Success Story 18.10.2023

Stora Enso PackDesigner: A partnership transforming packaging design tech

Arttu Närhi

Arttu Närhi

Developing an IT solution at Stora Enso typically follows a deliberate process. Nevertheless, the inception of PackDesigner was facilitated through collaboration with the now-acquired startup Migenius. The new solution shows promise in streamlining sales and initiating more creative collaboration with their customers.

In an increasingly remote and digital landscape, Stora Enso's sales representatives often rely on digital blueprints and presentations to showcase their vast portfolio of renewable materials and packaging solutions. 

However, this approach has limitations. Blueprints designed for professionals often appear as mere lines and dots to clients who lack specialized training. Moreover, designs stored in different formats lead to inconsistencies that undermine the effectiveness of presentations and ultimately impact customer experience.

Facing these challenges, Stora Enso's Packaging Design team realized the need for an innovative solution: a unified tool to seamlessly visualize their diverse range of products in an easy-to-navigate, customer-friendly manner. Think of it as an app store but for packaging designs.

In this context, the team aimed to not only enhance the visual presentation of their products but also to make the interface user-friendly and easily searchable. After all, what good is a great product if it's hidden in the labyrinth of poorly organized and inconsistent files?

By identifying these pain points, Stora Enso set the stage for an unprecedented collaboration to develop PackDesigner, a tool to transform customer engagement in the presentation and selection of packaging designs.

The Right Partner: Why Migenius Stood Out

PackDesigner view of an individual design (Photo by Stora Enso)

Stora Enso launched the business opportunity in 2020. Work started late the same year, and implementation of the new solution was finished in 2022 and launched the same year.

“Migenius stood out for their portfolio and their focus on visualization,” says Ģirts Derums, current Head of Stora Enso’s PackTester service, who was the project manager for PackDesigner at the time. “Especially their expertise in automatic 3D visualization was critical.”

Ultimately, Migenius was selected to provide their visualization solution and support from an external IT consultant to build part of the solution interface. 

“While the technology itself is nothing new, other available solutions didn’t have the right compatibilities with our CAD tools,” Derums describes. “So it had to be adjusted and special plugins created. These were the parts built by Migenius.”

Migenius’ journey with the project ended abruptly, though: another company acquired them in early 2021. While the full solution was not entirely integrated, the technology behind it is part of the new solution. Now, the new company continues to provide support for PackDesigner.

“Migenius helped us to visualize our packaging portfolio and create a user-friendly product catalog,”  Derums says. “Their contribution was significant. This remote tool became very important during the pandemic – it was a fantastic collaboration.”

Overcoming Challenges: Unified Design Visualization

PackDesigner is a unique solution combining existing technologies in an entirely new way. This setup required creating several features to ensure user-friendliness.

One of the main challenges involved the different platforms designers used: there had to be a solution to visualize their models automatically, no matter what format they came in. The solution was a series of plugins developed by Migenius to ensure visual consistency.

Another challenge was the development of intelligent search tools to find suitable packaging designs. The technology had not previously been used to navigate a packaging design catalog. Here, interface development stood out and became a critical component to make it user-friendly.

How PackDesigner is Changing Stora Enso’s Approach to Sales

PackDesginer view of a product catalog page (Photo by Stora Enso)

PackDesigner has received good feedback from their primary users, Stora Enso sales representatives and designers.

“We already have use cases of salespersons using the tool for faster, more creative cooperation with customers,” Derums says. “Also, designers use this tool for inspiration and ready solutions for their challenges. Now, we are focusing on increasing the available number of designs in the system.”

Future system improvements also involve reducing operational costs, developing the 3D technology, and other smaller fixes. PackDesigner version 2.0 has further development opportunities on the radar, which we might hear more about later. In line with their current goals, the team is further investing in increasing the tool adoption within Stora Enso.

“One of our learnings during the development process was that the importance of change management can never be overestimated,” Derums says. “PackDesigner was introduced to our designers before the launch to create the content and build the design database as rich as possible for the first launch. When the tool was ready to go live, there were sessions for small groups of people organized, so it is easier to address all the questions and concerns.”

To add content to the database, Stora Enso launched design challenges so designers could contribute with their designs. As a more regular reminder to use the tool, newsletters with updates and new designs are sent out to all the user groups. 

“We have also been talking with sales and design managers to find best ways to motivate people to use this tool in their everyday workflow,” Derums says.

Combient Foundry as the Catalyst

While Stora Enso had a clear vision for what they wanted to deliver to their customers, identifying the right technology to make this vision a reality was a significant challenge. Here is where Combient Foundry stepped in as an invaluable partner, offering much more than just matchmaking between startups and corporations.

Beyond the selection process, Foundry continued to offer critical support in technology assessment. They facilitated seamless communication between Migenius and Stora Enso, overcoming hurdles that are often present in partnerships between large corporations and agile startups. Foundry's experienced team was also instrumental in validating the technology solutions proposed, ensuring that the project remained on track and met its milestones.

“Combient Foundry helped us, and we can think of many cases where they can help us in the future,” Derums says. “If you have an idea of what you want to offer but are thinking of the technology solution, they are a good place to turn to. The result might look a bit different than what initially, but the help to kick off the process is very valuable. Knowing what solutions are out in the market greatly helps get an offering out there.”

Through their multifaceted involvement, Combient Foundry proved to be more than just a facilitator; they were a strategic partner enabling Stora Enso to navigate the complex world of emerging technologies. Their role was pivotal in transforming a promising concept into a successful, scalable solution, changing how Stora Enso presents and sells its products.