Feb 2017 PAK'R Magazine

Page 1





THE FALSE WAR Between Physical and Digital Retail

CONQUERING The Digital Marketplace

FOOD PACKAGING NOT the Environment’s Enemy

Our Staff EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Scott Borhauer SENIOR EDITOR Jim O'Shaughnessy DEPUTY EDITOR Anthony Magestro EXECUTIVE ART DIRECTOR Scott Borhauer EDITORIAL OFFICES FREMONT, CALIFORNIA 34175 Ardenwood Blvd. Suite 201 Fremont, CA 94555 HOPKINSVILLE, KENTUCKY 500 Krusteaz Way Hopkinsville, KY 42240 THORNTON, ILLINOIS 16850 S Canal Street Thornton, IL 60476 Tel: +1-888-985-5724 Int'l: +1-888-744-9962 FRANCE SAS 16 Avenue des Entrepreneurs 95400 Villiers-le-Bel, France Tel: +33-13-404-1800 NETHERLANDS Nijverheidsweg 4 6422 PD Heerlen, Netherlands Tel: +31-45-566-7400

SUBSCRIPTIONS +1-888-985-5724 16850 S Canal Street Thornton, IL 60476 Outside the United States: +1-888-744-9962 PAK'R is published by FP International Publishing Group LTD. minipakr.com

PAK'R MAGAZINE Total Packaging Solutions


03 EDITOR'S NOTE PAK'R editor in chief Scott Borhauer talks Sustainable Innovation


It seems like everyone's on the Internet nowadays. Regardless if you're just starting out or have had a website for a while, we've got some tips to maximize your digital effectiveness.



When it comes to things like climate change and protecting the environment, plastic -- especially single-use food packaging -- is seen as one of the main antagonists. Here we discuss how, while wasteful uses of any resource is bad for the environment, food packaging in and of itself might not be the devil it’s made out to be.







FEB 2017 | ISSUE 02


Just as steel sharpens steel, so too does technology hone itself. In this age of digital enlightenment, the ways you can build a business, a brand, and a box to ship your products are virtually infinite.

Editor's Note With a new year comes new opportunities, innovations, and discoveries. More importantly, it's a time to look back on where we've come from and to look forward to where we're going.



Hello Reader! We hope you had a fun and safe New Year's celebration and a strong start to 2017. As we're already into February, we hope your resolutions are going well, but if you're having a hard time following through (or even coming up with some), maybe we can help out with some ideas in this issue. Sustainable innovation is continuing to grow in our industry, but with another year down, we have another year's worth of hindsight to reflect on what's worked and what hasn't. For instance, we've found that food packaging on its own might not be as bad for the environment as other logistics factors (like wasted food and the resources that go into it). And while ecommerce is heralded as a force to take down brick-and-mortar stores, the perceived war in retail isn't much a war at all when physical retailers still maintain 94% of an almost $21 trillion market. Instead, the real success is found by merging the two, building an omnichannel model that reaches customers both in-store and from home. Or really anywhere else they care to be and get phone reception.



But don't let me spoil the line-up we for this month. Check out the articles for yourself.






CONQUERING THE DIGITAL MARKETPLACE It seems like everyone's on the Internet nowadays. Regardless if you're just starting out or have had a website for a while, we've got some tips to maximize your digital effectiveness.




However, if you want to compete with the best online stores out there, you’re going to have to invest in either yourself or someone with the requisite skill set to make something truly stunning. Still, getting off the ground is important all its own, and getting a website started is much easier (and less risky) than taking a loan for a lease on a physical location. Moreover, the beauty (and bane) of the Internet is its intrinsic anonymity, which works to your advantage when you’re just starting out. A website that’s well-designed can give the impression that it’s staffed by multiple people when in reality, it may just be you. If you know how to market yourself and build traffic and if you have a quality product to boot, customers will begin funneling through your digital doors, not paying attention to how many people might be behind the counter. A physical retailer, on the other hand, looks either shady or failing if it’s huge, yet understaffed. You don’t truly run that risk on a website.

WHY THE INTERNET? Whether you’re selling flowers or DVDs, heaps of clothing or some arts and crafts here and there, digital retailing is taking the world by storm, growing year after year since we figured out how to market things on the Internet. Even if you’ve seen success as a physical retailer, not having your own digital storefront (or, at the very least, a social media presence) will come back to haunt you sooner than later. What we hope to accomplish here is introduce why digital retailing is important in comparison to tried-andtrue brick-and-mortar methods. Then, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to get you started and help brainstorm your own strategies to conquer the ever-expanding digital market. PAK'R MAGAZINE | 05

Tens of trillions of dollars are generated through global retail sales annually, with a whopping 94 percent credited to physical stores. While the remaining 6 percent is set to grow exponentially over the next decade, having a well-planned digital presence is a boon to any business, regardless if you’re a sole proprietor or a superstore magnate. Let’s start with the former. For one, getting a website setup is quick and easy, especially if you have a background in Web development and design. Even if you don’t have those skills, you can find plenty of Web hosting services that let you create your own websites easily, dragging and dropping modules on your layout and automatically writing the code for you.

