Packaging fun!

Large outer box and insert

Wimoto Grow packaging sans-printing

Wimoto Climate box

Artwork, die-lines and fold lines for Wimoto Climate outer box and inner insert

We’re finishing up our retail packaging for the “Big Ship” and I thought the whole process might be interesting to some of you and potentially useful information for other crowd-funding campaigns.

A couple of weeks ago we received the final physical outer box and inner insert designs from the designer, which I then used to finish all the artwork (printing) for the packaging.

Custom packaging may seem like a luxury, but there’re actually several benefits:

– It’s sized to fit the product, reducing shipping costs and emissions related to shipping “empty air” when a box of exactly the right size isn’t available.

– A custom “insert” generally protects the product better than stuffing materials and actually uses less material, so it is hopefully environmentally less impacting.

– Product information, instructions, etc. can be printed on the box/insert to assist the end-user.

– It creates a better experience for the end-user — nice packaging is analogous to making food taste better by plating it well and we hope that you like it!

We have two separate physical box designs: one for Climate, Sentry, and Leak (new name for Water) that measures 60*60*60mm; one for Grow and Thermo that measures 60*60*120mm. The stock (type of paperboard) we used is called SBS, which is a common material for retail packaging and offers a relatively white surface. Unfortunately, white paperboard will turn yellow-ish when exposed to sunlight, so it’s generally coated with either an aqueous coating (“AQ”) or varnish. We chose an aqueous coating as it’s better environmentally, less prone to issues during manufacturing, and we didn’t feel we needed a “high gloss” finish.

As I mentioned above, an insert can help protect the product inside the box during shipping and generally makes the whole “unboxing” experience better. Creating good, functional inserts is apparently something of an art and there are people who specialize in this, so it wasn’t something we undertook ourselves (although I designed the rest of the packaging). You can see from the photos below that the insert features a cut-out circular ‘handle’ to pull it out of the outer box, it fits snuggly within the outer box, and features a friction fit recess in the front to hold the Wimoto on display. If you look at the artwork PDF near the bottom of this post (“Wimoto Climate box”), you’ll actually be able to see how the outer box and inner insert are cut and also the fold and glue lines — almost like origami! A custom steel die is created by the manufacturer to ‘cut’ the outline of the paperboard, and then special machines fold, glue and tuck the box into its final form.

Another packaging related challenge we faced was, that heeds as a warning to other crowd-funding campaigns, is that most packaging manufacturers will not do small quantity runs. 10,000 units is often the minimum before the cost of setting up the printing plates, dies and running the machinery is cost-effective for everyone involved. In our case, that would be 50,000 boxes plus 50,000 inserts as we have five designs/products. Luckily, we found a local (Toronto) firm that not only specializes in complex packaging but was also prepared to do a “short-run” (in our case, our first printing run is 2,500 of each design) projects.

Another challenge for us was we wanted to let our backers choose and mix’n’match which Wimoto’s they got. There’s therefore no “standard” packing list — there’re 1500 of them. And depending on which products were chosen, the volume of the required shipping carton increases or decreases — which gets back to the earlier point about avoiding shipping “empty air”. How did we solve this? Shipzilla (the name we affectionately call our shipping confirmation system) has a box packing algorithm!

Box packing

Box packing algorithm at work!

We can’t take credit for the algorithm as it’s provided via an API from the nice folk at Postmaster.io, but we do use it to full effect to both figure out what sized outer shipping carton is required so that all the product boxes fit optimally, and then we use that information to  calculate the shipping estimate based on the volume and weight of the entire package.

"Shipzilla"

“Shipzilla”

Our external shipping cartons are much less exotic than the product packaging and are simply a double-walled corrugated “simple slotted” carton that was made by another local supplier that specializes in, you guessed it, custom short-run shipping cartons. They have a fully automated production line that can make virtually any style corrugated shipping carton in various configurations and styles.

Okay, back to finishing-up the Shipzilla code so that you can get your shipping confirmations!

-marc

Our suppliers for this stage in the project were:

Trade Secret Packaging (http://www.tradesecretpackagingprinting.com) provided lots of assistance with our product packaging.

Any Box Today (http://www.anyboxtoday.com) are the shipping carton supplier.

Large and small boxes

Large and small packaging boxes

Large and small boxes with tops open

Inserts fit snuggly inside and feature cut-out “handles” to remove the inner packaging

Removing insert from large box

A Wimoto Grow model happily snuggled up in his packaging insert bed, waiting for action!

Large outer box and insert

Packaging Insert is actually a box-within-a-box and will have instructions printed on its free sides

22 comments

  1. Looks good….

    Not to be ungrateful, but how’s the shipping going?
    I don’t see an app on the Google Play store when I search for Wimoto yet either. Am I looking for the wrong thing?

