Is your packaging ready for e-commerce?
Right-sized and lightweight, customizable flexible packaging can help get you there.
Here’s a statistic that will tickle your e-commerce packaging fancy. Amazon alone shipped 415 million packages in July 2020. That’s just one month, for one shipper.
E-commerce packaging and shipping will only keep growing. Smithers, a recognized provider of strategic market research, reported in the “The Future of Global Packaging to 2024” that packaging demand will grow steadily at 2.8% to reach $1.05 trillion in 2024.
Ecommerce packaging is packaging that ships directly to the customer. The seller often has no idea of how the e-commerce package is hustled, bumped and bounced along the way to the consumer, or in what condition it arrives.
This is an important distinction from a traditional in-store package because the manner in which a package is transported often has unintended consequences on how the consumer perceives the product and your brand.
No likes to wait for a product only to have it arrived broken or damaged.
According to the 2019 Flexible Packaging Assessment Report, consumers are more concerned that the products they buy online arrive in good condition, rather than how they appear online.
Can your e-packaging stand up to the rough and tumble world of e-commerce?
Traditional retail packaging vs e-commerce packaging
A critical part of planning and designing packaging that works for e-commerce is to consider what it takes for your product to get from point A to point B.
- With a traditional distribution environment, the product moves from manufacturing to a distribution center.
- There are limited human or machine touches for a product intended for a retail shelf.
- Distribution centers package products so they can be placed in standard size cases or pallets (for maximum efficiency during shipping) and shipped out on a truck.
- The next stop is the retail location where the product gets placed on a shelf.
Once the package is in the store, customers get to see and experience the product before they make a purchase. This in-store environment is all about how the product package looks on the shelf, how it stands out, and how the consumer experiences it.
E-commerce packaging must perform differently.
E-commerce packaging and shipping
An e-commerce package’s path from the e-seller to the recipient can be a rocky road. There’s no set route that gets it from point A to point B.
As a matter of fact, an e-commerce package is subjected to many more touches and potential pitfalls than its traditional retail counterpart. Compared to traditional retail, an e-commerce package is handled at least 3 times more often.
As shown in the diagram, warehouses, common carriers, sortation centers, non-expedited carriers, and local distribution centers can all be involved in the delivery of a single, e-commerce package.
The right e-commerce packaging solutions must work hard and solve multiple issues, including:
- Lowering return rates by preventing shipping damages
- Reducing shipping costs by getting lighter and smaller
- Increasing brand identification
- Improving customer satisfaction
Consumers expect their product to arrive in pristine condition and to perform the same way, if not better than, any product they would have purchased at a brick-and-mortar shop.
Flexible packaging withstands the rigors of e-commerce
While the way consumers shop may be shifting, their expectations for product integrity remain steadfast. No one wants to receive a damaged product. Flexible pouches tend to have lower failure rates than rigid packaging because they’re less likely to crack open.
- When paired with the right closure, they can provide additional protection. For example, some flexible packages have double closure systems, flip lids, and other features that safeguard against leaks or spills.
There is a common misperception that flexible packaging isn’t as sustainable as rigid packaging because it’s always recyclable (EnvyPak clear flexible packaging is available in a biodegradable version).
However, flexible packaging not only provides a significantly better product-to-package ratio, but also offers an opportunity to reduce materials used, consume less fossil fuels during manufacturing, and potentially reduce the volume of packaging waste in landfills.
Consider flexible packaging for e-commerce packages
Flexible packaging is lightweight yet adds protection and durability. It can resist breakage, prevent spills, and keep multiple items together. When flexible packaging is manufactured as clear, it actively “promotes” the product by allowing it to show through the package. Boxes and opaque plastic envelopes can’t offer this.
Creating a memorable e-commerce experience with clear flexible packaging
Online retailers have fewer consumer touchpoints to deliver delight compared to physical retail. But don’t think your e-commerce packaging doesn’t really matter.
Ecommerce packaging is still an important part of brand identity because it must speak for you. This is the first physical contact the customer has with your brand.
That’s why it’s important to pay special attention to the touchpoints you do have available to create a memorable brand experience for customers and set yourself apart from competitors.
It must be right-sized.
Packaging should be in proportion to the product it’s protecting. Too little or small and your product may be subjected to damage. Too large – wasteful (which no one concerned with sustainability likes) and product can still be damaged by moving around inside.
The type of package must be appropriate for the product.
Is your product flexible, fragile or high-value? Perishable? All these factors will affect what type of e-commerce package is best to get the product to the customer safely and undamaged. If your product is soft goods, consider flexible packaging. Flexible packaging is lightweight, customizable packaging that offers protection and added durability to safeguard your product.
Make it sustainable.
Flexible packaging also provides opportunities for sellers looking for a more sustainable option. Because flexible packaging is lightweight, it costs less to ship. According to the Flexible Packaging Assn. (FPA), one truckload of flexible packaging is equivalent to 26 truckloads of glass jars. Flexible packaging also offers a higher product to package ratio—an especially important feature as couriers move to charging by size in addition to weight (dimensional or dim weight).
Another way flexible packaging helps with sustainability is by offering re-closable features. E-commerce products like clothing and shoes have return rates of up to 50%. Fewer packaging is used with resealable flexible packages because consumers aren’t forced to get new packaging for the return.
Make e-commerce packaging fun when you can.
Include a “thank you,” or a list of suggestions for how to use the product. Package inserts, such as samples and coupons can increase loyalty. Make the e-package even better by designing it to work as storage for the product and you both win. The consumer is delighted and you’re forever a winner in their eyes.
Here are a few items to include in an e-commerce package to increase the “wow!” factor:
- Decorative tissue paper
- Promotional materials
- A signed, custom note
- Colorful, custom tape
- A small, free gift or samples
The global pandemic may have forever changed the way consumers shop. Shopping online is here to stay. For e-commerce shippers to make the most of this opportunity, they should consider all the benefits of flexible packaging. It can be customized for the consumer and can create a positive brand experience. Plus, its cost-effectiveness, durability, strength, sustainability, lighter weight and handling convenience make it a savvy choice for e-commerce packaging.
EnvyPak can help you create a flexible package that looks great, protects the product, and hits all the right buttons with the targeted consumer. We offer flexographic and digital printing, plus an in-house art department to give your flexible packaging the look you want. From concept to prototypes, we’ll put over 27 years of packaging expertise to work for you.
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