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Varusteleka co-design with RePack reusable packaging


Packaging design at Varusteleka

Varusteleka (pronounced [Where's the liquor?]) is a Finnish outdoor activities and army surplus store. The company was established in 2003 and has become the biggest army store in Europe. Varusteleka has 55 professional members and with a turnover in 2017 of 12.4M€.

Back in 2013, Varusteleka had just been selected as the “Best webstore in Finland” while we, on the other hand, had just one customer (and our packages failed to meet their requirements). So why did they then choose to work with RePack?

First of all the company is armed with bags of attitude and when they decide to act they immediately unplug their thumbs from their backsides and get things done.
Varusteleka takes pride in their skill and experience, and you will have a hard time finding a military surplus store better than Varusteleka.

What does this Varusteleka mean? Varusteleka is Finnish and comes from "varuste", which stands for equipment, and "leka" which stands for, among other things, a sledgehammer.
Reusable packaging development with Varusteleka
RePack’s bold promise of “removing packaging trash” resonated at Varusteleka because they know what their customers like. They appreciate when things are done differently and take a stand for things they believe in.

We knew that Varusteleka customers wanted a wow-effect and needed to deliver.

The collaboration between Varusteleka and RePack started with the fundamentals and we changed the material used for our packaging.

As we knew this was to be co-design project and we included everyone in the design process from the warehouse to end user. Details such as the packing process were assessed and b recorded a short video of packing at Varusteleka can be viewed here
Co-design to ensure packaging works
The first thing we learned was that developing an online delivery packaging design is no small feat. There are many aspects to consider and keep in mind.

For example, packaging should at least
- Be quick and easy to pack and unpack.
- Be scalable and avoid containing air or wasted space
- Protect the goods in delivery (and in possible return)
- Be as light as possible as every gram shipped costs
- Look great, obviously

Those are the basics. To make it sustainable, returnable and reusable, we needed to incorporate material durability, a tape-sealing design, and ease of return. When empty it needed to fold down to letter size...and communicating to the end user simply and clearly how returning works was another necessity.

Every design was evaluated and tested in Varusteleka’s operating environment and compared to single-use plastic bags.
What happens when RePack (left) and single-use bag (right) hit a table corner. RePack protects the goods even when packaging is mishandled.
Award-winning packaging with added sustainability
Finally, we found a material that worked. A working design and pilot manufacturer quickly followed.

Several prototypes and design failures later, RePack’s first “One size fits all”-packaging model was released in 2014.

The package was adjustable in size with an innovative velcro closing that also worked as a carrying handle. It was the first time we used polypropene as a material and found it suitable as it’s durable, lightweight and recyclable. Folding into letter size was also discovered. And packaging looked apart too!
This packaging went on to win the Fennia Prize - Finland’s most prestigious design award - in 2014.

Since then this packaging iteration has been faded out and replaced by more advanced models but Varusteleka has always been part of the development process. And for a reason. Their feedback is straight to the point, pushing and challenging our design.

Without the guys at Varusteleka RePack would not exist - simple as that. We salute you!