Eric Berkley is the co-founder and president at Berkley International. Eric has helped brand owners successfully navigate the Costco development execution and launch for some of the world's most recognized brand names. In today's installment of "Guidance from the Experts" we get Eric's advice on preparing for a 1st Costco meeting.
Question: On an initial meeting with Costco, what should any customer have prepared to present on their packaging design?
Response: At a minimum, a thoughtful Feature Pallet layout shown as a 3D rendering is the standard, and a must. This is the time to show your buyer you "know" how a successful pallet should be presented. Be sure to come to the table with a thoughtful "quantity per pallet". Its important to balance sell-though and packaging costs to your items price point. Graphics are nice, but white renderings still go a long way. Stay away, if possible, from physical mock-ups as they can be costly.
This is the time to show your buyer you "know" how a successful pallet should be presented.
Question: Do customers ever design packaging too early in the process?
While I don't think you can be too prepared with regards to packaging, but at this stage showing a buyer a design with every fold and tray lock is unnecessary and distracting. Its important to communicate packaging style (and layout) based on product needs.
We've seen countless times where coming prepared and gaining packaging feedback early, will allow you to bring your product to market quicker. Often we see 3-4 weeks of back and forth that could have been dealt with much quicker.
Questions: How do you approach the vast number of design options for a Costco pallet display?
The first questions is, "do you need help to communicate your product features, differentiation, or use". In other words, do you need additional marketing. Marketing billboards and displays take up valuable pallet space and need to be considered early when designing your Feature Pallet layout. While product category pushes us towards relatively standard styles (HBA items have a distinctly different look from items in sundries), things like product weight and attributes will influence Card layouts and materials.
Question: How you do educate customers on their expected packaging timeline.
Making miracles happen in this business is of the upmost importance. These are make or break opportunities into Costco so timing is key. Armed with many standard parts and existing tooling helps accelerate things along. There's a little secret sauce involved, but most projects can be turned in about 4-5 weeks
Question: How do you educate customers on expected cost?
Nothing drives cost more than quantity per pallet, and pallets per program. Costco is notorious about regional Test Programs which can bear a financial burden for most vendors (and their packaging counterparts). Once a layout is ready for presentation, packaging costs can be estimated based on past programs. Remember, packaging IS your brand at Costco so its important to choose your partner wisely