DID YOU KNOW? Google Chrome commands 26.2% market share. For other browsers: IE 9 25.1% Firefox 5+ 17.3% Safari 5/6 4.8%




Another nice feature is that you don’t even necessarily have to hold your own inventory -- this goes for both beginners and established retailers alike. By drop-shipping (that is, acting as a third-party proxy to sell other products on someone else’s behalf for commission), you can keep your operation small while simultaneously expanding your inventory to your clamoring customers. If you sell on behalf of Amazon, for example, all you need to do is focus on marketing and customer service, while Amazon handles all the rest. It might not net you as much money as handling all the other retailing aspects, but it’s especially useful when just starting out or looking to supplement your current wares.

You’re also not pigeonholed into set hours of operation or even a local market. The glory of the Internet is that you can reach out to anyone else who has access from anywhere in the world, at any time, day or night. Since the store runs itself (with the exception of interacting with customers above and beyond the site’s functionality), you don’t have to sit at your computer, waiting for a sale to come in or a transaction to monitor. Again, almost all the metrics you could ever imagine needing are compiled for you.

As technology trends lean toward automation and informational report generation, you don’t need as many employees to sell or manage as much inventory either. Sure, you still need people to manage your marketing and the back-end of the site as well as answering customer questions and complaints (if you can’t handle it yourself), but it cuts out the need for janitorial or cashier staff altogether by not needing a broom or cash register on the Internet.

And finally, when you need to market and grow your brand, there’s no better way than excited customers who want to rave about your product. Including social media integration options makes it easy for your customers to then share their experiences and new purchases with friends, drawing in more customers easily. Word-ofmouth has always been a reliable method of building trust as friends of friends stake their loyalty to one another on propping your business up. This same principle applies on the Internet and at a faster rate.

What’s more, by having all of your sales happening digitally, there are plenty of metrics and useful data to sift through, showing you all sorts of information from buyer age and location demographics, search terms and keywords, and suggested items they might also have interest in. Managing inventory on the shelves is tough enough in a physical store, but digital data collection is streamlined and collated for later analysis. From there, you can figure out everything from how to target your market with advertisements and new products or how much stock to keep on hand if you do manage a physical inventory. When it comes to your inventory, another benefit of online retailing is you don’t have to worry about minor theft. Granted, I’m no hacker, but I can imagine ways someone could dupe the system (even if I knew of techniques, I wouldn’t write them here). Still, trying to brute-force hack an online store is much more difficult than sneaking out a candy bar a customer didn’t pay for.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that social media is a double-edged sword. If you’re not careful, whether it’s neglecting your commitments to your customers, not keeping popular products in stock, or having a shoddy interface, people are quick to comment and spread their reactions among their circles as well. Therefore it becomes tantamount that you run a tight ship, letting your site grow organically with your customers in mind and giving them a quality, worthwhile experience. You know, just as you would try to with a brickand-mortar store. Of course, how does one apply these tactics well in this new digital world? PAK'R MAGAZINE | 06

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR DIGITAL RETAILERS Just as your physical products might be the central commodities of your online business, so too are the site itself and the information customers can access on it. No matter how long you’ve been peddling wares on the Internet, keeping the following questions in mind can help drive traffic and boost sales by making sure you’re creating the optimal customer experience: What products are selling the best? If I run the risk of selling out often, what are some ways to mitigate these problems? Are there any products that sell very poorly or not at all? Can I do anything to market them better or should I take them off the shelves and replace them with something else? How fast does my website load? Can users access it on both desktop and mobile devices?* Who’s my targeted audience? Are there specific niche markets I can target to grow my brand from there? Who are my competitors in this niche? What and how are they doing? Do I want to manage my own inventory or do I want to drop-ship/sell for another company? Can I supplement my own stock with thirdparty sales, either having someone sell on my behalf or vice versa? Can I run advertisements for affiliate partners in the margins for additional income? All of these questions can be answered by looking at your site’s metrics (whether Google Analytics or a variety of ecommerce plugins, depending on what platform and host you use). PAK'R MAGAZINE | 07



It’s difficult to suggest specific ways to find these methods as not everyone uses the same services and platforms, though the customer service teams for your web host are usually more than happy to direct you to the right places. I put a star (*) by mobile devices, however, as it’s increasingly important to make sure that your websites appear correctly on smartphones and tablets. According to a 201415 survey by Flurry Mobile Analytics, user growth for “Lifestyle and Shopping” mobile apps grows 81 percent year over year with general mobile usage growing about 58 percent year over year. Where desktops might more commonly secure sales, mobile access provides the best avenue for traffic growth. Luckily, most Web templates are scalable, automatically fitting a variety of screen sizes no matter what device a customer uses. It’s still smart to optimize the experience since not everything translates from big to small screen as easily as it should.

