4 Avoidable Packaging Nightmares - PSI

4 Avoidable Packaging Nightmares

Just as sure as the sun is going to rise, there will always be unforeseeable hiccups during the package design process. These hiccups are part of the process; to test different ideas, mix custom ink colors, mold new print plates, coordinate materials and set up machinery.

As complicated as the process can be, we have professionals from every aspect of the packaging industry to help you along the way and ensure a hassle-free experience. Over the years, our engineers, press operators, designers and account managers have seen it all.

Here are our recommendations on how to navigate avoidable packaging nightmares so you don’t wake up in a cold sweat.


Nightmare #1:

None of the samples provided are meeting your expectations for your packaging project.

Success is in the Details


Most packaging errors break down to a lack of communication about wants, needs and aspirations. This is why a consultation is so very important.

Common questions that are discussed during consultations include:

• How will it ship (Fedex/UPS vs. Private Distribution)?

• What is the value of the product going into the display or packaging?

• How are people purchasing your product (online vs. retail store)?

• What is the weight of the products going into the packaging and/or display?

• Are there any limitations in size or materials?

Give as many details as you can to help avoid any potential problems down the road. Packaging engineers and designers are eager to talk about your ideas and answer any questions you may have – it is all part of the consultation phase. Having a project briefing is essential to understand how the package needs to function.


Nightmare #2:

You’ve invested hundreds of dollars and countless hours on a packaging solution that you can’t afford to print, die cut or ship.

Define Your Budget


As a startup company, you may not know what to expect when it comes to the cost of custom packaging. Defining what your budget is prior to jumping into the design process is going to save you a ton of time on designing solutions that are not a right fit for your wallet.

Be up front and honest about what you want to spend for a packaging solution, even if it is a ballpark figure.

If you have a smaller budget, doing things like switching out your packaging material or printing in one color can drastically decrease your tooling and production costs. Pair that up with great graphics and your packaging will look just as sharp as any high dollar competitor.

Another common scenario that we see with budgeting is when customers agree to a retail price on their product without taking into account what it costs to package and ship their products to retail centers.

For example, Joe has a retail product that costs him $4.00 to produce and he has contracts with retail centers to sell the product for $7.00, making him a $3.00 profit on each unit.

But Joe made the mistake of not factoring in what his packaging and shipping costs would be to get the product to the retail centers, so now he has two options.

Option 1: Joe can sacrifice packaging quality and materials to cut costs (but put his products at risk).

Option 2: Joe can get the right type of packaging for his products to ensure lower damage and return rates.

Either way, his $3.00 profit margin takes a substantial hit because he has to account for buying quality packaging materials or shelling out more money down the road to cover damages and returns.


Nightmare #3:

You have packaging that is too complex and demands excessive amounts of assembly time.

Understanding How Packaging Will Effect Your Entire Production Line


In the design world, the great debate is form vs. function: which comes first, and which is more important. When it comes to implementing these ideals into package design, they work together equally and are extremely important.

Giving thought to the role of durability and aesthetics during fulfillment can potentially save your company time and frustration. Having overly complex packaging that slows down your fulfillment lines can impact your business and employee morale if you are not equipped to handle it.

Instead of going the origami route, think of ways to simplify the packaging without sacrificing quality, stability and uniqueness.


Nightmare #4:

Not allowing enough time for the custom packaging process to take place.

Short Cuts = Potential Disaster


Packaging should not be the last item on a persons to-do list when it comes to launching a new product. Many times, unrealistic deadlines for turnaround and delivery of custom packaging solutions means taking short cuts that increase the risk of expectations not being met.

Plan for the inevitable redesign stages to happen. Your custom packaging provider is in business to give you a custom fit that requires your feedback, testing, budget adjustments and planning for logistics and distribution systems.

Key steps needed to ensure a successful end product include:

• Structure Development

• Graphic Design

• Proofing Process

• Testing

• Lead-Time for Tooling and Materials

• Production

• Quality Checks

• Assembly

• Delivery

Have a direct and honest conversation with your Account Management team about the many responsibilities and action items that need to take place prior to requesting a hard deadline.

Better planning will help ensure you have a happier customer experience by establishing realistic expectations of your vendors capabilities and workflow.