Welcome to the space race

With sustainability a concern and space at a premium, the spotlight has fallen on packaging, where opportunities for space saving exist.

By Peter Howard.

When asked where the most expensive real estate in Australia can be found, many people point to the eye-watering prices of Sydney’s exclusive harbourside mansions.

There’s no doubt house prices have been going through the roof, but the answer isn’t found in residential or even commercial locations. Instead, it’s found in Australia’s busiest retail strip, where in 2019 the annual cost of leasing retail space was a whopping $13,900 per sqm, placing Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall seventh on the top 10 list of most expensive retail strips in the world.

While Pitt Street Mall is an extreme example, the cost of retail space across most of Australia means retailers face an ongoing battle between presentation, practicality, product range and profits.

Sustainability is already a concern and space is at a premium, so packaging has been identified as an area of opportunity for space saving.

Excess packaging results in wasted space, which in turn means fewer products fit on the shelf. While reduced packaging helps resolve these issues, it means less room is available for brand messages, product labelling and other product information, all of which are important and – in the case of certain foods or over-the-counter medicines – legal requirements to enable consumers to make informed choices. So, which approach is right?

At first, this seems an unsolvable dilemma, but with most consumers now using smartphones, the solution is found in ‘extended packaging’ using the latest 2D barcode and QR (quick response) code technology.

With a traditional linear barcode limited to a 13-digit number that simply identifies the product, and the latest 2D bar holding 200 times more information, the possibilities are endless and exciting.

Read the packaging and design feature in the April issue of Retail World magazine.

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