Plenty of practical examples of savvy SEO exist. Grocery stores might include information on food safety, recipes promoting their local brands, or even how to compile shopping lists or make trips simpler or more affordable (without sacrificing their own sales). UPS and other delivery companies have their own blogs that cover logistics topics for small and large businesses. Heck, even this magazine is a form of digital content marketing, focusing on sustainability, packaging, and ecommerce to supplement our blog on website. 21st Century customers don’t just go to company websites for products, they go seeking expert knowledge because… well… who better to ask than those who work in that given field?

THE KEYBOARD IS MIGHTIER Since we’re on the topic of traffic growth, another way to increase visibility is to include a blog attached somewhere on your site. No, this isn’t meant to be a personal journal of what you had for breakfast or how adorable your cat is -- unless, of course, your line of business is in breakfast foods or pet supplies. With search engine optimization (or SEO) a main driving factor on how your site ranks in search results, having relevant content with search terms your customers are likely to look for is another way to capture their attention.

Running store metrics and demographic data, integrating with mobile users and social media, and producing original, yet relevant content are all great starts to building your digital dynasty. Even if you find a formula that works for you, it’s even more important to make sure it’s both scalable for growth and flexible to change with the market trends. Combining all of these aspects and mastering them will do wonders for your visibility and interaction with your customers, both building their trust while they support you financially with their own wallets as well as those of their friends. PAK'R MAGAZINE | 08





When it comes to things like climate change and protecting the environment, plastic -- especially single-use food packaging -- is seen as one of the main antagonists. Here we discuss how, while wasteful uses of any resource is bad for the environment, food packaging in and of itself might not be the devil it’s made out to be.

IN THE BATTLE FOR A GREENER FUTURE, THERE ARE TWO MAIN CULPRITS WE KEEP HEARING ABOUT OVER AND OVER AGAIN... CARBON DIOXIDE AND WASTE, NAMELY PLASTICS. Certainly, an overabundance of trash isn’t a good thing, but what makes plastics especially antagonistic is their longevity. In fact, all plastic that’s ever been made still exists in some form or another. Even now as you’re reading this, there’s an island comprised of mostly wasted plastic floating in the North Pacific Ocean with size estimates between 270,000 square miles (roughly the size of Texas) and 6 million square miles (twice the size of the continental United States). Regardless of its true size, an artificial island made up of garbage is still pretty concerning, not to mention the toxins it leaches into the water and air as the waste tries to break down. But before it seems like we’re eager to throw plastic under the pro-sustainability bus, we stumbled upon an interesting piece by The Economist last December arguing that plastics -- specifically food packaging -- are more a symptom of a greater plague of wastefulness. After all, plastic is an awesome material with great barrier properties and flexibility for a wide variety of applications: from housing electronics to sealing food, even using it in construction and vehicle manufacture. The problem, as we’ve alluded to, is the waste of this resource, along with all the other resources we’re blessed with on this beautiful Earth.


After all, plastic is an awesome material with great barrier properties and flexibility for a wide variety of applications: from housing electronics to sealing food, even using it in construction and vehicle manufacture. The problem, as we’ve alluded to, is the waste of this resource, along with all the other resources we’re blessed with on this beautiful Earth.

THE SEMANTICS OF SUSTAINABILITY Whether you believe in climate change or not, assuming you’re a person of business, you’d want to run your company to the most efficient standards, correct? After all, the wondrous economic model of capitalism thrives on efficiency and rewards those who seek to innovate and cut away the fat from their operations. If you choose not to look at the term sustainability in light of conserving our environment, let us first look at it from its base definition. Merriam-Webster defines sustainability thusly: “[something that is] capable of being sustained; of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged; of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods.” Naturally, you want your business and livelihood to be sustainable so that it can very well exist tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that. To use your resources inefficiently is considered unsustainable, and inefficient use often equates to waste. For example, let’s say your company printed standard 3.5” x 2” business cards from 8.5” x 14” card stock. Both equate to areas of 7 and 119 square inches respectively. Now let’s say your company produces only five business cards from one sheet of card stock. You charge about the average $25 for 250 cards (or, a dime a card), though the card stock costs about $1.05 a sheet. At this rate, you’d need 50 sheets of card stock (a cost of $52.50) for 250 cards (a revenue of $25.00). If you continued, your printing company wouldn’t last long as you’re already operating at a loss, not even considering labor, ink, energy, and logistics. One would say that model is unsustainable.

