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09/27/2021

Being ‘flexible’ with online packaging

Sarah Stieby of Fresh-Lock discusses in this guest column how the rise of e-commerce is impacting packaging.

According to eMarketer, U.S. retail e-commerce sales exceeded $799 billion in 2020, a 33.6% increase over the previous year. Even with the country opening back up and consumers enjoying in-store shopping again, eMarketer forecasts that sales for 2021 will surpass $908 billion.

The importance of providing a seamless online shopping experience cannot be understated. For private brand manufacturers and retailers, packaging may not be top of mind when brainstorming ways to improve their e-commerce efforts. However, the right packaging can play a significant role in consistent brand messaging, performance, and consumer experience. When combined with a robust online shopping platform and delivery service, flexible packaging can enhance a private label’s offerings.

Why is Flexible Packaging Good for E-commerce?
While the virtual shopping experience may not allow consumers to physically interact with products before purchase, store brands can still use flexible packaging to stand out among competing brands.

Photography plays a significant role in attracting online shoppers. Advancements in digital printing have made it possible to include eye-catching graphics and clear, legible product information on flexible packaging. Store brands that have a consistent look and feel across their product lines and physical locations can incorporate that online. The more attractive a package is in person, the more attractive it will be online. Sometimes brands and retailers do not offer the highest-quality imagery on their online shopping platforms, making flexible packaging and large product images a perfect opportunity to stand out.

Another benefit of a consistent look and feel across all channels is the ability to manage consumer expectations. Shoppers expect products and their packaging to be the same regardless of how they were purchased. If packaging and imagery differ from in-store to online, consumers may wonder if something has changed with the product or if they bought the wrong product. Since flexible packaging is suitable for both digital and in-store shelves, store brands can offer a high level of consistency.

Once consumers find the product online, the next step is delivery. The durable and lightweight nature of flexible packaging makes it an ideal option for shipping. Where legacy packaging options can be bulky, heavy, or prone to damage, flexible packaging offers the ability to efficiently deliver and protect its contents. Flexible packaging requires less space for warehousing and storage and can reduce energy consumption for manufacturing and transport. Properly sealed packaging can help preserve the product and maintain freshness throughout the delivery process. When the package arrives at its destination undamaged, the consumer will have a positive outlook regarding the brand. 

Products that Can Benefit from Flexible Packaging
There are many applications for flexible packaging as store brands continue to expand their CPG offerings. Products that come in a bag within a box can reduce the amount of packaging required to achieve proper delivery. For example, if cereal was placed in a resealable flexible pouch, it could be shipped without additional packaging. Once the package is opened by the consumer, the closure on the pouch could then help extend the product's shelf life by keeping air out, something that can be difficult to do in non-sealable packages.

graphical user interface

Additionally, healthcare items like feminine care products and over-the-counter medicines can be placed in flexible pouches thanks to compatible child-resistant closures. Healthcare products are prone to extreme consumer inspection due to their nature. If a package arrives in poor condition, the consumer may worry about the integrity of the product or form a negative opinion about the brand. 

Packaging for a Positive Consumer Experience
The goal with all packaging is to keep the product safe and provide the end-user with a positive experience. Retailers that can implement quality packaging across their various channels and create an intuitive online shopping experience can do just that. Thanks to ongoing advancements in flexible packaging materials and closures, chances are the right packaging partner can provide the solution you need.

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Sarah Stieby is the Fresh-Lock marketing manager. The Fresh-Lock brand is the market leader in press-to-close zipper and track & slider reclosable solutions for flexible packaging. Fresh-Lock products are designed and produced by Presto Products, a business of Reynolds Consumer Products.

 

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