Today packaging is the combination of science, art and technology of protection, storage and distribution. It’s a multi-million pound industry which involves marketing, design, material testing, user experience, market research, packaging engineering, compliance and shipping. Packaging’s function to protect contents is also leveraged to sell product. It’s been quite a journey from the earliest known form of packaging which were made from natural materials such as leaves and weaved grasses. It’s interesting to see that we have today come full circle, given all the different materials available on the market today, as consumers have become increasingly discerning with a desire for packaging materials from natural and sustainable sources.
Packaging – the early years!
Paper is the oldest re-shapeable packaging material. Mulberry tree barks were used in China in the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C to wrap food with paper making techniques improving during the following 1500 years and transported to the Middle East. It is thought that glass and wood packaging have been used for over 5000 years with the emergence of glass storage “pots” being used in Ancient Egypt. In 1823 a patent was awarded for the first example of metal packaging and as we moved into the 1900’s – paper and cardboard began to increase in popularity until plastic appeared on the scene.
Modern Day Materials
General use of plastics in packaging really came into it’s own after World War 2 (even though it was first conceived in 1838). Polythene was used in abundance during the war and quickly established a market for numerous applications. Consumers would have seen their wax paper used in bread packaging replaced by plastic. The growth in plastic packaging increased dramatically from the 1970’s.
With today’s technology and conditions, we have materials have been replaced by more suitable and economic materials such as glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard. During those years packaging was used only for transport and storage, but with these new materials it also became an opportunity for advertising and promotion, and suddenly found itself part of marketing policy. Packaging and design creates the distinction between the same type of products sitting side by side on shelves.
So fast forward to today and our on demand world of ecommerce – with the new focus on packaging with process optimisation alongside brand development. Bespoke branding on packaging becomes of increasing importance for online retailers with the absence of ‘customer contact’. Customer experience has become the new buzz word with brands leveraging every opportunity to stand out in the crowd -packaging has taken centre stage with product promotion in today’s visual world.
If you would like to talk through your ideas about taking your packaging and branding to the next level, we would love to hear from you. We have over 40 years of experience – so why not get in touch with our friendly team who would be delighted to hear all about your project! We offer a free non-obligation packaging and process review to help your business to successfully navigate through the maze of choice and options available on the market today – and what’s right for your brand.
With single use plastics and recycling very much in the spotlight, consumers are focused on making better buying decisions based on environmental factors. Consumers are expecting more from the brands they buy from. Brands that are slow to look at being environmentally responsible will soon be the exception rather than the norm. Buying responsibly sometimes isn’t so clear or easy so we have made it easy to spot your opportunity to ‘shop for good’ on our website with our eco mark. This is your reassurance that products have been made from a truly sustainable source or have environmental benefits.
Our Eco symbol – what it means for your business
Sustainable packaging goes beyond purely reducing the environmental impact, brands want to be seen embracing this important component of their product supply. With the digital arena becoming the modern day word of mouth, end user approval and recommendations of your greener packaging solutions will help to lock-in an ethical customer base who will happily talk positively about your brand. It’s your opportunity to set the standard.
Making even small changes to your packaging can make all the difference and will allow you to promote your greener choices and show your customers you care. From simply choosing brown paper self adhesive tape (an ecological alternative to vinyl and polypropylene) to creating your own protective packaging by recycling your cardboard waste with a shredder (where considerable cost savings are to be made too) – there are lots of opportunities to make a difference.
Our green solutions won’t cost the earth
We carry a range of greener options that have been hand picked on merit. These come from sustainable sources or have been made using a significant proportion of recycled materials. Their impact on the wider environment is also of concern of us and we want to ensure that these products have the fewest ecological implications as possible.
So take a look at our website and search for greener options on your favourite products and we are also happy to help you if you need further help and advice for going green!
There is no escaping product packaging. Whether it’s at the visit to the supermarket or when receiving goods ordered online – consumers are bombarded with visual ‘messages’ or clues that subtlety tells the shopper all about the quality of the product. Packaging complexity and design continues to evolve to meet changing needs and requirements – and the greatest changes are to be seen in the world of e-commerce and the growing consumer reliance on this.
Bang On Trend?