However, let’s say instead of only used 35 square inches of a 119 square-inch sheet and maximized it to 17 cards per sheet. Heck, we can even round down to 15 to account for a bleed between cards which is a bit more realistic anyway. Instead of 50 sheets, you now are using about 17 (technically 16 and two-thirds, but no one buys fractional paper anyway). You’d bring your cost from $52.50 in card stock for a print job to $17.85, meaning you now have a profit of $7.15 instead of a loss of $27.50. Compared to the above model, your business has become a lot more sustainable because you managed your resources better. You wasted less and so production cost less. It was probably also faster to print on 17 sheets than 50, even if there was more per sheet in the second example. Now in case you’re wondering what this has to do with food packaging and environmental protection, fret not. This example is important to illustrate the value of the word sustainable from a purely business standpoint. Ecological value notwithstanding, a good business owner does what they can to keep costs down and productivity up. Given technological innovation and savvier business procedures that take advantage of automation and digitalization of various industries and marketplaces, protecting the environment as well as your company’s coffers increasingly go hand-in-hand. So now how do we apply this argument to food packaging and sustainability?


TREATING THE DISEASE INSTEAD OF THE SYMPTOM According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s research last year, 1.3 billion tons of food were wasted last year, not even managing to get to end customer. This accounts for about a third of total food production. The original Economist article does a good job outlining some of the major culprits: “In the poor world, much of this waste occurs before consumers even set eyes on the items. Pests feast on badly stored produce; potholed roads mean victuals rot on slow journeys to market. In the rich world, waste takes different forms: items that never get picked off supermarket shelves [and] food that is bought but then goes out of date.” As no one likes to say they are wasteful, this same attitude pervades in the food industry, with producers and retailers keeping their own numbers -- if any -- close to their chests. Though some estimates do exist, such as 2-4 percent of meat is wasted in retail, equaling potentially tens of millions of dollars that’s simply lost, whether by overbuying to stock the shelves or overproducing and overestimating shelf space itself. Money isn’t the only cost, however, when it comes to food waste. Despite the billion and some change tons of food that spoils before someone can even buy it, the UN’s World Food Programme estimates about 795 million people are starving -- that’s one in every nine people on the planet. And the cost of food production itself? Think of all the tons of water, fertilizer, and fuel that goes to the production of food that isn’t even consumed. The emissions themselves from wasted food production, according to The Economist, equals the total emissions of the country of Brazil (or 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide by a 2015 estimate). As the world’s population grows and wealth spreads to developing countries whose diners seek more expensive foods such as red meat, so too does the burden on the world’s agricultural infrastructure. To have as much waste as we do is not only detrimental to the environment, but also the people who populate it. That isn’t to say that measures aren’t been taken to rein these problems in. The UN seeks to halve food waste per person by 2030 according to its Sustainable Development Goals mandate. While leveraging governmental regulations and moving around taxpayer money to better maintain roads making travel faster (and to allow for less food spoilage in transit), experts who are combating this crisis look to technology and innovation for salvation. And what better savior to seek out than… you guessed it: plastic.



That holds especially true with plastic. While there is a lot to be done with how we use this material, one way that isn’t as harsh on the environment is the use of plastic vacuum films. From The Economist: “Far from the blight that green critics claim it is, food wrappings can in fact be an environmental boon. By more than doubling the time that some meat items can stay on shelves, for example, better packaging ensures that precious resources are used more efficiently. Planet and profits both benefit.


Vacuum packaging helps enormously here. The plastic packs, which prevent oxidation, mean meat can stay on shelves for between five and eight days, rather than two to four. It also makes [the meat] more tender.” The argument here is that plastic is environmentally beneficial for its uses. In other words, it’s good because it negates food waste and prevents spoilage. This doesn’t, however, refute that wasting plastic is bad for the environment.

NOTICING A THEME HERE? As for preventing food spoilage, vacuum packaging only helps in initial transit. Once air and moisture get into foodstuffs and left at a certain temperature, the quality of the food starts to degrade as bacteria begin to colonize.

STAVING OFF WASTE Longer lasting food has a number of other benefits outside of costeffectiveness for their retailers. If food lasts longer, less trips to the supermarket are needed which, in turn, cut down on emissions to get there and back. And while some foods might go past their prime (but are still as edible), this opens up to a greater supply for charitable donations to food shelves. Tesco, a British supermarket chain, is using this method to reach its goal of zero edible food waste, partnering with local charities and helping those in need. While plastics are definitely helping obtain these goals, what is the impact of plastics waste in comparison to food waste? Tesco’s Mark Little told The Economist that for every ton of food waste, there's an equivalent of

3.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions “released without purpose.” Comparatively, a ton of packaging only causes 1-2 tons of emissions. Though that’s still quite a bit, the difference is that the food waste’s emissions are, indeed, without a purpose at all. At least the packaging would still be put to use. Despite this, most retailers focus on minimizing their packaging waste instead of directing their attention to food spoilage. While cutting down any waste at all is a step in the right direction, not all waste was created equal. When it comes to packaging, recycling and material reuse will take the center stage in the fight for sustainable industry. There’s not much reuse to be had, however, in moldy bread and rotten produce.

