Some of you know me as a print and packaging geek. I love seeing excellent packaging that works for the client… whether produced here or not. I am dismayed however when I hear of a project gone wrong and an unhappy client.
This client got a couple of estimates and thinking all printers were equal decided to go with the least expensive. Their first batch showed up weeks later than promised with several issues. The internal mechanism to hold the product was flawed causing a huge slowdown in the fulfillment and 2 out of three boxes cracked – had windows crack and come unglued or had the hang tab tear off. The customer salvaged what they could and put an inferior package in dispensaries. The customer explained what was happening – that they were disappointed but had to get something to market. The printer did not offer to replace the boxes but did offer to help them out with price on their next order (which they needed immediately as they were already over 60% short on the first order). They were assured the problems were a one-time issue and the next batch would be perfect. Needless to say – they were far from perfect. So at this point the client is even further behind – unhappy with their look – struggling to fulfill orders while having to manually load and inspect each and every box that leaves their hands.
This is when I was invited to the party. After a bit of research here is what I observed.
From the beginning the person that developed the package set it up poorly. They did not allow enough room inside the box for the loading and capture of the client’s product. The holder came in from the wrong side – was not glued or preferred properly and did not pop up causing stress on the entire box. The poor positioning of the tabs inside prohibited the window from being affixed properly. The hang tab slot was also larger than needed as well as too close to all three edges and prone to tearing.
This printer is just that – a printer. Turns out they run an older – traditional litho press without UV. Not sure what type of coating they used but it was not foil receptive so the foil is peeling off of the boxes. They do not have any packaging equipment and bought all of the finishing out at multiple vendors.
It appears that this was run on a very brittle (cheap) stock with the grain going the wrong way. Being run on an older press with dryers the heat and stress compounded to make the paper even less forgiving. All of the cross grain scores should have been a bit fatter. To add insult to injury the foil stamping and die cutting moved all around (or did the sheets bounce on the press?) causing copy – artwork and foil to wrap around the edges.
After I helped this client with these print forensics they asked me to estimate the project for them. I had our CAD department re-design it properly and put it on a better grade of paper. Our team also specified a better window material. My price came in 7% higher than their first estimate with my re-run price 9% less than their second run. They placed this new order with us. Knowing their situation and having all of the equipment needed under one roof we were able to prioritize and deliver their project three days ahead of schedule allowing them to catch up a bit.
Ultimately this customer is VERY happy with the product we delivered and has since increased their order to cover over 20 SKU’s. Their fulfillment costs have dropped dramatically with the self-opening product holder and their sales are on the rise.
So here are a few take away questions to ask your printer when you are doing packaging.
• Can you show me finished samples of similar boxes you have delivered?
• Do you have your own CAD department?
• Will you supply cut and glued samples on live job stock for approval?
• What types of proofs will you show me and when?
• What type of presses do you use? Is UV or H-UV available? Can I press check my job?
• Do you do all of the finishing “in house”? If you do not – will you stand behind your vendors? Can I see my job step by step for approval as it goes through any outside vendor?
• If using foil…will you show me a foil “chip chart” before proceeding.
• What will you charge for an exact re-run?
• Do you charge repeatedly for dies paid for during the first run?
• What is your policy on “overs” and “unders”?
I am sure there are a lot more good questions… but you get the idea.