smart packaging for an interactive consumer experience

What’s the future of retail packaging?

You have a product, you put it in a box and sell it. Not much of an evolution there, right?

Wrong! So very wrong. Packaging is everything. It’s not just us saying that–although we may be a little biased–there are numerous reports about the importance of having a strong presence at retail.

In an article for Forbes, Chris Wilder of Moor Insights and Strategy wrote about the future of packaging. While the article was geared more towards food packaging, Wilder did say that “no industry, segment, or market is immune.” And it’s true. There was a time when, say, jewelry packaging was very different from, say, produce packaging. But today, and moving forward, that distinction is breaking down. Especially as the world moves towards smart packaging.

What is Smart Packaging?

Also called intelligent packaging, or active packaging, smart packaging refers to a level of interactivity between the people and the package. It can be as simple as a QR code to track a shipped package–a technology that has been utilized for years–or as advanced as embedding microchips in packaging. While the latter isn’t widely used, the implication for what this means for the future of packaging in general is exciting.

An interactive experience, not just for package handlers or delivery persons, but for consumers as well. Imagine whipping out your smart phone, scanning a product at retail, and unlocking a variety of comparative, informative material.

Pretty cool, right?

In some ways, we’re already there. In other ways, we’re still a ways off. In the Forbes article, Wilder outlines the various custom packaging methods companies are currently using to vie for shelf presence at retail. He refers to the idea of hybrid packaging–custom boxes that are a blend of conventional retail packaging tenets and all the bells and whistles of luxury packaging. Hitting the stride between informing the consumer what the product is and does, and also establishing a stand-out presence in order to stay ahead of the competition. Wilder even mentions rigid materials! Now that’s an informed analyst.

Where the future of custom boxes and personalized packaging is heading, one can only speculate, of course. Whether or not you embed a microchip in your retail packaging is up to you. Still, the facts about presentation packaging remain true: standing out at retail is still the most important element. Eye-catching packaging, turned edges, and interesting materials will give your box a leg up in the retail arena.

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