There is ample topic-specific vocabulary associated with packaging and fulfilment, including many confusing acronyms and complicated definitions. So, we have decided to compile a list of important words to know for you to use as a reference when talking to your fulfilment services or 3PL.
3PL: a 3PL performs all logistics processes on behalf of a business including packaging, warehousing, delivery, inventory management, shipment tracking etc.
4PL: a 4PL does everything that a 3PL does but also manages the overall supply chain and often offers business advice and consultancy services.
Adobe Illustrator file: otherwise known as an AI file, and Adobe Illustrator file is a file created in Adobe Illustrator (a design programme by Adobe), it will have a .ai extension and it’s only possible to open these files in Adobe Illustrator. These are often used by designers.
Biodegradable: A biodegradable material can be decomposed and broken down by bacteria and other organisms which means that they avoid polluting the environment and are eco-friendly. Biodegradable is not the same as compostable.
Barcodes: Barcodes have machine readable data which contains information about the product. You can apply for universal barcodes before your packaging is designed.
Bleed: When printing packaging, a bleed might be used when your design goes to the edge of the material. Designers add a little bit of extra colour, pattern or design to the edge so that when your packaging is cut and adjusted to the right size there is a little bit of room for error. When printing you can sometimes choose whether to print with or without the bleed section.
Blister pack: a blister pack is pre-made plastic packaging for small goods. There are pockets (or ‘blisters’) made from plastic usually with an aluminium lid. The most common use is for pharmaceutical tablets.
Compostable: compostable is similar but not quite the same as biodegradable. In fact, a compostable material requires a specific environment to break down, whilst biodegradable products break down naturally.
Contract packing: contract packing is another term for fulfilment services and is the operation of packing items for distribution.
Counter Display Units (CDUs): A counter display unit is a retail display unit normally placed on a shop counter to encourage consumer impulse purchases.
CAD: CAD stands for computer-aided-design and is a design process using specific software to help the design element.
Coatings: coatings can be used on corrugated boards to add a waterproof, anti-abrasion, or anti-corrosive protective layer.
CMYK: this stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key – the four colours used in printing. Every colour has a CYMK code used by printers to help match the right colours from your design to your packaging.
Corrugated packaging: corrugated packaging is a type of packaging that can be used for a huge variety of designs (despite common misconceptions). It is versatile and is used in many industries to create effective packaging designs.
Dimensions: dimensions are used when referring to packaging length, depth and height. You might hear your designers talking about different packaging dimensions.
Displays: displays are used in retail to promote different products. They are often made from corrugate and are an effective way of pushing sales.
Drop test: this is a test used to check the effectiveness of packaging in protecting items. This is often an important stage in testing packaging for potentially fragile items.
Dielines: dielines describes the flattened pattern of your product packaging.
Dropshipping: Dropshipping is a type of business model which allows businesses and companies to operate entirely without managing or directly owning inventory.
Emboss: embossed packaging usually has raised lettering or design which can be made by pressure dies, printing presses or rollers.
EPS: an EPS file is a file extension for vector-based images. A vector file is a file that is mathematically correct so is used in design. In other words there are files used by designers that can be opened in specific design based programmes such as Adobe programmes like illustrator.
Flute: flute paper is the central layer in corrugated cardboard. This provides strength and rigidity to corrugated packaging.
Fulfilment: fulfilment services are part of a 3PL. Find out more about our fulfilment services here.
Foam lining: a foam lining can help to protect the objects inside packaging. This is particularly useful for fragile objects.
Free Standing Display Units (FSDUs): Free Standing Display Units are display stands used in shops to display products, they stand alone so can be placed anywhere in the shop.
GSM: a GSM this stands for grams per square meter and is a measurement frequently used in packaging.
Impact strength: The impact strength is how much a package can withstand when it has large impact.
Ink jet printing: Ink jet printing is a type of printing that puts tiny drops of ink into a letter, image, or number which are then sprayed onto the surface to be printed.
In-mould labelling: in-mould labelling is a process where pre-printed labels are put in the mould before the plastic, this means that the packaging does then not need to be decorated after it is created.
ISTA: the ISTA stands for the international safe transit association. It is a non-profit organisation that helps find shipping solutions that implement effective packaging and fulfilment systems.
Jigsaw packs: jigsaw packs are foam cushion packaging that slot together. They are used to protect fragile items.
Laser etching: laser etching is a process where lasers engrave a design onto a material.
Part two of the glossary can be found here.