eCommerce Packaging: A Tale of Two Industries
The world of eCommerce is nothing new, and yet despite the fact that we’ve collectively been able to buy goods online for decades at this point, online sales continue to increase year over year. Consumers spent just shy of $3 trillion in online shopping in 2018 — up 18 percent from 2017’s still-staggering $2.4 trillion and a significant leap from 2016’s $2 trillion. And that’s just B2C online sales — online B2B sales passed $1 trillion in 2018.
The corrugated industry is also experiencing a similar growth trend. The industry itself is growing by close to 4 percent annually and is expected to reach the $300 billion mark by 2023. With the ever-increasing use of online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and countless others, as well as brands that once focused on brick-and-mortar retail but have since transitioned to heavier online sales (such as Staples), the corrugated industry will continue to see strong growth in the years to come.
Sounds Like a Win-Win, Right?
eCommerce can’t happen without corrugated for shippers, and a significant portion of the corrugated industry’s growth comes from eCommerce. While both industries are experiencing astounding upward momentum, that growth brings about new challenges — for both parties. Companies are beginning to explore new solutions for eCommerce packaging — not only to become more efficient as they increase their shipments but also to keep their costs down. Fortunately, a number of solutions are already available that can make companies’ eCommerce packaging challenges simpler and more efficient.
Let’s review a few trends that have been taking hold in industries worldwide — and how they help companies resolve the “good problems” that come with year-over-year growth.
With the rise of subscription-based retailers (examples including Dollar Shave Club and FabFitFun all the way up to Amazon’s own subscription-based ordering) as well as those simply selling their products online, companies are realizing the need to make the most out of their shipping materials and packaging space. This, coupled with the greater focus on branding, has resulted in companies seeking new eCommerce packaging that is more precisely tailored to their products, organizational image, and long-term goals.
With the right packaging partner, custom eCommerce packaging can be designed, engineered, and produced more efficiently and cost-effectively. This enables you to meet your customers’ demands without running out of the right packaging or having to deal with potentially costly or complex packaging struggles. It also ensures your products continue to make the impact you want when they arrive on your customers’ doorsteps.
Closely related to FtP packaging is a solution that makes the order fulfillment process more efficient and speedy overall: retail-ready packaging. B2B companies that sell online and ship products to other retailers can reduce their own costs working with an expert packaging provider to create containers that are ready for store shelves the moment they arrive (think ALDI and its shelves lined with food in sturdy containers).
These types of containers can be customized with die cuts for display purposes, allowing you to get products into consumers’ hands faster because retailers don’t have to unbox individual products from larger containers, stock them one by one, and so on. They can simply pull the containers from a pallet or truck and get them right out onto the floor. And because they’re made from reliable and exceptionally sturdy corrugated material, you can add a variety of graphics and other features to further promote your brand.
Automate as Much as Possible
While the above solutions can help you get products to retailers and even direct to consumers faster, there’s still the question of your own packaging supplier. With the staggering growth of eCommerce and consumers’ ever-increasing demands for shorter delivery times, it’s becoming more and more important for you to be able to focus on your product, company, and customers — without the distraction of having to manage packaging inventory levels, place orders for more, and interface with suppliers.
Automated packaging solutions such as electronic vendor-managed inventory, or eVMI, allow you to focus on your business will leaving your packaging inventory safely in your vendor’s hands. And while some steps in the process, such as assembly and shipment preparation, can’t be 100 percent automated (yet!), taking the hassle of managing your eCommerce packaging inventory off the table will help you maintain momentum — and save time and money in the process.
Work with eCommerce Packaging Experts
At Jamestown Container, we’ve been helping companies make their packaging processes more effective and efficient for over 60 years. From unique packaging designs to our own eVMI solution that automates packaging for companies in all industries, our experienced and talented team will partner with you to solve virtually any eCommerce packaging challenges you might have.