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New approach to an old E-commerce problem



Walmart aims to reduce over-packaging within e-commerce by transforming consumer behavior. 

In an interview with Laura Phillips, senior vice president of sustainability, Walmart, at this year’s Walmart Sustainable Packaging Summit, Phillips emphasized the importance of looking at the entirety of sustainable packaging beyond just the primary package. “As you know, we have completed the acquisition,” she tells Package Design. “We’re really intrigued by’s business model, which encourages customers to shop with efficiency in mind and put together a basket versus an item. We’re excited about that, and we feel that’s a great innovation around sustainability because it encourages you to buy a few things put together rather than having each item shipping in one box such as one deodorant in a box or one toothbrush in an order.”

Walmart acquired for approximately $3 billion in cash, a portion of which will be paid over time, and $300 million of Walmart shares, all of which will be paid over time. The deal builds on Walmart’s strong e-commerce foundation and is intended to help accelerate growth and deliver a seamless shopping experience for customers. and will operate as separate brands, while leveraging technology and talent across both entities.

The technology acquired includes a reward system similar to gamification that encourages shoppers to bundle products for additional savings. This naturally encourages higher sales per order but it also, as Phillips noted, helps discourage the phenomenon of having one small item packed in a large box.

This focus on rethinking secondary packaging is part of a larger goal to improve sustainability across all of the Walmart’s operations.

Additionally at the summit, Walmart worked with hundreds of suppliers, including Coca-Cola, Unilever and P&G, to evaluate sustainability recycled content use in packaging to packaging optimization, giving attention to the materials that go into products helps deliver value, from both a business bottom line and environmental perspective. The 2016 Summit is the first time the retailer shared best practices for sourcing sustainably, optimizing design and supporting recycling, including a note of preference for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s How2Recycle label, in a comprehensive playbook. 


Insights on Developing Amazing Design Organizations 

Part 2 of Package Design’s discussion with executives in senior leadership roles about developing winning design cultures. (Part 1 of the series was published as a Debate & Discuss feature in the August 2016 issue, starting on page 36, and featured an interview with Nathan Hendricks, CCO at LPK) 

Christian Keator
Director, packaging engineering, BIC Consumer Products 

How do you define a winning design culture?

When we speak of design culture, we think of it as establishing an environment of creativity and innovation, and making an emotional connection with your consumer. When a product stands out on a shelf, it should create an emotional connection with shoppers, while delivering the product’s essence, value, quality and performance. That’s very important to us.

How can business and design leaders create an effective and influential design organization within their parent companies?

First and foremost, you need to make sure that everyone involved with design can take on an influential role in projects. Making sure you get a seat at the table early in a project by doing things like internal selling, marketing yourself within the company, marketing your personnel and your team as experts so that you can raise the awareness and visibility of the individuals and, therefore, raise awareness of design as a whole.

You have to understand the market, your competition and how to stand out among the competition in the planogram. Not only in terms of artwork, but also structurally, in terms of shape and size, in terms of color, in terms of presentation—creating the emotional connection with the consumer who is going to perceive the value of your product.


Are there any tools that help elevate the design culture within your company?

It is important how you share the information and how you share the design. We utilize GAP Systems and our internal artwork sharing tool is called BIC Flow. That tool enables us to share designs for comparison, allowing each functional area to provide efficient feedback on the design. We can create an optimal design that will allow us to stand out on shelf and portray the values and attributes that we’re looking to communicate to the consumer.

What role does education play in building an amazing design culture?

When it comes to design and education, I think of market trends. Where is the market going and what are the consumers looking for? What trends are they attracted to that create impulse purchasing?

Knowing and understanding those trends and then incorporating them into your design allows you to maximize the connection with the consumer, which potentially leads to maximizing your capability for sales. 

How can package design leaders and marketing leaders create a culture that focuses on business results?

You have to remember that the consumer makes their purchasing decision in roughly three to five seconds. So, simplicity plays a very important role. In those three to five seconds, you’re trying to communicate the benefits of your product, differentiating it from the competition, and connecting emotionally to your shoppers to help them make their purchasing decision.

