If just ordered packaging here are 5 things you probably didn't think about but should of:
1) Your packaging structure and artwork will directly effect your sales. Invest in looking good to get sales. If you're using cheap materials, nonexistent brand guidelines, and sloppily executed packaging artwork you might feel like you're being a brand hero and saving money. The problem is customers will see this and NOT buy your product no matter how great it is. It takes so much work and money to get your product made, and on the shelf or in front of a customer. Don't cheap out and forget to dial in this last part or you'll lose your chance to get customers and all that work will go down the drain.
2) Most costs are FOB meaning they don't include freight. Estimate freight into your budget. Freight can be a dramatic variable cost you should add to your Cost Of Goods calculations and projected profitability. Congestion due to seasonality, import tariff changes, or additional fees most freight companies don't include in an estimate should be expected. So ask your freight forwarder what extra costs might be expected, confirm your Harmonized Tariff Code or tax rates and add as much as 25% of the freight estimate to keep your projections healthy and profitable.
3) Custom packaging can hurt companies that are tight on cash and time. Consider stock options.
Custom packaging makes sense when you buy in high volumes since you can reduce freight costs (using a full truck is cheaper than delivery a few boxes), better amortize mold fees, reduce raw material costs for better overall costing.
But custom packaging has long lead times: 2-4 months (on rigid gift boxes, plastic pouches, labels, folding carton and corrugate) and 4-6 months (on glass and tin). Plus when you're new and don't have existing sales it can mean you will be sitting on your cash in a warehouse until you get new orders.
Consider as you build your brand sales volumes, ordering STOCK packaging with a beautiful label, which can be a more supportive route for an emerging brand. Especially in the category of glass, tin, injection mold plastics where mold fees and minimum order runs are wildly high. Stock sizing is also helpful for folding carton, labels and corrugate boxes. In these cases you don't have to pay for the mold fees so they can be very affordably priced and they have shorter lead-times (as short as 2-3 weeks). This keeps you free and flexible to make the changes you need to service and thrive as you build your brand!
4) Packaging choices should either be influenced by your co-packer capabilities OR should influence which co-packer you choose for the best cost.
While you pick packaging, you need to keep the factory where you will produce and fill your product in mind. Not all co-packers have the capacity to optimally execute with each style of packaging. If you pick a funky type of packaging that looks cool but doesn't work quick on one manufacturer's line you risk getting a higher cost for your finished product because of the labor.
Alternatively, if you must have a certain packaging style, it's important to figure out the style first and then screen co-packers by asking if they have this capability. The best practice is to start with an idea in mind, call and interview co-packers to confirm they can work with your style, and then finalize your design work.
5) Get printed samples OR color mock-ups to pre-sell before you pay for the mass production of your packaging. You'll reduce risk and unneeded expenses.
If you're selling into retail you can bring mock-ups and digital proofs to your trade show and meetings. This is important because high volume retailers might have feedback or requirements you maybe didn't think of that you should add before you go to production. Maybe you have 3 flavors but only get orders and interest in 2 or a request for a 4th flavor they prefer.
This benefit of pre-selling applies to online commerce for companies of any size - you can solicit consumer responses, get cash upfront to fund your product launch and test SKU variations for popularity before you actually put all that money into product.
Plus printed samples also allow you to take those mock-ups into a grocery store and literally place it in the store next to the competition. Certain print finishes, colors and font sizes look good on a computer screen but don't work in the poor lighting on a grocery store shelf. You'll notice how a color should change it's shade, a font must become larger, how the edge of the product name is hidden by the rounded portion of the bottle you didn't notice before. These small changes can help you fix them before the larger run.
About the author: Emily Page has over 20 years of experience in selling consumer brand products in the food industry with packaging. She is the CEO and founder of Pearl Resourcing (http://pearlresourcing.net), an international packaging and product development company where she has launched multiple 7-figure brands into retail and e-commerce with 2-5x growth in sales. Follow her on LINKEDIN for regular articles and updates: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilypage/
Graphics by Kat Reyes, VP of Brand & Marketing at Pearl Resourcing: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kat-reyes-design/.
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