Package prototyping can be one way of becoming more of a full service provider to your customers. Not only are you positioned to produce the print run of the packaging, but you also stand ready to take on the step before that. Getting involved in package prototyping can also pave the way to added profits, because the printers can be used for items from signs to banners.
But entering the package prototyping realm can also present hurdles. There is new and special equipment to purchase, learning curves to endure and, some say, the need to master a whole new way of thinking about printing. In this article, we talk to a trio of printing companies about the upsides and downsides of taking on the challenge of package prototyping.
Cober Evolving Solutions
Based in Kitchener, ON, Canada, Cober Evolving Solutions is among leading North American printing companies that have successfully transitioned into package prototyping. The 97-year-old, family-owned company moved to an 80,000-square-foot facility two years ago. By doing so it was able to add the wide-format equipment that allowed the company to begin producing prototypes.
Soon after moving to the new site, Cober added HP Scitex FB700 and LX25-500 printers, as well as an Esko Kongsberg XP24 to handle die-cutting, scoring, and routing. Four months ago, it added an HP Scitex LX850, 10-foot-wide roll device.
Printers tend to think in two dimensions, but when producing prototypes, they have to begin thinking three dimensionally, according to company president Peter Cober. “Our design department had to make some adjustments to go from ink on paper to three dimensional,” he says, adding that producing package prototypes “was kind of a natural progression for us. We might get the order, once it became an order, but now we’re getting the chance to get in upstream and do the prototyping.”
Cober’s client base is comprised almost exclusively of business-to-business entities, and major corporations among its clients expect the company to manage their brands, he says. Because those corporations trust the way the company handles brand management and the production of its packages, they also are confident in letting the company produce the package prototypes.
“We already had great relationships with our customers, because we’d been around so long,” Cober says. “So they trusted us to do this extra work.
“We were already doing their warehousing and distribution, so to have that added capability permits us to do the whole shebang from beginning to end.”
With an eye toward showcasing its new capabilities, including prototyping work, Cober Evolving Solutions held an open house shortly after it moved to its new facility. About 300 guests attended, many coming away surprised that the company had the equipment to handle prototyping, as well as banners, signage, and all other output now possible on the new equipment, Cober says.
He believes there is “definitely” profit in package prototyping. “It’s another opportunity to do design right through fulfillment,” he says. “It’s just one more thing we bring to our customers to provide them with the full package.”
That said, however, prototyping is not without its challenges. For instance, Cober says, once you have created the prototype for an in-store display that holds packages, the challenges of shipping that design can sometimes create more work than actually developing the prototype.
In addition, he says, there’s the hurdle of “being in new territory,” having to think about how the product will be used, and what will attract consumers within a store to approach the display and learn about the product.
How does the process begin? Cober Evolving Solutions maintains an archive of its clients’ digital assets, Cober says. “They come to us with a problem, [saying], ‘Here’s what environment it will be used within,’ and we create various scenarios in response, and do a presentation. They select their choice, and then we’ll go about creating the prototypes.