7 tips to differentiate between packaging providers
By Ben Wu
Competition is a wonderful thing. It provides buyers with choices, keeps quality high and maintains reasonable prices. So when you have a fair number of companies to choose from as a vendor, how do you distinguish one from another? And how do you make a sensible choice on who to select as your partner?
There are several things to look for in a packaging provider, and some may not be as obvious as others. Here are some strategies to consider in your selection process that will not only provide you with the products your business needs, but will also help your business grow.
- Select a provider with ample inventory. Packaging brokers that operate out of home offices often imply they have substantial inventory, but really do not. Consider what would happen if you run out of packaging supplies, and your provider doesn’t have enough inventory to fill your needs.
Wait times for overseas shipments can be six to eight weeks, if not longer. Can you really afford to keep your shelves empty for that long?
- Use a supplier that is familiar with the extensive and often state-specific rules of the cannabis industry. Try to find a provider with cannabis experts on staff who know the regulations that govern your business.
There are enough rules and regulations governing the cannabis industry to fill a book. Rules vary from state to state, and sometimes from city to city. It is not reasonable to expect a company that sells primarily to other industries to understand the intricacies of cannabis regulations in order to help clients be compliant with state law.
- Select a supplier that is well capitalized. Many people have heard horror stories about customers who have paid large deposits or prepaid for their order entirely, only to find weeks later that their supplier went out of business.
Check on the company’s credit rating, the size of its staff, and whether they have real inventory or are just the middleman (which could add needless cost to your order). Save yourself a future headache by dealing only with established companies with a solid financial foundation.
- Choose a provider that can help build your brand. Most companies don’t have a graphic designer on staff. Fortunately, some suppliers do, and can offer design work for logos, brand development, brochures and even websites. Also, check to see whether the designer actually works for the company or is a freelancer. If changes or updates are needed, it helps to have the same designer working on your project. This is your brand. Quality and consistency are critical.
- Don’t fall into the price trap. Most companies charge about the same price for similar products. However, chasing the cheapest price is usually not the wisest choice. You want to do business with a company that has inventory in stock, has gone through all the necessary permitting and licensing, sells fully tested and compliant products, pays its employees a decent wage so morale is high and turnover is low, and is going to be there for you down the road if there’s ever an emergency. Usually the cheapest companies fall short on all of the above, and do not make good long-term partners.
- Select a vendor that offers a range of products. It takes time and effort to find a good, reliable provider, so when you find a company you trust, make it easy on yourself and get a variety of products from that single source. You’ll save yourself time, and usually find that the more products you purchase from a single company, the larger your discount.
- Choose a packaging provider that offers customized packaging solutions to help build your brand and distinguish your business. Having a branded package creates a memorable and distinctive look for any business in the cannabis industry. In an increasingly competitive environment, it’s no longer sufficient just to grow good product, you need a brand that appeals to and is highly recognized by end consumers and patients.
Ben Wu is the president of Kush Bottles, Inc. He is a member of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s Rules Advisory Committee, and an advisor on packaging compliance, branding and best business practices.