Dealing with large numbers of open box items

07Sep10

While perusing the frozen foods area at Trader Joe’s, I noticed a new frozen pizza that looked quite interesting. The signage indicated it was a new product, and I decided to give it a try. But to my dismay, virtually every box of the pizza was open on top. I finally found two pristine specimens to purchase, though I was still a bit puzzled about the large numbers of open boxes.

A few minutes later, I asked the cashier about it. She said that some box designs aren’t quite right, and the flaps just open up for no reason. Perhaps they used the wrong type of glue on the ends, or the box wasn’t the right size for the product inside. Either way, I would expect that open boxes tend to scare customers away from the product, which suggests that the store needs to take action when this occurs.

In particular, you might deal with this in a few different ways:

– Re-seal the boxes (assuming the product is separately sealed or wrapped inside of the box, and there’s no regulations or policies against doing so).

– Add a sticker to each box, or a sign on the shelf, explaining that the contents are fine, even though the boxes opened up by themselves.

– When all else fails, offer a discount on each of the open box items.

Granted, such a widespread problem with package design seems to be quite rare. But when it does occur, it pays to have a plan for restoring your customers’ confidence in the open box items. Otherwise, the product may sit on the shelf until it’s expired, and you’ll have to throw away what was otherwise a perfectly good piece of inventory.



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