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It’s a fact that you face plenty of challenges when preparing to ship your goods directly to consumers or to retail outlets. Every business has a different set of issues to deal with, but there are many common ones.

For merchants of all sizes, it’s important to know the general lay of the land when it comes to packaging. Simply understanding the potential challenges is a large part of finding a solution. Of course, it’s always a good idea to team up with a company that’s been in the packaging business for a long time and has a solid reputation.

When you work with an experienced packaging professional, it’s possible to meet every challenge that comes along and get your products to their final destination in great shape. What are the most frequent types of issues merchants face during the packaging phase of selling? The following list offers a summary of the top 14.

14 Packaging Challenges Today’s Merchants Face

Of the following packaging challenges, chances are you have heard of at least a few of them. Others might not directly pertain to your specific product but can be informative for business owners and sellers of a wide range of products.

  • Protection from the Natural Environment: This is a relatively new concern and applies especially to merchants who ship from e-commerce stores to buyers’ doorsteps, where packages might be left out in the rain, snow, wind, and intense sunlight for hours or days.

    Fortunately, there are all kinds of new wrapping materials and techniques to keep any kind of edible item fresh in transit, and while it waits for hours in the sun, rain, or snow before the consumer brings it indoors.
  • Higher Cost of Short Production Runs: For small companies, doing a few experimental, short production runs can be an ideal way to test out a few different marketing strategies. Look for a packaging company that can help you do small runs and then scale up to larger ones after you decide what works.
  • Making the Product Match Online Photos: Consumers don’t like it when the product they receive does not match the one they saw in an online store. This kind of disconnect is easy to avoid by simply making online photos exactly match the package that is sent to the buyer.
  • Maintain Recognition of Brand Identity: It’s essential to make packaging design match the seller’s brand identity. This can be done with a combination of the appropriate materials, design, and attention to written content on the package.
  • Meeting Consumer Demand for Re-usables: Retail grocers are seeing an increase in demand for returnable containers, a phenomenon that was practically unheard of just a few years ago.
  • Minimizing Size and Weight Keeping size and weight to a minimum is often the single most efficient way to lower shipping costs. Even slight changes in package design and materials used can make a huge different in annual expenses for sellers in all industries.
  • Maintaining Freshness: Keeping edible and potable items fresh is one of the key challenges for any seller of snack foods and drinks. Proper package planning is the answer to this frequent situation.
  • Being as Sturdy as Necessary: Packaging that is not strong enough can be a costly thing. It can lead to broken, dangerous products that have fallen partway or completely out of their containers. Consumers and retailers either receive a disorganized mess of a shipment or a package that contains no product at all. Solution: be sure to make every package just a little stronger than you think it should be.
  • Protecting the Buyer: Careful packaging means not having to worry about consumers becoming injured from exposed, sharp edges, caustic liquids, or flammable substances.
  • Being User-Friendly: Packages need to be user-friendly. This is a huge pet-peeve for consumers. It’s best to do testing and make certain that packaging is easy to open, reseal, close, store, and handle.
  • Using the Right Material: Using the wrong material can be costly in terms of upfront expenses and branding identity. Imaging using low-cost, brown paper to ship a high-end jewelry item. Or, on the other extreme, using costly glass packaging on a low-cost beverage sold by the case. Either way, the seller loses out. Spend time making sure that your packaging material matches your needs.
  • Being Safe for Shippers/Handlers: You should use packaging that prevents potential legal issues. In addition to making certain that consumers are safe, it’s important to think about anyone who touches your product along its route to the end-user. That includes handlers, shippers, and retailers.
  • Allowing for Modern Processing: When you design large orders the right way, with the help of a packaging professional, it’s possible to save a significant amount of labeling and batch processing of items. Today’s high-speed labeling and sealing machines need packages that meet minimum technical design standards.
  • Providing Enough Space for Essential Information: Be certain that your package labels include enough blank space for marketing content, return information, legally required data like nutrition details, and more.

What About Follow-Up?

Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to forget about the follow-up phase of a customer transaction. Just because a person buys your product and receives it, there’s still a chance that they’ll want to return it. Returns are a “fact of life” in business. That’s why it’s essential to make every package “return-friendly.”

What is a return-friendly package? In short, it’s one that allows for easy re-sealing if the buyer immediate notices that the wrong item was sent. Additionally, designing a package for easy return means including simple, clear contact info on the exterior, like website addresses, phone numbers, QR codes, and written instructions for how to return the product.

When you design your package for simple, efficient return, customer satisfaction rises accordingly.

Products That Need Lots of Attention

Which types of products need the most attention when it comes to packaging? Lots of things. For merchants, it’s imperative to be aware of anything that might pose a risk to shippers, handlers, packers, and, above all, consumers.

Not only do dangerous items bring the possibility of physical harm to those who handle them, but they also carry the potential of legal liability for the seller in the event that anyone is harmed. Here are more details about the four categories of products that need the closest attention during the packaging phase:

  • Breakable Glass: This one is obvious, and there are all sorts of products in the category in addition to light bulbs, including bottled cosmetics, drinks packaged in glass, craft glass items, and virtually anything that has breakable glass as an exposed or interior component of the product. What keeps billions of glass products from breaking during shipment and display? One thing: smart, careful packaging.
  • Perishable Foods and Beverages: Snacks might not pose a danger of injury, but if they decay or rot before getting to the consumer, people could become ill from eating them. When it comes to packaging challenges, this category is perhaps the single largest source of difficulty for sellers.
  • Heavy Items: Weighty products have always been a tough issue for merchants. Not only do heavy items cost much more to ship, handle, and store, but they also carry a higher potential for breakage during shipment and display. What’s the solution? Wise packaging practices, of course.
  • Potentially Dangerous Items: It’s amazing how many products are potentially dangerous, but we never give it much thought. For instance, common retail items like nail polish (they’re often flammable), cosmetic liquids (can be caustic or flammable, or both), lithium batteries (possibly explosive, flammable, and caustic), knives, razor blades, and anything that contains breakable glass or sharp metal edges.

Meet the Challenges and Make Your Customers Happy

The best time to deal with common packaging challenges is during the planning stage, while your company is deciding how to pack for-sale goods, and making the bevy of decisions about packaging materials, designs, and budgets.

At Mid-Atlantic Packaging, our team of experts has been helping businesses of all sizes deal with packaging challenges for four decades. We know how to prevent small problems from becoming big ones by taking care of packaging issues before items are shipped off to consumers or retailers.

For more information about how we can assist you with the trickiest part of the packaging process, check out our website, or give us a call on our direct, toll-free line at (800) 284-1332. There’s never a charge for a phone consultation. Plus, our team is always available and willing to help answer any questions you have about planning, pricing, design, and special situations. We look forward to hearing from you.