Recreating that in-store visual experience in the consumer’s home can be a challenge, but with great design and packaging that reflects the product and supports the brand – the packaging can become so much more of the whole experience. So what’s hot for 2018? We take a look at 3 key trends
Eco Friendly Packagings
With the focus on the environment never more important, brands are keen to align themselves eco-friendly alternatives for packaging that not only save the world but look beautiful too. So using less plastic and re-usable packaging will resonate with consumers.
Finding green solutions for protective packaging couldn’t be easier. At Acopia we have a complete range of packaging products from truly sustainable sources, selected on merit and significantly reduce their impact on the environment.
A recent survey confirmed that consumers are very much eco-aware and 57% stated that eco-friendly packaging was important to them with 61% claiming that they think about whether products they are potentially purchasing are using eco-friendly packaging.
The fabric of today’s society is based on fast access, disposabilty and immediate response – Vintage is the antidote to this. People are looking for nostalgia and permanence. The vintage or retro look has never been so popular and it’s an opportunity to reach out to a new demographic and revitalise a brand.
It has never been so important today for brands to ‘speak’ to their customers. This was a huge trend in 2017 and will continue to be strong in 2018. Personalised packaging gives the customer the opportunity to become part of the experience, or even the chance to personalise the product itself with brands such as Nike offering custom colour options on their trainers for example.
At Acopia, we specialise in creating extraordinary packaging solutions for the brands we look after. Speak to our friendly team about harnessing the latest trends and revitalising your packaging!
£133 billion was spent on online shopping last year and as consumers continue to embrace this change in their purchasing habits, seeking out convenience and the ‘next-day’ delivery promise, many online retailers are playing catch up optimising their protective packaging strategies.
Online retailers are often criticised for excessive packaging in the pursuit to getting their products to their customers in pristine condition. Research shows that consumers can be brutal in their decision making after receiving damaged goods. Research shows that a massive 73% of consumers who receive a damaged shipment are unlikely to order from the same retailer again. This in effect becomes a lost customer and not only that, with the ever growing strength in social media ‘reviews’, this also becomes a huge PR headache as far as damage limitation is concerned. It’s easy to see why retailers are keen to avoid this scenario, however, by not getting their protective packaging properly optimised for their specific products creates the on-going issue of unnecessary packaging.
With the spotlight on the environment and with consumers making decisions based on a company ethics and social responsibility – the retailer is faced with a challenge in finding that all important balance in recycling, re-use and reduction expectations, as well as getting goods delivered intact. According to a recent survey*, more than 70% of consumers think retailers use too much packaging for online orders, creating an extra one million metric tonnes of waste every year. That’s a staggering figure and really shows that consumers expect and demand more sustainable and environmental action. It also revealed that 66% of consumers had received their order and the protective packaging was much bigger than the actual item. This is a complaint that is often aired on countless un-boxing videos on You Tube with consumers again highlighting that retailers need to do more.
58% felt the excessive packaging was often difficult to open and once finally inside their parcel, found the internal packaging difficult to dispose of responsibly. 62% agreed that they would think more of the brand or retailer if they did more to address these issues.
Getting The Balance Right
There are a few simple steps that can be put in place to ensure the Retailer can delight their customers again and again with successful deliveries of undamaged goods, as well as refining or optimising the packaging used. Getting the right protective packaging for the product is absolutely vital in reducing waste, getting the right sized packaging and helping the consumer to recycle more. This will result in not only a cost reduction for the retailer but also happier customers who appreciate the efforts being made.
Talking to industry experts in protective packaging can really help an e-commerce operation optimise process, materials and costs. At Acopia, we have over 40 years experience in helping our customers achieve just that. Why not put us to the test and talk to the team today as we head towards the busy peak season.
Survey conducted by Clouder.co.uk
The Customer Experience is King! The in-store environment has to deliver. It’s time to rip up the rule book and start again!
With Amazon’s uncanny knack of finding and exploiting the in-store weakness and turning this into its latest killer USP that leaves emulators trailing in its wake, its latest offering must be leaving other clothes retailers stunned. Buying clothing on-line can be a tricky and expensive business. One may need to buy the same item in two different sizes to ensure a great fitting garment. The problem is the word BUY. It’s not like the fitting room in the local boutique where one can try on several garments – for free! Buying clothing on-line can see costs rack up purely to eliminate ill-fitting clothes. So what do Amazon do? They provide a service to all Prime Members where they can select a number of garments for FREE in this scenario! And there you have it – the customer pain point eradicated. The rule book re-written!
