How to Make Your Packaging Process Highly Efficient

It sure is difficult to get all your processes as efficient as possible, without sacrificing quality, when you ship out thousands of orders monthly, isn’t it?

When things happen at scale, that drives up your profit. But it also increases complexity.

So, here’s how to drive the most efficiency from your packing processes:

1. Have an Order Management System in Place

An order management system should have each of your products’ weight and dimensions. That way, it can tell you exactly what size box to use and how to pack the item.

That keeps you shipping costs low. This also keeps the packing time low. And it results in the fewest number of damaged items.

Now that’s some nice efficiency!

2. Keep Touches to One

Only one person should need to touch your product throughout the entire pick and pack process.

Any more than that, and you’re wasting time. You’re also increasing complication, which further increase your risk of a mistake.

3. Optimize Your Storage

You shouldn’t use a random storage approach. If you’re in the early days of your business, that may be what you have to do for a while.

But you need to have an organized approach. The volume-based approach means you store the most frequently purchased items nearest your shipping stations.

The class-based approach assigns items to an area based on demand, but then you put the item randomly in any open space within that area.

One of those two approaches greatly increases your efficiency versus random storage.

4. Direct Methods for Increasing Packaging Efficiency

Use zone, wave, or batch picking to get the most from your employees. Then, amplify their packing efforts with some level of automation.

Your company can get by early on with using only human labor. But if you’re going to keep costs down and efficiency high, you’ll need to augment with machine automation.

There’s more choices available than you have time to evaluate. So, you have to understand how you currently package and what your needs are.

You may be sophisticated enough to require packaging with machine learning and AI. You may need a label applicator or overwrapping machine. You may even want an all-one system that packages product by the case.

It all depends on your unique business needs.

Packaging efficiency gains can almost always be made. And now you have an excellent starting point to identify your next opportunities.

How to Prevent the Cold and Flu in Your Workplace

The more employees you have, the greater likelihood you have of the cold and flu.

It happens. And it even happens when you feel like you have strong workplace policy in effect.

So what’s the trick?

Here’s our take:

1. Handwashing

The number one thing your employees can do is wash their hands. By far. Nothing else even comes close.

For example, the CDC found that in 2011, 75,000 hospital patients died due to a hospital-acquired infection (HAI). And they also found that healthcare professionals, of all professions, washed their hands less than half the times they should.

Sounds unbelievable. But it’s absolutely no joke.

The CDC recommends washing your hands:

  • Before, during, and after prepping food
  • Before and after caring for someone sick at home
  • After using the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching garbage

And here’s their recommended handwashing procedure:

  1. Wet your hands with warm or cold water
  2. Lather the backs of your hands, under your fingernails, and between your fingers with soap
  3. Scrub your hands for 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice to time)
  4. Rinse your hands under clean water
  5. Dry with a towel or air dryer
  6. Use hand sanitizer only if you can’t use soap or water

2. Encourage Employees to Stay Home & Rest When Sick

Most workplaces put the opposite pressure on employees through formal and informal policy. Companies require notes from doctors proving employees are sick, which gives the impression the company doesn’t trust its employees.

Bosses and coworkers put pressure on by getting irritated, annoyed, or skeptical when employees get sick.

Your workplace needs to adopt the other attitude. One that shows trust in your employees and concern for their health.

And if you don’t trust your employees period, it’s time for you to work on that attitude (or get new employees).

3. Have Policy in Place for Cleaning Commonly Touched Areas of Your Office

This one’s difficult because it’s easy to forget or overlook areas that many employees touch. But it’s simple enough to do.

Just go to any area of your office and make a list of all things multiple employees touch in a day. For example:

  • Keyboards
  • Mice
  • Door knobs
  • Coffee pot handles
  • Refrigerator handles
  • Elevator buttons
  • Countertops

…And so on. You get the point.

Now of course you have a cleaning service who takes care of cleaning these things at the end of the day. However, what do you do when multiple employees touch these surfaces throughout the day?

Have your employees avoid touching these (when possible), use a nearby disinfectant to sanitize if soiling is visible (per CDC recommendation), and consider asking your janitorial service to clean these surfaces a couple times throughout the day (some offer this service).

