It’s rough out there. No matter your business, you’ve felt the squeeze of dollars not going as far as they used to. The market is bearish, and that will last for a while. Because of this, companies of every shape and size ask big questions like, “how can I lower my food packaging costs” and even more so, “how to reduce packaging costs.”
Packaging must look good. We know this is essential; it’s our whole business model. But we’re well aware of the demands of the market right now. Everything is expensive, and prices are up on everything (we just saw a graph citing that chicken wings and beer were up astronomically, and frankly, we’re not impressed.) Because costs are up, there are things people in charge will be looking into, and packaging is one of those areas.
Instead of thinking that reducing packaging costs is trimming the fat, it might be more prudent to consider “how can we make smarter packaging choices.” Sometimes, how we package materials matters as much as what’s inside; Apple created a culture. Their consumers get excited to unbox one of their products; even though the packaging wasn’t over the top, it was clean and unique when many tech companies weren’t thinking about packaging design to the level that Steve Jobs was.
An excellent unboxing video on social media can do wonders for your brand. The extra steps might make a difference if you’re selling high-end sneakers or a watch. But if you’re selling bathroom fixtures, does that target market likely care about the boxing? Probably not. This is one instance where packaging may not be as impactful to the consumer. A Fast Company article cited that 165 million packages are shipped annually – that’s a lot of waste. And by thinking more innovatively, your company could save a few dollars by not being another box in a pile headed to the dump.
What factors into higher packaging costs?
Material cost isn’t the only significant factor in packaging expenses. There are a few things to consider since it’s a 360-degree process that needs to be observed from all angles:
- Are your processes ineffective?
- Do you have long packing process times?
- Is your packaging optimized?
- Are you paying for box dimensions rather than the products?
- What about inefficient manufacturing models?
Packaging is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Instead, variables exist everywhere. Plenty of little things add up to big things: warehouse layout, are your products organized for when it’s time to pack? There’s also streamlining existing processes. It’s also a significant move to think about who your partner vendors are.
As a first step, consider these moves:
- Group together similar items
- Analyze your inventory of product packing
- Identify any infrequently used packing materials and see if you can make a cut
- Can you reduce several packing lines down to a few optimized ones instead?
- Can you slash long processes by streamlining labor initiatives and speed up processes throughout? Plus, by doing this, you’ll likely reduce warehouse space, which maximizes processes and cuts heating and lighting costs.
Can you streamline processes? Is that the answer if you spend time taping or constructing cardboard boxes on-site? It might be more cost-prohibitive to work with a company that can do everything on-site, and then all you must do is ship it off to your customers. Processes that aren’t designed for maximum usage can cost teams time, especially if you’re using old machines that break down. Striving for increased output speeds up the picking and packaging process, making the business profitable.
You’ll see a lesser carbon footprint if you work with an outside company (like ePac). Automated machines meant for packaging, like using roll stock, etc., use the exact amount of material needed. And the right machines are precise, maintaining perfectly packaged and sealed products that look and feel good.
Use the correct sized boxes
Think about shipping costs. Before 2015, UPS and FedEx shipped by weight. Now, boxes are shipped by size, called “dimensional pricing.” They weigh the product to get the “normal weighted rate” and calculate the volume to find the “dimensional weight.” And if you’re using the wrong box, guess who’s on the hook for that shipping cost.
Some pro-tips when it comes to shipping:
- Ship as many products as possible in one box
- Use padded envelopes if you can
- Negotiate shipping rates. If you’re moving many boxes, you’ll have an account manager, and chances are you can get better prices thanks to volume.
Have you given your packaging an audit? Did you know that little things like stickers add up when you could print directly on the package? At ePac, because we’re digital, companies can make last-minute changes to logos or packaging; there are no plate fees, we just need a file, and that’s it. All brands can benefit from avoiding unnecessary set up fees.
Try stuff out
Start small if you’re thinking about moving from one packaging type to another. See if a new packaging style works. See how it holds up. The custom packaging cost can be worth it. The right kind of packaging might withstand shipping better than another, or be biodegradable, which could be what you’re going for. This is, again, something we can help with. ePac doesn’t have a mandatory order size. If you need to try something out, we can help you experiment. Because if something doesn’t work, the last thing you need is a surplus of packaging you can’t use. If you want to cut food product costs, this is one of the more innovative routes.
There’s a lot that goes into the cost of packaging materials. Making smart choices can help save money, but there are always things to consider regarding what makes sense against what’s a reactionary move. Being a company staying afloat in this market can be tricky, but if there’s anything we can do to help, we’re here to figure out whatever logistical hurdles that may stand between you and your packaging goals. Trust us. We’ve seen it all.