How does your work space affect creativity at BIC?

That’s an interesting question. BIC has always provided an excellent work environment where you have your own space for creativity and innovation. People are also brought together to share feedback that will allow us to maximize the best design in an innovative and creative manner. Teamwork is one of BIC’s values, so each function supports the success of a refresh or product launch. Sharing ideas, input and feedback is very important in driving the success of a product launch or a refresh.

How can design leaders improve creative and strategic processes at their consumer-facing brand?

Information sharing is very important. Creating an open, team-based environment that promotes creativity and innovation allows you to share designs on different scales. GAP Systems allows you to share different designs, even around the world if you want, or have other people provide feedback. Teamwork and information sharing are so important to me, but also keeping that open working environment, promoting input and being heard. It’s important to let others’ ideas be heard because you never know where the idea or creativity is going to come from. 


Mike Gentile
Senior designer, BIC Consumer Products

How do you define a winning design culture?

A winning design culture starts with honoring the brand’s heritage. Everything we do has to remain true to who we are, where we come from and where we’re going. From there it’s about fostering a team that is constantly learning from consumer insights, taking reasonable risks and adapting to today’s changing marketplace. Most notably the change of consumers moving from brick and mortar to online shopping.

How can business and design leaders create an effective and influential design organization within their parent companies?

First, you must understand the organization’s business goals and how the marketing plans intend on achieving these objectives. We then use the expertise and experience of our internal teams and external partners to help identify solutions to those unique challenges. I see myself as a problem solver. Creativity, in the end, is about solving a problem. In this case, it means using the right typography, colors, package design, etc. that will quickly capture the consumer’s eye and leave an impact.

Are there any tools that help you elevate the design culture?

Collaboration is crucial, which is why it is so important to work with the right partners. At BIC, we use GAP System’s Smart Flow, known internally as BIC Flow. is system helps ensure everything on package is accurate, complete and delivered on-time to meet our customer’s needs. It’s used by the design team as well as internal and external partners.

What role does education play in building an amazing design culture within an organization?

Education is critical. The status quo doesn’t fly anymore. In today’s rapidly changing business environment we need to keep learning so we can continue to challenge ourselves and stay on top of the latest trends and consumer insights. BIC does a great job of encouraging the creative teams to continue learning new technologies and sharing new ideas.

Do you have any tips to help empower team members across departments and from upper management to stock holders with design thinking?

Everyone needs to remember that design is crucial to the consumer’s experience. To better understand it, look at some of today’s most successful, iconic brands. Products and packages today must be designed as simple, functional and user-friendly as possible. At BIC we understand this, and create packaging and products that are eye-catching and that also align to our brand heritage and vision of offering simple, inventive, and reliable choices for everyone, everywhere, every time.

How can design and marketing leaders create a design culture that helps con- tribute to a company’s bottom line?

Again, it all starts with understanding the business goals of the organization and ensuring your design and marketing teams work together to find solutions to the challenges posed in the marketing plans. Designers must be problem solvers. We use our expertise and experience to identify solutions using colors, visuals and designs that will quickly capture the consumer’s attention. At the same time, a winning design culture must align with the brand’s heritage and must be able to use consumer insights to adapt to today’s changing markets and challenges.

How can design and business leaders improve creative and strategic processes at their consumer-facing brands?

Make sure you encourage collaboration and that you’re using the right tools. We use GAP Systems’ tools. What is great about them is that they can be shared across geographies and with our external partners, ensuring everything on package is accurate complete and delivered on time to meet our customer’s needs.

How does workspace affect creativity within an organization and encourage a more design-oriented culture?

As a designer, it’s important to work collaboratively as a team. The right workspace is important because it needs to provide plenty of room for brainstorming, working collaboratively and reviewing products. BIC does a good job providing ample space to accomplish this. 

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Branding with Ferocity – Thinking Like an Indie Brand

Get a better understanding on how to leverage new technologies to engage and delight shoppers, sustainability’s role in product and package design – being sustainable and premium are not mutually exclusive, plus best practices and tips for collaboration and how to launch new products and refresh existing product line-ups and brands.

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