As more people use technology to shop, grocery stores are following in the footsteps of fashion and electronics retailers by leveraging the omnichannel sales model. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated stay-at-home orders resulted in an increase in consumers purchasing groceries online. As a result, grocery retailers are now challenged to find the right protective food packaging, ensuring purchases arrive fresh and intact no matter if they’re shipped, delivered, or prepared for curbside pickup. This means brick-and-mortar grocery stores are charged with transforming into micro fulfillment centers. They now must take the same precautions consumers would to protect groceries in transit. Furthermore, employees must pick and pack items as if they were the customer themselves. And during transit, groceries need to be protected from extreme temperature fluctuations, crushing by other items, or accidental droppings. Grocery stores, especially those that haven’t started the transition to an omnichannel strategy, face three major challenges: They must carve out a footprint inside their existing stores to efficiently fill orders, re-train staff to handle in-store and online orders, and ensure that products are shipped with appropriate packaging.
Packaging manufacturer PackageMedia, operating in Inkeroinen, Kouvola, created a unique, local cup series called “Images from Kouvola” and “Images from Kotka” for Prisma stores in the Kymenlaakso region; the cups are made from Kotkamills’ plastic-free and easy-to-recycle cupstock. The images depict the local attractions, nature, and other sources of pride of these two cities. The Kouvola-themed cups can be purchased in a 25-cup retail package at Prisma in Kouvola, and the Kotka-themed cups are available at the Sutela Prisma in Kotka. It’s easy to grab some cups while doing your regular grocery shopping, and a package of cups is always a welcomed and practical gift to bring when visiting a summer cabin. Each city series of cups contains six different images, the number of which varies in the consumer packages, so each family member can choose their own image and use the cup they selected multiple times throughout the summer day without mixing it up with a cup used by someone else. After use, the plastic-free cup is easy to recycle with other cardboard packaging.
“The series of cups depicting the local region in a fun way is a nice gift to bring and an easy outdoor table-setting that sparks positive interest towards the entire Kymenlaakso region. There are plenty to see and do here, and the images on the cups inspire people to find out more about the travel opportunities in the region and learn more about our region. The entire plastic-free realization – from the raw material to the end product – has been brainstormed and manufactured with Kymenlaakso-based expertise. The cupstock is manufactured at Kotkamills in Kotka, and we design and print the cups at PackageMedia’s printing house in Inkeroinen. The retail sales at Kymen Seudun Osuuskauppa (KSO) co-operative’s Prisma stores makes the easy-to-recycle paper cups available to all consumers, ”says Mauri Reinilä, CEO of PackageMedia.
“Individuality is interesting, and that’s why each cup manufactured can be unique. In addition to the stylish digital print, attributes that bring added value can be linked to the take-away products. How does it sound to use a paper cup as a ‘key’ that unlocks interesting digital services and gamified content? Or a take-away container that functions as a ‘currency’ in your community, ”Reinilä notes.
“Take-away containers are a new marketing channel. Utilizing paper containers as a media channel is also responsible when the products manufactured do more than just store and transport food. Take-away containers make it possible to do marketing initiatives, fast-cycled campaigns, hyper-local and customized campaigns, and other fresh solutions. We are delighted that our plastic-free board offers an eco-friendly print surface for these applications and that it works for its original purpose as a beverage cup, ”adds Kotkamills’ CEO Markku Hämäläinen.
Kymen Seudun Osuuskauppa co-operative was a natural channel for introducing the new ecological paper cups to retail stores. Cups made from Kotkamills’ board have been used at KSO’s hotels for a couple of years, so they were familiar with the product. The Prisma stores in Kouvola and Kotka started offering the Hometown cup series just before Midsummer. “It is a matter of honor for us to offer consumers sustainable options for Everyday consumption situations and for summer outings and Celebrations, for example. It’s great to be part of an innovative Collaboration in the Kymenlaakso region. Environmental responsibility is a vital part of our daily operations, and therefore we are delighted to be able to deliver this message to our customers’ daily life as well, ”says Ari Hyytiä, KSO’s Commercial Director.