We are often asked by our clients for reusable pouches, stock and plain or custom and printed, followed by something similar to “we want the best you have”…which I interpret as they’ve been misled or burned before. To me, there should only be “the best” quality not a sliding scale of fair, good, and best regarding reusable pouches or flexible retail packaging for that matter. Unfortunately people still fall for the “cheapest price” and assume they are getting a deal in some way but in the long run they always lose. Always.
Flexible retail packaging such as resealable stand up pouches are made from laminated layers of engineered barrier film where each layer serves a distinct purpose. One layer is almost always for strength and puncture resistance, another for barrier properties to protect from moisture, vapor, odor, etc. another layer is the printed layer and the innermost is always the sealant and food grade layer (that comes in contact with the product). The point I’m trying to make is there is a lot more to creating reusable stand up bags than most people realize. Here are some key quality steps to keep in mind when evaluating any flexible retail packaging supplier.
Many people make the assumption that domestic (US) quality is better than overseas and that overseas quality cannot be trusted. Both of these assumptions are nonsense. Quality is and should always be universal. Unfortunately people get burned and one bad apple (as they say) ruins the whole bunch.
First things first, when considering a company for resealable stand up pouches, get samples in your hands that are as close to or in the exact structure you are looking for. Unless your project requires something completely custom, a quality supplier should have samples to provide that you can touch and feel. Secondly, almost at the same time, get pricing and lead times and have an idea how soon they can go into production. Do they have time should you decide to proceed immediately or are they running a massive flexible retail packaging job that will have their machinery tied up for a month? I know this sounds crazy but it happens more often than people realize.
Once these basic things are handled and you feel comfortable proceeding, here is where the “rubber meets the road”…for domestic or overseas factories:
1. Request their Quality Certifications (ISO 9000, ISO 14000, QS, etc) and don’t just settle for a photocopy of a piece of paper. Get a number that can be traced directly to the Quality program. Many overseas factories (and sadly domestic) just send a piece of paper with the date updated and assume no one will check. Don’t be that client that doesn’t check. Quality should not be something a supplier tries to hide or be sneaky about.
2. Have your potential supplier hand make a sample in the exact size and material you want (this IS possible) and if your potential supplier is serious about supplying your reusable pouches, they’ll find a way to make this happen. Now, the purpose of this is to really test for fit/form/function…fill the pouch, make sure the ziplock and features are in the right location, does your product fit comfortably, does it stand properly, etc?
3. Visit the factory. This should NOT be missed, even if overseas. There are many companies who can work on your behalf with people on the ground overseas to watch your project unfold and make sure it is done properly. Even domestically, are you dealing directly with the factory, who is your contact, who is that person’s superior? By no means do you need to visit the factory on each order but if this is a new job and a new supplier, be cautious.
4. What independent Labs can you use if you want or need your packaging reviewed and independently tested? Independent Labs are just that, they are paid to assure that your packaging, your product, your parameters and particulars are handled properly. The right supplier for your company should NOT be afraid to have their reusable pouches sent out for examination should you so desire.
In closing, quality is the most important part of flexible retail packaging, whether your particular resealable stand up pouches are printed or plain, made in North America or overseas. Domestic suppliers have their advantages but they tend to be more expensive and don’t have the same print quality as overseas suppliers. Overseas suppliers tend to have a longer lead time but incredible print quality. Choose the supplier that works best for your application. Regardless, use these steps to evaluate your suppliers and ultimately get the reusable stand up bags you need when you need them. Quality counts!