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by Robert Huckels, Ivie Asia

Last week, we set out to clear up some confusion between a traditional outsourcing model and a shared production services model. While there can be tremendous benefits to engaging in an offshore production model, there are also several common pitfalls and concerns that a company should consider before choosing a shared production services partner. Sending packaging production to a third party comes with a unique set of concerns; let’s explore some of the biggest potential issues and how they can be resolved.


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Legitimate Concerns

  1. Communication. Obviously, there needs to be a common language between your company and the production agency (typically, this is English), but communication can still be a potential barrier. Beyond a basic shared language, there are times when things can get lost in translation. For instance, misunderstandings can arise when paper stock is specified in lbs. versus gsm. Printing terms that are common in one country might not be used in another. The solution to avoiding this confusion is to vet the production agency thoroughly to ensure they specialize in the type of work for which you’re seeking assistance. Page production experts are different from packaging production experts who are different from point-of-sale production agencies. Just like home repairs, when you choose the right tool for the job, things go a lot easier.

  2. Brand familiarity. Sending packaging production out-of-house does not work well for one-off assignments. Why? In order to do a job properly, the SPS agency needs to immerse itself in your brand. They need to be at least as familiar with your brand as you are if not even more familiar with its nuances. If it’s a short-term fix you need, you’re likely better off hiring local freelancers to get you over the hump. One-off short-term assignments make it difficult to get up to speed quickly and can result in missed deadlines and cost overruns. In fact, a good production agency will go beyond the brand book and marketing/merchandising teams’ preferences and will become familiar with what the legal department will or will not allow. This doesn’t mean they’ll have lawyers on staff, but after a few rounds of revisions to artwork based on the legal team’s feedback, a good agency quickly learns what will probably pass muster.

  3. Finding the right fit. This is more a cautionary note. Before engaging an overseas production agency, make sure you’ve identified the scope of work you need accomplished and that the team you’re hiring matches your needs. For instance, production agencies that are part of a larger creative agency will have design capabilities as well as professional production capabilities. If your expectation is for them to assist in brand adaptation, line extensions, flavor variants, etc. and they are strictly a “churn and burn” production house, the results you get will be underwhelming. Most SPS agencies work on annual contracts, or at least on quarterly contracts, so think through your potential needs carefully, and then source the team that is best equipped to meet all of those needs, not just to put out the most immediate fire.

About Ivie Asia’s SPS model: Ivie Asia takes great pride in working diligently with our clients to ensure that we provide the best packaging services possible, starting with a thorough onboarding and discovery process to fully understand the brands that we work with. If you are considering going out-of-house for packaging production, but have questions or concerns you’d like to discuss, you can contact the author of this post at

To learn more about Ivie Asia’s SPS, download our brochure: SPS Brochure


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