Guide to Retail Packaging

open cardboard box with spray bottles inside for retail packaging

The Ultimate Guide to Retail Packaging

For many businesses, the dream is to one day have your products stocked on retail shelves. It’s an admirable goal – and one we’re sure you will achieve. When the time does come, you’ll need top quality packaging to deliver your products to stores. Here’s everything you need to know for great retail packaging.

What is retail packaging?

Retail packaging is anything that may be used to deliver and display items in stores. Typical options include boxes, bags or bottles. Our top picks are corrugated cardboard boxes and stands, which is what we’ll be focusing on for this guide.

The FMCG industry is one of the biggest users of retail packaging – for common items like fresh food, beverages, medicines, beauty products and much more. Products like these can be stocked anywhere from the local fruit shop, chemist or boutique to major retailers like Coles, Woolworths, Bunnings, Costco and Aldi.

Many of these products are also sold online however; e-commerce packaging needs are slightly different. For this guide, we’ll be focused on packaging requirements for offline retail in brick and mortar stores.

Primary vs secondary packaging

To get your goods safely to stores and easy to shop on shelves, you need both primary and secondary packaging. Here’s what that means:

Primary packaging refers to the product packaging. It is the last thing a consumer will open before handling the goods. Primary packaging can be anything from jars and bottles to paper cartons and plastic bags. Sometimes, corrugated cardboard is used for this packaging, though it’s more common to use a lightweight paperboard instead.

Secondary packaging is the carton which is used for delivery and carries multiple units of a product to stores. Corrugated cardboard makes an ideal material for this packaging as it is strong and crush-resistant to protect your products in transit.

food retail packaging dumplings

The purpose of retail packaging

No matter what type of business you run or industry you’re in – the two basic purposes of retail packaging remain the same.

1. It should protect your products in transit

From being packed in your warehouse to shipping and finally, the staff who stock shelves – your products will go through many hands before they reach a customer. The main purpose of your packaging is to get them to their final destination safely. Remember, it costs more to replace a product than it does to package it correctly. The investment you make now in quality packaging can save money down the line.

2. It needs to stand out on crowded shelves

Businesses dream of working with major retailers because it means more exposure for their products. But, there’s also plenty of competition. Your packaging is a moment to shine – helping you stand out and grab a customer’s attention. Many businesses even include packaging costs in their advertising budget since it has a direct impact on product sales.

Types of retail packaging

Shelf-ready cartons are by far the most popular option for retail stores. But, depending on your industry, there are a few more ideas to be aware of.

Shelf-ready packaging (SRP)

Almost all retail packaging delivered to stores is a form of shelf-ready packaging, or SRP. Many retailers have detailed specifications when it comes to SRP and if you don’t meet them, they may refuse to stock your product. It’s not only about getting them delivered, but stocking your products efficiently.

shelf ready packaging skincare

The key to any great SRP is meeting the ‘five easies’. These are:

  1. Easy to identify
  2. Easy to open
  3. Easy to replenish
  4. Easy to shop
  5. Easy to dispose of and recycle

Our previous blog goes into more detail on the five easies of shelf-ready packaging. 

POS Displays

The second most popular type of retail packaging has to be POS displays. These are stands and pop-ups that can be found in large, open spaces of a retail store or at the checkout counter. A great benefit to POS displays is getting your product off crowded retail shelves and creating a special experience for the customer.

Read our guide to cardboard POS displays.

pos display retail packaging dump bin

Beverage packaging

Many beverages are packaged in fragile glass or thin cans, which means your retail packaging needs to be strong and durable. Echo Cartons have worked with microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, coffee roasters and much more to create strong beverage packaging that is easy to deliver and stock.

Food packaging

Health and safety are key when it comes to food packaging. Luckily, corrugated cardboard is a hygienic choice. Not only is it single-use without being wasteful, it has been proven to extend the shelf-life of fresh food.

food boxes stackable retail packaging

Seasonal packaging

Seasonal times of year are a great opportunity for retail businesses to branch out and surprise their customers. Limited edition products and gift boxes make a simple, yet appealing addition to your regular retail packaging.

Read our ultimate guide to seasonal packaging.

Automated lines

Businesses that produce high volumes of their product often use automated machinery to keep things moving. Precision is key when designing boxes for automated lines. Echo Cartons have plenty of experience in FMCG and have designed many boxes for machine packing.

cardboard box designed for automated lines

Order retail packaging with Echo Cartons

Echo Cartons have more than 20 years’ experience with FMCG and retail businesses. We know the detailed specifications of major retailers like Coles, Costco, Woolworths, Bunnings and Aldi – inside and out. You can rely on our team for quality, locally-made retail packaging. Ready to go? Request a quote on our website.

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