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Every industry has jargon, and it can take years of exposure to become familiar with the terms that are common in any given industry.

Usually, you have time to get familiar with jargon when you enter a new industry, but that may not be the case when you are responsible for your organization’s packaging and shipping needs. It’s necessary for you to hit the ground running, and that means that you need to get acquainted with the related terms as quickly as possible.

Doing so will probably eliminate numerous obstacles as you work to design packaging that is absolutely perfect for your products. Contact Mid-Atlantic Packaging for any assistance you may need with designing packaging and shipping materials for your brand.

What Is Overpackaging?

“Overpackaging” is becoming an increasingly familiar term in the industry as consumers and brands become ever-more environmentally conscious. This term refers to the practice of including unnecessary packaging for products. Typically, this excess packaging serves no logistical reason or function.

How many times have you received an item that was placed in a box that was far too large for the contents? Amazon is a frequent offender in this overpackaging error, and you definitely don’t want to make the same mistake. A new company cannot afford to make costly missteps like these and hope to succeed.

Still, you want to be certain that your products will be properly protected so that they arrive at their destination whole and unspoiled. Some creative engineering may have to go into achieving these ends, which may mean that it is essential to work with a professional packaging designer such as those that you will find at Mid-Atlantic Packaging.

Defining Primary Packaging

The primary packaging is the wrapper, box, carton, bag, or other material that the end consumer actually handles. Accordingly, this term may be used to describe any material that the consumer touches immediately before touching the product itself.

Many brands put considerable research and testing into their choice of primary packaging. This research delves into not only what the primary packaging looks like but also what it feels like. Some of the considerations that may go into choosing primary packaging include:

  • Colors
  • Logos
  • Text
  • Images or graphics
  • Finish
  • Texture

These and other characteristics combine to provide an experience that can enhance the overall consumer experience.

Considering Secondary Packaging

“Secondary packaging” may be used to refer to any material that surrounds primary packaging. Similarly, this jargon is used for any protection or packaging that may group numerous goods, each of which has primary packaging.

Examples of secondary packaging may include point of sale units, boxes, and cases, any of which may help with shipping and distribution or even displays in brick-and-mortar stores.

What About Shelf-Ready Packaging?

Here is another type of packaging that you may want to consider for your particular products. Shelf-ready packaging is a container that not only contains and protects products but also displays them for sale on the store’s shelf. Sometimes abbreviated as SRP or called retail-ready packaging, this type of packaging frequently is sent straight from the factory where it is produced to the store where the products will be sold. Thus, the shipping box becomes the point of sale unit.

This type of packaging is especially common with items such as:

  • Candy
  • Toothpaste
  • Gum
  • Juice

Prototypes in Packaging

Perhaps you are already familiar with the concept of prototypes if you have invented a new product. Essentially, a prototype is a mock-up or model of the invented product, and the term frequently is used in the packaging industry as well. Usually made as a preliminary version, it is possible that several prototypes of proposed packaging will be made before you choose a final design.

You may hear a packaging prototype referred to as a “blank dummy.” Rather than being an optional part of the packaging design process, creating a prototype is essential to successful packaging design. It is impossible to test the attractiveness and functionality of a proposed packaging design using images or computer graphics. With prototypes, you have a real-world, functional example that can be tested for suitability.

When you can see and physically interact with the proposed packaging, you may notice design flaws that can be cured before the design goes into final production. At Mid-Atlantic Packaging, members of our expert design team always recommend having a prototype made so that both we and our clients can be confident that the design is just right.

Defining the Universal Product Code, or UPC, Bar Code

Here is another term that you are likely to encounter in other aspects of your business. Of course, if you are like other entrepreneurs, you may not have had a great deal of time to dig deeper into what UPC bar codes really are.

UPC bar codes are used to identify the unique number and symbol of each product. Additionally, the bar code may gather information concerning the product’s configuration, name, size, color, and other characteristics.

Getting a unique UPC bar code for your products can be a bit of a complicated task. It begins with applying for a GS1 company prefix. GS1 US assigns a unique number to each company that applies for one. This prefix then becomes the foundation for GS1 Standards and can be used in identification numbers that identify products. These identification numbers can be used in Global Trade Item Numbers and Global Location Numbers.

Once you have obtained a GS1 prefix, you’ll have proof that your brand is the only company that is authorized to use this prefix, which means that any goods marked with this prefix are absolutely genuine.

Make certain that you apply for your UPC as early as possible because this enables you to add the bar code to your packaging while it is still undergoing the design process. When UPC bar codes must be inserted in the design after the fact, it can spoil the overall effect.

What About Stock Keeping Units, or SKUs?

Each product that is encountered in a store is allotted a unique SKU. This coding system contains data for each size variant and individual product line. Frequently, the SKU is found beneath or next to the UPC bar code on the packaging. Each retail store or chain of stores may have a unique SKU system.

Store managers may use SKU data to determine when it is time to restock a certain product, discover whether or not some products may be missing, or learn how many items have been sold.

Packaging Substrates

“Substrate” simply refers to the material onto which a design may be printed. Board, carton, paper, polypropylene, or any other materials may be common examples of substrates.

Offset Printing for Packaging

Packaging designers use the term “offset printing” when they talk about a printing process in which an inked image is transferred to a substrate. Offset printing relies on an inked plate and a rubber blanket to transfer an image from the plate to a carton or other packaging. This is a popular and economical choice for producing large volumes of packaging.

Digital Printing in the Packaging Industry

Laser or inkjet printers are used to place images on a substrate in this printing process. This is a more expensive option than offset printing, but it sometimes is the preferred method because it involves less time and expense in preparation. With its short turnaround time, digital printing is the process of choice when brands need to quickly get their products to store shelves or consumers.

The Four-Color Printing Process

This printing process relies on four well-known colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. In fact, you already may be familiar with the term “CMYK,” which has long been used as an acronym for these colors.

Frequently, CMYK is used for printing items like publications and editorials, and it creates full-color images by pressing various layers of color to create new and different hues. CMYK can produce many different tones, but it cannot produce all of them. Accordingly, it may be necessary to use PMS colors because this has a wider range of hues available.

The Pantone Matching System, or PMS

Here is where you can get into absolutely any color of the rainbow. The Pantone Matching System, or PMS, organizes all of its thousands of colors by numbers. Usually, this number contains three or four number digits and a C, U, or M. These stand for coated, uncoated, and matte. PMS is so versatile that it can even produce effects like fluorescence and metallic finishes.

What Is the Bleeding Edge?

This is a term that mystifies many people who are new to the packaging industry. It refers to a blank space or edge that is left between the printed image and the substrate. Sometimes called the “bleed area,” this blank space is rather like a margin of error that makes allowances for design inconsistencies or unexpected movement during the manufacturing process. Basically, it is a blank space that is left just in case the printed ink bleeds outside of its intended area.

Contact Mid-Atlantic Packaging for More

This is just a sampling of the terms that you may encounter as you design packaging for your brand. If you are curious about more of these terms and how familiarity with them can help you design better packaging, contact the custom design team at Mid-Atlantic Packaging today. Or, visit our custom packaging page to get a personalized quote.