Retail-Ready Packaging: A Look Ahead

31 July 2018

Although the average consumer may not spend much of their day thinking about retail-ready packaging, manufacturers and supermarkets do. The fact that it its presence is so seamlessly incorporated into the fabric of daily life is in fact testament to the great amount of thought that designers and producers of corrugated cardboard products have already spent.

Retail-ready packaging (RRP) is frequently seen and used in retail shops, particularly supermarkets. It is often confused with shelf-ready packaging (SRP), but the differences are stark. Shelf-ready packaging generally has a ‘no frills’ appearance, and is used to transport goods from the production center to the retail establishment itself, where it is then unloaded and separated into retail-ready components.

RRP is what the buyer sees as they push their shopping cart up the aisle, and picks a can of soup off a corrugated cardboard tray on a supermarket shelf. That tray has a company logo on it, and has been meticulously designed to meet the Five Easies of retail packaging design:
• Easy to identify in the back room of the shop
• Easy to put on a shelf
• Easy to open by staff
• Easy to shop (by customers)
• Easy to dispose of after it is used

Visual and functional design insights are combined into each generation of corrugated trays, and innovations continue to be made in terms of ease of use (through shape and perforations), economy of material (through production technology) and customer convenience (through package design, coloration and other areas). We have indeed come a long way from the days of plain brown cardboard boxes.

But where do we go from here? Talk around the corrugated industry suggests that companies are making efforts to be ready for the public’s embrace of digital interactive packaging, including augmented reality interfacing. Point your phone at a corrugated tray at the supermarket, and an app will recognize the product and provide detailed information about it in an instant. Sensors are also a possible new addition, to inform retail staff that a particular tray is empty and needs to be removed or restocked.

More mundane but useful concepts are also gaining traction, such as standardized design specifications to create a seamless and professional appearance on a crowded supermarket shelf. Improved digital printers also promise to work faster and more cheaply at the factory, giving a boost to manufacturers’ bottom line. And still more practically-designed corrugated tray concepts are being tested, to provide better homes for products whose individual packages have proven more difficult to present gracefully on a shelf.

Whatever the future brings, one thing is clear: Innovation in this field will continue for a long time to come.

To catch up with all the news and developments in the Corrugated and Folding Carton industry, come to CCE South East Asia from 5-7 September. This exhibition brings together manufacturers and suppliers, and will include workshops, seminars, and plenty of chances for networking across the industry. CCE South East Asia will be held at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center, and is the region’s only event of this type.

Register now for your free tickets here:

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