And of course, encourage your employees to live healthy lives outside of work. Because that keeps their immune system strong and resistant to the cold and flu.

Ultimately, you can’t eliminate the cold and flu from infecting some of your employees. But you can reduce the rate.

And that leads to happier and more productive workers, along with higher profitability and less stress having to cover for sick team members.

Why You Can’t Do Without ProTeam Vacuums

Believe it or not, ProTeam was founded by Larry Shideler in a garage in 1983. It wasn’t a software company.

Instead, Larry invented the first backpack vacuum. Back in that day, it revolutionized the cleaning industry. Worker productivity skyrocketed.

With unique ideas like that, you know ProTeam’s going to be a go-to. Since then, ProTeam has made dozens of vacuums designed to maximize what we’ve now come to know as “Indoor Air Quality.”

So why should you get super-excited about ProTeam products today?

Here’s why:

1. Unmatched Cleaning Benefits

ProTeam backpack vacuums allow you to double your productivity. Maintenance costs run a third of what they do for any upright vacuum.

Employees prefer ProTeam’s backpack vacuums because they’re lightweight and designed to be comfortable for workers. ProTeam products are also designed to minimize energy consumption, so they’re earth-friendly.

You just can’t get all these great benefits with any other competing product.

2. ProTeam Vacuums Are Reliable, Even with Heavy Use

Customers love the ProVac. Even when used an hour a day 7 days per week, it doesn’t encounter any unusual maintenance issues.

And this even goes if you have employees who aren’t experienced in or concerned with vacuum maintenance or repair.

When you compare the almost non-existent attention required for the ProVac to the constant maintenance and hassles required by much cheaper backpack vacuums, you can understand why the ProVac is such a breath of fresh air.

3. The ProTeam Super Coach Pro 6 Skyrockets Indoor Air Quality

Look, you know IAQ’s become all the rage here in recent years. And for good reason. The Super Coach Pro 6 has become the go-to for some cleaning franchises.

It’s made with Four-Level Filtration, which captures allergens and dust particles other competing options can’t.

Plus, it comes with the exception reliability that ProTeam’s known for.

When it comes to vacuums, and especially backpack vacuums, you just can’t beat ProTeam. They’re the upper end of vacuuming.

Sure, you pay a little more. But then again, you have just a fraction of the hassle, while always getting excellent results (and happy customers too).

So, when ProTeam’s vacuums make sense for you, we’re excited to recommend them!

Why Pollock Packaging Rocks

Alright. Alright. Before you get too skeptical and think that we’re just promoting ourselves because we can, learn more about Pollock Packaging.

We really do an awesome job when it comes to your packaging design needs. After all, you can get an accurate prototype (at real size) within 24-36 hours of your request.

But as you know, speed isn’t the only thing. So, here’s why you’ll love Pollock Packaging when it makes sense for your business:

1. Unique Process

Our bread’n’butter lies in the process. It’s had more than a century of testing (and going), so you can be it’s quite good by now. And of course, it’s never finished because the market’s always changing.

Basically, because we do the entire design and production in-house, you get speed, quality, and competitive costs. You just can’t find all these benefits with other companies.

Pollock’s design team works with you hand-in-hand so you get a highly accurate prototype that looks exactly as it would in real life. That happens in just 24-36 hours. Then you get the opportunity to provide feedback and make changes.

And finally, your packaging gets produced and delivered.

Your life is oh-so-much easier because you only have to deal with one point of contact. And one with more than a century of experience!

2. Versatility in Industries Served

At Pollock, we can handle a variety of industries. Food service, food packaging, retail, beverage, industrial packaging, and even jumbo packaging are all well within our capability.

Custom fonts, precision colors, easy opening…you name it and we can do it.

Need custom packaging in a high-competition industry like craft beer? No sweat. We’ll make you stand out so you win market share.

3. Orora Covers Your Specialty Packaging Needs

Want to assemble a display? What about custom die-cut inserts or foam inserts? Something else entirely?If you can imagine it, we can make it reality without creating excess extra work for you.

So yes, when it comes to creating custom packaging quickly and at a competitive price, you just can’t beat a company with more than a century of experience.

