Is packaging making or breaking your store conversion rates?


By Joe Simons, director and investor at Gap Systems

What is it that secures a sale? Online, many would say that fulfilment is a deal clincher – next day delivery, same day delivery, even one-hour delivery – and an increasing number of retailers are prepared to delve into loss leading territory to ensure that the customer not only converts, but is satisfied by their last mile experience.

In the store, however, that last mile looks entirely different. For many shoppers, the sale is almost a done deal; 69% of consumers will look up an item on their smartphone before heading to the store to make their final purchase, so their mind is already fairly made up by the time they reach the shop floor. In theory, this should make life easier for bricks-and-mortar retailers, as less convincing is needed to push consumers into a purchase. However, there’s still plenty of opportunity for distraction and disappointment within this store ‘last mile’ – and much of this is down to the branding and packaging of the products on offer. As much as we like to think of humans as rational beings, most purchasing decisions are made on gut instinct. According to Mintel research, 40% of consumers will change their mind at the shelf edge because of something they see or learn whilst in the store. This means that great packaging has the power to make purchases, while poor packaging has the power to break even the strongest of intentions.

Yet despite this, not all brands, retailers and manufacturers place enough emphasis on the importance of getting the packaging design and production process right. All too often, misalignment between agencies and the supply chain can result in a product making it to market without being the best possible representation of the brand. While originality and creativity is needed to make an item truly stand out, its route to market can impact whether it captures consumers’ attention, too.


Enhancing packaging design and production relies on all stakeholders having a centralised view of the process, and being able to feed into that process and provide feedback on the product in development. Visibility is very important here – particularly if those involved in production are based across several sites.

For starters, managing packaging projects from a single location fosters a culture of collaboration, with every contributor able to easily review and submit feedback throughout the process. Additionally, working from a central resource centre means that important documentation such as brand guidelines can be stored and shared centrally, to ensure the item is not rejected in the later stages due to inconsistency.

Working together more effectively can also pay dividends even after a product has gone to market. If legislation changes result in the need for an update, or an item isn’t flying off the shelves as expected, having a centralised system in place for managing packaging workflow enables brands and retailers to respond quicker – ensuring ongoing compliance and correcting issues before they have a significant impact on sales.


At a time where the pace of change for brands and retailers has never been so fast, competitive advantage lies in getting new products to market quickly, smartly and cost effectively to meet consumers’ demands. If any of the challenges in this blog post ring a bell, Gap Systems can support retail organisations’ product lifecycle management with Smartflow, our market-leading software for proactively co-ordinating packaging and label lifecycle management and artwork approval.