As the pandemic continues, many retailers are doubling down on foodservice as they take the opportunity to update menus, introduce online and/or mobile ordering, as well as delivery and curbside pickup. Savvy c-stores are also considering ways to improve their foodservice packaging, from maximizing branding to upgrading packaging appearance and efficiency.
Here are some best practices convenience stores can use to ensure their packaging is working for them.
First, get bigger with front-of-house packaging. As customers enter the store, maximize the impact of the customer-facing packaging they see.
Is your foodservice or convenience store brand highlighted on your foodservice packaging as well as fountain and coffee cups?
Packaging offers an opportunity to keep your branding in front of customers. Periodically checking in with your marketing team, agency, packaging or sticker providers can really pay off. Talk with these teams about injecting your packaging with fun and relevant copy, logos, colors or pictures, and have everything approved before the next production run.
By adding branding updates to consumer-facing packaging, you can elevate consumer touchpoints like bags, wrappers, boxes, cups, straws, lids, cutlery and napkins.
Consider Customer Needs
But before making major changes to packaging, it’s crucial to consider the customer journey and needs.
Can I tell you a quick story? Spoiler alert: It ends in failure.
I once had the opportunity to improve the quality and selection of a line of grab-and-go sandwiches. While we improved the taste and variety of the lineup, we also “upgraded” the packaging to fit in with our newer branding style, colors and materials. We wanted these sandwiches to come across as a bit more upscale and premium than the old lineup — which, truly, they were. But we made one unfortunate mistake: We didn’t consider the customer journey to the experience of actually selecting an item.
The customer wants — NEEDS! — each package to look different. When we eliminated the colors that were off-brand, we unknowingly eliminated the one thing that was helping customers to quickly find their selection in a sea of browns and whites and upscale packaging.
Did we see sales increase? No. It was not until we re-worked the packaging and added back colors to differentiate each item that we saw sales bounce back and our consumer complaints go away. So, the story does have a happy ending — but with lessons learned.
Increase the number of jobs your packaging can do for you. Did you know that on a standard square foil or paper wrapper, there are nine locations to place a product name or logo? Follow along with me: four corners, four edges and one center location. The wrapper can be folded so that the correct product name displays on top.
Do you even carry nine sandwiches?
It is possible to use one single SKU to wrap perhaps every single item in a product line. Here is an opportunity to move from two or three packaging SKUs down to one, shave seconds off sandwich make times as employees don’t have to search for multiple wrappers, and save storage space with one single case of packaging.
Minimize BOH Waste
In the back of house (BOH), minimize the cost and environmental impact of packaging that never even sees the front of house. By asking employees about the major sources of excessive inner packaging and trash, you may find there is a “foodservice” case pack that better fits your needs and is less expensive than retail packs. You may also reach out to distributors and manufacturers and offer to partner on testing reduced inner packaging, which ultimately will save costs with packaging and even transportation fuel.
Most importantly, don’t fall into the trap of all-or-nothing thinking. A few small steps to minimize trash and maximize messaging is worthwhile.
Whether you decide to broadcast your initiatives to the public or not, even a few quiet steps in a positive direction are still positive.
Jessica Williams founded Food Forward Thinking LLC as a consultancy to meet the operational demands of foodservice in restaurants, convenience and groceries. She can be reached at [email protected].