Packaging in any industry has been revolutionized from just being a mode to protect the product to being the brand or product identity.
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Packaging solutions providers are having tough time to find out the technologies that can be integrated to their current systems and can also be used to fulfill the new requirements of clients. The dynamics of customer demand has changed and people now want to opt for a low volume, highly customized, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable packaging practices. This put packaging solutions provider under the pressure to produce required packaging optimized for their volumes and costs.
Technology advancements is making it possible to produce packaging that is eco-friendly, easy to produce and can be hyper customized. Though packaging remains an integral part of product manufacturing industries, similarly printing remains integral to packaging. The advancements in web printing software and technologies make it easy for packaging service providers to produce customized packaging for their clients within budget even for low volume orders. There are three ways packaging needs to be innovated – being eco-friendly, easy to produce and customized and web to packaging solutions serve all these three purposes.
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Since we are talking about things you must in packaging world, here are some statistics that will help in defining the market opportunity for web to packaging solutions provider. Not very old, these numbers suggest that the overall global packaging industry is worth $424 billion, growing at an annual rate of 3.5%. The global packaging industry worth is divided among Europe holding $127 billion, Asia having $114 billion, North America with $118 billion, Latin America is holding $30 billion and rest of the countries accounting for $30 billion.
Apart from the promising numbers in packaging industry, this industry is going to see range of technological invasions. The print packaging is one of fastest growing segment in the printing segment and it was clearly evident when DRUPA 2016 was designated as “The Digital Packaging DRUPA.” Apart from the industry accreditation and numbers that speak about the digital packaging, there are few technologies that are getting traction –
- Augmented and Virtual Reality – Augmented and virtual reality already started marking their presence in packaging industry and solutions. The key factors that are driving adoption of augmented and virtual reality are cheap production, low-cost and less efforts in customer engagement. Millennial and Generation Y look for variety of engagements from customers and thus, augmented reality and virtual reality is perfect way for brand to cater to this new generation. Web to print packaging technological providers have software that can be integrated with the existing packaging provider systems and technologies to produce augmented and virtual reality software.
- Highly customized packaging – Brand elements are intrinsic elements of packaging but today brands keep on tweaking their packaging to market around any movies, national events etc. in name of limited edition. This requires packaging solution providers to be equipped with right platform and software enabling brand to customize their packaging. Even things like blister packaging can receive the custom treatment these days, so businesses of all sizes in all industries are able to wow customers with professional-looking packaging. Packaging providers that are already using web enabled software with product design software are at the distinct advantage. The reason behind the same is that their print product capabilities and MIS integration are already digitalized. On the other hand, the print packaging providers that are not been digitalized should look to adopt web to packaging software that can give them scalability and flexibility to adopt new business models.
- Rise of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) Ventures – Printing and packaging industry is adoption OEM models where packaging being produced by one manufacturer can be marketed by another manufacturer. This leads to less investment by marketed company and original manufacturer can just focus on producing packaging rather than getting clients and orders. The print packaging providers that are equipped with right technologies and software can tie up with the less digitalized printing service providers to promote more OEM ventures. One interesting type of OEM that is underway is the traditional manufacturers like analog gravure, flexographic, and offset lithographic presses. These press technologies are focused on the carton, flexible package, and label and corrugated board printing. The digital technologies are created for short-run presses and cannot take complete advantage of analog presses for long runs. These long presses are very expensive to be established and thus, industry is searching for digital technologies that can take advantage of long-run packaging market.
- Integrating digital technologies – The other technologies that are evolving with the packaging solutions are Near-field Communication (NFC), Quick Response Codes (QR), Universal Product Codes (UPC), and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), that can enable consumer to read the nutrition, health and wellness information. This can warn consumers about the ingredients, side effects of the product.
How digital printing is enabling new age of printing
Printing and packaging manufacturers that have adopted digital package printing are enjoying benefits of commercial printing such short-run printing, on-demand production, variable data printing, demographic printing, personalization and smart packaging.
Short-run printing enables to reduce inventory holding costs and provide quick and economic results. This allows industries like pharmaceuticals, food and pet nutrition manufacturing industries to adopt last-minute personalization as ingredients information and regulations change over shorts periods of time. Short-run printing also makes variable data printing more effective and to be leveraged more frequently by the brands. Food Manufacturing brands take advantage of these capabilities to produce versioning and personalized campaigns to refresh connect with the audience. One such campaign is “Share a Coke” by Coca Cola campaign. Further features like print on-demand ensures that there’s less wastage despite of short-runs and new designs and changes can be accommodated frequently for brands. Personalized packages are in demand because of their potential to increase product sales with a wide margin.
Conclusion – In comparison to other printing industry segments, packaging printing is growing particularly for consumer-packaged goods, pharmaceuticals and fast moving consumer goods. Printers that are investing in print packaging can get reap their investment in new technologies to gain market share. The potential of this rising technology has enormous applications for different industries in terms of offering personalization, customer engagement, and integration of packaging with digital channels.
Amy Watson is a consultant in E-commerce web to print Software Technology as well as Product Design Configurator for various eCommerce platforms. As a technology enthusiast, she is very well aware of latest trends and tools to expand online sales.