And it’s why we’ll happily recommend Pollock Packaging, but only when it makes perfect sense for your business needs!

3 Forgotten Retail Bag Design Tips

Your retail bag should really be an art form. Your goal is to impress your customer so much with it that they just have to come back and shop again.

Of course, this should cap off an already amazing experience with you.

But remember, your bag will be one of the last experiences your customer has with you. If the handles break and your product falls through, that’s about the worst you can do.

So, what should you analyze when it comes to retail packaging, including the bags?

Here’s some sales-boosting suggestions:

1. Make Your Packaging Suffice as Gift Wrap

If you know your customer frequently buys your product as a gift, take a step out of the purchasing process by making your product’s packaging gift-worthy.

This keeps the customer from having to ask for gift wrap at your store, go to another store for the same thing, or having to do the wrapping themselves.

French beauty products company Sephora does this and is a phenomenal example if you want a company to study.

2. Leave a Lasting Emotional Impression

How do customers feel about your company? What emotions do they experience when they see your logo?

Do they think and feel nothing?

Every interaction makes a difference. For example, take a look at DuLuth Trading Company’s advertising.

Geared towards gruff, tough, and hardworking blue-collar men, its advertising screams everything that goes with being a “manly man.”

Whenever you hear that company name or see anything associated with it, you know exactly which market they serve. And if you’re one of the company’s customers, you have an instant connection.

It’s one of many reasons the company is now a $546 million enterprise.

So how can you accomplish the same with your own retail bags and packaging?

3. Use Your Bag As A Lasting Advertising Tool

You don’t want the type of advertising that comes from being the torn-apart bag that’s found in the ditch.

If you have a more durable bag, and awesome advertising on the side, your bag may get used for weeks and months ahead.

Alice and Olivia makes women’s designer clothing. Their standard bag is a nylon tote with rope handles.

The bag’s so durable that it still gets used 6 months later!

Get your name, website, and an exciting offer on the side, and you now have a wicked advertising tool at your disposal.

So now that you have these tips, make sure you never forget them.

4 Efficiency-Draining Warehouse Setup Mistakes

Optimizing your product distribution sure is challenging, isn’t it?

You have so many options and approaches to choose from. And it takes time to figure out what works and what doesn’t for your specific warehouse.

And of course, during the process, mistakes are bound to happen. It’s part of getting better at what you do.

To minimize some of those mistakes, learn from the most common ones many companies make:

1. No Forward Location Set Up

What products get ordered most commonly? Those go in a forward location near your shipping and receiving dock to minimize employee trips and steps.

This, rather than placing all of that inventory in one area of your warehouse.

Then, the safety stock for that popular inventory gets placed in a more remote location of your warehouse…or at an offsite location.

When you need more, you bring it all over to your forward location in one fell swoop.

2. No Separate “Dead Stock” Location

It would be nice if you sold all your inventory exactly as planned. But sometimes, product recalls, market shifts, customer returns, and forgetfulness happen.

Most SMBs just let their dead stock commingle in with their live inventory. Smart ones create a separate location so they have all their dead stock in one place.

Dead stock left mixed in just sits around, taking up space, causing confusion, and wasting money. It may also accidentally get shipped to customers.

A special dead stock location reminds you needs liquidating and to strategize for the efficient liquidation of the inventory.

3. Incorrect Technology Application

Remember, new software tools are implemented to create more profitability for your company or more convenience for your customer.

At first, they’re fun. Like a toy. It’s fun to get to know these tools and what they can do. However, some businesses make the mistake of focusing too much on the tools themselves. They forget to optimize their whole warehouse via signage, labels, and efficient movement.

Yes, you should invest in software tools. But, make sure they’re implemented in a way that drives the greatest value for your company and customers.

4. Using Paper Processes

Paper is out-of-date.

Make that your personal mantra.

There is no reason to use it anymore for your own internal processes. Paper packing slips in customer orders are expected and fine.

The primary cost of paper is not the financial expense, but the time it takes to manage. Everything you need done on paper can be done electronically. And it saves you an almost absurd amount of time to do everything online.

Paper also gets lost. Handwriting can be unclear and confusing to read.

