This is even more true in today’s world, where so many people choose to do their shopping online rather than at the store. The box or bag that arrives is the first impression the shopper has of the company, and it’s crucial that it’s a good one.

Protective packaging is an important part of just about any business model that involves shipping a product from point A to point B, though it’s not always one people think of first. Putting ample thought into a packaging strategy is important as it will send a message to the customer who receives it.

“Choosing the best packaging possible shows a customer that the company cares.”

This is one opportunity that Clint Smith, a product manager at Pregis, thinks many businesses may be overlooking. Choosing the best packaging possible shows a customer that the company cares about how an item arrives. It shows that the company is willing to take the right steps and precautions to ensure every purchase arrives safely and intact.

“There is a lot of time and money invested in researching consumers and what they’re looking for in a buying experience,” he said. “Using packaging to help communicate a company’s vision or brand to customer is another touch point that company can make.”

Getting to know hybrid cushioning

Smith knows a lot about the packaging options businesses have available to them. For nearly a decade, he has worked with all of Pregis’s product offerings, from traditional bubble to paper void fill to the sophisticated Intellipack foam-in-place systems. His current focus is on Pregis’s hybrid cushioning category.

Hybrid cushioning is an inflatable on-demand cushioning solution that many businesses can benefit from. Pregis’s model is unique in its proprietary square design. Pregis has found that a square’s cushioning ability is superior to that of a circle’s, which is what many people may see when seeking out an air cushioning solution.

Squares offer better cushioning.Pregis’s square hybrid cushioning offers increased protection for delicate products.

As a product manager, he works with everyone involved with that particular product. He collaborates with engineers about the materials and equipment used to create a solution; to the technical service teams to make sure they can properly respond to questions a client might have regarding a product. He also works with the sales team to ensure they know exactly how a product works and the type of companies or applications that might benefit from it. He also continually evaluates customer needs so he can identify and anticipate future market demands.

Many options for many needs

Pregis offers hybrid cushioning in a wide variety of configurations, with three widths, three cell heights and four film types. Each option provides various benefits to the consumer. Smith explained he has noticed that, of all the options available, two stand out as the most popular: the smaller 12-inch wide, ¾-inch high cushions, and the larger 12-inch wide, 1 ¼-inch high cushions.

The 12-inch small product is great for companies that ship breakable but uniform products, such as plates and bowls. The small bubble height makes it ideal for wrapping, but the product provides enough cushioning to keep everything protected. Smith noted that customers who use this material need less than they would have if they had used traditional bubble.

The 12-inch large product also provides ample protection for breakable items, but the taller bubble height provides additional cushioning and acts as a block and brace solution to lock the item in place, restricting movement. This product does the work of two product categories: void fill and cushioning. Both of these properties are essential when shipping oddly-shaped items, like aftermarket parts for lawn mowers, or kitchen supplies like griddles or bakeware.

What businesses need to know

He explained that the 12-inch width has become more popular in the age of e-commerce. Most products are now shipped in standard box sizes, like 12-by-12 inches and 12-by-24 inches.

E-commerce has also changed the way businesses need to think about packaging choices. While it’s crucial to take into account consumer preferences, there are other important factors that need to be considered.

Smith said the two most important considerations businesses need to take into account are protection and total cost. Interestingly, very few companies will come up with the same answer.

For example, companies that sell high-end, highly fragile items may need to invest more in packaging options that have the highest success rate. Others might be able to trim their budget a bit using a solution that is still very effective, but more economical for the business because the risk of damage is lower.

“[It’s about] understanding what the mix and priorities are for the wide variety of customers we support,” he said.

Pregis is willing to put the time in to get to know the customer’s business and unique needs. Smith said one of his favorite parts of his job is the ability to see the many changes that are made to address various market needs.

“We’re always innovating and coming up with something new and different,” he said. “That’s the fun thing of what I do: being a part of that journey.”

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