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3 benefits of working with a purchasing partner

3 benefits of working with a purchasing partner
Dan Donofrio, vp, HAVI Global Solutions LLC

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a package speaks volumes about the product it contains and the brand it represents. Colors, materials and design reflect the product’s value and consumers associate these elements with qualities of the manufacturer. Leading brands—whether consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers or quick-serve restaurants (QSRs)—are focused on getting the best products into the hands of consumers and delivering a positive brand experience. Effective packaging sourcing and supply chain management are crucial to their objectives, but likely not core strengths.

By partnering with a managed services provider (MSP) that specializes in strategic sourcing, packaging and supply chain management, brands benefit from cost and risk management (avoiding material stock-outs, QA issues and overruns)—but also much more. The right partner will provide:

1. Break-through thinking: The old “forest for the trees” adage applies here since being too close to something breeds routine thinking and can make it difficult to imagine alternatives. A strong MSP partner will understand an organization’s business and pain points, as well as the needs of the brand’s end customers. The MSP’s objectivity can help brands learn to see the opportunities and challenges their proximity to the situation impedes. For instance, a MSP can help a brand looking to develop a new, more sustainable packaging container hone its objectives. Does “more sustainable” mean it will incorporate renewable, bio-based materials, or is the brand concerned with the packaging’s end-of-life? Are there regulatory or emerging environmental issues at play? MSPs help brands dig deeper, question and uncover the “a-ha” moments that drive strategic thinking, innovation and competitive advantage. 

2. Global perspective and network: Just as a MSP’s objectivity can help a brand see itself and its customers through a broader lens, so too can the MSP’s experience working with organizations across categories, industries and continents afford brands a wider, more impartial perspective of best practices. A MSP’s experience and vast network of trusted relationships afford it access to a host of products, technologies and suppliers brands might not typically encounter. Substrate-, equipment-, supplier- and process-neutral, MSPs help brands look outside and beyond their traditional partners and processes to find the optimal solution, as unconventional as it might be, to meet their unique needs.  This is evident in the use of ergonomic, ethnographic and human-centered design strategies across various industries. Consider, for instance, increasingly mobile consumers and the handling and storing features brands add to food packaging that caters to this lifestyle and the likelihood that consumers will eat or drink in the car and on the go.

3. Breadth of services: As a brand’s priorities evolve and needs change, a full-service MSP can help—from managing converting costs to developing products, selecting materials, designing graphics, overseeing QA, planning promotions and navigating regulatory compliance issues. And, even when a brand is not engaging the MSP’s full breadth of services, the organization benefits from the MSP partner’s holistic view of the supply chain and deep understanding of the interconnectedness of these functions.

When a brand determines to engage with a MSP, this big picture mindset is key to ensuring a successful partnership. While a MSP can help with a short-term cost play or discrete sourcing event, it also can help brands take a fresh perspective, uncover pain points and broaden the scope of what they can do.

Also crucial to ensuring success and avoiding potential challenges in this type of partnership is setting the stage internally before the engagement begins. Brands should consider how a MSP is introduced within the organization—the MSP’s role and purpose should be clearly communicated to all stakeholders—to avoid any perception of the MSP as a threat or competition. And, brands should ensure all departments are aligned with regard to objectives and timing to circumvent any potential planning conflicts.

Organizations that partner with a full-service MSP to help them manage their packaging sourcing and supply chain are free to focus on selling products that delight their customers and ensure the story their packaging tells consumers about their brand is a positive one.

Author Dan Donofrio is a vp at HAVI Global Solutions LLC (www.havigs.com), a professional services company dedicated to helping customers grow smarter by delivering strategic and operational expertise across the packaging value chain.

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