may want to consider investing in versatile packaging features like resealable or “two way” cardboard boxes. Tear strips and self-seal release liners are also great add-ons to ensure versatility.
  • Ensure packaging is climate-controlled: Some products, like produce, must remain at a certain temperature. This can pose a challenge, especially if your business sends climate-controlled items across the country. If that’s the case, you will want to keep your box well insulated to maintain the appropriate temperature throughout the shipping journey. Dry ice can also help with insulation if the products are tightly secured.
  • Use eco-friendly packaging materials: Many younger customers, like millennials and Generation Z, value environmental sustainability. To keep lasting relationships with these customers, pay close attention to the materials you use in your packaging. Are they biodegradable? Are they recyclable? Does your output lead to excess landfill or pollution? While reaching these goals will take time, it’s important to show that you’re aware of environmental issues and taking steps to become more eco-friendly.
  • Unboxing video popularity: As the pandemic continues, unboxing videos continue to gain popularity. During these videos, you see the product being taken out of a box and used for the first time by a real person. You get an untainted view of the product to see whether it looks as it was advertised. An unboxing video shows the product, but it also tells a lot about the quality of packaging and the delivery process.

Remaining valuable from start to finish

E-commerce is changing the way we do business. Your customers expect a lot out of your product delivery. Because of this, secondary packaging plays a big role in your business’s success and profitability. That’s why investing in reliable, robust and sustainable secondary packaging is so crucial for continuity. Douglas can provide you technology and solutions that help achieve these goals to better help you satisfy your customers. Interested in our product offerings? Check out our website today to learn more.

Is it worth it to go green? Balancing cost and function with eco-friendly secondary packaging

Sustainability is playing a more prominent role in corporate branding and imaging. While primary packaging is playing a key role for consumer packaged goods, a number of brands are interested in sustainable secondary packaging solutions.

A growing demand for sustainable packaging

According to PMMI’s report, Packaging Sustainability: A Changing Landscape, the sustainable packaging market is expected to increase to $280 billion by 2025, from $220 billion in 2018. This means the market is sure to see an increase in packaging that is recyclable, compostable and otherwise defined as green. In the secondary packaging space, that can mean more paperboard created from 100% recycled materials, new types of recyclable stretch wrap or engineering new palletizing solutions that minimize packaging while preventing damage during shipping.

What does it cost to go green?

When brands are looking to spruce up their image by going green — or scrambling to meet new green initiatives handed down by retailers — that means taking a closer look at their end-of-line machinery. Though sustainability and eco-friendly packaging are great for branding, they’re also perceived as costly. Some 64% of companies cite higher costs as the top barrier to adopting more sustainable practices, according to PMMI. Considering that 1 in 4 consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers interviewed for the PMMI report said they planned to make machine upgrades or modifications to address their packaging sustainability goals, it’s easy to see why it can be difficult to go green.

What does sustainability mean for end-of-line packaging?

Here’s a look at some of the top end-of-line considerations when it comes to waste reduction and sustainable packaging initiatives:
  • Ensure that corrugated containers with less virgin fibers will not create issues with case erector and sealer adhesive not sticking to recycled fibers. Invest in secondary packaging machines with a broader tolerance range.
  • Conduct studies to determine the ROI of upgrading secondary packaging machines to accommodate the sustainable formats and sizes.
  • Contact your secondary packaging supplier to determine if existing packaging machines can be adapted to accommodate packaging reduction strategies such as reusable trays or lightweight cardboard.
  • Research palletizing/bundling solutions that allow for the elimination or reduction of corrugated materials to ensure the product will not be more subject to damage in transit.

End-of-line sustainable solutions that balance cost and waste

According to the Flexible Packaging Association, 67% of brand owners said they put more effort into sustainability in 2019. When it comes time to design sustainable solutions that balance cost and function, it’s critical to work with a secondary packaging equipment company that has experience in all facets of secondary and tertiary packaging.

