There are a lot of decisions to be made as your business grows and you need some help, a big one being: co-packing vs private label. These two industries do basically the same thing, but there are differences in their functions and benefits.
What is co-packing?
Just as a quick review, let’s go over what co-packing actually is. Co-packing is the outsourcing of your product’s manufacturing and packaging to a third-party specialist. A co-packer takes your creation and fine-tunes the production process to make it available on a grander and speedier scale. Depending on the co-packer, they can also help with networking and design.
What is private labeling?
A private label is also a fulfillment entity. But the big difference here is ownership. While a co-packer distributes your recipe under your name, a private label will distribute their product under your name. A private label is perhaps better suited for a company looking to create something but in need of more help.
As you can see from this overview, there are a few distinct differences. But let’s explore a bit further the differences between the two.
Both a co-packer and a private label will yield a finished product, but there are few more things to consider. A private label will work with your brand to create a formula for your product and then package it for you. They will assist in the development of the product, the branding, and the packaging. However, there is no promise of exclusivity when it comes to private labeling. The private label owns the recipe or formula, which means they can do with it as they please.
A co-packer’s services are more varied, depending on the company. At the heart of it, a co-packer will package and distribute your product. Pretty cut and dry. But there are co-packers, like IFS, who will do more than just bundle up your goods. At IFS we offer our clients a myriad of services including design, fulfillment, distribution, reverse logistics, and much more. Our mission is to provide a single-source provider that can meet the ever-changing end-market demand. Our primary pack and secondary pack designs/solutions can be as simple as a shrink bundle for eCommerce compliance, all the way through developing packaging designs to achieve a high-end unboxing experience. Whatever your needs are, from the individual consumer, through reaching the masses via point of purchase displays and “moment of truth” packaging, IFS can service all your needs.
Even within the confines of private label versus co-packer, there are different levels. If you have a product that needs a little work in branding, primary and secondary packaging is for you. If you just want fulfillment of your product, pursue general co-packing. If you have an idea but no idea or way to start, reach out to a private labeling company.
Pricing exists on a sliding scale. All things considered, if we tally up all of the things that both a co-packer and private labeling company do there are slightly different fees due. A private label does everything from start to finish, so their pricing will likely cover more services. With a co-packer, there are more options.
Private labeling will connect you with a team of professionals who will help you formulate, develop, test, design, and ship a polished product. Because their hands are on every aspect of the process, the potential for higher costs is greater. There is also no overhead by completely outsourcing.
When it comes to co-packing pricing, there is some overlap with what you’ll be paying for. You will save on overhead, you’ll be paying for packaging, distribution, and storage. But, unless you opt for a secondary packaging specialist, there will be less to pay for. Co-packers do a lot, but because you’ve already done a good chunk of the work by creating your product costs will likely be less.
These, of course, are broader statements about pricing, and your own research and cost comparisons should be done. Pricing will vary from co-packer to co-packer, as they will with private label to private label.
Summary of Co-Packing vs Private Label
There are many facets that go into the differences between co-packing versus private labeling. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and appeals to different businesses. A private label is essentially a ghostwriter for the mass production of goods. A co-packer is a facility that can elevate your product but focuses on effective mass production. opens in a new windowIFS is considered a “Concept through Consumer” co-packer and can work with you from start to finish to develop the optimal solution to increase your brand awareness and sales.
Reach out about Co-Packing for your business at our Speak to a Specialist Page.
Before we answer the question “What does a Co-Packer do?” in regards to a job, let’s explain what co-packing is below.
A co-packing company is an extra set of eyes and hands for businesses. When your company has outgrown your in-house operation a co-packer will pick up the slack. They facilitate the mass manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of your product. Different co-packing companies offer different services. At opens in a new windowIFS we specialize in assisting companies design, primary pack, and secondary pack their goods.
That’s a co-packing company in a nutshell. For a more detailed explanation of opens in a new windowwhat co-packing is be sure to check out this other opens in a new windowpost.
