IF YOU ARE LOOKING for “value-added packaging services,” you probably know exactly what you mean, but who else does? There seem to be almost as many interpretations of that phrase as there are providers of such services.
Under the rubric of “value-added packaging” you can find companies that offer custom printing or specially manufactured boxes. Others call this “custom packaging,” or “package engineering.” Some 3PLs define “value-added” simply as the packaging part of the fulfillment services they offer; others specify custom packaging as a different service from, say, value-added gift wrapping. And although RFID is being touted as the hottest value to add to packaging — one researcher has even claimed that “packages will be more and more important communications media in the future” — that future has yet to arrive.
Bill Kuipers, principal with fulfillment consulting firm Spade, Kuipers & Company in Haskell, NJ, points out that the closer to the retail shelves products get, the more likely retailers are to require value-added packaging from distributors, especially big-box and club stores like BJ’s, Costco, Wal-Mart, and Sam’s Club. “These big stores usually require some special handling of the item if they’re going to carry it (especially in publishing and music),” Kuipers says.
If this isn’t clear, take the wider view. According to Herb Shear, CEO of third-party logistics firm GENCO, “A value-added solution must do at least one of three things: (1) increase the top line; (2) improve the bottom line; or (3) improve asset utilization. If the solution can’t pass this test, it’s a commodity, not a value.”