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Digital Printing Transforms Small Pet Select’s Packaging

For D2C Small Pet Select, what was once an understated kraft shipper is now a highly decorated, interactive branding device with beautiful colors, graphics, and messaging that enhances the consumer's unboxing experience with real porch appeal.

“The beauty of digital printing is that we are able to change and adapt on the fly,” says Josh Price, product buyer, Small Pet Select.
“The beauty of digital printing is that we are able to change and adapt on the fly,” says Josh Price, product buyer, Small Pet Select.

Small Pet Select is a family-owned brand known for providing farm-fresh food and bedding essentials for your small pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, or chinchillas. One of brand’s biggest selling products is a bedding item called Timothy hay. Each bundle of hay is hand-selected from farms in the Pacific Northwest.

For some time, Small Pet Select’s shipping cases had served the simple utilitarian purpose of transporting product to consumers’ doorsteps, with limited decoration. But what was once an understated kraft case is now a highly decorated, interactive branding device with beautiful colors, graphics, and messaging that enhances the customer experience. The new corrugated case design comes from Small Pet Select’s corrugated supplier Independent II, who digitally prints the new cases on a Domino X630i digital printer at the corrugated supplier’s Louisville, Ky. facility. 

“The beauty of digital printing is that we are able to change and adapt on the fly,” says Josh Price, product buyer, Small Pet Select. “With our old box, we only had three colors. With the new art of digital printing, we are able to use many different colors and tell many different stories and change out on a frequent basis. If we want to run different themed boxes, we can certainly run those now at a much faster pace than using flexo[graphic printing] in the past, and it has really elevated our business to the next level.”To date, Small Pet Select has somewhere between 30 to 40 different SKUs, and 95% of them are printed on the Domino digital printing equipment at Independent 2.To date, Small Pet Select has somewhere between 30 to 40 different SKUs, and 95% of them are printed on the Domino digital printing equipment at Independent 2.

Each panel of the six-panel cases now delivers a vibrant message, the brand owner reports. This messaging ranges from “hand-selected, hand-packaged, and hands-down best,” to nutritional facts, awards won, company history, and QR codes that enable consumers to upload videos of their unboxing experience.


   Read another story about digital printing, this one about Cheerios brand cereal's mass customization promotion reminding consumers of heart healthy diets for American Heart Month. 


The pet food and bedding now is “packaged in a 100% biodegradable, breathable box which is recyclable and good for the planet,” says Price. “Newsweek named Small Pet Select one of America's best pet brands. We are proud to display that on our boxes.”

The brand’s recent packaging shift comes as a result of a new digital printing capability at Independent II—one the corrugated supplier unlocked with the purchase of Domino equipment. Says Finn MacDonald, president, Independent II of the purchase: Our vision was relatively simple: diversify from brown box but do it in a way that would deliver consistent value and quality to our customers, and [make sure] it was something that was achievable for us to manage every day. When Domino came out with the X630i single-pass aqueous based digital press, we said ‘that's it.’”With digital printing, messaging can range from “hand-selected, hand-packaged, and hands-down best,” to nutritional facts, awards won, company history, and QR codes that enable consumers to upload videos of their unboxing experience. And this can all change at the drop of a hat, if necessary.With digital printing, messaging can range from “hand-selected, hand-packaged, and hands-down best,” to nutritional facts, awards won, company history, and QR codes that enable consumers to upload videos of their unboxing experience. And this can all change at the drop of a hat, if necessary.

We have been a partner with Small Pet Select for somewhere around seven or eight years now,” adds Devin Danehy, sales partner, Independent II. “It started out as a couple of die cut boxes, some simple RSCs [regular slotted case], and to date they probably have somewhere between 30 to 40 different SKUs and 95% of them are all off of our Domino. It's all digital print. They are rocking and rolling and we're happy and blessed to be a part of it. … Independent II likes to be in front of the marketplace and with customers like Small Pet Select, we're able to raise the bar and stay ahead of the game.”

Concludes Price of Small Pet Select, “Independent II is more than a partner. They go above and beyond to help us achieve our goals. They provide great solutions. They're very fast, quick, and responsive to any needs that we might have. We take great pride in the products that we bring to market, and we take great pride in the packaging that we use to bring those products to market.” PW

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