THE ROAD AHEAD To say that there is a lot of work to be done would be an understatement when it comes to tackling our waste problem. Regardless if you share in our beliefs that we ought to take more responsibility in protecting our planet, that goal follows naturally when looking to your business’ own procedures and inventory, cutting down waste in order to mitigate unnecessary costs. Though plastic might seem like an easy scapegoat for all the world’s waste problems, it is waste itself that needs to be addressed in order for us to truly prosper. By making sure everything has its use -- from farmland, raw materials, machinery, and even people to operate and manage them -- and is used wisely, we will see a greener future, not only for the planet, but your bank accounts too. And if saving money doesn’t encourage you, why not make money by participating in the wave of green innovation? Why not help find solutions to these problems that plague modern industry and become a leader in your field that other companies and experts turn to and rely upon? If the point of sustainability is to keep yourself and your business moving, what better way to assert existence than becoming a much-needed example for others to follow suit? At the end of the day (and of every fiscal quarter), the choice is yours.








Oh, what a wonderful tool the Internet is. Aside from browsing memes and pictures of cats, and checking up on old classmates, it is by far one of the most (if not, *the* most) innovative and useful economic tools in the history of the human race. With ecommerce’s estimated sales value of $294 billion in 2015 (at this time, 2016’s sales are still being calculated and analyzed), it’s been estimated by eMarketer to swell up to $4 trillion by 2020. If the speed of that growth isn’t mind-boggling, go look up comparisons between a billion and a trillion to help imagine the sheer size of that number. While that sort of growth is certainly impressive, it still pales in comparison to total global retail sales which the 2015 number clocks in around $20.8 trillion. Sure, digital retailing is eating away at the market share of brick-and-mortar retails, but the latter still commands a respectable 94% of the market. Now before you decide to cancel your domain subscription and close your online shop, it’s important to note that this war between digital and physical retailing isn’t really much of a war at all, especially when tons of companies take advantage of both fronts. Sure, there are plenty of stores that have done well cornering their niches online and in the real world, but -- like any investment -- sticking all of your eggs in one basket might highlight certain strengths, but that still leaves some companies vulnerable to the inherent weaknesses of either model. When it comes to the retail war, every company has to cope with both fronts. It’s how they capitalize on them, however, that determines the real winners in this conflict: the savvy companies that know how to work both angles and integrate them into one theater of war.



THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND THE REAL FOES ARE TWOFOLD : COMPETING COMPANIES AND THE ATTENTION SPAN OF YOUR TARGETED MARKET . Your competitors, obviously, are trying to outsell and outshine you whereas your customers are trying to focus on buying something for more than ten seconds before they get distracted with something else. That isn’t to say either foe is truly bad; competition and attention (whether seeking it or finding something to captivate or own) are facets of human nature. Where sticking with just physical or digital retail opens you up to vulnerability, using both allows companies to be flexible and responsive in this market climate that favors speed, efficiency, and marketing finesse. Unfortunately, this phony war on which method is truly better leaves some companies divided, having two or more teams arguing as to how resources should be dedicated. Meanwhile, the companies who promote synergy between their online and in-person sales presences are leaps and bounds ahead of the pack.

A TALE OF TWO RETAILERS Though the tech gurus of the 21st Century would argue in favor of focusing on digital retailing (it’s hard not too with its rapid projected growth and still-comparatively-new market environment compared to physical retailing that’s existed ever since the first human had two nickels to rub together), WWD’s Loni Stark tells the story of Target and Amazon and how the Internet helped one, though temporarily crippled the other. In 2013, Target took a massive hit after a widespread credit- and debit-card hack exposed their customers to fraud and identity theft. “Target’s annual profit fell 34 percent to

$1.97 billion and revenue slipped 1 percent that year,” Stark explained in an article she compiled last month. “However, thanks in part to its proactive marketing efforts combining digital and physical retail, [Target] has seen an incredible upswing of late.” In addition to securing their electronic transactions both online and with in-store card readers, the estimated $1 billion they poured into their ecommerce program saw more than 50 percent of their total visitors shopping exclusively through mobile devices. “By creating an app that worked not just with online shopping, but allowed interaction in the physical world, Target expanded its digital reach along with its physical.” Target’s digital storefront took cues from social media giants, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. As a result, the “Target Awesome Shop” could curate and tailor product recommendations to each of its users, playing a role in its 30 percent digital sales increase in Q2 2015 alone. This isn’t the first and or only time social media has played a role in the success (or failure) of companies trying to carve their own share of the online marketplace. As the quintessential example of digital retailing success, it’s hard to imagine Amazon being bad at what it does. After all, they claimed a net of $107 billion in sales for online retailing in the United States in 2015. With thousands of options and free shipping for their Prime subscribers, along with their expansions into media streaming and sameday and drone delivery, Amazon seems like an unstoppable juggernaut -- at least, unless, it trips on its own momentum.


