Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with changes to food labelling regulations as a result of Brexit, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and Food & Beverage businesses have faced unprecedented challenges. As businesses adapt to new ways of working, recent years have seen an increase in the adoption of digital technologies to manage product launch projects – particularly regarding Labelling & Artwork Management (LAM) solutions, and the demand to seamlessly link content to artwork has seen the emergence of Packaging & Product Specification Content Management (PPSCM) solutions. Despite this, many organisations are still making use of manual operations, such as email, Excel, Word, and MS Teams to track projects and data management processes.
In this article, we discuss the challenges of these “homegrown tools” and outline the benefits of moving towards digitising artwork (LAM) and product information management (PPSCM) operations.
In previous years, many business may have been able to govern regulations surrounding artwork, labelling and specification management using these manual operations. However, more recently, the rising demand for traceability, growing product portfolios and increasing product complexity will soon be impossible to manage manually (Blake & Stevens, 2021). Not only is this time consuming and far more complicated than it needs to be, it could also create serious problems for your business…
Think about the volume of communication traffic that passes back and forth through your inbox in a working day. Multiply that by everyone involved in the product launch process and before long, your business is inundated with transmissions. All it takes is one tiny mistake caused by a lack of clear communication, or simply a missed message, to be severely damaging to your business. Gartner (2021) found that nondeclared allergens, mislabelling and inaccuracies in packaging are still the leading cause of product recalls. This has serious consequences for businesses – financially, due to the cost of reclaiming and destroying stock and the disruption this causes, and the reputational damage caused by loss of trust from consumers. Having a cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) system mitigates this, by providing a single source of communication. Read our article “Protecting against Product Recalls: What you need to know” for more information.
As well as manual practices often contributing to product recalls, there is the added risk of delays to your production processes, due to the time-consuming nature of these operations. These delays in communication ripple through the supply chain, pushing back product launches – meaning you could be losing out to competitors. Going digital solves this - accelerating product launches by up to 50%.
CPG and Food & Beverage manufacturers and brands are required to manage the complexities surrounding SKU’s. Add multi-regional regulations, specifications and customer-specific requests into the mix and it becomes overwhelmingly complicated - let alone then trying to process all this information manually. Artwork management processes are regarded as complex due to the involvement of internal and external stakeholders across multiple functions. Research suggests that this results in there being no clear trend for what function owns what responsibility, contributing to compliance issues. This in turn creates undefined workflows and a lack of clear real-time visibility towards artwork and product information management processes. Additionally, these manual processes are simply incapable of maintaining version controls, editing, reviewing, and approving content. Digital SaaS systems resolve this issue by automating the entire process.
There is a growing recognition that CPG, food and beverage business need to invest in solutions to adopt a more digitised way of working to mitigate the effects that manual processes cause for many organisations. If you are not one of the 53% of businesses planning to invest in a digital solution to manage product launch process in the next two years, then here’s why you should seriously consider ‘going digital’:
The biggest benefit of digitising your product launch process is increasing your speed getting products to market whilst maintaining accuracy. Automating processes enables teams to provide instant feedback at every stage of the project lifecycle process, approval processes are faster and communications from a single point-of-reference allows for decisions to be reached more quickly, leading to a first mover advantage, as well as mitigating the risks associated with poor communication.
Simplifying activities by centralising operations streamlines the entire product launch process and allows specifications and artwork to be reviewed, annotated, and edited from anywhere via an internet-enabled device.
Another clear benefit of going digital to manage product launch processes is reducing the costs associated with manual operations. Digital solutions allow for more artwork to be deemed “right first time”, therefore reducing the added costs of reverting back to each file and redoing the entire approval process. Similarly, right first time allows for robust compliance, reducing the likelihood of recalls which are extremely costly to businesses. Finally, digital solutions save costs that are often associated with delays to product launches, by increasing the speed of launch times – accurately!
Cloud systems provide businesses with a simple, easy-to- set up solution undertaken by the provider themselves. Teams can access the solution 24x7x365, from anywhere globally with a browser.
SaaS systems provide CPG and Food & Beverage manufacturers and brands with increased control over their product launch processes, by making use of auditing of actions, automatic version control and approvals. Additionally, cloud-based systems allow businesses to share data with external suppliers in a controlled manner by setting up permissions entered directly into the system.
With a digital solution, there is no more need for those complex manual processes. Though these homegrown tools have their benefits, they equally have many disadvantages. With the increased volume of data needed from CPG and Food & Beverage manufacturers and brands, more efficient methods of compiling this are needed. Digitising not only makes your processes more efficient by having clear and traceable data, it also makes your life easier!
By implementing digital technologies for product launch processes enables projects to become standardised due to the ability to oversee the entire project as it is happening and make changes across the board where necessary. This is a much more efficient way to spot any potential inconsistencies or errors, ensuring that your management processes are in line with your overall strategy, not only across the entire project, but also across the individual functions and departments associated with the project.
Going digital may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Here at 4PACK, we take the reins to guide you step by step through every stage of the process, providing an effective cloud-based software solution that offers a single point of reference to centralise business information across all stages of the product lifecycle, from ideation to launch.
We exist to help digitally transform businesses to utilise the benefits of SaaS systems from centralising information, automating workflows, reducing costs, and accelerating speed to market. This is achieved by our unique proposition that blends four technologies (product information management, product lifecycle management, labelling & artwork management, and digital asset management) together to provide companies of any size a digital toolbox to support their future. Having been recommended in not one, but TWO Gartner market guides for LAM & PPSCM, you can trust that we are experts in the field, here to support your business’ journey to simplicity.
Speak to a member of the team to understand more about why you should go digital with 4PACK!
Blake & Stevens (2021), ‘Market Guide for Labelling and Artwork Management’, Gartner
Blake & Stevens (2021) ‘Market guide for Packaging and Product Specification Content Management’, Gartner