Keeping Quality & Cost in Check: Digital Sample Bags for Retail Sell-In
There are a few good reasons bags are so prevalent on the shelves and in the aisles at many retailers, including cost efficiency, versatility, and compatibility with limited shelf space. In fact, how a product is going to be displayed, which can be different for different retailers, is one of the first considerations made in selecting a packaging type before moving into the design phase.
“The customer, in our case the retailer, drives the packaging,” explains Kim Ferrill, the marketing coordinator at Clean Ones, which produces a wide range of household gloves under its flagship brand of the same name, along with its Workin’ Gloves hardware and automotive line and many other private label brands for national retailers. Headquartered in Portland, Ore., the company produces more than one billion gloves annually and distributes them from its three U.S. distribution centers.
“Bags are a more cost-efficient method of packaging our gloves because we can mass produce and get more packages in a run, which keeps the product’s cost down for the retailer and ultimately its end-customer,” the five-year company veteran explains. “It’s also highly durable and often holds up better than a box during distribution.”
With a consistent eye on quality, the bag substrate the leading glove company chose for its packaging is OPP, which is more durable than polyethylene (PE) and presents the packaging artwork better, too. At 2.2 thickness (118 ga clear film laminated to 118 ga clear film), the factory standard for the glove bags are thicker than the most commonly used OPP bag at 1.7 (100 ga laminated to 70 ga).
“The OPP stands up to the rigors of packing and shipping and looks good on the peg,” says Ferrill, referring to the peg board on which the gloves in smaller quantity bags hang on for display.
While 10 to 12 disposable gloves fit perfectly in a bag, larger quantities (50 and 100) must go in a box because they won’t fit in a bag. The “in between” 30-count offering was a challenge because the gloves could fit in the same standard bag if the die line was made larger, but most retailers simply don’t have the shelf space to accommodate the larger bags and request the box.
Quick Turnarounds for Professional Bag SamplesSamples, small quantities of products in packaging, are needed to showcase a new product or introduce a new line–and Clean Ones like many CPG companies, doesn’t have the time or budget to get samples produced in the same manner as its full production-run packaging.
Ferrill explains, “Sending the glove bags back and forth from our production facilities overseas is not cost-efficient, and the factory needs up to six weeks to get the order in and out. We need samples typically within two or three weeks, plus sometimes we make last-minute changes to packaging samples.”
Quickly realizing that hand-made mockups of the glove bags weren’t going to cut it with the retail giants, the marketing executives at Clean Ones were recommended digitally printed samples from CL&D Digital.
Digital printing is direct-to-press and doesn’t require the set up of plates. Depending on the quantity and number of colors, in many cases digital can cost up to 50 percent less than conventional printing. And the best news is that advancements in digital technology are now allowing for runs up to one million feet and 26 inches wide.
“We did a trial run and then presented digital samples to one of our very biggest customers--they were blown away. From that point on, we knew we had to go the digital sample route because the samples look good and seal a lot of deals,” says Ferrill. Her only original concern with going digital was that she had to understand that the color was not always a true match in the digitally printed sample versus the full production-run packaging. “I had to get over the mindset that the color was CMYK and not spot, so in some cases there’s a slightly different representation of color,” says Ferrill.
On what to look for in a digital printer, Ferrill says she values the level of professionalism and knowledge she’s experienced with CL&D. “Confidentiality is also extremely important to us,” she adds. “We often have samples made exclusively for a specific customer or a new product that hasn’t hit the market yet, and we want to hold them to ourselves until product introduction to keep our competitive advantage.”
Digital Timelines and Workflow ProcessesClean Ones has had success landing business after presentations featuring digitally produced samples with its Clean Ones Pure Comfort and Everyday Cleaning gloves, as well as its Workin’ Gloves Nitrile latex-free gloves for automotive and painting applications. The latter is a line for people who need industrial-strength gloves that are more durable than household gloves.
“The Pure Comfort glove is a latex-free reusable glove that’s new to our household line and is quickly becoming one of our most in-demand gloves,” Ferrill says. “The Everyday Cleaning glove is a reasonably priced reusable latex glove with our brand name that allows us to grow our name beyond the private label realm.”
All three glove lines went through similar processes from bag concept to digitally printed sample. On day one, for example, the company requested a three-day quote and by day two the quote was received and approved and art files (from a local designer) were sent to the printer. On day three Clean Ones requested two-day pricing due to a presentation date change and the printer sent out the pre-flight report (pre-press quality checks the files for all components including correct images and fonts) and turned around an electronic PDF proof. Within the hour, the proof was approved and the bags were printed and completed for shipping on day four.
The digital printer forms two flat bar side seals, seals the top, and punches the sombrero hole at the top of the bag for hanging on the peg. To save additional time and shipping of a few pairs of gloves back and forth, the bottom is left unsealed and the bags are shipped to Clean Ones to fill with gloves and bottom-seal.
It’s important to note that most expert digital printers provide professional design services as well as product fulfillment, and that advances in digital technology are lengthening print runs – blurring the lines in favor of digital on when to use a digital printer over a conventional one. But perhaps even greater than its speed, digital’s greatest asset continues to be its ability to play an important role in packaging innovation.
Case in point, on overcoming that 30-count disposable glove packaging challenge, Ferrill concludes, “We’ve leaned on CL&D to produce sample gusseted reclosable bags to offer our customers who may want the 30-count gloves without the box. It’s a slightly more expensive bag option (though less expensive than a box if the quantities are there), but it accommodates the bulk of more gloves and still works within the retailer’s shelf space as it can easily be displayed hanging on a peg or sitting on a shelf.”
(800) 367-4587; www.cleanones.com
(800) 777-1114; www.clddigital.com