Despite eCommerce, retail-ready packaging still in demand

While the digital revolution is encouraging more and more people to move their patronage to the online markets, it has been observed that the younger generation still prefers to visit stores for shopping needs. Studies have revealed that nearly 82% millennials still view in-store shopping as their preferred retail channel, despite engaging in online shopping.

02 Mar 2020 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

Retail purchase decisions are predominantly based on two key factors; product visibility and retail display appeal. In fact, it has been estimated that over 70% of purchase decisions are made in-store.

Retailers are constantly on the lookout for new and innovative ways to enhance their in-store shopping experience. One of these ways is the adoption of retail-ready packaging.

Retail-ready packaging (RRP), also known as shelf-ready packaging, is a form of secondary packaging, designed to facilitate efficient and effective stocking as well as sales. RRP has a multitude of advantageous characteristics, which help with ease of product transportation and also enable quick and easy shelf replenishments. Retail-ready packaging comes in a vast array of forms, including corrugated boxes, folding cartons, die-cut display cartons, shrink-wrap trays and more. These packaging solutions can be derived both from paper and paperboard as well as plastic.

The retail ready packaging market has witnessed tremendous development in recent years, owing to myriad benefits including creativity, functional design and economical price points. Many modern retailers now favour RRP as the ideal packaging solution as it enhances store efficiency, while reducing the turnover durations for functions like re-stocking, in turn accelerating sales.

Shelf-ready packaging fulfils all the parameters of an ideal packaging solution, including easy replenishment, quick product identification, seamless shopping experiences, sustainability, recyclability and reusability, among others.

The global retail industry is anticipated to witness tremendous expansion in recent years. As a matter of fact, the cumulative retail sales across the globe in 2019 were expected to reach almost USD 26.29 trillion.

With such prolific advancements in the retail domain, shop owners are making persistent efforts to minimise in-store operational costs wherever feasible. Over the years, retailers have identified the key area where operational costs can be mitigated most; labour. Research has revealed that nearly 25% of retail costs are linked to labour, including identifying products in stock, setting up displays and disposing of discarded packaging.

Retail ready packaging presents a significant solution to this effort, as it eliminates the need to individually unpack the products, rather taking them directly from the trucks to the shelves. In fact, Walmart, a staunch advocate of RRP, has suggested that the movement of retail ready packaged product from the shipper to shelves can be completed in just two touches. This yields considerable savings both in the form of money as well as time pertaining to labour costs. Retailers also largely prefer RRP as it enables better store cleanliness, quick store restocking, and can even prompt customers to make impulse buys.

The benefits of RRP are multi-fold; for suppliers the easy transition from warehouse to shelf-leads to better in-stock availability. Likewise, retail ready packaging improves product positioning and visibility in-store, thereby augmenting the possibility of sale. Additionally, the visual appeal and smooth shelf to cart transition delivered by shelf ready packaging enhances the overall shopping experience for customers.

While single-use plastic trays have long been the mainstay for retailers to maintain upright position of products on the shelf, rising concerns regarding the ecological landscape have spurred many industry players to adopt more sustainable means of packaging.

One prominent example of this is retail chain Morrisons Supermarkets, which in 2019 revised its packaging policy in order to cut back on their usage of plastic. Furthermore, Morrisons also aimed to reduce material and supply chain costs, as well as improve customer shopping experiences, by streamlining in-store navigation and on-shelf visibility.

This strategy was put into action when Morrisons re-launched their product Best Bacon in a new sustainable RRP format. Morrisons leveraged DS Smith’s Optishop Fin RRP concept, which is a corrugated packaging solution derived from sustainable fibres which are 100% recyclable. With this concept, retail shelves can be replenished at high speeds, and customers can easily select the products they wish to purchase without disrupting the remaining contents of the carton.

Following on similar lines, Pathway Solutions Inc. has also launched a new retail-ready packaging solution, dubbed Advantage Plus, which mitigates the need for an outer retail packaging, in turn saving over 1 million pounds of waste in a year.

The unitised package combines customized printed paper-film lids, which are heat sealed to customized pressed paperboard trays. Microwave safe and sustainable, these solutions also help reduce labour and transport costs, whilst freeing up significant production and warehouse floor space.

(Courtesy: Global Market Insights)