The solution to reduce variety pack waste

When it comes to sustainability solutions and slashing waste, variety pack packaging often is top-of-mind for many companies, says Todd Welker, Beverage Sales Manager for Douglas. Variety pack packaging has grown in popularity to meet consumer demand as well as retailers’ just-in-time principals. But CPG makers want to curtail the astonishing amount of waste that comes from unpacking single case products to be repackaged into a mixed case. The first step in solving the packaging waste issue is investing in a variety pack system. Still, the standard solution doesn’t completely eliminate packaging waste, but Welker talks about how Douglas helped a large beverage producer that was interested in doing something about that:
  • This beverage company wanted to eliminate the need to pack the bottles into single-use 24-count corrugated trays before feeding the bottles into Douglas’s Prisma™ variety pack system variety pack system to be repackaged into 12-, 18- and 24-count variety packs.
  • The solution to the corrugated trays was to deliver the bottles in reusable plastic shells.
  • Despite being put off by the high costs, an analysis showed the ROI of the reusable shells was much greater than discardable corrugated trays.

Experienced packaging solutions to meet your unique needs

For companies looking for sustainable solutions, Douglas brings over 55 years of experience designing custom secondary packaging for cartons, pouches, bags, cans, cups, jars, bottles of all materials and more. “We have seen what works and what does not work in the supply chain in the marketplace, and our customer base can draw on those experiences,” Welker says. Get in touch with a Douglas team member now to learn more about how our line of innovative secondary packaging solutions can be completely customized to your unique needs.  

The pet food industry is rapidly growing: Can your secondary packaging line keep up?

In the pet food space, food is more than a convenient means to feed the family dog or cat. Today, pets are family, and people want nothing but the very best in high-quality food they can afford. Pet food is a competitive space, and there’s no shortage of innovation and evolution to offer our furry friends. According to a recent survey published in Pet Food Processing, pet industry executives say growth is in the forecast for 2020:  
  • 63% of pet industry executives plan to grow existing product lines
  • 61% plan new product launches
  • 27% plan to offer additional packaging formats
When marketing comes forward with a new product or a retailer issues new packing and size requirements, production must be ready to pivot, adapt and have the line up and running. Part of the challenge is optimizing your secondary packaging line. Today, secondary packaging has to do more than simply protect the product during shipping. “Secondary packaging is now part of the display,” says Brad Hanke, Regional Sales Manager for the north central region at Douglas. “From printed shrink wrap to printed perforated tear-away display cases, secondary packaging has found its way into the customer experience. With all these considerations, your secondary packaging line has to be ready to do it all. “Everyone wants secondary packaging equipment that’s flexible and versatile so they can do lots of different products and changeover very quickly, because downtime costs money,” says Hanke. “Not only that, but they need the equipment to run as fast as they need it to.” Here’s a look at the secondary packaging challenges pet food producers face, and how a well-designed secondary packaging line can help.

Specific retailers have secondary packaging requirements

Even if the same product is distributed to two different retailers, it may go out the door in two or three types of secondary packaging. Below are examples of secondary packaging for canned dog food and the retailers they’d accommodate.
  • Shrink wrap over a cardboard tray or pad for club/warehouse retailers.
  • Microperforated display trays for big-box retailers, custom fit for the shelf.
  • Heavy paperboard containers for manufacturers looking to enter the e-commerce business, shipped directly to the customer.

Retailers are also requesting specific pack patterns

Whether the required pack pattern is single-facing, dual-facing or triple-facing, the retailer is looking to gain the ability to simply open the container right on the sales floor with the product perfectly stacked, logo visible to shoppers in each direction. Today’s machines can accomplish your specific pack patterns by rotating the packing case or the product itself to meet these requirements.

Fast, speedy changeovers

Dog treats are the fastest growing segment of the pet food market, according to an April 2020 report from PMMI, which means pet food producers will be looking at developing exciting new products in hopes of capturing the attention (and wallets) of pet parents. Can your secondary packaging equipment keep up with the changeovers? Today’s machines let you accomplish changeovers in minutes, so when it’s time to swap from small pouches to super-sized treat bags, your end-of-line machines will be running again in minutes. [Read Top changeover challenges for food and beverage manufacturers (and how to solve them)]

Ease of operability

For years, manufacturers have looked to automation as a solution for the lack of skilled or reliable workers. Now COVID-19 adds a twist to the situation. Automation is now part of the solution to building safe work environments. According to Pet Food Processing, COVID-19 could make investing in automated equipment easier to justify. Douglas designed the HMI specifically to make it operable for workers at any skill level. With minimal training, a novice can handle your secondary line, while your skilled machinists can focus on other tasks. One of the core competencies of Douglas is building innovative secondary packaging solutions for the pet industry. Get in touch with a Douglas team member now to learn more about how our line of innovative secondary packaging solutions can be completely customized to your unique needs.