The switch to digital may take some time. But it saves you so much more time and is exponentially more convenient in the long run.

Plus, you can also promote your paperless workplace as environmentally friendly to your own employees and customers.

So those are just some warehousing mistakes.

Which rings the most true and will become your top priority?

How to Make Your Packaging Greener

Every little edge you can get adds up and makes a difference in retail, doesn’t it?

And your customers notice all the little things, don’t they?

So here’s some small things you can do to increase the green-friendliness of your packaging that your customers might also appreciate:

1. Reduce Packaging

This may require help from an experienced green packaging manufacturer. The lesser the packaging you use, the lower amount of harm you cause the environment.

Truthfully, your customers may not notice that you use less packaging than normal. So, make them aware of it by putting a brief statement on your packaging.

2. Unique Materials

Ink can be made from chemicals…or you can get ink made from soy or milk protein. You won’t sacrifice anything in terms of richness of color.

And your customers will appreciate this small step toward sustainability.

3. Make Your Packaging Giftable

Shape your packaging for a child’s stuffed animal like a teddy bear (or in another way your market finds appropriate).

If your market finds your packaging attractive and reusable, they use it again. And perhaps several times more.

So, that cuts a certain amount of waste of single-use packaging from ever having to go into landfills.

4. Make Sustainability Part of Your Marketing

Putting your sustainability in the eye of the public keeps you accountable. Say you do it, and follow through, and you keep or grow your sales.

Say you do it, fail to follow through, and watch your complaints rise and sales decrease.

The more you put your desire to be sustainable in the eyes of your market, the more accountable it keeps you to actually doing so.

And frequently, your market spots your shortcomings faster and more frequently than you do.

So, you may end up with a more sustainable product with their help than you ever would on your own.

5. Try Edible Packaging

Ever gone to your favorite restaurant to eat…the packaging? It’s slowly becoming a reality. And it’s absolutely not a joke.

An increasingly common kind of edible food packaging is coffee cups you can eat after drinking the coffee.

Sounds odd. But it’s clear to see how this reduces environmental waste!

Hopefully these examples give you ideas of how to incorporate more sustainable practices in your packaging.

Which will you use?

Why Shurtape’s Our Top Recommendation When You Need Any Kind of Tape

Shurtape comes in as our first recommended specialist tape manufacturer. And there’s good reason you’ll love ‘em.

For starters, they’ve been in operation since 1955. And all they make is tape. So that gives them 64 years of experience in tape manufacturing as of the time of this writing in 2019.

That’s an incredible amount of experience just in tape production!

So to stay in business that long, and to make our President’s Club, they must do quite a bit right.

Here’s some Shurtape’s special highlights:

1. Focus on Quality Product for Specific Market Segments

Shurtape isn’t designed to be a commodity use-and-toss product for the masses at large. Rather, it’s created specifically for craftsmen in specific market segments.

Shurtape’s products are specially designed for several dozen markets, and even sub-markets, including HVAC contractors, painters, automated carton sealing, transportation, and packaging, among many others.

The company’s close work with contractors in each niche in the past and present yields a top-quality product that doesn’t disappoint.

2. An Example of One of the Company’s Most Sophisticated Tapes

Of course, the military has to do some taping sometimes too. However, you can bet they need something stronger and more reliable than regular ol’ duct tape.

Would you really want our nation’s country protected by simple duct tape?

Shurtape produces military grade aluminum foil tape for vapor barriers and waterproof seals, and for masking off areas when electroplating.

Now of course, they create tapes for more common purposes too. But this example shows you Shurtape can handle the sophisticated needs of any market.

3. Working to Eliminate Case Sealing Issues

One of the biggest problems in the tape industry is difficulty sealing cases. Inefficiency, wasted material, damaged product, and injuries happen frequently.

However, Shurtape has more than 135 years of experience in sealing boxes. And currently, 25% of the company’s manufacturing processes focus on packaging tape production.

All products are designed to minimize and eliminate the afore-mentioned case-sealing issues.

When it comes to sealing cases, Shurtape has it down.

So, we’re happy to recommend Shurtape when their products make sense for you. And you should feel equally excited whenever you hear their name!

