Technology makes gadgets, devices, and instruments that improve the end-user’s experience. Surgeons need razor sharp scalpels, businesses need reliable mobile devices, and teachers need slide projectors for their classroom lectures.
Inventing, manufacturing, and distributing these products to market keep the wheels of industry turning smoothly. While inventing, making, and marketing may take up the bulk of an organization’s resources, distribution, too, is a vital aspect of business success.
What is Distribution?
While distribution is mainly about the logistics of transportation and storage, a small part of distribution also needs careful attention: packaging. While logistics is concerned with what to ship and where to ship it, packaging focuses on how to ship it.
Packaging has two distinct characteristics to it: the marketing aspect and the manufacturing aspect.
The marketing aspect of a package is all about enhancing visual appeal to tempt and please consumers. It’s essentially the business science of creating the ideal look-and-feel to stimulate customer response and improve conversion.
Since a company that delivers its electronic product in an attractive box will outsell a competitor who uses plain box, marketers have to carefully evaluate and test features like the colors used on a box, the words used to describe the product, and the shape of the boxes.
The manufacturing aspect of a package is not focused on how people react to a package, but whether or not it is securely delivered to wholesalers and retailers. A packaging engineer is concerned with the security of a package.
Packaging a surgeon’s scalpel or a smartphone involves a lot more than simply using bubble wrap and a firm cardboard box. In fact, packaging delicate instruments is a science in itself. Gadgets, devices, and instruments have to be treated in an entirely different way from regular products due to the damage that can occur during shipping and handling.
One way manufacturers drastically improve the entire supply chain process is in their selection of packaging materials to safeguard the product. Predetermining and testing out the right materials will save time and effort when it comes to shipping a large volume of units per shift. Additionally, appropriate packaging will also improve revenue as it will drastically decrease the claims for refunds from goods damaged in transit.
Determining the materials needed to make a product economically successful is no easy task. It depends on knowing the difference between foam materials, molded fiber, fabrics, plastics, natural fiber, and boxes–and then deciding on the most suitable combination for distribution.
Packaging a tech product may sound like a trivial concern to the consumer, but in actuality, but from the manufacturer’s perspective, choosing the proper material for packaging to protect products during shipping can be a rather daunting and challenging task.
Let’s take a closer look at some choices when it comes to selecting the right packaging materials:
All foam materials are not the same. They vary in cell structure and other characteristics. Even foam from the same family of materials can vary in firmness and density. The selection of foam depends on the level of product protection necessary.
Molded fiber is a material made out of paper. It’s a technology ideal for green companies looking for a 100% recyclable packaging solution. Molded fiber is pulp that comes from newspapers. Newspapers are dissolved in liquids, churned into a slurry material, and then shaped into a custom package.
Woven or nonwoven fabrics are used to create fabric composites for medical markets, industrial safety markets, sports product markets, automotive markets, and aerospace and defense markets. Compression molding fabrics with lamination or foam construction can satisfy specific tech products.
Thermoformed plastics are used where a product needs a protective shell to withstand damage caused by shocks and vibrations. Plastics also permit sterilization. For instance, hip implant technology is packaged in protective plastic shells. Plastic molds can vary extensively: they can be rigid or rubberlike, smooth or corrugated. Plastics also offer the unique advantage of being easy to dye, and this makes it an ideal protective material where a specific color is used for brand recognition.
After wrapping up products securely in foam, molded fiber, fabrics, or plastics, products need to be delivered through customized shipping boxes. These boxes can range from regular slotted containers (RSC) to specialized designs, and they can be made in a variety of strengths to suit different products.
Although manufacturers view packaging differently from marketers, there are often aspects where both fields share a common element. For instance, choosing the right box is an important element in packaging for both manufacturers and marketers. Customers have a completely different visceral response to a plain brown box with an Amazon prime logo than one that merely has a generic label. This momentary sense of excitement is enough to create millions of dollars in repeat business for the online retail giant.