Tips for Retail Success


By Vanessa Ting

Tip 1:  Be Disruptive.  How many times have you walked down a store aisle and missed what you were looking for? It is a fact – It is a sea of product out there. Your first mission when developing packaging for retail space is to find a way for your product to stand out from its competitors.  Hopefully your brand imagery has already been developed with this in mind. If not, here are other ways to create a disruptive look at shelf:

  • Is the brand and product name prominent? You can also achieve a larger brand presence through multiple facings and items.
  • Is your package shape unique?  (Not necessary, but this is one lever to pull to create disruption on shelf)
  • Is your background color stand out from competition?
  • Are you using brighter medium-toned colors instead of pale and soft tones?
  • Less is more; is your copy and layout clean-looking? Is there more “white space” than copy?
  • Is the font type easy to read?

Tip 2:  Fit the space. Many overlook the restrictive dimensions of store shelves. Make sure your product is not too tall, too wide, or too deep. Also ask yourself, do my retailers merchandise on shelves or peg hooks? Take a walk down the aisle to see your product might be merchandised.

Tip 3:  Think logistics. Will the packaging be durable during shipping? Larger retailers will require transit tests to make sure packaging will hold up in transportation. How many units can you fit in a box? Specifically, will the dimensions allow for an optimal casepack configuration?

Tip 4:  Get the input of consumers and retailers. Effective packaging meets both the needs of the consumer and the retailer – arguably your two biggest stakeholders. Make sure you get consumer and retailer feedback.

To get consumer feedback, consider SurveyMonkey, informal focus groups, or catch shoppers (who resemble your target consumer) as they leave a store to get their opinion. Avoid friends and family feedback, if you can. They will know too much about your product to give an objective opinion.

To make it easy for consumers to give feedback, show them a document with your packaging objectives and ask them to pick the package design that best meets those stated objectives. If you don’t have packaging objectives, show them a product concept statement instead. If you don’t have that either – create one. You will need one for your retailer pitch deck anyways.

To get retailer feedback, leverage your relationships. Do you have a relationship with your retail buyer already? If so, they would likely appreciate the opportunity to preview your packaging prototype before its finalized. It’s a great way to get informal “buy-in” on your packaging and product before the actual “sell-in”. Or, if you have relationships with brokers, distributors or vendor reps, they would be able to provide a good retail perspective on your packaging designs.

Other specific considerations for the retail space:

  • A shopper may only see one side of your package at shelf. Make sure they can understand the product from the front. If this product is unlike others on the market, consider a graphic with a product demo on front, or translucent packaging so shoppers can see the product inside.
  • Rectangular packaging keeps stock clerks from stocking shelves the wrong side forward. Round containers are rarely stocked front face forward.
  • Is there room on the backside for the UPC bar code, SRP and retailer codes?
  • Be mindful of the trade-off between package size impression and the number of units able to fit on shelf. The less units that fit on the shelf, the less you will sell. You can’t rely on store clerks to restock shelves promptly; empty shelves mean zero sales.
  • If you are in multiple channels (e.g., your product is in both Mass and Department Stores), alter the packaging (e.g., piece count, package as a regimen) to preserve the retailers’ brand and create differentiation so the two sales channels don’t cannibalize one another.
Do you have any packaging tips of your own to share?  Let’s hear ’em!
Have a good week!

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