Shelf Ready Packaging: Effective Presentation with Retail Efficiency

Shelf ready packaging (SRP) or retail ready packaging (RRP) – the two terms are interchangeable – refers to products that are sent to retail stores in a format ready for immediate display. This means the products do not need to be taken out of the carton and arranged on store fixtures individually.

Shelf ready packaging can add value to the brand and the retailer, by enhancing product presentation, increasing shopper loyalty and streamlining the entire supply chain.

Product References

The right design:

  • increases the impact of products and brands on shelf
  • acts as a signpost for shoppers 
  • makes shelf replenishment easier and faster
  • reduces visible blank space on shelves
  • drives increased sales
  • improves efficiency and saves cost

STI Group offers a wide range of solutions that are tailored to different products, filling processes, handling methods and retail channels. SRP design might include anything from a simple wrap-around blank with a perforated tear-off top, to a Covertray™ (two-piece shelf ready unit), or a discount store assortment box that can be filled manually or by machine.

When shelf ready packaging wins over individual packaging

The right shelf ready packaging design normally offers superior product presentation to individual packaging; it provides an additional branding and communication area whilst keeping individual products neat and attractive on shelf. Impact on shelf is normally much greater than solo packaging; because the brand or product stands out better and is easier to identify, shelf ready packaging helps shoppers find what they are looking for more quickly and also raises awareness of new products. At the same time, the exterior print on SRP allows store personnel to quickly locate the correct product in the stockroom. They can also replenish shelves in one easy action, minimising out-of-stocks and helping to increase sales. Discounters in particular are often concerned about gaps left on shelves when products are removed for purchase. Shelf ready packaging designs with print inside and/or in-built pushfeed mechanisms, can help to solve this common retail problem.

The ECR Europe blue book

Even before the ECR Europe Blue Book on SRP was first published around a decade ago, brand manufacturers were increasingly being asked to deliver their products in retail ready or shelf ready packaging. The ECR blue book stated that the common characteristics of all effective shelf ready packaging includes being the right size and easy to:

  • identify - throughout the supply chain and onto the shelf
  • open
  • replenish
  • shop from
  • dispose of, or recycle, after use

SRP cost-benefit analysis

The demand for shelf ready packaging can push up costs, which are generally borne by the manufacturer and not the retailer. This calls for intelligent design that takes the entire value chain into account and drives brand sales as well as creating retail efficiencies. The ECR blue book contains an assessment tool that assists in the cost-benefit analysis for introducing SRP for a given product and retailer. STI Group leads the design, development and production of a wide range of SRP solutions by working in close partnership with customers. An important aspect of this partnership includes using ECR Europe’s assessment tool to help customers determine the SRP design concept that will best fit their needs. We also work closely with retail buyers and stores to understand their specific requirements. In our experience, the biggest challenge is to design a shelf ready packaging solution that meets supply chain needs while also being efficient. This means minimising the number of variants – whether that’s artwork variants or size variants – as far as possible. We also take into account any fully- or semi-automated filling or warehouse systems during the SRP design process, to deliver maximum value from the final design.

Retail Ready Display: Shelf Ready Packaging by another name

For fast-moving consumer goods and promotional products, it sometimes makes sense to present products at retail in larger quantities than can fit on shelf. The terms SRP, RRP and retail ready display are used interchangeably to refer to ready-merchandised products packaged in FSUs and on pallets, not just packaging that is physically placed on shelf. Merchandising Unit is another term frequently used to refer to retail or shelf ready packaging.


Do different retailers have different requirements for shelf ready packaging?

As a general rule, we classify retailers at the design and development stage, based on whether they have a manually operated, semi-automated or fully automated warehouse. This determines whether the lid and base should be a pre-glued design or simply a push-fit. Discounters have more unusual needs in that they often order mixed cartons, which are rarely used in supermarkets.

Is a packaging machine required for shelf ready packaging?

Some designs can be assembled and filled manually, while others suit automatic assembly and filling. Manufacturers typically start off with a manual version and may switch to an automated version after successful implementation of the first. STI Group’s consulting experts can provide valuable guidance in this area.

What is the most popular design of shelf ready packaging?

The most commonly used solutions are wrap-around blanks with tear perforation, 4-point glued trays with covers, and stackable trays with or without lids.