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The Tip of the Iceberg

By Chuck Delaney

June 1, 2018

width=350With the dramatic growth in e-commerce, people are becoming more brand aware and have higher expectations for unique packaging looks. One way the brands separate themselves from the everyday Uline or Amazon packaging is through the use of digital printing. The subscription and e-commerce packaging sector is now realizing the power of digital and combining it with the use of unique substrates to help elevate its brands.

Over the past several years, I have been involved in developing structural and graphic options for a variety of businesses and have made several observations about the uses of substrates. I will share a few of those examples.

The substrate and package must reflect the brand promise and the unique look that represents the product category being purchased. I have seen cosmetic firms reflect their bold and sophisticated looks using traditional coated-outside substrates, combined with gloss and matte UV inks to create eye-catching packages. We have also innovated with mixed media, such as laminating foil paper to corrugated, then digitally printed for an even greater consumer “wow” experience.

Another interesting use of substrates is to have the boldness of the brand be developed on the inside of the packaging—a simple exterior with one or two colors printed on kraft or mottled white outside and a unique digitally printed message, with images included, on the inside. An example was a piece produced for an entertainment company hoping to give the customer an experience much like that of a child opening a gift.

Lastly, a foliage grower wanted a unique package that could be personalized for a variety of annual holidays. Mottled white, kraft, and Kemi were the substrates used.

I believe we are seeing just the tip of the iceberg in structural and graphic designs for e-commerce packaging. With creativity and the bold, innovative uses of paper substrates and mixed media, we can experience incredible growth in the corrugated, folding carton, and rigid box industries.

width=150Chuck Delaney is managing director of GROW Retail Technologies. He can be reached at 708-491-5090 or