    1. We’re gettin’ there! There’s a lot of work happening behind the scenes. Stay tuned… we’ll keep updating everyone on the blog. The App hasn’t been released yet. It’ll be released around the time we ship.

    2. Hi Ingo!

      There’re actually two Android apps: there’s the companion app (which is still work-in-progress) and the demo app (which is source code meant to help folk write their own apps).

      The latter should be on our Github by the end of next week and we’ll let you know when the former hits Google Play.

      1. Nice, I’ll have to dust off my old Android development environment. Are you still using Eclipse or the new one?

      2. Just switched back to Eclipse!

  2. Hi:

    I have not yet received shipping confirmation by email. Please could you tell me if my data is in your database (r_roncero@hotmail.com)

    1. Yes, it is! : ) Not to worry, you haven’t been missed. We’re still working on them…

  3. Eric Kawamoto · ·

    No shipping info, no confirmation that my perks are still in your system. I’ve been plenty patient – a very poor investor experience, I’m afraid.

    1. Hi Eric! I’m sorry for any frustration our delay has caused. Not to worry, we have your perks in our system. Back in March you sent them to be. Please contact me anytime if you have questions or concerns. I’m always happy to try to put your worries at ease. contact [at] wimoto [dot] com. The confirmation notices should be going out by the end of this weekend. We’ll post on the blog once they’ve been sent out.

      1. I still haven’t seen a shipping email. Were they sent out this weekend?

      2. Hope you got my email reply. WordPress wasn’t allowing me to reply to your comment yesterday for some reason. We started sending out the confirmation notices yesterday. You should receive one very soon!

  4. Same here, looking forward to receive the shipping email and thank for keeping us updated!
    cheers

  5. I did not catch this in an update almost a month ago…

    “a better approach might be to send links to a webpage where you can finally confirm your selections and pay shipping”

    So we are actually still waiting to confirm our orders/shipping? And then have to wait for a shipping confirmation? What is the actual deal? Can we add money for holiday gift wrapping? Seems like it will be another 4 month wait.

    1. Hey Andy… the confirmation notices will include an estimated ship date based on where you live in the world.

  6. Hey Wimoto! Thanks for the updates! What’s your estimated tentative shipping date? I have a ton of motes ordered and waiting through the indiegogo! 🙂

    Thanks

  7. Guys, not to be rude, but I am going to state the obvious. You need to give better estimates on shipping. I don’t know how many times it’s been weeks away, and from the looks of things all of those times it was far more than weeks away. Heck, even final packaging isn’t done. I’ve never been part of a campaign that slow rolled its backers like this. I’m frankly shocked there aren’t more people on this site echoing my comments. I imagine most of them have simply given up or forgotten about their contribution.

    1. Hi David.. we don’t mind your candid feedback at all. I completely understand where you’re coming from. Believe me, we are equally anxious to get our devices out the door to everyone. At the time we estimated a few weeks until shipping, we truly believed that’s how long it was going to be. We have been hit with many unexpected obstacles that have continued to shift the shipping timeline. We started sending out the shipping notifications today. In that email you will receive a solid timeline based on where you live in the world.

      1. David definitely has a point there… I think all the contributers have plenty of understanding for unexpected issues, surprises and delay in a start-up business. Of course, we knew about the schedule and technology risks when supporting a crowdfunding campaign. I know, I’m not ordering something from an internet shop.

        But looking at the history of revised timelines, we are approaching a point where you are loosing credibility. Maybe you really had bad luck, but then I would suggest to communicate more detailed and more often with your crowdfunders to make it more comprehensible for us.

        So let’s cross fingers that we are really close to the campaing completion and all receive shipping confirmations today. But to be honest, I wouldn’t bet any money on that.

      2. Hi Ben.. thanks for your feedback. I hear ya! This process has been an adventure. We ventured into new territory and learned a great deal. Crowdfunding has been an amazing experience and we’re so grateful for everyone’s support! It has also given us insight into doing some things a little differently, should we decide to do it again in the future. While we have tried to keep everyone posted, sometimes things have just been so busy, posting a detailed update would have taken focus away from keeping everything moving forward. We’ve tried to do our best with what we’ve had to work with. You’ve all been incredibly patient and I know your patience is wearing thin. I don’t blame you for losing faith that we’re going to deliver your devices, Ben. Talk is cheap, as they say, so all I can do is hope once you do receive your perks it will have been worth the wait. I suspect it will be! But don’t take my word for it… wait and see. : )

  8. chrisbartley · ·

    Glad to hear the shipping notifications are going out. What’s the word on the Box Formerly Known as Nimbus/Cloud Cube? Any estimates for when that’ll ship? Thanks!

  9. Hey, I still have not received any notification for shipping. Any chance of an update on when all the notifications are going to be sent???

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