This section may include:
Send this page to a friend
Listing of party venues and service providers
Database could be searchable by area code or zip code and by category
Registered users can create their own mini-site. This will include the possibility to have a scrapbook
It may have:
Store favorite providers (shortlist)
Store favorite articles
Wish list of gifts
The guest may register as guest to access to access this list or have a cookie session from an email link. Once a gift has been selected, it will be deleted from the gift list.
A provider can select if registered or not.
If not registered, the provider can either select to browse the listings, information on registration fees and benefits and request more information. He or she can also register and pay.
If the potential party provider decides to register, he or she will select a plan.
Silver: listing and booking only
Gold: the above plus one page website to promote services. The providers can make their own website or order our services, plus this provider will appear in a more relevant place on listing than the silver status providers.
Platinum. Gold plus more visibility, perhaps some banners or something similar
Partners: These are big companies such as ToysRUs. We will pursue their partnerships and have special arrangements to offer their services.
If registered the provider can access his own panel control:
Access the booking system
Order more advertising
Offer specials, make changes to his/her services or prices etc.
Look at their sales, invoice, payments, etc..
Rating providers system
Rating site features system
Scheduling system for providers
Send monthly invoices to providers
Charge credit cards for services
Collect information on: how the site is used, most used features, how much money spent, what kinds of services/products ordered, zip code, age of kids, and others.
In recent weeks I have received emails and phone calls from packaging industry executives who are concerned about the future. While the industry has been branded as “laggard,” “slow to change” and other not-so-flattering descriptions by analysts in recent months, several industry executives have started to embrace new business models.
However, as these executives start to implement these new business models, they are already seeing these models failing at some of the early adopter companies. The recent demise of several business models that only a year or so ago were hailed as revolutionary is enough reason to cause serious doubts. To many senior-level executives in the packaging industry, this only means even more confusion regarding future steps.
I will try to address some of these concerns in a two-part article. In this article, I will try to put the recent events of the so-called “new economy” in perspective, and then next week I will analyze what it means to the packaging industry and what are some of the things that industry executives could do to meet these challenges.
Turbulence is permanent
During the past several months, mankind has witnessed changes that had not been seen so far. Certainly, the inventions of fire or the wheel and eventually electricity/automobile/telephone caused similar changes in the way humanity lived or how commerce was conducted, but a major difference is the timeframe. It took thousands of years before we could fully exploit the power of fire or the wheel. It took us decades to perfect the automobile or the telephone. But in the current environment we are starting to see revolutionary changes within weeks or, at the most, months. And it is not just the Internet — it also includes the changes in communication technology, relationships between companies, number of new products and their short lives — the list is long. If something does not change at similar speed, it appears that it is not worth talking about.
No wonder this is causing so much turbulence in our lives. Starting from the business world and the stock market, to how we are expected to perform our jobs, we are being exposed to changes at a rate that our generation is not accustomed to. Additionally, businesses today are structured in a manner in which they find it hard to respond to constantly changing market forces. Companies and executives that were organized and conditioned to develop multi-year plans and goals now realize that within months they have to revise their plans and rewrite their goals because new companies have emerged out of seemingly nowhere and have rewritten the rules of the game in their competitive space.
The reaction of the stock markets has been exactly similar. The degree of change has been so rapid that old rules no longer apply and new rules are not accepted yet by everybody. The result has been lots of confusion, nervousness and lack of direction.
Not too long ago, we saw some new rules emerge that made it more important, for instance, to attract eyeballs or create brand awareness or increase the number of transactions, but those rules are no longer valid. It appears that the wider base of investors did not feel comfortable with the new rules of the game and the stock market is now trying to figure out rules that would be fairer in evaluating new economy companies but still satisfy the basic principles of economics.
Impact on the packaging industry
Change of this magnitude has adversely impacted the packaging industry, too. While the stock market has severely battered several packaging companies, the demands on the industry to meet the needs of customers in the new economy has posed new challenges:
• The designs are different, and they change more frequently.
• Time pressures are intense.
• Supply chains are more complex.
• Competition is increasingly global.
• Most importantly, the future is so uncertain.
When packaging industry executives see companies with world-class, best practices struggling to meet market expectations, they do not see many successful models that they can follow for their own businesses. I will be addressing these issues next week based on my study of companies that are taking mature approaches to managing change.
While talking to industry executives during recent weeks, I have been shocked by the radical change in attitude insofar as the digitization of their business is concerned. Only a couple of months ago, I would hear complaints about how they were experiencing threats to their core business from online competitors and executives wanted to formulate strategies to protect their business. Now what I hear is “I told you so” attitude. While some of the remarks that industry executives make these days are arrogant, there are others who have just settled down in their comfort zone by rationalizing their fears – The Internet is only a fad, it is already starting to show signs of failure, and the threats to my business are over.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. As Michael Dell puts it, if bad business models are implemented online, they do not become good businesses; they just become bad online businesses. Like all other bad businesses, these too will go out of business, eventually.
