Packaging Advice

How to minimise the risks that come with changing packaging suppliers

5 mins

With the UK withdrawing from the EU, Brexit is likely to come with consequences for UK packaging suppliers. The European Union simplified the process of delivering goods between countries, and now we have withdrawn, this process will likely be more complicated. As you will already know, anything that takes more time, ultimately means more cost.

At Swiftpak we believe it is important to minimise the risk that comes with changing packaging suppliers. In this article, we will be discussing what these supply chain risks are and how you can reduce your chances of having to face them.

What are the supply chain risks?

In the last decade, many organisations have been disrupted by unforeseen supply chain risks. This has led to the loss of millions of pounds for a range of industries including pharmaceuticals, electronics and automotive. The most common supply chain risks are:


  • Supplier facility conditions and compliance issues
  • Unpredictable or misunderstood customer demand
  • Problems with stability and management of supplier businesses
  • Raw material flow interruptions


  • Lack of planning
  • Disruptions in manufacturing operations
  • Ineffective management
  • Cybersecurity breaches
  • Changes in personnel, structures and processes including in supplier communications.

So how can you avoid these risks or make sure you are prepared if they arise?

Identify and evaluate your current risks

Are you fully prepared for any potential supply chain disruptions? When considering changing your packaging supplier, it is vital that you identify and evaluate any risks that your business could face. This can be done by undertaking a business impact analysis that will help you to predict what disruptions may occur and plan accordingly. It will include reviewing your business, processes, suppliers, customers, as well as the market environment.

By completing a thorough business impact analysis of your supply chain risk, you will be able to see how your businesses processes, resources and activities could be affected by supply chain disruptions. Enabling you to be prepared when they occur and prioritise the risks that would affect you the most.

Assess your new packaging supplier

The packaging suppliers you use can impact your company’s reputation. Before partnering with new suppliers, it is important to assess them against factors such as their capabilities and if they line up with your needs, as well as looking at reviews from their current customers. This way you will get an idea of how the supplier works and whether it is satisfactory to you. Some other factors you can be looking out for are as follows:

  • Resources: what are their resources? For example, equipment, storage, and materials.
  • Quality: do they have a commitment to quality standards?
  • Financial Health: do they have a healthy cash flow?
  • Supplier Risks: be aware of any risks the supplier may face such as regulations compliance, country risk, economic and political conditions or anything that could impact their service.
  • Cyber security processes and policies: is your new packaging supplier secure and in line with GDPR regulations if applicable?

Have a certified packaging supplier

A supplier that has certifications is more reliable and trustworthy than one that does not. Research conducted by Achilles and IFF revealed 43% of businesses are aware of a high-risk supplier failing to meet compliance requirements. So, it is important to ensure that the information that the supplier provides is also verified and thoroughly checked. By having a supplier with certifications, for example a Certified B Corporation®, ISO, or BRC, you can ensure that you are working with a trusted supplier, minimizing the chances of supply chain risks.

Make sure your packaging supplier has a plan

Buyers must ensure their contracts and procedures are in line with current legislation requirements. Challenges are known to take months to resolve and cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation or settlement. Therefore, with the UK leaving the EU, it’s important that you have a packaging supplier that has a plan in place for the changes, and you are in understanding of those plans.

Brexit will likely cause challenges when having a packaging supplier that is abroad, so it is recommended to have one that is local.  At Swiftpak, we use a well thought out plan called the ‘5D Onboarding process’.

What is the 5D Onboarding Process?

This is the process you will go through with us. It is well-established and ensures a hassle-free transition over five weeks:

Week 1: Discover:

  • Involves identifying the critical path and key stakeholders.
  • An introduction to key team members with a welcome pack including all touch points
  • Full site survey including individual service requirements and contact points before the final review of all product specifications.

Week 2: Design

  • Submissions of samples for approval and a receipt of artwork files for all printed items.
  • Confirm stock holding with current vendor including the creation of a stock transition plan to avoid stock outages. 
  • A cut off point is agreed as well as how to handle the residual stock.

Week 3: Develop

  • Swiftpak places order for initial stock including tools and print blocks for printed items.
  • All part numbers are confirmed so that these can be entered into the Swiftpak ERP for cease of cross referencing.

Week 4-5: Deliver

  • Swiftpak stock will start to arrive and initial delivery can be made.
  • Your Swiftpak key account manager accompanies the first delivery to ensure customer satisfaction.
  • Work with the team to identify any immediate innovation wins.

Week 5: Delight

  • Involves monthly review meetings to ensure a seamless hassle-free transition and continuous cycle of improvement with focus on aspects such as service, supply chain, process, and products.

A packaging supplier with an established plan following Brexit should look something like this, showing that they have considered every step of the process.

Swiftpak as a packaging supplier

At Swiftpak, we are committed to providing the best protective packaging solutions, combined with specialist knowledge and first-class service. Could we be the perfect packaging supplier for you? Contact our experts today and they will be happy to help you through the process.