Consumer Goods Packaging … in an Omni World
Packaging has been around since the early days of humanity, and in some form or another has always been around to assist people in transporting, storing, and protecting a variety of items. Early people would use crude packaging materials and designs to meet the needs of hunting and gathering to survive. From woven sacks to amphora, ther has been a need to use additional mechanisms to protect, preserve and transport goods around the World, particularly for food. As time went on packaging evolved into a means for communicating and marketing to customers and this is now a huge part of the development of the pack. Contents, brand, graphics and other information all vie for space on a piece of packaging and all need to work together to encourage the customer to purchase that product in a store.
So what are the opportunities for the evolution of packaging?
Opportunity 1: Digital Stand Out
The constraint of a store environment means that all packaging has to protect, preserve transport and market the product, particularly in the grocery sector. Designers across the globe are adept at developing packaging designs that deliver against these needs and use complex psychological techniques, developed over many years to stand out on shelf and encourage purchase in store.However the rules for online selection and purchase are different, the psychological techniques do not apply anymore. What does “digital stand out” mean and what does it look like for digital designers?
It is clear that the Omni World offers a freedom to decouple the functions of packaging. The preserve, protect and transport requirements can be delivered by the physical pack. The market function does now not have to be constrained by the space on a pack; additional digital content can be provided to encourage purchase in many ways.
This is the situation today. A designer spends a great deal of time developing a pack for a “ready meal” and in most cases a tasty looking photograph is placed on the sleeve. To include the product on a supermarket website, yet another photograph is taken of the picture on the sleeve and posted on line. One could speculate on the how successful this process is for attracting customers!
Opportunity 2: Supply Chain Requirements
Most primary packaging is designed to be transported around the world to stores in transit boxes and then piled high on pallets and usually shrink-wrapped. This fulfils the requirements of protection usually very well and when the responsibility for the product ends in store the customer receives an intact product. It is then the customer who must ensure the product reaches their home without mishap.
In an Omni world this is very different. Clearly through the bricks and mortar channels the pack requirements do not change. However there is an additional need to transport the product from a store or a distribution warehouse to the customer’s home. This is usually in very small quantities and not in any transit packaging. Companies must ensure that their packs are suitable for this final step in the supply chain and allow the product to reach the customer intact. This is a critical step in the customer journey and essential for a great Omni channel experience.
Opportunity 3: Channel Integration
One of the key attributes of an Omni world is that all retail channels are integrated and deliver a seamless experience to the customer. However it is less clear how this can be achieved. One of the common factors to all the channels is the packaging and perhaps this could be used as the channel integrator. For example, in the store or in the home digital markers on a pack using QR code, NFC or augmented reality technology could create a portal to digital content, using smart phone or tablets. This would allow the customer easy access to the world of Omni Channel wherever they are.
Perhaps acting as the main channel integrator will become a future necessary requirement for packaging and complete the evolutionary process…