Rewind the clocks back to July 15, 2015: Prime Day. What started as a massive sale to celebrate Amazon’s 20th birthday, complete with “lightning deals” that refreshed every ten minutes, ended in waves of customer complaints and dwindling social media status. “Amazon made record sales for tons of big-ticket products like televisions and other high-demand electronics,” Stark explains. “The problem was, they underestimated demand. So when the big-ticket items sold out, the company’s extremely large algorithm started offering anything. People began getting urgent notices about discount shoehorns and dish detergent. As a result, people started treating the day as a joke and soon Amazon lost complete control of their message [and] the situation on social media.” While they managed to encourage some people to sign up for their Prime service, because of poor scaling of their algorithm and underestimating demand, as well as poor management of social media commentary and response, Amazon upset more people than it satisfied, damaging their standing with their customers which - - when all you have is your brand to tie to your web-based store -- is an injury no one wants to be inflicted with. Comparatively, Target managed to scale its digital presence alongside its physical one, keeping its own retailing stable rather than entrusting it with run-away algorithms that might work for regular traffic, but quickly break down when dealing with customers en masse. “It’s not about competing on just one level,” Stark concludes. “Successful companies are able to meld the digital with the physical in order to drive sales and create brand advocate relationships.”


STEEL SHARPENS STEEL Amazon has since learned of the important role physical retailing has in stabilizing its sales model. For the past year or so, the company has been unveiling more physical services entering the grocery and quick-service food realms. AmazonFresh, for instance, is a subsidiary company that wants to set up local food warehouses to then ship fresh meats, produce, and other groceries to nearby customers within the same day or on a schedule on a weekly basis. For customers who prefer the feel and experience of a brick-and-mortar store, Amazon Go is a convenience store setup that lets customers literally grab their items and go without needing to deal with a cashier. Instead, sensors in the store, at the doors, and on the shelves all communicate with customer smartphones to determine

who picked up what products and then charging the cost electronically. Right now, Amazon Go is only available for employee Beta participants in Seattle, Washington, but once the company has the kinks worked out, they intend on opening up shop across the country -and potentially revolutionizing the way we physically shop across the board through automation and smart technology. So when it comes to your own retailing endeavors, do well to incorporate both digital and physical fronts into your model. Relying on one or the other too heavily is bound to cause trouble, though diversifying your stances will give a solid foundation for your business to operate in the 21st century. And if you become exceptionally good at it, you, too can pave the way like Amazon and Target.

Analyze what works well both within and without your given niche and try to recombine those features in new and interesting ways to better serve you and your customers. At the end of the day, it’s that recombination that provides the bedrock for sound innovation. Perhaps even one day you can get your competitors to compete on your terms, just as Amazon Go and Target’s Pinterest-like digital storefront are doing with theirs.





Where 2016 was defined by trends like personalized packaging, digitalization, and sense appeal, 2017 follows suit, honing new processes and technology and ironing out any kinks from yesteryear. As the Internet and mobile connectivity provide new avenues for customers to interact with goods both in- and out-of-store, design and marketing teams are figuring out ways to reach out more effectively to potential buyers While we can go on and on about some of the cool things coming out this year, we'd like to focus mostly

on four major areas: general industry trends, food packaging, sustainability, and marketing and design. Regardless of your own product niche, we feel that an overview like this will give you some much needed brainstorming fodder to come up with your own packaging and omnichannel ideas. Whether it's capitalizing on the demand for greener production or coming up with new branding ideas, we've got you covered for this year's trends on the horizon. www.minipakr.com