Move to Flexible Bags & Pouches: Complexities & Solutions for Case Packing

The field of flexible packaging has grown tremendously in recent years, thanks in no small part to growing demands for more sustainable and cost-effective consumer products. Flexible packaging brought in an estimated $31 billion in sales during 2017 alone. In light of that impressive figure, it’s no surprise that brand owners across the nation are implementing resealable bags, pouches and film as their go-to packaging solution.

At Douglas Machine, we’ve been empowering businesses with powerful paperboard, corrugated and shrink-film packaging solutions since 1964. We’re also proud to keep brands informed on the latest updates in the world of packaging. So today, we’ll be walking through more insights on flexible packaging—and key reasons for implementing these solutions into your product line.

The Evolving Trends of Flexible Packaging

At its core, flexible packaging is all about convenience. Today’s consumer is incredibly busy, mobile, and increasingly reliant on packaging that’s easy to consume, transport and dispose. Flexible packaging is uniquely poised to meet these customer demands—with high durability, low weight, and re-closure options to guarantee product freshness. And because flexible packaging is available in so many style and shapes, it’s ideal for many liquid, solid and powder products alike.

Next to convenience, sustainability is one of the fastest growing trends in flexible packaging. Customers care more about eco-friendly products and business practices than ever before. This fuels the demand for sustainable and reusable packaging options. Flexible packaging actually uses fewer natural resources and generates less waste overall compared to many packaging alternatives, making this solution highly appealing to today’s consumers.

Last but not least, the retail titan of e-commerce has nurtured incredible growth in the flexible packaging sector. As more and more consumers abandon brick-and-mortar stores in favor of digital shopping, manufacturers are becoming more reliant on durable and versatile packaging that can reach consumers in prime condition—especially in the food and beverage markets. In this sense, flexible bags and pouches are a perfect packaging companion for e-commerce goods.

Industry Challenges for Flexible Packaging

We’ve talked about a few trends and exciting opportunities for flexible packaging, but what about barriers? As it stands, sustainability is both a trend and a challenge for players in the flexible packaging industry. Today’s sourcing, manufacturing and end-of-life entities actively work towards (and will be held accountable for) creating a cycle of sustainable packaging. In other words, making the process of creating, distributing and disposing of flexible packaging requires close collaboration from all parties involved—including consumers.

It’s no secret that consumers have a negative perception of plastic packaging. While this bias has lost some traction in recent years, it’s still a major challenge for flexible packaging. From municipal bag bans to anti-plastic publications in the news, there’s still major pushback against the use of one-time-use plastics. Overcoming this impediment will require a strong education push to help consumers and CPGs understand the value plastics offer across the total lifecycle of flexible packaging—and the many benefits we can reap by creating a circular economy within this sector.

Douglas Solutions for Flexible Bags & Pouches

Now that we’ve discussed opportunities and complexities impacting flexible bags and pouches, let’s talk about specific machine solutions your team can use to capitalize on this packaging technology. Our TriVex® top load series is the optimal solution for high-demand production. These versatile top load case & tray packers are packed with performance-enhancing technology; leveraging automated robotic case and tray packaging solutions to accommodate the specific requirements needed to handle bags, pouches, trays, cartons and more.

The TriVex top load series offers optimum flexibility, making it possible to efficiently load products into almost any style of pre-erected top load tray or case. The TriVex RLi offers the unique ability to seamlessly erect, load and seal top load cases using a single compact machine. With advanced design features, proprietary servo technology, and simple, menu-driven changeovers, the TriVex series can accommodate a huge range of product types with minimum maintenance and product handling.

These machine solutions are also ideal for management of frequent format changes while maintaining high efficiencies. Built with efficiency, flexibility and user safety in mind, the TriVex series is the perfect investment for capitalizing on the many opportunities flexible packaging provides.

Leverage Flexible Packaging With Douglas

Ready to learn more about Douglas and our powerful secondary packaging solutions? Then be sure to call or message us today. Our team can provide detailed information on the steps your business can take to harness flexible bags and pouches for your production needs—and ideal packaging machines for those efforts. You can also reach out to us with any questions you have about the world of secondary packaging and emergent trends within it. We’d be happy to hear from you.