If your company plans to supply products into Retailer Own Brand (or Private Label) and you are responsible for packaging, then this blog is for you. Below is an essential check list of things you need to know, including what resource you will need, what to ask for from the retailer and what information you can expect them to ask you for. (If you are looking to supply your own branded products subscribe to my mailing list to be notified when my next blog comes out).
Retailers work to very strict timescales so it is vital that you have enough resource to cover the work during the period to the launch date. There needs to be someone available to look after packaging sourcing and specification, e.g. a Packaging Technologist and also to manage the artwork process, an Artwork Co-ordinator. Depending on your set-up, these roles can be done separately or combined into one position. (If you do need extra resource – read this case study to see how I can help you).
Retailers usually require a 48 hour turnaround on artworks, 24 hours on amends. As several people within your business could be needed to check the artwork for accuracy– typically Technical, Product Development and the Packaging Technologist, it is vital that they, or a deputy, are made available to check artwork in order to keep to the project timescales.
What to ask for from the retailer;
Many of the large retailers publish packaging guidelines on their supplier web-portals, for which you will need a login and password. These could include guidance on material grades, shelf-ready and transit packaging and an approved packaging supplier list. I’m a big believer in continuing with your existing suppliers (see How to find a packaging supplier) but don’t dismiss the suppliers from the approved list straight away, the retailer might be able to get you a good deal.
Login to the Artwork Approval System
You will need a separate login to their artwork management portal and the contact details for the artwork account manager – artwork management is usually sub-contracted to a specialist company. It’s a good idea to put them in your speed dial – you‘ll be in contact with them a lot!
The Critical Path
Once you’ve supplied your FTP date (See below) You’ll be issued with a number of key dates that need to be met to keep the project on track, including pack copy submission dates and when the artwork is due to be issued for approval, etc. The key dates could be at odds with your company’s product development timings, especially if you use a gated product development process. This is something you will just have to find ways to work around. My experience of 6 years of working on ROB was that the two processes never matched!
What the retailer will ask for from you;
If this is a completely new product, then you will be asked to provide an unprinted mock-up, including all packaging components.
Cutter Guide (primary pack)
This is the line drawing that either you or your printer have issued to have the artwork added onto. It should show the position and orientation of panels, position and size of the BB area, etc. Chances are you might still be developing the packaging at the time the cutter guide is requested – this is where your artwork account manager comes in – they might be able to buy you a little time or allow you to submit a provisional cutter guide – it is really important to keep on top of this though, I’ve seen someone (not me!) lose track of this which cost a lot of money to fix.
Printer Details and a File To Printer (FTP) date
Your printer will be included in the artwork approval process and artwork will be sent to them directly once the artwork is signed-off. You provide the FTP date working back from when you need the packaging on site, the printer’s lead times and a bit of wriggle room, etc.
Your technical and NPD team will supply this through the retailer’s specification portal. Artwork timings depend on these being supplied at the right time, so it is worth keeping in close contact with them on this.
Simple Packaging Specs and Recycling Information
Retailers vary enormously in the amount of information required. E.g. for outer cases, some are happy with ‘B-flute SRP’, others ask for the full spec! It helps to have this information ready at your fingertips. You could be asked to provide the OPRL labelling information for your lines (ask the packaging team at your retailer if you don’t have a copy of the OPRL guidelines).
New Line Form Information
Case count (number of products per case), size of outer case in mm, number of cases per pallet, number of cases per layer, and number of layers, weight per case and height of pallet. These are usually required early on, so if the product is still in development stress that the values are provisional and UPDATE your sales manager (or whoever is responsible for filling in the new line forms) as soon as you can.
The above just touches on what you need, but hopefully I’ve given you an insight into what is required from a packaging perspective when you start supplying your product into Retailer Own Brand. There is a lot to consider, but as long as long as you stick to the checklist above, you’ll be winning.
Have I answered your questions? If not put your comments in the section below and I’ll do my best to answer.
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