Packaging ready for sale

Product presentation is a key element as 70% of purchase decisions are made at the point of sale (POS)

For the retail sector, shelves are still the most important communication interface with the customer. Before them is the place where the consumer chooses the product to put in the basket. 70% of purchase decisions are made at the point of sale (POS), which is why product presentation has become a key element of commercial logistics in recent years.

Regarding the replacement of shelves, there are numerous proposals for solutions in the field of shelf ready packaging concept or retail ready packaging (packaging ready for sale, SRP or RRP), all with a common goal: to use the limited available space on the shelf as much as possible.

SRP solutions have gained great importance all over the world. Formulas are being studied in many countries that enable efficient and lower costs of performing intralogistics tasks in the trade sector. The document entitled “Effective unit loads” contains a number of recommendations on the preparation of standardized disposable transport packaging. Representatives of the trade, packaging and consumer goods sectors and various organizations participated in their preparation.

In order to meet the large number of demands arising from them, different packaging and packaging materials such as solid cardboard, cardboard and corrugated cardboard can be used.

Efficiency and greater controllability

In principle, containers and packaging ready for sale must be simple and can be manipulated without the need to use auxiliary means. They have a great visual impact on the shelf, require excellent product presentation and can be easily discarded after use. The container or packaging is optimized and adapted to the dimensions of the module, logistics needs and sales volumes. The information on the packaging allows store personnel to quickly identify and classify the product. In addition to offering greater maneuverability, these containers must be highly robust, allowing consumer units to withstand the challenges of the logistics process and reach the shelves without a single failure.

Commercial companies require that they can easily manipulate products in the store. The first installation and replacement of the product must be possible without major complications and be sufficient with one maneuver.

On the other hand, there are also ecological aspects whose importance should not be underestimated, such as saving materials and consequently working on the possibility of applying reusable packaging solutions. The most important link in the chain is still the customer: in order to be well served, the organization of the shelf must enable the highlighting and clear identification of products whose presentation will be suitable for consumption.

Improving the flow of information through the entire logistics chain all the way to the consumer is of great importance and crucially contributes to the efficiency of the process. Improving expiration date identification, for example, helps store staff reduce merchandise loss. De-stocking helps maintain brand loyalty among consumers, as the manufacturer runs the risk of shunting customers when they occasionally switch to a competing product.

According to GS1 Germany, 70% of customers who choose one product to replace another are usually satisfied with the new one. 37% of consumers react to the lack of an item by buying another brand, and 21% even change stores. 9% do not buy. Only 17% return later. This means that in two-thirds of the cases, an opportunity is lost that never arises again.

For the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, the series of requirements was reduced to five key points:

– Simple identification. That is, identifying and recording the most important logistics data using barcode or RFID, which will be strongly implemented in the near future. The most important information is the product description, number of units, weight, variety and expiration date. All this must be legible on both sides of the transport packaging. In the same way, the product must be easily recognizable by the staff, and the visibility of the packaging on the shelf must be excellent, because this creates a decisive impulse in the consumer. These requirements have been implemented in a 100% exemplary manner in the solutions developed to date.

– Simple opening. Containers placed on the shelf must have easy-to-understand instructions. In this sense, the use of pictograms proved to be very effective. One employee should be enough to handle the container, who can also change products on the shelf without auxiliary means. When opening the transport packaging and after opening, the risk of injury due to the presence of sharp edges must be avoided. Likewise, the necessary conditions will be met so that the SRP and product packaging cannot be damaged. This point leaves a lot of room for design innovation. Only one of the two packages fulfills all these requirements.

– A simple shelf. This point refers to the improvement of maneuverability through certain dimensions, auxiliary elements such as cut-out handles and a maximum weight of 15 kg per load unit. Of course, it is important that the items are stable and solid after opening the transport packaging. The quantities of transport units will correspond to the demand of the store and will be able to be sold within a certain sales period. Finally, the packaging must match the dimensions of the shelf. The sector has implemented this set of requirements in an exemplary manner, as the compliance rate is 100%.