Why You’ll Fall in Love with Cube Packaging

Cube Packaging is definitely one of the youngest companies in our President’s Club, as they began operations in 2007.

So to make the President’s Club list at the young age of 12, they must be doing something awfully special.

Cube specializes in environmentally sustainable packaging solutions. And with their commitment to continual manufacturing process improvement, they’ve won designations like the 2018 Business Excellence Award for Large Businesses.

Here’s some other interesting highlights about Cube Packaging:

1. A Focus on Reusability, Which is Even More Sustainable than Recycling

Recycling is a good and healthy thing. But Cube Packaging takes recycling a step further to reusability.

Cube makes all their packaging products with the goal of having consumers use them more than once. Their packaging is actually made of more durable materials.

However, through innovative design techniques, these more durable containers also don’t require more material to make in the first place.

So you do definitely end up with a significant net gain with reusable packaging.

2. Niche Focus

Cube Packaging makes a large amount of packaging products that display food. They focus on grocery stores, restaurants, catering, and meal prep solutions.

As a business, you know the value of a specialist niche expert. That’s Cube Packaging.

They rock the sustainable food display container market.

3. Special Novelty Food Containers

Need to spice up the display of your food with a special them to get customers in a purchasing mood?

Cube Packaging has a large line of novelty food display containers.

For example, they have a pumpkin container shaped like a smiling jack-o-lantern for Halloween, multiple products shaped like footballs for the NFL season, and the same for basketball and soccer.

You know how little touches like that drive your sales way up during key sales seasons. And that’s one of many differences Cube Packaging makes for your company.

So, yes, when it comes to reusable packaging solutions, we’re excited to recommend Cube Packaging for your business.

And you should feel just as excited when you hear us say their name!

4 Inventory Management Best Practices to Follow in 2019

43% of small businesses don’t track inventory at all or use an antiquated method.

43% … as in, nearly half!

Doesn’t that sound crazy to you here in 2019?

Now look, managing retail inventory is no simple task. Yet, massive corporations like Costco and Walmart manage to turn their entire inventory over 10-12 times per year.

This leads to you having stockouts when you need to sell a certain product and too much stock of product that isn’t selling now.

Here’s what you can do to make sure you have the right amount of inventory in stock all year round so you optimize your sales revenue and profit margin:

1. Automate Like Crazy

Look, a step saved is…a step saved! The large retailers use automation to the maximum extent possible.

If you can get computer software to save your employees a step or two, by all means do it. This gives them time to focus on higher level decisions software can’t make or do.

Physical counts of your existing inventory still have to be done to make sure inventory matches what’s in your POS. But those can be minimized, which creates a consistent shopping experience for your most valuable customers.

2. Make the Most of Your Surplus

Look, sometimes market trends shift so quickly that you’re left with too much inventory. You simply can’t always make the perfect decision.

What do you do when that happens?

Donate it.

Because, if you simply toss your product in the dumpster, that leads to dumpster diving, security issues, and a negative reputation in the area.

Why not create a win-win-win for you, a non-profit organization, and your bottom line by donating the excess inventory to someone who needs it?

3. Personalize Each Store to the Local Market

Your POS software shouldn’t just sync inventory at a single location. It should sync inventory across all physical stores so your employees can find the nearest location with the item, and then ship it to your customer.

Being able to view inventory by location or across all locations at once lets you identify local market trends.

Of course you don’t need to have 100% unique inventory at each location. But you might have 20% or so that caters specifically to the local market…and they’ll love you for it!

4. Have at Least A Simple Cash Flow Management Process in Place

You know the massive amount of capital you need to operate a retail business. So, it’s important to make sure you always have enough so you can buy the inventory that sells best when you need it.

At a minimum, you should have a spreadsheet which outlines:

  • Monthly sales goals
  • Fixed and variable costs
  • Planned inventory purchasing 2-3 months away

Regular review of this will alert you to any upcoming cash flow crunches.

Look…managing a physical retail location isn’t easy…but it just got a lot easier for you after reading those tips.

4 Sales-Killing Customer Experience Mistakes Retailers Make

Ever visited one of your own stores, and one of your competitor’s, completely undercover and experienced how things go for yourself?

Have you done the same with websites too?