In order for a co-packing company to assist you, they have to have a staff of capable and qualified co-packers. Being a co-packer is a multifaceted job that combines technical and precision skills. If you’re a hard worker looking to change things up, co-packing could be the career for you.
So what does a co-packer do for work?
The majority of a co-packer’s responsibilities will revolve around the assembly line. This is where bits and pieces become a fully realized and packaged product. In any given facility there will be several lines to be manned and jobs to be done. Co-packers work day in and day out with their hands and that requires a certain amount of stamina. Taking care of the line is what keeps the product flowing.
Working an assembly line requires a lot of focus. Making certain that every step is followed in production is crucial. A co-packer could be in charge of any number of things while working an assembly line. From actual production to packaging, a co-packer must be well versed in every step. On an assembly line things move at a certain pace, a co-packer has to keep up. Most orders being fulfilled by co-packing companies are time-sensitive, so checking every box is essential.
When businesses hire co-packers they are expecting a polished product to hit the shelves. Making sure that the packaging is presentable and properly done is a crucial part of a co-packer’s duties. Depending on the co-packing company, a co-packer could be labeling, sorting, loading the line, packaging, deticketing, bundling, and building displays. Whatever the task, careful hands are required.
The packaging is the first thing a customer will notice on the shelves. This is the curb appeal of any product. The presentation of a product is a driving force in sales and that begins with the co-packer. Co-packing facilities are busy, bustling places; a co-packer must be able to deliver a pristine product to the shelves, no matter the conditions.
Clearing the Line
Making sure the line is clear is key to productivity. If things get backed up, the entire process is in trouble. A co-packer is efficient and knows how to prioritize a task. Clearing the line can include any number of tasks, from separating and sorting, to receiving, loading, and pulling.
This can also include reporting safety standards and the operations of the machines. Audits are performed hourly in the IFS facilities, to ensure that everything is on track and all aspects—from employees to equipment—are functioning properly. These audits also inform on the quality of the product being put out and any portion of the process that needs to be changed or tightened.
The benefits of a clean facility are far-reaching. Debris can accumulate easily in a packing facility, which can cause delays and even safety hazards. Making sure that your surrounding area is clean is the best way to maintain the cleanliness of the entire facility.
When a business outsources to a co-packing company, assuring peace of mind should be a top priority. That’s where quality control comes in. Quality control is integral to the process and those standards have to be held by co-packers.
Given that we are living in the age of COVID, cleanliness is more important than ever. Co-packing companies will have strict cleaning protocols in place specifically to promote the health of their employees.
What Does a Co-Packer Do in Summary
Becoming a co-packer will put you in a fast-paced work environment with opportunities to try new things. In this role, you will be expected to act as a member of a team with a much larger goal. An effective co-packer will be able to evaluate the entire process and determine improvements as needed.
Before now you might not have thought about what it takes to get your favorite shampoo and toothpaste on the shelves, but it is a process that requires a lot of hands and hard work. Co-packers are the reason large and small companies alike are able to get our preferred goods to stores around the world.
If you’re comfortable working with your hands and putting in the hours to serve the masses, co-packing is for you.
So that answers the questions, “What does a co-packer do?”.
Find your next co-packing job on our opens in a new windowcareers page.
For businesses looking to take the next step, the benefits of opens in a new windowco-packing are huge. Signing on with a co-packer provides a multitude of opportunities across the board. With the help of a co-packer, businesses will be able to prioritize formerly neglected aspects of the company and create a more refined product.
One of the biggest values a co-packer can provide is freeing up a business owner’s time. Without having to worry about budgeting time to create and package products you will be much freer to branch out. While the product is the most important part of your business there are so many more elements to your business. With your product in safe and efficient hands, you will be able to focus on a few more behind the scenes essentials, such as:
- Networking and expanding vendor options
A co-packer will save you personal time and save your production time as well. As the needs of today’s consumers change, so does the demand for the way your goods need to be packaged. Whether your goods need to be bundled in small quantities for eCommerce consumption, or assembled into a pallet display for a club store, a co-packer can help. A co-packer’s main objective is to create and package your product in a manner that meets your end-market demand.
