Short-run flexible packaging: Getting the best value, turnaround for single-use packetsPosted on April 1st, 2021
New flavors, line extensions, product launches. Across markets, SKUs are proliferating, and smaller packaging orders are becoming more prevalent.
While your brand’s flagship product may require tens or hundreds of millions of packages a year, you likely have a handful of products in your portfolio that require far, far fewer.
But many single-use flexible packaging suppliers only offer competitive pricing for exceedingly large orders.
Sometimes they won’t even accept packaging orders below a certain threshold. Orders that are too small or come with too many graphics variations are a nonstarter.
So how do you ensure you’re getting the best value for your 5 million-package orders and your 50,000-package orders?
Here, we’ll answer just that, focusing specifically about how to get the best pricing for your single-use sachets and packets.
How to get the best value for your long-run and short-run orders
Generally speaking, you can partner with two types of flexible packaging suppliers:
- Wide-web converters have, as the name implies, wide presses and massive production lines. They’re set up to handle very large orders quickly and competitively. But because each production run is more costly and time-consuming to set up — the plates are more expensive, and the presses take hours to prepare — these converters often won’t accept packaging orders below a certain threshold.
- Narrow-web converters have smaller presses, which they can nimbly change over between orders. Because of this, they’re better-equipped to offer more competitive pricing for smaller orders.
Which one is best for your brand isn’t a matter of either/or. Actually, your brand would save on packaging spend by partnering with both.
A few rules of thumb:
- Order size – Wide-web converters will give you better pricing on exceedingly large orders. You’ll get better per-package pricing for small and medium-sized orders with a narrow-web converter.
- Graphics variation and SKU proliferation — The more graphics changeovers (e.g., flavor or scent variations) you have within an order, the more likely you’ll be better served by a narrow-web converter.
- Flexible packaging format — Single-use sachets and packets are perfect for narrow-web converters, especially at smaller order sizes. Large-format pouches are best left to wide-web converters.
Wide-web and narrow-web converters are in-tune with when they can provide value to your brand, and when they can’t. In fact, it’s not unusual for a wide-web converter to pass along short-run flexible packaging to a narrow-run converter, or vice versa.
As a narrow-web converter, we routinely work with our wide-web counterparts.
They’ll handle the 13 million-packet order for a brand’s flagship product. But it can take them as long as five hours to set up their production lines between orders — it would take us a fraction of the time. For this reason, we’re set up to provide much more competitive pricing for smaller orders, or orders with many plate changes.
So when they get a short-run order, they’ll send it to us — and the brand benefits through better per-package pricing.
Narrow-web suppliers can also speed up turnaround time on short-run orders
Not only will a narrow-web supplier provide better pricing for your short-run flexible packaging orders, they’ll also greatly reduce your lead time.
The large, wide-web converters might average a 12-week turnaround time. We typically deliver new packaging orders in less than half the lead time of wide-web converters.
When a client needs a small order of packets in a hurry, our wide-web partners will turn the business over to us. And you’ll greatly reduce the lead time on your order.
Accept nothing less than excellent service and support from all your suppliers
Part of getting the best value for your packaging is making sure 100% of the packages that arrive at your (or your co-packer’s) facility look as intended, perform as needed and run seamlessly on your form/fill/seal (FFS) equipment.
You should hold all flexible packaging suppliers you work with to a very high standard regarding service before, during and after they deliver your packaging order.
Your supplier should have a conversation with you or your co-packer about your FFS equipment. Doing so will prevent fill-line problems by ensuring your eye marks are positioned accurately and your package is produced in such a way that it will run correctly on your unique vertical or horizontal FFS equipment.
They should also very clearly document your brand’s expectations for the final, printed graphics during pre-press. This way, you can quantitatively verify that each package representing your brand on the shelf exactly matches your color targets.
Your supplier should have strict quality-control measures in place so each package that arrives at your facility looks and performs as intended.
After delivering your order
Your packaging supplier should remain on-call to diagnose and fix any fill-line issues as they arise.
Co-packers can’t have downtime on their lines, and brands can’t waste precious product due to packaging malfunctions.
We are committed to diagnosing any fill-line issues virtually through video chat or, occasionally, in-person. We’ll do what it takes to make sure our film runs smoothly on your fill line, and that the finished packages exactly match your brand’s aesthetic and performance requirements — from our very first call until your product lands in the hands of a consumer.
Our start-to-finish commitment to quality is why the co-packers we work with continue to recommend our packaging film to their clients. It’s also why wide-web converters trust us to handle short-run flexible packaging orders for their most important clients.
Let’s find the best value for your packaging
Whether it’s with us, with a wide-web converter or both, we’ll point you in the right direction. Chat with our team about your packaging goals today.