Point of sale opportunities, pressures to improve driver productivity and experience, and warehouse automation are causing a rethink in the deployment of reusables.
2. Point of Sale Merchandising
In the quest for sales growth and reduced stocking labor, point of sale (POS) displays have become increasingly popular, and supported by initiatives exploring point of display opportunities, such as The Strategic Leadership Forum’s floor ready display initiative.
A number of vendors have come to the table with smaller footprint pallets aimed at helping retailers create more opportunities for point-of-sale merchandising. Within the last few years, CHEP, ORBIS Corporation and Rehrig Pacific have all announced new smaller footprint pallets targeting POS, with others, such as PTM, actively serve the market with other related POS display products. Significant growth in the small format retailer segment has driven this new offering. These smaller footprint pallets reduce unloading time in smaller stores that typically have narrow doors and no receiving dock.
Additionally, Rehrig Pacific, has drawn attention to the importance of visual attractiveness in reusables for POS merhandising (see Fixation on Reusables), as well as the potential to communicate with shoppers with customer-specific enticements to promote sales through NFC technology.
3. Pressures to Shorten Length of Stop at Retail and Reduce Transportation Spend
Hours of service restrictions for drivers in the U.S., as well as interest in reducing delivery costs are strong motivators for getting delivery trucks in and out of retail more quickly. At the same time, however, drivers are dealing with more complex orders in terms of SKU variety, possibly more load instability because of the increased SKU mix, and more congested retail floors to navigate.
Solutions that take time and touches out of retail delivery are increasingly attractive not only for reducing transport cost, but also for making the job easier for drivers. Less strenuous work translates into drivers who will last longer, plus widening the pool of interested job candidates, stress both Huesing and Lindell. Offerings such as the small format pallet also add value here, minimizing touches and allowing drivers and store employees to optimize the delivery and merchandising process.
With an eye to these challenges, smaller footprint pallets, as outlined above, are increasingly of interest. Additionally, we see reusable packaging providers continuing to stretch the boundaries of their offerings beyond pallets and containers as they come to the table with more holistic solutions. Rehrig Pacific, for example, has introduced its new DSD-GS solution, including four key products that it believes, when used in unison, provide a range of benefits in the retail delivery environment. System components consist of the DSD R40 Electric Lift, the GS Pallet, the DSD Hydraulic Sled, and Pallet Wrapz®. (To see a demonstration of the Rehrig Pacific system in action, click here.)
4. Warehouse Automation
In the face of challenges such as SKU complexity and ergonomics considerations, beverage warehouses are increasingly looking at automation projects to help boost efficiency. This may be good news for reusable packaging providers, according to Huesing. Because such systems benefit from standardized container and pallet sizes, this trend should benefit from reusable packaging that helps optimize automated system performance.