How does the high street fight back? The answer – make it personal! One such retailer has done just that. Runner Camp a sports clothing outlet has turned their retail space into an homage to fitness. It’s ALL about the in-store experience and shoppers are greeted by not only technical apparel but also a fully functioning gym! It includes a running track, interactive exercise room, showers and lockers. Consumers are encouraged to use Runner Camp from sunrise to sunset! No on-line retailer could compete with that customer experience. The bold colours and urban materials of steel and concrete are evocative of a high-end local gym. It’s perfection in both design and execution.
In one forgotten street in London – Bird Street, just off Oxford Street, a transformation has occurred! It’s the city’s first Smart Street – a shopping lane packed with environmentally friendly and cutting edge technology. It offers shoppers an immersive experience such as a pavement that generates energy as it’s walked on – this could be a snap shot of what the future of retail looks like. An area renowned for particular products, a centre of excellence and a customised experience.
Creating these highly personalised environments that fit the ambiance and products can need some work. Working with a supplier who can bring a retailer’s vision to life is key. It’s good to work with a team that can create a 3D CAD image of retail space with complementary shop fittings and furniture that can work wonders with your brand and products.
Acopia have over 40 years retail experience in bespoke shopfitting solutions and interior retail space design. If you want to create a personalised space for your customers – we’d love to hear from you!
The way we buy things is changing. The increasing trend of online shopping has altered the retail landscape forever. Many retailers are looking for ways to continue to engage with their customers in their bricks and mortar set-ups (local store offers, click and collect facilities) whilst supporting the convenience of internet shopping with their online counterpart. The multi-channel approach is now a must.
Whether customers elect to shop online and collect in store of have their purchases delivered home, there is one thing they will have in common -packaging! As always, packaging’s most important role is protection. However, packaging performs lots of other roles including carrying information, marketing the product, enabling handling, storage and use of goods. Consumers assume that goods and food will reach them undamaged and in perfect condition. The fact that packaging has helped ensure this is not always obvious. Consumers only tend to notice protective packaging once something has gone wrong!
Effective packaging = Environmental Sustainability
Companies that continually monitor their use of packaging can achieve savings, make supply chains more sustainable and reduce environmental impacts. Companies that can demonstrate attention to environmental factors with their customers will stand them in good stead as recycling and responsible use of resources is very much in sharp focus. There are many things that can be easily implemented that can have an immediate impact on cost and benefits to the environment.
– Can the retail pack be simplified for home delivery?
– Are there alternative delivery systems or packaging options that reduce impacts and costs?
– Is there a place of re-usable packaging
– Can the outer dimensions be improved to improve pallet fill?
– Are the materials being used certified as ‘sustainable’
– Is the packaging designed according to good practice for recycling?
Reassessing your current processes and practices or asking an industry expert for a packaging review can pay dividends. At Acopia, we can provide a complete assessment of your supply chain to understand where cost savings and efficiencies can be made.
Speak to the team today and request your FREE packaging review.
Two key areas of industry are being to predicted at the forefront of demand in the year ahead. Food and e-commerce have been highlighted in a recent report that will see huge development and growth. New technology will be seen to hold the key to enabling much of the progress in 2017.
Educating the consumer – reducing food waste
Food waste is a global issue which needs tackling on many levels. Consumer education is seen as pivotal in understanding shelf life to avoid costly unnecessary waste. Packaging technology is continuing to develop to preserve goods for longer. Innovation in this area will see freshness sensors built into the packaging to actually alert consumers letting them know when the contents are safe to consume, eliminating early disposal. In the light of consumer criticism of excessive food packaging, especially for fruit and vegatables, this introduction is sure to be a big hit in the supermarket.
The continuing rise of e-commerce
The real impact of e-commerce on packaging will be seen in the area of secondary and tertiary packaging. This brings with it issues around speed and flexibility of packing equipment as well as the durability, size and sustainability of the shipping carton. The need for improved technology is required to meet demand as well as being able to maintain quality control.
Other questions being asked would be; can the retail pack be simplified for delivery, are there alternative delivery systems that can reduce impact and cost, is there a role for re-usable packaging, is the pack designed for ease of handling and opening, how to deal with complex and a variety of orders.
Working in Partnership to deliver
At Acopia, we believe in a collaborative approach to delivering scalable packaging solutions for our clients. Whether these include the latest technological advancements, helping business best practice or an outside the box solution – we would be delighted to help.