A lot of the projected trends for 2017 stem from the previous year. The main difference is, however, is that now some of these trends have another 365 days of familiarity, meaning the innovative companies and designers have spent the year trying out what works and doesn’t, honing their delivery, and moving onto the next big thing. First, let’s go over what’s stuck around in the general packaging arena. Digitization, as one can imagine, is still becoming even more important, and not just the printing process. Companies are also focusing on how their products are packaged online, both in how they appear to an Internet shopper, as well as the the packaging materials for delivery (that is, the box and even supporting materials inside like foam, air cushion, and other void fill packaging). Whereas physical retailing relies heavily on the packaging their product comes in, digital retailing has an additional layer (the shipping container) that must be taken into account. If the package on a customer’s doorstep looks shoddy or, heaven forbid, damaged because the materials couldn’t handle transit, they’re a lot less likely to buy from that website again. Packaging design is now interested in the experience of packaging. Where looks play a heavy role in customer brand interest, interactability such as QR codes and electronic communication between package

and smartphone are still hot topics. Moreover, speed, efficiency, and access to both products and information about them without being overloaded with too many details all play into the experience of packaging as well. What’s interesting is that as online retail grows, the need to handle individual packages as opposed to bulk wholesale shipping is beginning to affect logistics processes such as SKU codes. One newer trend, however, is that of brand extension. Why just compete within your traditional industry when you can use the same base components to colonize other ones? Carlsberg Beer has done just this with their Beer’d Beauty program. Side-stepping their product line of alcoholic beverages, Carlsberg sought to target their customers from a new angle: men’s grooming products. Using some of their beer’s main ingredients as a base for these products while striking design inspiration from the beer itself, the once-limited-edition sets became a fixture for Carlsberg, even going into hair care products too.

THE POWER OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY Aside from products sending signals to entice you to pick them up and buy them, many companies are distinguishing themselves through corporate social responsibility -- that is, the practice of engaging their consumers by showing how they care about them, their community, and the Earth itself. Regardless of a business owner’s belief in climate change, protecting the environment and using less resources is becoming an important factor for consumers to consider, forcing industries to follow suit if they want to capture their customers’ dollars. One way companies have been doing this is by shrinking their carbon footprints. This comes from finding more efficient production processes that use less resources and energy while still producing the same or larger amounts of products, wasting less, and lowering their overall emissions. Of course, the main economical and environmental component to sustainability remains in waste management. Where waste of all kinds is found to be a huge antagonist to a healthy environment, including consumers in this battle will go much further than just companies being environmentally conscious. For instance, pre-portioned foods may use up more materials (such as a bulk package of chicken breasts, each contained in their own vacuum-sealed pouches), but the individualized portions encourage single consumers without families to store leftovers much more efficiently instead of letting the leftovers go to waste. Again, a mix of both preportioned and bulk options will strike the right balance while also personalizing to a consumer’s needs; a college student might prefer the pre-portioned chicken breasts whereas a mother of four kids might forego the extra plastic in favor of a bulk package used all at once. PAK'R MAGAZINE | 22


WHILE CARLSBERG HAS A SAVVY WAY OF REINVIGORATING THEIR BRAND , YOU DON ’ T HAVE TO MOVE YOUR ATTENTION FROM EDIBLES TO NON - EDIBLES IN ORDER TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE IN 2017 . Certainly, capitalizing on continuing trends like clearer labeling, simplicity, and waste reduction will go a long way for both your company’s efficiency and how wellreceived your brand is by current and potential customers. Customers no longer just focus on whether or not the food you’re giving them is safe to eat, but is the way it’s produced and packaged also sanitary, sustainable, and easily stored for future use? Customers want to know how to store their food correctly and for how long it can be kept. Guessing and uncertainty only wastes food and money for everyone -- for the customers buying food that’s just left to spoil and for the companies that produce it, only to end up in the trash. Moreover, they expect the companies they buy products from to be honest with them, especially when it comes to food and pharmaceuticals. Companies that claim their products are fresh when it’s obvious they’re not suffer worse sales declines than companies that never made that claim at all. Why? Because brand loyalty isn’t just about getting a customer to keep buying the same things, but to trust the product and company they’re buying into. Where clear, concise communication and labeling, as well as innovative integrated technologies such as Pakastaite’s “Bump Mark” all help ease the consumer on whether they should buy or keep certain foods or just toss them, the packaging itself might get a radical makeover, even becoming a food product itself. While companies have been focused on bioplastics and greener types of packaging, others have been experimenting with the idea of edible packaging; where gelatin can be used as a spoilage indicator, it can also be applied to containing the entire product and simply eaten.


Though the idea is novel, it’s not necessarily as simple in practice. There have been attempts before using gelatin and agar -- a form of gel derived from algae -- and, indeed, they accomplish their task in being both safe to eat and containing food and beverage for an extended period as opposed to being exposed to open air. However, a lot of concerns step from the cleanliness of such products, as well as making sure the edible packaging doesn’t spoil faster than the food it contains. After all, would you trust an edible package that’s been left to sit on a dusty store shelf? While there are techniques to make these products sanitary, the customer perspective leaning towards unhygienic remains. That isn’t to say that edible packaging is a silly idea altogether. It might be more realistic that instead of replacing all current packaging materials such as plastics, paper, or metals that might go to waste and threaten the environment, finding a balance that uses minimal inedible materials while encasing or insulating products with an edible material could still go a long way in keeping our planet green and minimizing waste. But that’s not the only way to have green packaging in 2017.


