Many manufacturers have taken to outsourcing their packaging tasks these
days, as they find it more cost effective, and it takes away the
headache of dealing with all the issues associated with different
designs, packaging solutions and planning. So how do you know when to
start looking for a packaging solution outside of your own warehouse?
There are many “red flags” that should warn you that you really need to
start looking to outsource, and just a few of them are mentioned below.
Why you may need a contract packaging company
- Your manufacturing lines are struggling to cope with your packaging
demands. This can happen often, intermittently, or gradually, and can
have a marked effect on your production so you should keep an eye on the
situation, and if you feel that your staff are not coping, you should
try to look for a solution outside of your building.
- You have a new short term need for packaging that you would prefer
not to use your in-house staff for, as it would take people away from
your longstanding packaging needs.
- You have a short packaging run for a new, test or seasonal product.
Utilising your current packaging equipment wouldn’t work, so you would
have to invest in new.
- Your promotional packaging or inserts (intended to market your
company) require non-standard packaging and are quite labour intensive.
- Environmental or regulatory requirements dictate that your company
complies with sometimes-expensive investments, which you are not
prepared to undertake in house.
- Your in house staff cannot cope with a heavy workload, and you
require help to ensure that you get through this particularly busy
- Your product is sold overseas, so can be shipped to the destination
in bulk, and then each unit can be packed locally. This will save
- You have the need for a packaging form that your current staff or machines are not equipped to handle.
- You have a chronic shortage of staff
- Your machinery needs maintenance, and needs to be shut down for some time.
Of course when you are considering outsourcing your contract packing solutions,
you need to draw up a clear plan of action. Make sure to go through in
detail what you’ll want to achieve, and remember to ask everyone on your
current productions line (if you have one) for any opinions/issues they
might have so you have covered all basics. Once you’ve done this you
can then give a full brief to your prospective contract packaging
services supplier and they can tell you whether or not they’ll be able
to fulfill your needs.
How to choose a contract packaging service provider
It’s important to remember when looking to outsource your contract
packaging services, that you’ll need a contract packing company that
matches your ambition. You should certainly consider some or all of the
following criteria when choosing your packaging partner.
Where are they based? If you’re nowhere near your contract packing company, then you’re
going to struggle in an emergency situation to get a result if such an
emergency should arise. Having a contract packaging company close by to
your manufacturing and distribution partners, or facilities can make a
real difference when it comes to saving time, and can also ensure your
freight costs are lowered. Of course, if your business is located in an
area with high overheads, such as property prices, this cost may be
offset. Take a careful look at prices vs. location and decide which is
more important to you.
How long have they been trading?
Whilst it wouldn’t be fair to say that a business in it’s first year
of trading cannot offer you something you need, many businesses prefer
to go with a contract packaging services company with a good
long-standing reputation in their field and if they offer a wider range
of products and services because of this, then you may end up getting
everything, and more covered. They may even be able to offer you advice
and products you have not yet considered which could be of further
benefit to your company.
How much will it cost?
Sift through the quotes you get and work out what’s included and
what’s not. Different companies offer different services so quotes will
vary greatly. Its important to remember that the cheapest quote will not
necessarily be the best, so work out what you’ll be receiving for your
money and weigh up the value of any extra’s you may have been offered.
It’s also important to read the fine print on any quotations. If you
don’t you could well be in for a nasty shock along the way.
How good is the communication
However good the solutions are, the thing that really matters is how
well you can communicate with your co-pack company, and how well they
communicate back. You should have contacts you can speak to on a regular
basis, regular reviews and the opportunity to ask questions at every
step. You’ll also need to ensure there is a hierarchy in place for any
complaints or issues as they arise, in order to make sure that you’re
able to make changes quickly if needed.
How big is the company? Are they large enough to cope with the demands of any expansion?
Every business owner wants to think that their business will expand, and
if there are grand plans further down the line, you need to know that
the company you’re dealing with, will be able to cope with that growth
and even grow alongside you. On the other hand, you want to be important
to your contract packing company. As a small fish in a large pond, you
may not get the level of service you would with a larger company. This
is entirely up to you to get a feel by asking the right questions to
prospective contract packaging partners.
Do they have references?
A company you want to work with long term will have been trading some
time, so they should have a list of clients you can contact for
references. Be sure to double check their references by telephoning a
couple of those clients and asking some probing questions about how well
the company has handled their account. Whilst doing this, you may want
to check the list to see if there are any competing companies utilizing
your prospective contract packaging company. Could there be a conflict
Once you’ve chosen your contract packing company
Make sure that you and your prospecting contract-packing partner are
on the same wavelength when it comes to the finer details of any
operation. Speak to your contract packaging supplier often during the
set up process to ensure they have all of the correct procedures in
place and ensure that you work to the same guidelines in order to make
communication, problem solving and analysis easier. This will ensure
that everyone knows what they should be doing and avoids any