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Insights: Articles & Resources by Oliver Inc.


What Is Shelf-Ready Packaging?

Shelf-ready packaging refers to boxes and cartons delivered to the retailer already optimized for easy identification, stocking, and shopping. It’s popular in the food and beverage industry as well as OTC medicines.

    9 minute read

What's the most convenient way to package, stock, and display your products? These questions define shelf-ready packaging.

Shelf-ready packaging, also known as retail-ready packaging, and referred to by manufacturers as point-of-purchase packaging or countertop displays, makes it easier for retailers to get your products on shelves and into the hands of customers sooner.

It comes in multiple forms, depending on intended retail.

Corrugated boxes fit well for large retailers while folding cartons populate grocery stores and smaller shops. You’ll find shelf-ready packaging mostly in the food, beverage, and confectionery industries in the spirit of grab-and-go shopping, but you also see it utilized for some beauty and over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical products.

Here’s what you need to know about shelf-ready packaging.

The Qualities of Effective Shelf-Ready Packaging

Think of candy boxes in checkout aisles. Their effectiveness stems not just from their contents (after all, they’re placed to attract the eyes of young shoppers), but also from the packaging. It fits nicely on the shelves and is optimized for display and convenience. Vendors can replace empty cartons and break them down. Customers can pull out a product they want, scan the label, and return it (if they so choose) without disrupting the rest of the shelf.

Good design, then, is paramount. Your manufacturer should produce a folding carton (or corrugated box) that makes it easy for retailers to recognize the packaging promptly in the warehouse so that they can restock it more expediently. The boxes or cartons should also be easy to open and place and maximize shelf space.

Packaging must be customer-friendly, as well. That comes with clear and consistent branding so shoppers can identify your products at a glance.

Shelf-ready packaging has many upsides beyond its convenience. Perhaps most importantly, it streamlines stocking. Not only does this save retailers time and money, but can also limit how long shelves remain empty, to ensure your products are more readily available to consumers.

While popular for food and beverage industries, shelf-ready packaging can also be employed with OTC pharmaceutical products, as well. This makes finding that household-beloved pain reliever that much easier. Countertop displays keep shelves accessible and organized, enabling customers to easily locate and retrieve OTC products.

Furthermore, with the rising cost of shipping, the efficient (right-size) packaging that comes with shelf-ready designs can save pharmaceutical companies significantly on materials, storage, and transportation.

Shelf-ready packaging also leads to more refined branding. You have added control over how the product looks on the shelf and what message you want to send shoppers. Greater consistency enables customers to recognize your product quickly.

Elevate Your Brand

Effective shelf-ready packaging serves a practical purpose. Most businesses steer clear of high-cost decorative elements because of the general wear and tear cartons endure through shipping, stocking, shelving, and customer use—special design features aren’t always worth the extra expense.

However, there are opportunities for shelf-ready packaging to elevate your brand. One way to make the display stand out, despite the risk of in-store damage, is to use a special die-cut shape. This will create more experiential packaging that can highlight a characteristic of the product.

It’s not hard to see why caffeinated breath spray Pzaz Energy Mist visually explodes off the shelf with its retail-ready packaging. It makes use of die-cut packaging to smart effect. 

Barnyard Buddies Dog Treats uses shelf-ready packaging that folds open to look like a barn.

A similarly unmistakable carton makes 5-Hour ENERGY easy to spot on the shelves and invites customers to grab a single bottle on their way out the door. What sets both products apart isn’t extravagant finishes, but polished branding that’s the result of smart design.

You’ll notice how anti-aging cream Derma RPX uses a glimmering display casing to reinforce branding while making it easy for consumers to pull a product off the shelf. Notably, the casing utilizes a glossy finish for both greater durability and eye-catching quality. 

It takes an experienced manufacturer to deliver a solution that combines the practicality of shelf-ready packaging with the right brand touches to help it stand out on shelves. When you work with Oliver, you’ll find a consistent companion who takes a very human-centric approach to packaging design. 

From the discovery phase and executing your design, to proofing in one secure and easy-to-access place, Oliver can accommodate your preferred printing method: flexo, litho, or digital. Plus, Oliver always keeps communication open, ensuring you have support and direction whenever you need it.

Your relationship with Oliver doesn’t end once you have your shelf-ready packaging in hand. We’re there for you, should you have any persisting questions, seek further advice, or want to mull over new packaging ideas for upcoming projects.

You’re the reason we’re here. We’ll help you realize the shelf-ready packaging you need to get your products into the hands of consumers.

Oliver is a printing and packaging partner with more than 250 years of combined experience helping industry-leading companies elevate their brands through compelling designs and cutting-edge technology. Contact us to learn more about shelf-ready packaging that’s convenient for both retailers and shoppers.

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