The primary function of a co-packer is to mass-produce your merchandise in the format that meets your end-market demand. Depending on the size of the co-packer you could be signing on for a guaranteed volume. A guaranteed volume is an assured amount of your product created by the co-packer. These quantities can range anywhere from 200 to 1,000+ per run. Signing on for a guaranteed volume could give you the chance to expand further than you thought possible and test your boundaries as a company.
If the demand for your product is high enough for you to be joining up with a co-packer, this is the most straightforward way to ramp up production. Creating 200 units of your product might take you weeks on end, but with a co-packer the process is completely expedited through line set-ups and automation (where applicable). Getting your hands on mass amounts of your product is the way to take your business to the next level and no one can do that better than a co-packer.
Hiring a co-packer, and utilizing their pre-existing space, automation, and leadership team could save you money in the end. A co-packer like opens in a new windowIFS has comprehensive care that will do so much more than packaging your product. IFS has created a model that allows their customers to work with one organization for all services from design through consumer::
- Packaging design (primary pack, secondary pack, unboxing experience)
- Display design (structural and creative)
- Ecommerce and retail distribution
- Club Store programs
- Reverse logistics
- Rework (ticketing, deticketing, repack, testing, etc.)
- Kitting, Bundling, Blister Packs, Gift Sets, Subscription Services
The right co-packer will be able to help you improve your product from formulation to distribution. Finding a one-stop-shop for your product will minimize any other outside contracts. Rather than hiring a designer, a distributor, and extra labor to meet demand—all of which would become cumbersome and costly—find a co-packer with the services you need.
As a thriving business, odds are you have your own production line down pat. However, co-packers specialize in efficiency and will be able to accommodate more production in a fraction of the time. More than that, co-packers like IFS offer services in other aspects outside of production:
- Warehousing and Logistics
- Domestic TL, LTL, Small Parcel Carrier Management
- Transportation & Reverse Logistics
Every step of the production process can be entrusted to and improved by a co-packer. IFS handles both primary and secondary packaging which is essentially everything from creation to getting it to the vendor. Because you’re trusting a professional entity with your product there is a certain quality expectation as well. Mistakes commonly made when you’re on your own won’t be a concern when a co-packer is involved. One of the benefits of co-packing is that it has the potential to round out your entire business.
Outsourcing to a co-packer has a lot of compounding benefits when you get down to it. The production of more merchandise, as well as the freeing up of your time, will open the door for more. If you have more time for marketing and networking you’ll likely end up needing more product, and with the demand booming, you’ll need a faster turnaround. A co-packer will be able to fill orders at a rate and with quality that you wouldn’t be able to handle as a solo operation.
The benefits of fast production are more than just financial. A faster output will usually mean a more efficient one as well which means less troubleshooting and more perfect products hitting the market.
Speed in the co-packing industry is a sign of proficiency and dedication to getting your product right time after time.
Working with a co-packer means that you have access to a much wider skill set and much more experienced hands. As a result, your product will nearly instantly have a difference in product quality. Co-packing facilities and workers often have to earn certain certifications before they’re allowed to open their doors, which makes them all the more dependable. The fact is that co-packers will be able to do things you just aren’t capable of doing yourself.
Taking your business to a co-packer is a surefire way to take your brand up another notch. Having professional take care of packaging will give your product a refined look and feel that will make it seem much more at home among big retailers’ shelves. At opens in a new windowIFS we offer our professional touch from production to placement. We will help you get your product on the shelf in a way that will catch eyes and drive sales.
The Benefits of Co-Packing in Summary
The benefits of co-packing stretch across every aspect of being a business owner. When you have a co-packer, you have more time to explore your company’s future and your product will be more readily available to the market. Your product will be in the hands of professionals who will be able to lend you insight and advice to improve quality and cost-effectiveness. Above all, a co-packer can help you reach new heights with a strong product and a firmer grasp on the marketing and distribution facets of the business world.
Reach out about Co-Packing for your business at our Speak to a Specialist Page.