Sustainability Aside from the obvious and tried techniques of reining in carbon emissions and keeping waste down, companies have been focusing on other ways to use less and do more. Right now, a lot of that revolves around lightweight packaging. According to Beverage Daily, lightweight packaging comes with a variety of benefits: “you need less material to produce packages, the manufacturing costs are low, the environmental impact from transport is minimized, and the waste sent to landfills is reduced. The only negative of lightweight packaging is that when the recovery rates increase, it will remove the value from the recycling stream and undermine the economic incentive to recycle.” That isn’t to say that recycling will become obsolete with the use of lightweight packaging. Instead, it might be worthwhile looking into ways the packaging can be reused multiple times before being retired from the consumer cycle. Just as milk was once delivered in glass jars that were swapped back and forth between deliveryman and customer, filled and emptied rhythmically, the best way to combat waste is to keep these materials from ever getting to the landfill -- or at least delaying it as much as possible. Additionally, packaging itself is slated to slim down. Where lightweight packaging uses less overall materials, slimmed down packaging hugs a product closer rather than leaving extra room for air that doesn’t do much to pad the product anyway. Instead of leaving open spaces on the inside of packaging that aren’t even utilized for bracing, companies will save money on both packaging materials and shipping costs (since you can stack more on a pallet or in a truck with smaller packages that don’t compromise the product or its size), an economic and sustainable double-whammy, not to mention slimmer packages are more aesthetically pleasing to modern customers than bulky boxes they struggle figuring out how to break down and dispose of properly.


Marketing and Design The trends of a century-old throwback alongside geometric simplicity, clear designs and labels, and encouraging customers to display the products at home are still alive and well in 2017. It’s important to note, however, not all techniques that do this are made equal. Aspects such as custom lettering (skip regurgitated and common fonts for hand-drawn typography), bright colors and accents, and repetitive shapes and patterns all seem to especially eyecatching to the consumer. Gran Luchito (as seen below) is a great example of combining these concepts. The bold colors highlight both the product’s ingredient and taste properties and, with the typeface, luchador mask, and straight-forward


labeling both grab the customer’s attention on the shelf as well as feel hot when looking at them. Illustration as narrative is also an up-and-coming packaging design trend of 2017. As 99 Designs puts it, “behind every design there is a story. We week out and cherish the stories that feel closest to our hearts [and] packaging design has begun to incorporate narrative illustrations. [...] Illustration is reclaiming its rightful place in the arsenal of package designers, and the new year will bring carefully crafted, content-rich illustrations that will remind us of stories long forgotten or give us a taste of the stories to be discovered.”



One such example is SmashMallow’s snackable marshmallow design. Including both a picture of the actual product as well as an enlarged artistic rendering, the latter serves as the focal point of the illustrative story the rest of the package tells. For instance, the lemon and chia seed marshmallows use vibrant greens and yellows with a lemonade stand perched atop one of them; the mint chocolate chip marshmallows are likened to a snow-covered mountain, complete with skylift, cabin, and pine trees. The flavors themselves play off the seasons and scenery well: the coolness of the mint is reminiscent of a crisp mountain breeze, the lemons’ color and tartness, of a warm summer day.

Keeping in-line with the growth of online retail and its supporting delivery services, package design is also taking advantage of vintage postal wraps and containers. Taiwan Good Fruit, for example, looks like it’s been pulled straight from the mid-1800s with its ornate, yet rustic boxes:

Using colors, printing, and simplistic geometric design, this style of packaging is a wonderfully balanced merger between old and new, bringing parcels to life that we’ve only known through looking in historic photos in textbooks or vintage ads. The Beerophilia Club takes similar steps with its minimalist delivery packaging, its brand logo becoming its own packaging seal, as you can see on the next page...


Wrapping Up

(Images of packaging sourced from 99 Designs)

Packaging puns aside, no matter the trends of last year or this one, innovative packaging must always be a step or two ahead and above the prior years. Where new technologies, processes, and consumer concerns help shape the market, it’s how effectively and efficiently we apply them that’ll make the most difference for both company and customer. Some trends are hard to ignore and those who are smart enough to ride the wave will reap the benefits. By keeping labeling concise and informative without overloading customers, giving them more ways to interact (whether it’s electronic codes or enticing them to display your product openly in their homes), as well as capitalizing on the feelings of nostalgia for the old world that seemed such more simpler, you’re poised to create a new image that your customers will love. And with that comes their recognition, trust, and, most importantly, continued patronage and support for you to continue to do what you love, as your products enable them to do what they love and enjoy. PAK'R MAGAZINE | 27





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