Visual attraction and reusable packaging: emerging synergies between crate appearance and customer promise to drive retail sales
When it comes to competition, things can be so…competitive. The bar continues to be raised so that it isn’t enough anymore to provide incredibly durable products, superior product protection, collapsible or nestable design, or features which enhance ergonomics, automation or weight reduction. These days, reusables are being tasked with not only supporting the product, in the material handling sense but also in promoting sales. Increasingly, reusables have a goal of catching customer attention with their look, or with their ability to deliver a compelling product offer. With announcements this week from Polymer Logistics and IFCO Systems on the start of wood grain RPC shipping and the introduction of RPC merchandising aids, it is perhaps timely to review some of the highlights in this progression:
Back in 2013, Rehrig Pacific collaborated with Clemson University in a study which required customers to wear high-tech glasses that measured where, and for how long, those people tended to look at objects. The result is that reusable packaging with brighter color and markings tended to catch and hold the attention of shoppers longer. The bottom line is that reusable packaging with the right color and markings to promote displayed product can capture and hold the attention of buyers.
In 2014, Rehrig Pacific reported a successful test of its mobile engagement enabled reusable material handling assets which delivered a click-through conversion rate of 48 percent. The local branch of Pepsi Bottling in Burnsville, Minn., served as the pilot market and locations for a project that combined 2D/QR barcode and near field communication (NFC) technologies with Rehrig Pacific’s new 5th generation Pepsi 2-liter bottle display shells. The platform generated a 1.34 percent response rate for consumer action. According to data from a Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report, this is higher than direct mail, email, paid search and internet display marketing targeting new customers.
Not so long ago, we talked about the high customer preference for reusable packaging versus expendable alternatives for fresh produce. Research by IFCO found that RPC-based displays were more attractive to 76 percent of participants while 60 percent felt that RPC-displayed produce appeared fresher. Along the same line, 61 percent of respondents believed that products presented in RPCs were of higher quality. The bottom line is that 68 percent of survey participants preferred to shop from RPCs, with another 18 percent being indifferent between expendable packaging and RPCs
“The wood-effect crate makes produce look great,” said Susie Cuevas, Director of Sales for Polymer Logistics, speaking to Reusable Packaging News after tests with the wood grain RPCs. “We have trialed them in the dry commodity racks, demonstrating how the display changes the entire department’s ambiance to one that is soft and inviting. We also successfully trialed the wet veg refrigerated areas. That change also had a significant positive effect on consumers. The area looked much cleaner, and the product stood out well.”
Walmart is supporting the move to wood look RPCs, which are viewed positively by customers. Dorn Wenninger, vice president of produce for Wal-Mart, spoke at a trade show in support of the transition at both the IFCO Systems and Polymer Logistics booths. Both companies will be providing the wood look crates to the retail giant. IFCO Systems recently announced its new RPC service for Walmart.
Polymer Logistics has reported that three leading fresh produce suppliers, including Grimmway Enterprises, Inc., Pure Hothouse Foods, Inc. and Calavo Growers, Inc., have shipped their initial truckloads of perishables in new wood grain RPCs supplied by Polymer Logistics for delivery to Walmart distribution centers. Another supplier, Classic Yam is the first sweet potato grower to participate. Read more.
With point of sale display customization becoming an increasing priority for retailers, IFCO is introducing a variety of innovative merchandising solutions which allow the customization of standard RPCs. This approach enables IFCO customers to take advantage of the market standard packaging solution in combination with an individual look which can be changed whenever desired (such as for promotions or special seasonal looks). Read more.
The progression continues towards more attractive, more interactive and more shopper-friendly packaging will continue to be an area of focus for reusable packaging in the retail space. Further advances are already in progress.