One thing is certain about the uncertainty of retail — be prepared for anything. Shoppers’ expectations continue to evolve as the pandemic plays out, and retailers have discovered that both in-store and online experiences engage and meet shoppers’ immediate needs.
“Blending brick-and-mortar with a mobile experience is to the consumer’s advantage,” says Carmine Bucalo, Packaging Corporation of America’s Director of Creative Services. “They like to see, touch, feel and measure products in stores and buy whenever they want online. Omni-channel is the key word as it combines the in-store experience with online purchasing. It’s a powerful combination.”
Retailers are also using smarter, more accessible displays to help shoppers breeze through stores. Some emerging solutions for today’s shopping environment include:
- Specially curated displays — These provide customers with a single place to find related items from multiple manufacturers. Think back-to-school, holiday baking or health and beauty items.
- End caps plus — End cap displays are being cross-merchandised with smaller, nearby floor displays or wing displays. This type of merchandising can be heavily leveraged during Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
The goal is simple — help shoppers quickly find what they need by creating in-store experiences that mimic the ease and variety of shopping online.
Understanding the Current Consumer Mindset
Recent PCA research has established benchmarks for multiple product categories, including yogurt, personal care and confections. “Studies are also being conducted to improve insulated refrigerant-type packaging for perishable products aimed at the fresh-to-the-front-door concept. This includes items like fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy,” Bucalo says.
It’s also important to make sure that products shipped in displays are protected with purposeful performance packaging, including sustainable cushioning. It’s all part of our effort to create sustainable in-store displays through teracycled (parcels sent back to the manufacturer), recycled and loop (reusable) packaging.
With PCA-quality compression strength to support all types of products, club and warehouse stores are gravitating to self-shipping displays, which offer convenience and labor savings.
Shining a Light on Products
Manufacturers are using enhanced technology such as LED lighting to draw attention to products, providing noticeable innovation. Bucalo said tower and interactive LED displays create experiential in-store moments and touchpoints to enhance consumer experience. It’s more than just getting consumers to put the product in their basket — it’s about creating a lasting impression.
“Lighting can be very powerful in capturing attention and engaging shoppers,” Bucalo says. “So how do you leverage lighting when you are a brand? It’s difficult because of the expense of the technology, and the retail outlet has to plug it in and maintain it. But when done right, it drives sales.”
Big-box retailers are using omni-channel experiences to make it easier for customers too. Smartphones help locate items within the store and provide information like stock availability. When shelves are sold out, consumers can order the same products immediately online. The connected in-store experience also gives brands an opportunity to message and tell a story, building stronger consumer connections.
How Can Retailers Meet Consumer Needs?
PCA offers customers many options from retail and point-of-purchase displays to e-commerce solutions. These include:
- Graphic and structural design
- Preprint, direct print, lithographic print, litho labeling and digital print packaging
- Primary, secondary and Ships-in-Own-Container (SIOC) packaging solutions
- Performance testing (ISTA 6 certified)
- Environmentally friendly cold shipping solutions
- Comprehensive fulfillment and contract packaging programs
PCA’s innovation helps customers sell more products, especially in today’s world where retail displays must be clean and safe.
“We do this by partnering with our customers to determine their specific needs and create the best solution for them,” Bucalo says. “The key is having a seat at the table through the whole process, from beginning to end.”
Get retail-ready for all seasons with our in-store displays and packaging.