Call 0845 075 6111 for for a FREE packaging audit and we can work with you to make 2017 your strongest ever.
January traditionally sees the highest amount of consumer returns following Christmas with an estimated 31% of us returning items bought on line. ‘Take-back Tuesday’ after the Christmas break was expected to see a jump of over 50% of parcels at Post Offices as the rise of internet shopping transforms not only the way we buy our Christmas presents but how we dispose of or exchange any unwanted gifts afterwards.
Instead of the usual queues at the Customer Returns desks in store – customers are increasingly preferring to send the goods back by post. Customers using the Tracked Returns service simply select the name of the retailer or supplier from a list of more than 1,000 brands on the Royal Mail website, print off a label and deposit the parcel at a Post Office. So much less arduous than fighting the crowds at the bricks and mortor counterpart.
So with this change in shopping habits, it’s important your packaging can stand up to the rigours of going through the postal system a second time, labelled and clearly addressed – ensuring you get your products back in great condition and available for re-selling. 64% of customers will give referrals to friends after a free or easy returns policy, including the ease in which to physically ‘repackage’ the goods so it’s a really important part of your ‘after care’.
Key things to implement so you can keeping your customers happy and your goods in perfect condition:
1. Does your pack include clear returns instructions for the consumer? Have you supplied returns labels? Many retailers neglect this very important part of customer service.
2. To make it easier for your customer, can the original pack be re-used to send your product back? The great advantages here are many – if designed correctly your product is returned safely and you are doing your bit for the environment which will be a big hit for your customers. Not only does this save them trying to find an alternative source of packaging, they are much more likely to order from you again as they gain confidence in a hassle free returns process.
3. Providing access to real-time tracking is a real plus for consumers who are worried that expensive goods may go missing in the system.
At Acopia, we have over 40 years of experience in packaging and offer bespoke returns solutions for your specific product.
Give the team a call to discuss your requirements – we would be delighted to share our expertise.
If your organisation uses packaging or sells packaged goods, you may be classed as an Obligated Packaging Producer. The Environmental agency have put in place legal guidelines to help monitor waste with a review to reducing reduce its impact on the environment and enforce a duty of care that all businesses must follow. These legal requirements came into place in 2005 with a number of accompanying guidelines to help towards acheiving best practice across the country and across businesess. One retailer was fined more than £50,000 for being in breach of these regulations so penalties can be severe.
The main aims are to
reduce the amount of packaging produced in the first place
reduce how much packaging waste goes to landfill
increase the amount of packaging waste that’s recycled and recovered
Every year a packaging producer must register by 7th April and meet their recovery, reduction and recycling obligations and provide evidence by submitting a Certificate Of Compliance by 31st January the following year. If you registered before last April 2016 – you have a few short weeks to submit your certificate.
Am I an Obligated Packaging Producer?
‘Packaging’ is any material used to hold, protect, handle, deliver and present goods. This includes packaging for raw materials right through to finished goods to be sold or being sold. For example, pallets, boxes, bags, tape for wrapping, rolls, tubes and clothes hangers sold as part of the clothing item.
You’re an ‘obligated’ packaging producer if you, or a group of companies you’re part of handled 50 tonnes of packaging materials or packaging in the previous calendar year. And you have a turnover of more than £2 million a year (based on the last financial year’s accounts).
If your business provides licences to other businesses such as franchises or pub leases, any packaging they handle may contribute towards the 50 tonne threshold for your business.
We’re here to help
At Acopia, we work with many of our clients to provide Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN’s) by supplying an itemised statement of their annual packaging consumption.This helps hugley when it comes to submitting the required Certificate of Compliance.
If you have any questions about your PRN obligation, you can speak to the team at Acopia and we will give you all the advice you need.
As the festive season gathers pace – it’s time for those final stock checks to make sure you’re ready for the busiest time of the year. The sooner businesses prepare, the sooner they are equipped and able to respond effortlessly with demand.
With the ‘next day delivery’ culture at its height – do you have the resources in place? On-line shopping and the world of e-commerce has changed the landscape of purchasing forever with the supporting shipping and packaging industries set to grow and grow.
The season is not without its challenges and it’s a time to be cost effective. There is a balance to be sought in keeping protective packaging costs low as well as ensuring precious Christmas gifts arrive on time and undamaged, keeping claims to a minimum. The last thing you want are unhappy customers at Christmas time!
