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Plastic Packaging Alternatives and Options for 2020 and Beyond

While we are all dealing with the Coronavirus lockdown, this eBook and subsequent info is a good overview of the different plastic packaging alternatives that came onto the scene in 2019 and now 2020.  We've had advancements in barrier film that will biodegrade, plastic bottles that can break down under certain conditions at landfills, and even some of the most innovative designs for packaging liquids and semi-liquids we've seen in years.  While 2019 was the year of people hating plastic, we don't hate it, and know that it is hear to stay.

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Global Supply Chain for Retail Packaging

Especially during this global pandemic, US companies need to be flexible when it comes to sourcing their retail packaging.  A year ago it was the tariffs and trade fighting with China, now the Coronavirus has the global supply chain in turmoil.  The point, domestic suppliers are at full capacity and their backups are at full capacity and in a very short period of time--March 2020--US factories could be forced to close.  But...you have a business to run.

I don't care whether you are in the pet treat business, or your company makes spices for BBQ rubs, your company needs to compete.

While buying from domestic (North American) suppliers has been the norm, the retail landscape has become brutal... and there are no signs of it  letting up. Competition for shelf space at Walmart, Target, Petco or even the local independent grocery is fierce.

In a perfect world, companies could easily source their ingredients, blend and make whatever they are selling, fill it into beautiful retail packaging they purchased at a reasonable and fair price and have everything arrive on time, with time to spare for this company to deliver to the retailer, get paid promptly and happily move on to the next customer opportunity...

This just doesn't happen.  Or if it does, it's once in a blue moon.  Retailers are heartless.

If you have a problem with quality or delivery time, within 24 hours they have enacted charge backs to recoup what they consider (and you agreed to by taking the order in the first place) are lost sales, lost profit and lost retail shelf space.

Any amount of explanation will fall on deaf ears, and this money will be deducted from future invoice payments or just credited immediately. It is heartless, ruthless, fierce and unforgiving (sounds like a Western novel!). But it's true. The retailer cares about what works best for them and their company, and if anyone and anything gets in the way, forget it.

We already determined that a perfect world of making a healthy margin on your products and all the pieces/parts (i.e. ingredients, blending, manufacturing, filling, packaging and delivery) working seamlessly is rare. Let's also agree that while retailers can be the lifeblood to your company, they do not have your best interest in mind. They are looking out for themselves.

In short, you need your margins too, and you need to compete and be able to not just keep your lights on, but also thrive! But you say, "We've tried everything. We've leaned on our suppliers and pushed for cost reductions, better payment terms and more bang for our buck. Where are these margins you are referring to?"

Over the past 15 years, we've discovered lost margins in packaging, from down-and­ dirty cello bags and rollstock, to 10-color printed stand up pouches, vacuum bags and everything in between.

North American companies have neglected to look at their packaging for a number of reasons:

One, it's not something that is particularly flashy. It's a necessary evil handled by someone in purchasing who has been in your company for years, and it's always been this way.

Two, there is the assumption that your packaging is every bit as good as your competitors' and it cannot make that much of a difference to your brand awareness, sales or bottom line.

Three, no one cares about your packaging. It's your product customers are buying. This line of thinking has crippled U.S. manufacturers for years.

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Your Retail Packaging Is The Voice of Your Brand

It's so true: Packaging is the voice of your brand, the signature you leave everywhere and the tangible billboard that advertises your company and product over and  over again, from the retail shelves, to the consumer's home, on their commute, in their office, to evening functions and so on.

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Innovative and Convenient Retail Packaging Brings Margin

Consumers want convenience in every facet of their lives, and product packaging is no different. Consumers want pour spouts, Velcro zip locks, easy-open tear notches and lightweight but durable containers they can take on the go, among other features. What's also true is that retailers want those features and functions as well.

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The Sea of the Same Is Killing Your Company!

Historically, for every Method Soap or Seventh Generation, there are 50 other brands on retail store shelves that are just like the majority. Rigid bottles, boxes with inner bag liners inside, metal tins, glass jars, etc. We call this The Sea of the SameTM and it's not letting up. We believe brands are still doing things this way for a few reasons.

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There Is Hidden Margin When Sourcing Your Retail Packaging Overseas

A reported 95 percent of North American companies think of their packaging at the last minute. They have a general assumption that the price difference between how their product is packaged, and how their competitor's is packaged, can't be that much. They also think no one really cares. However, there are those using their packaging as a competitive advantage, and not only are they building their sales, their margins and brand equity have soared.

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Sourcing Globally--Hire An Agent Or Do It Myself?

Using an agent or doing it yourself can both work effectively.  However, doing it yourself is much riskier, unless you have an experienced person in whichever overseas country you are dealing with to manage the project

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When Sourcing Globally Boots On The Ground WINS Every Single Time

The key difference between the "big boys" in any industry, and those who are always one step behind when dealing with offshore suppliers, is the fact that the latter does not have what is referred to as "boots on the ground."

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10 Steps To Managing An Order Successfully From Overseas

This isn't rocket science, but we have perfected this process over the years.  We copied exactly what the major retailers do (our COO is former Kmart exec).  Some things may seem trivial but we know how critical all the pieces need to work in order to not only source properly but deliver on time.

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Consumer Buy Retail Packaging With Their Eyes

We are all consumers in some way or another. We all walk down store aisles and have that talk with ourselves as we look at the products we are interested in. We'll pick up something, read the packaging, look at the ingredients and calorie count and most likely review the size of the packaged product.

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