– Easy disposal. This point affects the waste disposal phase and requires, among other things, a single-material packaging structure. The packaging material and auxiliary elements, such as the label, must be made of the same material. Likewise, folding the packaging must be possible in a rational way. For this purpose, the manufacturer’s instructions for this purpose are very useful. In this context, composite materials are not considered suitable. Reusable solutions, on the other hand, are considered more than feasible. Reusable transport packages can be stacked, and some can even reduce the volume for easier returns. It is obvious that imported goods must comply with national legislation in any case. With a compliance rate of 80% in SRP solutions, we can talk about a more than positive balance in the implementation of this package of requirements.

– Simple trade. This point deals with the consumer. Important information for the customer contained on the product packaging cannot be hidden by the transport packaging. The customer is the most important, and for this reason he must be able to easily inspect the product, that is, be able to take it off and return it without problems. In the past, transport packaging also took over sales functions. Presentation in various colors is far from the most common. Company and product logos are the minimum essential elements that usually appear in print. On the other hand, half-empty SRP solutions are in the center of attention. The appearance should remain attractive even if the first package is missing. Empty accommodation must be prevented from being visible after the product has been sold. At the moment, the trade sector is still waiting, as these requirements are only 75% fulfilled.

SRP solutions: only half implemented

Experience in stores shows that SRP solutions are partially a reality, but their diffusion is very uneven. According to a study carried out in February and March 2007 by the European Trade Institute EHI based in Cologne and the associations of corrugated board manufacturers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, only an average of 37% of articles They are placed on shelves in transport packaging. This information means that we still have a long way to go.

The percentages mostly vary depending on the type of product. In the food section of the store, 42% of items are placed in SRP solutions. But even in these products, the implementation is heterogeneous. On the shelves of fresh products, 31% of items are in transport packaging, while in dry food it reaches 48%. Small, flat dry food products appear to be made to fit in transport packaging: 95% of soups, sauces and stocks are represented in SRP. In the infant nutrition section, at 85%, SRP solutions also seem to have largely prevailed. Bird feed and nuts, along with meals prepared from nutritious foods, are the other groups of items shown in the SRP with figures greater than 75%. The stability of the trays allows the products to be placed standing up.

Lack of implementation in certain segments

For its part, the segment of non-food products remains largely without the implementation of new solutions. Means for personal care and hygiene are certainly the least represented in the SRP. Only some detergents and cleaning products are shyly beginning to change this trend. Frozen food or bread are also not the most representative items, considering that one makes up 2% and the other 4%. In these segments, the lack of implementation of new solutions is justified by citing special logistical requirements. On the other hand, there are already solutions for the popular “flowpacks” in the frozen section that accept, for example, eight individual containers.

But in many cases, especially with export products, the causes should be sought in the facilities, because they make it difficult to create standardized solutions.

Pouring containers, for example, are one of the favorite variants of packaging designers and the application of which is not limited only to impulse sales items such as sweets. Additional elements, such as pushers or handles integrated into the SRP, allow you to always have a container on the front of the shelf. The consumer will no longer see empty spaces on store shelves, the brand and product are displayed with improved visibility, and the overall picture is more organized.

More flexibility: from the space for promotions to the shelf

More and more importance is attached to the second place of the product on the display. Promotional displays come mounted on these mobile stands, making them easier to handle in the store and easier to move if needed. Retail-Ready-Displays respond to other approaches by hosting different SRP solutions. After the promotion ends, the boxes are easily moved to the shelves. These are therefore modular alternatives for adapting larger quantities of products made up of standardized transport packaging.

System suppliers are also promoting the use of so-called “single face” packaging to respond to limited shelf space. Especially with cosmetic and chemical-technical products, presentations are required that leave one packaging in the customer’s field of vision.

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