Here are 4 quick tips to keep you smiling this Christmas
- Work with a packaging expert who can advise you on the best packaging solutions for your products. They will understand what it takes to get your product through the rigors of shipping, arriving unscathed using the most cost effective materials. There are time and cost savings to be had here when you work with a trusted industry expert.
- Huge shopping events in the run up to the festive season can see unprecedented spikes in orders. Black Friday is now very much part of British Culture and this year sees it all happening on 25th of November. Staying efficient during peak times like this is critical for both your loyal customers as well as new ones.
- Worst case scenario planning can keep you head and shoulders above competitors. Share with your customers your plans where you can and invite feedback. Build this into your planning and feel confident in your resulting solutions.
- Automate where you can – a great deal of your protective packaging and strapping processes can be automated. Again, your trusted packaging partner can advise on the very best solutions for your needs.
There are many machines available now that provide flexibility and optimisation of your protective packaging processes. The machines are simple and easy to use, requiring minimal training in order to master time and cost saving efficiencies.
Protecting precious cargo
You need your products to arrive in pristine condition and having your own protective packaging systems in house, you are in complete control. There is nothing more disappointing for your customer or recipient to receive damaged goods, equally packaging overkill can cause frustration so choosing the right packaging for your product needs is paramount.
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Popular with Acopia Clients
Here is a quick overview on some of the most popular machine with our clients:
Air Pillow and cushioning – the Airtech Range
This versatile range comes in 3 machine sizes so you can order the correct one for your business needs.
The smaller machines, Airtech 2000 and 4000, are at home on a table top, whilst the larger 6000 is comfortable in the busiest of environments. All machines are completely programmable and are easily integrated into your packaging process. Adaptable air pressure and speeds makes this a great solution.
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Make your own void filling
Our Ecopax Shredding systems are a great solution if your business produces a lot of waste cardboard. What better than to re-use and recycle to create your very protective packaging. Not only can you reduce costs on purchasing protective packaging, you also eliminate all your cardboard waste disposal costs as well as reducing your environmental impact – talk to us about the Ecopax range.
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The Power of Paper
Available in three machine capacities, this ingeniuos range produces multi-layer void fill with all the machines controlled by a foot pedal, leaving the users hands free to pack product.
With the range increasing in capacity and speed – there is a Papertech solution for you. The machines are easy to load and with the machine producing a range of void filling finishes – this really is a versatile and cost effective alternative.
All these machines are available through Acopia and we would be delighted to provide a free demonstration. Talk to us about our full range of automated protective packing products.
Europe is at the forefront of the green revolution as businesses recognise both the environmental, reputational and financial benefits of a greener supply chain. The research agency Global Industry Analysts estimates the worldwide market for sustainable packaging was worth more than $149 billion in 2015, and this is set to grow. Many businesses anticipated this change in the market and adapted their packaging with a focus on a greener product.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
Sustainable packaging goes beyond purely reducing the environmental impact, brands want to be seen embracing this important component of their product supply. Today’s consumers and businesses are asking more of the brands they engage with and partner with and responsible environmental choices are key in decision making and part of their customer journey to becoming a brand ambassador. With the digital arena becoming the modern day word of mouth, end user approval and recommendations of your greener packaging solutions will help to lock-in an ethical customer base who will happily talk positively about your brand.
Set the Standard
It’s also an opportunity to review your competitor’s activities and allows you to perhaps steal the edge by offering greener packaging solutions. Being recognised for your contribution to reducing impact on the environment is wonderful for your reputation and these are some areas for consideration:
- check that all corrugated packaging contains a high level of recycled material
- consider micro-flute board for easier printing
- use higher proportions of recycled material in cartonboard in non-food applications
- consider using a laminated cartonboard with some recycled content for packaging food products
Acopia can assist with ensuring you select the right packaging for your products.
Small changes – big differences
Making even small changes to your packaging can make all the difference and will allow you to promote your greener choices and show you care. From simply choosing brown paper self adhesive tape (an ecological alternative to vinyl and polypropylene) to creating your own protective packaging by recycling your cardboard waste with a shredder where considerable cost savings are to be made – there are lots of opportunities to make a difference.
Talk to us about our full range of greener solutions which have been selected from either a truly sustainable source or made using a significant proportion of recycled material, we can advise on the best choices for your business.
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