Moving products quickly and easily through the supply chain has always been an attractive quality of shelf-ready packaging or SRP. From a retailer’s standpoint, what’s not to love about multiple product units being placed on the shelf without unpacking them? Nowadays, however, retailers are looking for a lot more than just saving time.
“Instead of simply looking for labor savings or ‘ease of facing’ products, retailers want to leverage SRP to drive increased sales,” says Rick Gessler, director of marketing and strategic accounts for Delkor Systems, a St. Paul, MN-based end-of-line packing equipment supplier. “It’s no longer only a matter of speed to shelf, but the appearance on shelf and the shelf display’s ability to [attract] consumers that are critical.”
According to Gessler, some retailers are realizing increased sales of products placed in SRP displays over their non-SRP counterparts. This could be a result of shoppers seeing SRP displays more readily, which can enable them to find the products they want more quickly.
Convenience also ranks high in importance for retailers. In fact, packaging that requires more than a few steps to be converted into a display can be deemed too complicated.
“Retailers want a package that can be picked up and opened without complex directions, such as our Cabrio case,” Gessler explains. “They are also looking for packages that are foolproof with regard to end-shelf appearance.”
Successful SRPs must meet the needs of the retailer, meaning the packaging should not be torn or have a jagged front display edge.
“Now that SRP is on the scene, it is important that co-manufacturers have the capability to match not only the primary package, but the secondary package as well to provide a uniform brand appearance,” Gessler says.
Flexibility continues to be important for processors’ packaging systems due to the variances in shelf depths, product slotting, different SKUs on display and more. Gessler says having a system that switches back and forth instantly, or at least in under 10 minutes, allows producers to maintain an efficient operation.
As for the near future, he thinks packaging speeds will continue to increase as case-counts decrease, necessitating packaging systems that output finished cases at much higher rates than in the past. “Having an SRP line running 30 to 60 cases per minute is commonplace, whereas traditional shippers may have been produced at 15 to 30 cases per minute in the past,” Gessler says.