You can’t get a full impression of your customer experience in just a single visit. But you can at least get an idea.

And even if you haven’t, all the customer experience mistakes possible have been made by one retailer or another.

So take a minute to learn from other examples and personal experiences so you know what to look for and fix:

1. Giving Customers Preferential Treatment

Do you make special offers to new customers, but then give your regulars no opportunity of their own?

What about the reverse?

The truth is you can do this. But you can’t make it obvious to one customer type that they’re not getting in on the deal.

For example, if you know an in-store customer by name and ask them what they want, they feel valued and appreciated. But your new customers feel hurt and forgotten.

If you offer to help your regular by name, get to know the new customer’s name too so they have a similar experience.

Otherwise, they leave and feel like you don’t care about them.

2. Taking a Political Stance

According to data from Euclid and quoted by Shopify, 78% of customers prefer you take no political stance whatsoever.

So, to keep it simple, best just to avoid politics.

However, if you’re determined to tackle a political issue, you can win when you do it at the right time and in the right way.

For example, consumers loved Dick’s Sporting Goods move to stop selling assault-style rifles in response to the Parkland, Florida shooting.

3. Inability to Talk to a Human

Automation runs supreme in retail. It’s your lifeblood…but not when it comes to customer service.

Accenture’s 11th annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey found 83% of consumers prefer human help – when trying to get service over digital channels.

Consumers need to be able to talk to customer service over the phone in just a few minutes. And they want to talk to reps who care and have decision-making power.

Sounds pretty simple. But you can probably name at least a company or two you interact with who clearly operates in direct contradiction to these principles.

4. Selling Customers Only What They Ask For

This one sounds a bit odd at first. Isn’t it exactly what you should do?

Well, you’re leaving money on the table by not exposing your customers to comparable options or additional products which enhance the utility of the one they’re purchasing.

You may have a premium model with more features too.

Don’t try to talk the customer into making a different decision. But do make them aware so they can make a choice that better suits them, if they’d like.

The same goes for your website. You should have product recommendations on every product page uniquely suited to what the customer’s considering.

Customers frequently appreciate this. And as long as they feel you’re operating to try to help them discover what else they might like, rather than trying to crank more money out of them, you’ll be okay.

So that’s just 4 of the many customer experiences you might make.

Best to let your competitors make them, while you make the fixes and snatch their market share, right?

Meet the POS Thermal Printing Industry’s Leader: Cenveo

How many companies do you know who produce one in three of all of a certain type of product used?

For example, if you use a mop, do you know if a company produces one in three of all the mops used in America?

Well, that’s the case for Cenveo, who produces one out of three of all the envelopes used in the United States.

But they’re not just for consumers, or even direct mail.

Clearly, they understand print and mailing. And here’s what else they do that you simply can’t question:

1. POS Thermal Print and Imaging Supplies

Cenveo’s Nashua product line serves every type of receipt printer you can find in retail stores. The product line has receipts available according to the exact specs required by OEM printer manufacturers.

With an intense focus on high quality and affordable pricing, the Nashua product line has imaging supplies for every thermal (and non-thermal) application.

2. Rapid Product Delivery

Need it yesterday? That’s never a good position to be in with your business. Ideally, you plan things and execute according to that plan.

But sometimes, you can still do everything right and find yourself in a pinch.

Don’t worry! Cenveo comes to your rescue with a distribution network created to service 90% of the US within 2 to 3 days.

They’ll even fulfill from multiple warehouses at once so you’re not left fighting an uphill battle any longer than you have to.

Whew!

3. Operate Your Business Better

Cenveo offers a line of managed services, which they consult on so you can make the best use of their products and your own processes.

Their managed services focus on Six Sigma and Lean principles. Cenveo can help you solve problems such as:

  • Vendor consolidation
  • Streamlining processes
  • Optimizing bidding to deliver customers the best pricing
  • Managing accounts onsite
  • Identifying the most cost-effective manufacturing methods
  • Optimizing distribution

Basically, if you have any challenges related to POS thermal printing, or any type of commercial printing or mailing, Cenveo’s your go-to.

And when their products and services make sense for your business, we’re excited to recommend them to you!