How Digitalization is Transforming the Packaging Industry and Why it’s Important

brown cardboard box on white table

It’s no secret how drastically the world has changed, even in recent years. A big part of this change is due to the digital world. Many aspects of our lives have been impacted by electronics, just think about the ways we communicate now compared to back in the early 2000’s. The way we do so many things has changed, even the way we shop. Over the past several years, there has been a continuing rise in online shopping, you can even purchase your groceries online and have them delivered to your doorstep within the hour.

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When you think of something like packaging, you’re most likely thinking about it in physical terms. Think boxes, labels, and the likes. Even things like this are taking on digital forms. Digitalization is transforming so many industries, packaging included and it’s important to keep up with the ins and outs to ensure your company is ahead of the game and not wasting more resources than necessary.  

Pointing at a laptop screen

What is digitalization?

You may be sitting here asking yourself, what exactly is digitalization? And you’re not alone. In short, digitalization is the process of moving to a digital business. According to Gartner, it “is the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities.” In other words, digitalization enables or improves processes by leveraging digital technologies and digitized data.

Digitalization is not a threat

It’s easy to immediately start thinking about how digitalization may reduce the need for paper and packaging. While this is true, it will reduce the need to an extent, it won’t get rid of the need altogether. At least not any time soon, but I can’t speak for 100 hundred years from now.

Digitalization will also open up new opportunities. There are so many opportunities for cost savings, including moving contracts and statements to the digital world. So many companies offer savings incentives if you choose to receive statements digitally instead of in physical paper format. While this may seem like a minor change, it can save your business a lot of money down the line. It allows you to budget that into other marketing efforts. Not only will you save money, but you’ll save yourself some time as well. You will need to continue to prepare these statements however often you offer them. But you’ll no longer need to budget in the time and money to mail them out to each individual.

Just think of all of the ways you can channel that time and money into other areas of your company. While you may be able to go digital in some ways, remember that print is not dead and print marketing is still a very valuable strategy.

Increased efficiency and reduced waste

Sometimes, the different parties involved in bringing product packaging to life are not connected very well, or even at all. Each step, from the designer to the pre-press specialist, to the printer and so on, is performed in a silo. The individual that comes up with the initial design does not have the knowledge necessary to allow them to plan for downstream operations. This often results in each step of the process taking even longer. Further delaying the product being delivered to their customers. Digitalization allows for transparency between each team, allowing everyone to better plan around each portion of the process. This enablement reduces inefficiencies and can save a significant amount of waste. 

Blue recycling bin

More than 60% of FDA recalls are due to labeling issues. Most of which are related to allergens as processors inadvertently put the wrong label on products or did not include a complete list of allergens. By avoiding simple labeling mistakes like this, companies can significantly reduce waste, and save themselves so much time and money. Again, it all comes back to time and money. In order for packaging plants to increase efficiency while maintaining quality control systems at each point in the process, information needs to be available and accessible.

This is where digitalization comes in. Think of the cloud and all of the information that can be stored in the cloud. There is continuing demand to deliver faster and faster, have color consistency across all printing processes, etc. The process of designing and producing a package does not happen in one single place. Data sharing needs to be enabled across the entire process. Every single stakeholder involved from start to finish has to have access to all relevant information to help avoid mistakes, such as labeling faux pas.

Why digitalization is important  

These days, 90% of companies are doing business in the cloud. Across industries, companies are reaping the benefits of digitalization by being able to modernize legacy processes, create and accelerate efficient workflows, strengthen security measures and so much more.  It’s important to not only migrate to the cloud, but to re-evaluate and optimize processes and systems as you go. Digitalization can be used to improve every part of an organization.

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