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Article | April 3, 2012
Custom shipper delivers security
A custom-designed corrugated shipping box that showcases the components of SafeMart.com’s home security systems provides peace of mind to customers.
A pioneer in the do-it-yourself home security systems industry, SafeMart of St. Mary’s, KS, launched its niche-market business around 10 years ago selling professional-grade home and commercial security systems to customers having a background installing such equipment. Over the years, the company has evolved to offer a security solution for the mass market: Plug & Protect ™ is a custom-designed wireless system for the home that can be installed by individuals with absolutely no experience.
According to SafeMart vice president of business development Sam McBride, a two-step process enabled the company to make DIY home security available to nontechnical consumers. “First, we’ve focused on getting the most cutting-edge technology and making sure that everything is wireless,” he says. “There is no chance you can appeal to the mass market and expect people to run wires.”
The second part focused on the customer experience. “When you are trying to make a shift in an industry like this where people are so used to having things one way, you have to make sure that the customer experience is really good,” McBride adds. “So we had to make sure that when they got that box [with the security system inside], all the components were included, and they would be able to open it up and install the system in less than 30 minutes.”
SafeMart’s systems are sold online and over the phone, with customers advised on the best system components for their home by SafeMart’s Security Consultants. The components are then sent via FedEx to the customer’s home.
Last September, SafeMart replaced its range of stock corrugated shipping box sizes with one custom-designed box size from xpedx. The box is designed to accommodate a range of security system component configurations while delivering a positive experience to consumers upon opening. “We really wanted customers to open the box and say, ‘Wow! This is cool!’” says McBride. “In the same way that the iPhone is packaged strategically—where you open it up, and there’s the iPhone, kind of like the hero shot—we wanted to give people the same experience.”
Custom experience through packaging
SafeMart approached xpedx in early 2011 with the challenge of designing a box style that could deliver positive consumer impact while providing the functionality to hold all the required components and deliver them in good shape to the consumer.
According to Franco DiTerlizzi, senior packaging designer at xpedx, the first determination was the distribution method. Since the package would be used to send the products by FedEx, xpedx specified a shipper-style box. “That was the first, outer parameter,” he explains. “From there, that determined the board type and the structural considerations for the shape and form of the package.”
The resulting package style is a Roll End Lock Front (RELF) box, made from C-flute corrugated Kraft material. The box measures 19 x 19 x 4.5 in.
Next, SafeMart supplied xpedx with all the security system components and outlined all of the various product configurations that could potentially go into the box. Says McBride, “I went to the xpedx office, and walked their team through the customer experience. Then we laid all the components out on a table, and identified the most important component.”
Says DiTerlizzi, “We tried to determine hierarchically what the customer should see first, and what they should see second, sort of a discovery process, rather than having everything exposed at once.”
The wall panel was selected as the “star of the show,” to be featured in the primary position in the center of the package, with the charger and other items flanking the panel on left and right. A second layer in the package holds additional accessories. Internal dividers and smaller cartons made from E-flute corrugated Kraft allow different component selections to be sent in the same size shipper.
“As part of the experience for the customer, we customize each system for the individual,” says McBride. “So the packaging had to be flexible enough that if someone bought five sensors versus three, the system would still fit in the packaging, and it would still look good.”
Boxes were further customized for SafeMart with two-color flexo printing of the company name on one end; the Web site, SafeMart.com, on another; and the company’s LiveWatch Security brand name on another. The top panel reads, “America’s Home Security Solution,” and includes the SafeMart logo.
One design challenge that ultimately led to a change in the product itself was to accommodate an aluminum flag post sent with the system that homeowners could erect in their yard with a sign advising would-be intruders of their alarm system. “The post was so long that it was forcing the packaging to be much bigger than it needed to be,” recalls DiTerlizzi. “At some point, we had to advise the customer to find a more effective solution that saved materials and delivered a great experience for the customer.
“Once they were able to shorten the post, it made the packaging much more efficient with regard to pack-out and placement of items, and it tightened the entire thing up—just by making that post a little shorter.”
Easy-to-implement package change
Speaking of efficiency, moving from multiple stock box sizes to just one standard size for its home security products distributed by mail greatly increased SafeMart’s fulfillment operation’s efficiency as well. “It really was nice for us to be able to consolidate some of those box sizes,” says McBride.
“When we approached xpedx about designing a package for us, the design had to fit our business,” he adds. “In addition to being able to ship the package, we needed something that would fit our process. That was a big consideration—how much time and energy are we going to spend on building up those boxes. Xpedx came up with a design that was simple enough for us to implement and relatively easy to assemble.”
SafeMart receives the boxes flat from xpedx on a pallet. Operators in the company’s fulfillment department in Kansas assemble the boxes and then, as orders are placed, they fill out the boxes with components for shipping to the customer.
According to McBride, customers have been very enthusiastic about SafeMart’s packaging since they made the switch to the custom-designed box. “They get pretty excited about it,” he says. “We get customers saying, ‘I loved the way the product was presented,’ which is obviously a direct comment on the box.
“Part of the reason we want to be sure that people are feeling really good about the process is because we are selling them security. We take that really seriously. We want to make sure that in addition to selling them products and monitoring, they feel good about what they are getting—we want them to feel comfortable that all the components are in the box, and that they have everything they need to install the system.
“The team at xpedx was great; they were really exceptional to work with. They set aside time to understand what we were trying to do and what product we were trying to deliver, which made a big difference in the design ultimately. One of the big things for us was to make people excited about the product and drive that experience through packaging. The team at xpedx went a long way to make sure the packaging reflects that.”
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