For the packaging industry, the fundamental issues are not if some dot-com companies are going out of business these days or if some online companies are struggling to conduct sufficient number of transactions to remain profitable. The foremost considerations are still related to the basics of doing business – whether a new business process is going to enable a company get more business, serve customers better, and reduce the cost of doing business. While there are several classic examples of how companies are successfully exploiting the web, my favorite company is General Electric. It has taken an ambitious, but simple, approach – do everything over the Internet if it can be done more cost effectively. Now is that too complex for anyone to understand?
Advantages of the Web
In a survey by Cyber Dialogue regarding the advantages of being present on the World Wide Web, more than 40% of the companies responded that they were able to improve customer service, expand business territory, and keep up with the competition. More than 30% of the companies increased sales leads and lowered marketing costs at the same time. More than 20% of the companies reported that they increased both online and offline sales. In another survey conducted by Verizon/Super-Pages.com and Gallup has found that 55% of the websites have either broken even or paid for itself in increased business.
That is why I keep emphasizing to my friends in the industry that we have consistently seen pricing pressures only increase over the years and life is not going to get any better than this. In fact my discussions with industry participants lead me to believe that we will only see these pressures become more intense as the global economy slows down and international trade becomes easier.
What can you do now?
So while you can watch some of the excitement in the dot-com world as it unfolds, here are few things to do to in the meantime. By the way, this is also a good time to execute some of these projects as the providers are experiencing slower growth and you can hire some of the best firms at much lower prices:
Packaging industry size is estimated at more than $125 billion and transport packaging amounts to about $40 billion
Transport packaging accomplishes one of the most critical functions of packaging since it adds to the value of the product by lowering the cost for customers to obtain possession of the product from its point of origin
The goals of transport packaging are relatively simple:
Safe shipping of the product
Optimum use of packaging material
Convenient disposal of the packaging material
Achievement of these goals has become increasingly complex due to an interplay of the following factors:
Customer needs have become more sophisticated
Product protection requirements are more stringent
Handling and storage are increasingly automated
Manufacturing cost has to be minimized
Ensuring full utilization of carrier vehicles
Compliance with regulatory requirements
Use of environmentally responsible and easy to dispose materials
Consolidation is projected to thrive as a tool to increase competitiveness. This will result in fewer, but larger, companies and will further polarize smaller and larger firms
Companies are under pressure to improve their profitability. This is expected to be accomplished through such aggressive cost-cutting efforts as de-layering, outsourcing, and out-tasking
Sustainable competitive advantage would be built by focusing on the firm’s core business, while divesting all support functions
Breaking down of barriers between customers and suppliers through increased sharing of information
Producers of goods are evolving from being manufacturers to becoming facilitators that coordinate a group of key vendors to achieve organizational goals
Distinction between employees and suppliers are dissolving
Packaging industry suppliers will be paid not for the materials supplied but for achievement of such goals as number of units safely shipped and level of customer satisfaction achieved
IMPACT ON THE PACKAGING FUNCTION
Customers will reduce or eliminate packaging staff and other engineering departments
Packaging department within a company will evolve into a profit or quasi-profit center rather than a cost center
The role of packaging professional will become multi-dimensional with responsibilities ranging from product and package development to marketing and customer service
Package design will stop being a mere technical exercise within the organization. It will encompass marketing of the product, customer satisfaction, and addition of value
The definition of product and package will become more fluid and design of product, primary packaging, and transport packaging will be done in parallel, generally by the same group
REDEFINITION OF MARKETPLACE AND PLAYERS
Enterprises would become larger in size, but a small number of them in the industry would intensify competition
Smaller companies would form alliances with other companies of similar size and packaging needs to improve their competitiveness
A company would be served by several satellite companies and packaging materials and services would be provided by another such satellite company
The satellite company employees might share space in their customer’s facility, participate in meetings like a regular employee, and access information more freely than is currently done
The satellite companies providing materials, services, and equipment would establish alliances and partnerships based on synergies to help their customers reduce cost and improve profitability
The competitiveness of satellite companies would come from market expertise rather than product expertise
The successful companies would be the ones willing to take full responsibility for their customer’s entire packaging needs rather than just what they supply
The new packaging equipment would reflect this redefinition of the marketplace better in form of equipment designed to meet specific needs presented in a cooperative manner by material suppliers, designers, and converters
Customers should consider outsourcing packaging function to improve their cost position
Packaging material suppliers, equipment manufacturers, and package designers should explore synergies and opportunities for alliances to improve competitiveness and increase customer satisfaction
Packaging professionals need to look at their changing role and prepare themselves accordingly by increasing their knowledge base, taking on additional responsibilities representing a cross-section of functions, and thinking of them as profitable solution providers
BENEFITS OF SHARED GROWTH
Well-defined road maps to success
Long-term sustainable competitive advantages
Wide knowledge base encompassing industries, markets, and segments, enabling better service to the customers
Innovative and optimized product launches, improving prospects for success and sharing of profits by all
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