Finding a Supplier and Sourcing Products From A Consumer Perspective

Laney works for a company that supplies promotional, branded items to businesses large and small all over the world. The company supplies everything from pens to t-shirts and from mugs to golf towels. Every year, representatives from the company attend many business to business and business to consumer exhibitions. Over the last few years they have been attending larger and larger shows more frequently, as the business has grown and the customer base has widened. Laney works as part of the team who organise the shows and she works on various aspects of the pre-show process such as designing the stand ensuring maximum exposure for the company. She normally orders a few hundred CDs with the company catalogue stored on them to hand out at these events and in previous years these have been produced as cheaply as possible with a single colour print on the disc and a clear plastic wallet to give nominal protection.

Laney has noticed that at the shows they are starting to attend where they are competing with the really big companies, the competition are handing out promotional CDs containing interactive catalogues and high quality CD packaging with printed covers and instruction booklets to help people use the software on the CDs. She knows that in order to compete with them, her company will need to be doing the same, if not more, to get themselves noticed.Laney discusses the situation with her team and they decide that for the shows they will be attending in a month’s time, they will take CDs with a similar interactive brochure and eye-catching packaging. She employs the services of a website design team to create the interactive brochure which makes it easy for customers to locate the promotional items that they need and to get a ball park cost for the order. She also starts looking on the internet for companies offering a CD printing and packaging service with short lead times and good reputations.

There are 4 CD packaging suppliers on Laney’s shortlist and each has a great website detailing their services with great customer feedback. Customer service is important to Laney so she puts in a request for quote to each potential supplier so what sort of response she gets. One company is on the ball and within ten minutes she has a quote which seems reasonable and shortly after that she receives a telephone call from the same company to see if they can help out. She speaks to a project manager who politely asks for further details about the project and arranges a meeting with Laney at their manufacturing unit as they are quite close.The project manager’s name is Kier and he arranges to meet Laney in 2 days time at their plant. Laney spends the next couple of days gathering the information together that she wants to discuss with Kier and meets up with him at 9.30 a.m. on the selected day.

Laney first discusses the disc printing side of the project with Kier. In order to keep the costs down on the project, in the past she has utilised the screen printing method with just one or two colours on the discs. The designs that she has lend themselves perfectly to screen printing in that they use solid block colours with text showing through as the silver of the bare disc surface which looks very effective and results in high class eye catching discs.She explains to Kier that, historically, they have used plastic wallets to protect the discs as they are cheap and have been perfectly adequate for handing out free discs up to now. She then goes on to explain the need for upgrading the CD packaging to keep up with the competition in her industry. Kier talks her through the many options that are available to her:Clamshell or Trigger Cases – The first option offered to Laney is either a clamshell or a trigger case, both are made of flexible polypropylene and can be sourced in various translucent colours. The clamshell case is a hinged case with a moulded central spindle to hold the CD in place. The trigger case has an ejector switch on one corner and, when inserted, a disc can then be ejected by pressing the switch. Whilst they are more durable and have a higher quality appearance and feel than a clear plastic wallet, they are not designed to contain any printed paper parts.

Card Wallets – These are made by printing onto a piece of card with a weight of between 250 and 350 gsm depending upon the quality of product required. The card is prepared on one side with a printable semi-gloss finish. This printable surface is then digitally printed with a high resolution image. For a premium finish, the card can then be gloss laminated with a very thin, clear high gloss effect layer of plastic. After the clear plastic wallets, card wallets are the most cost effective CD packaging type and variants can be manufactured in a gatefold style which have a pocket on the inside left hand panel to house an information booklet, if required.CD Jewel Case – A standard jewel case is made from a rigid polycarbonate material and has 3 parts; a hinged front cover which holds the front insert or booklet, a rear cover which holds the printed rear tray card and a disc tray which has a central moulded protrusion which the disc clips onto and is held in place. The standard jewel case is bulkier than the card wallet but offers better protection for the disc and provides a more premium feel for the CD packaging project. There is a slim-line version of the jewel case available which houses a front booklet but not the rear tray card and also a multi-disc version that can hold up to 6 CDs although these are very bulky and heavy. The disadvantage of the jewel case is that the case hinges are prone to shattering and the covers can be prone to cracking if dropped or mistreated.

“DVD Case” style CD Cases – The third option offered by Kier is a square case similar in size to the jewel case but made using a clear polypropylene material similar to the material used to make a standard DVD case. This type of case is more durable than the brittle polycarbonate of the standard jewel case but is also more bulky. They have a clear plastic sleeve bonded to the exterior into which a printed wrapper can be inserted; they can also house a printed booklet of the same size as a jewel case booklet. Versions of this case can be sourced which accommodate multiple discs.DVD Case – The standard style of case that consumers are familiar with when purchasing a DVD in a retail environment. These cases are also used for PC and console games. They have a clear outer sleeve bonded to them which can accommodate a printed paper wrapper and they can contain a large A5 sized booklet where a product requires an extensive instruction manual. CDs can be presented in these cases in the same way as DVDs. Slim-line variants are also available and again variants are available that hold multiple discs.CD DigiPacks – This premium packaging type is made of card which can be gloss or matt laminated. A single or multiple plastic disc holding trays can be glued onto one of the inside panels, usually the right most panel, and all panels can be digitally printed. A pocket can also be glued to one of the inside panels to hold an information booklet.

Metal CD Tin – Another premium packaging type, metal tins can be made in almost any shape required and can be screen printed. They tend to be very expensive as a set of tooling needs to be made for bespoke tins, but add a real feeling of value to the end product.Laney examines the options and decides that she will need at least an 8 page information booklet and there is also the possibility that she may need to include more than one disc. She wants a premium feel for the project and doesn’t want to be handing out discs that will just be shoved into a pocket or bag and forgotten about. She opts for the DVD style case and Kier provides her with templates for the DVD case wrapper and booklet. Laney is familiar with printed product artwork requirements as she has produced and sourced all kinds of different printed promotional material in the past. She has a good idea of how she wants the end product to look and, working closely with Kier, they quickly come up with the complete CD packaging artwork.The end product is received by Laney in 4 working days which is the industry average for 2000 duplicated CDs with packaging and she is pleased with the project. The discs can now be handed out to potential clients at shows and exhibitions and Kier’s company has all the artwork and the CD master on file to quickly produce a re-run when required.