Launching a new product soon? Four things to consider as you plan your packaging process:
- The Middle Ground: How much do you invest in automation? How do you find the balance between automation investment and manual labor?
- Labor plan: Demand can change quickly when you launch a new product. Do you have the labor flexibility to adjust on the fly?
- Going big: What is your permanent packaging solution when the launch phase is over and you’re ready to meet mass demand on a long-term basis?
- Contingency: What happens in an emergency? Can you still package and distribute product if something happens to your facility?
Don’t know the answers to these questions? Read on for some valuable tips on developing a flexible and affordable packaging and distribution process for your new product.
You have a new product line that you’re preparing to take to market. You’ve invested substantial resources into market research, product design, manufacturing, and advertising. You’ve already lined up orders with your top customers and have ensured that your new line will have plenty of shelf space.
Launching a new product is always tricky because you don’t know exactly what the demand will be. You may have an idea based off your market research and you probably have initial orders from your retail partners. After those initial orders, though, it’s anyone’s guess as to what kind of volume you’ll need to ship.
That presents a problem when it comes to packaging. You could invest resources into a highly automated packaging solution that will drive down your unit cost. However, if there isn’t enough demand for the product, you may never earn back enough to cover that investment.
Another option is to use a flexible manual packaging system. You won’t have the upfront investment into automated machinery, but you will have a higher unit cost driven by increased manual labor. Neither option is ideal, as both expose you to significant risk.
Fortunately, there is another option. At Deufol, we regularly help companies bring their new products to market. Here is the four-step process we often recommend to minimize risk and maximize efficiency.
Step #1: Find middle ground.
Your initial choice doesn’t have to simply be between a fully automated or fully manual process. There is middle ground. At Deufol, we often employ that middle ground with companies who are bringing a new product to market.
Because we build our own equipment in-house, we are able to develop a semi-automatic packaging process that suppresses your unit cost and also limits your capital investment. We can package your product in our facility using that semi-automatic process during the first weeks or months after your market launch. You can use that time to gauge demand and determine the best long-term packaging solution for your product
Step #2: Leverage your packaging partner’s labor force.
Let’s assume you’ve decided to hold off on a fully automated packaging system. Or perhaps you are moving forward with an automated system, but it isn’t quite ready yet. That means in the short term, you’ll have to rely on a manual process that requires a significant amount of labor. You might even need three shifts working around the clock, seven days a week, especially if demand meets or exceeds your expectations.
Do you have the staff and infrastructure to move to a 24/7 packaging and distribution process? If the answer is no, you need a packaging partner who can handle this step for you.
We often work with companies who need round the clock packaging and distribution during the product launch period. They’re able to leverage our labor force and our distribution network to get their product out the door and on their customer’s shelves. Then, after that initial launch phase, they transition into a more permanent packaging and distribution solution.
Leveraging your packaging partner’s labor force is a great way to get a 24/7 process without having to add to your payroll.
Step #3: Transition into a permanent packaging process.
Once you get past the initial launch phase, it’s time to shift into a long-term packaging and distribution process. Ideally, the initial launch phase will have provided you with enough data to make an informed decision.
Perhaps demand met expectations and you can justify building an automated system in your facility. Or maybe demand was softer than you planned, and you want to hold off on a large capital investment. You may even need more time to collect data and evaluate the market.
In any case, it’s critical in this phase that you work with a packaging partner who can help you develop the right long-term packaging system for your goals. We help our customers design and implement their long-term packaging solutions and we manage the transition from the temporary launch system to that permanent process.
In many cases, customers opt to keep much of their packaging and distribution in our facility because it gives them increased flexibility and production capabilities. Whether your goal is to reduce unit cost, limit capital investment, or find a balance between the two, the right packaging partner can help you achieve that goal.
Step #4: Have a contingency plan in place.
Stuff happens. It’s a fact of life in the manufacturing world. Equipment may malfunction. Demand may spike. There could be any number of things that could throw a wrench in your packaging and distribution processes.
When those issues pop up, it pays to have a relationship with packaging partner who can serve as your contingency plan. At Deufol, we often retain relationships with our customers long after they’ve launched their products and transitioned to a permanent solution in their own facility. When they have a spike in demand or a machine breaks down, they’re able to instantly turn to us for backup packaging and distribution support.
There’s always uncertainty when you bring a new product to market. Your packaging and distribution processes shouldn’t be one of them. Partner with a packaging company who can help you find the right process for your goals and who can help you manage the volatile nature of a new product launch. Having the right relationship can mean all the difference between market launch success and failure.