In recent years there has been an exponential increase in e-commerce in our environment. In addition, the possibility of making online purchases during the pandemic caused a large part of the population to join this movement. Even though this is not the main sales channel, the main brands do not want to miss the opportunity to position themselves.

E-commerce involves adapting both the packaging and the packaging process throughout the production chain. From an operational point of view, it is a challenge because it is not easy to control the supply chain with different order sources and distribution centers and modes of distribution. Functional packaging must be achieved and meet all the requirements demanded by the customer.

Secondary packaging models

Secondary packaging must be adapted according to the sales channel:

  • Retail: Secondary packaging protects the product during the supply chain in a relatively short period of time and from known impacts. This secondary packaging should facilitate the quick and safe disposal of the product on the shelf.
  • E-commerce through specific distribution points: Secondary packaging has to protect the primary packaging and the product itself. It should not hinder the unpacking of the product. In this case, the primary packaging must be more robust to avoid breakage of the final product.
  • Direct to Consumer (DTC) from the manufacturing site: In this case the secondary packaging must be lightweight yet durable to protect the product during transport until it arrives directly at the consumer's door. This model creates challenges for manufacturers, as they must deal with a wide variety of box sizes and protection needs.

Main challenges of e-commerce packaging

95% of consumers say that packaging influences the online shopping experience and 79% say that packaging needs are different between online and in-store shopping. Other factors that can affect e-commerce include the initial state of the package, the ease or difficulty of opening the package, and over-packaging.

But what are the challenges of e-commerce packaging? They are listed below:

  • Environmental impact
  • Right sizing
  • Waste free
  • Customer experience
  • Process automation

Sustainability in e-commerce

Sustainability is one of the most notorious trends in secondary packaging today. Manufacturers must not only consider the effectiveness and efficiency of secondary packaging, but they must also respect the environment by opting for different materials and formats. As a result, this sustainable movement is driving manufacturers to look for new and innovative materials, reduce the use of materials and replace plastic packaging with more sustainable alternatives. However, we must not forget that secondary packaging must fulfil its primary objective: product protection.

Process automation

Automation consists of designing processes in order to use the capacity of the systems to perform certain previously manual tasks. It allows reducing the execution time during production, thus reducing costs and eliminating the possible mistakes that can be made in manual production. By standardizing and scheduling tasks without giving up the flexibility of the systems required by e-commerce, we will achieve automation.

It is not an easy task, but the alliance with Industry 4.0 technologies is making it possible to automate the packaging phase of e-commerce parcels, taking into account the requirements of the distribution chain.

Do you want to know more about how to adapt your e-commerce packaging to sustainability requirements, and how to benefit from process automation? If so, don't hesitate to contact us!