E-commerce and packaging

  • October 25, 2018

By Shelagh Hammer

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E-commerce is a big word for what has now become a way of life for many of us. Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com way back in 1995 and they now count for almost 50% of all online purchasing. But more than that, Amazon is constantly raising the bar for the services offered; introducing Amazon Prime and the whole concept of subscription buying; introducing standards for Frustration Free Packaging and rightsizing, and then doing an about turn and introducing Amazon Go stores.

At the heart of many packaging discussions is the need to reduce waste and as Kim Houchens puts it: “the right design to make sure it (the product) comes unbroken in the least wasteful package possible”

The least wasteful package means matching the package to the product rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. This makes sense, not only in terms of waste and sustainability but also in pure economic terms.

Sixty-five percent of executives surveyed by Forbes Insights and DS Smith Consulting believe they can achieve a packaging cost reduction of at least 25%, and 62% believe that they can achieve such savings in their logistics costs. Based on its proprietary research, DS Smith Consulting estimates that this translates to $46 billion globally a year in potential savings. This amount accounts for potential savings in logistics costs, but it does not include further savings in material reduction or storage and handling costs, for instance.

And as for the right design – packages that have been designed for retail, do not suit the rigors of direct-to-consumer shipping. The Amazon FFP could lead companies to design packaging specifically for the ecommerce channel, removing the need for boxes within boxes and at the same time reducing shipping costs.

Consumers today use a range of channels to do their shopping, sometimes simultaneously, but the key demands behind their choices are:
• Rapid delivery
• A positive unpacking experience
• Personalization for relevance

Packaging for e-commerce needs to be strong and should raise levels of customer satisfaction, enhancing the buying experience and bridging the gap between online and traditional retail shopping. The corrugated boxes commonly used for e-commerce, have, until recently been nothing but brown boxes.

In retail, unique packaging designs elevate a brand in the eyes of the consumer. The combination of functionality and decoration work together to give the consumer an exciting unpacking experience.

With the arrival of digital print for corrugated, there is a great opportunity to maintain the strength needed for e-commerce while retaining the brand promise associated with well-designed boxes. E-commerce is also creating opportunities for new businesses who need packaging to tell their story, and tell their new customers that they made the right choice.

Paul Marino, Impress Communications, Executive Director, notes, “A package needs to incorporate the brand’s entire message and must work harder to communicate to consumers,” not just in retail aisles, but during the in-home “unboxing” experiences that millions of online shoppers have come to expect from brands in the age of Amazon.

Like other forms of enhancement, ornate, one-of-a-kind diecutting on the Highcon Euclid device “elevates the perceived value of the package” and the product it contains, Marino says.

The Highcon Euclid IIIC digital cutting and creasing machine, introduced earlier this year, enables JIT production, short runs, customized perforations and zippers with cleaner edges and easier opening, and variable data etching for customization or personalization down to the level of serial numbers.

Highcon customers are therefore well placed to lead the industry demands for rapid delivery of short-run, differentiated packaging that is both relevant to the consumer and answers the brands’ needs.

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