How to save money and optimise your e-commerce packaging process

As an online retailer, packaging plays a critical role in satisfying the expectations of the modern consumer, both through providing protection during delivery, and through improved customer engagement and brand loyalty during post purchase touchpoints. With a growing complexity in online consumer packaging expectations, it can be difficult for e-commerce businesses to maintain cost and time efficient packaging procurement and supply chain processes.

How to optimise the e-commerce
packaging processes

For online retailers to reduce packaging costs, and increase packing efficiency, a combination of sourcing from the right supplier, having great logistics and a streamlined packaging chain is required. By considering the Packaging Chain’s 7 key touch points (covering both packaging procurement and the packing process), your business should be able to optimise its packaging efficiency.

The packaging chain
An opportunity to save time and money

1.  Source the right packaging from the right supplier

It all starts with finding the right supplier. There are many different packaging suppliers out there, but not all of them are experts on e-commerce packaging.

  • Is the supplier familiar with the typical requirements on e-commerce packaging?
  • Is the supplier able to produce according to your specifications such as design, print and function?
  • Is the supplier flexible in terms of order volumes and deliveries?

Tip - Compare offers and competences of your potential suppliers by asking them the above questions is a good starting point to sourcing the right packaging.

2. Choose size

Consider the product(s) to be packed and the number of variations of sizes of boxes which will be required to pack them.

  • How is the order and box picking done?
  • Can more or fewer packaging options improve this process for the packer?

Tip - For a smaller e-commerce business trial and error may be the best solution to find the right box sizes. There are suppliers who can offer small series which may seem like an expensive option at first, but will help you avoid costly mistakes later when scaling your business.

3. Assembly

Ensure your packaging can be efficiently assembled by employees at the packing station, either manually or automatically.

  • How much time should it take to erect the box?
  • How to ensure a good ergonomy?

Tip - So called quick-raise or quick-bottom boxes are erected in seconds and offer stability without the need for taping thanks to the pre-glued construction of the box

4. Packing safely

Pack products safely in a box that will withstand the handling throughout the shipment and delivery process

  • How to minimise damage risks?
  • How is the product displayed when opening?

Tip - Many suppliers also produce customised inserts constructed from corrugated cardboard. Offering a cheap and sustainable way to protect your products.

5. Adding filler

Avoid plastic filler to reach consumer sustainability expectations by sourcing cartons tailored to your product’s dimensions.

  • What type of filler is used?
  • How can the void be minimised? 

Tip - Consider alternative box styles to those commonly used. There are many styles out there tailored to specific uses, and most can be constructed in custom dimensions.

6. Close and seal the box

Ensure your packaging can be efficiently sealed by employees at the packing station

  • How much time should it take to erect the box?
  • Does the sealing require tape?

Tip - Consider how the customer can access the packaging without damaging its structure or the contents. Mailer type boxes, which use self locking flaps, require less tape to securely close and are easier to open.

7. Stacking

Choose packaging that matches the strength requirements for storage and transport.

  • Will the box be stacked on pallets, racking or in wagons?

Tip - Speak to your supplier regarding the strength requirements across your boxes’ life cycle. Suppliers will be able to recommend strength and structural qualities based on your specific needs.

E-commerce packaging is constantly evolving

Evaluating your business’s Packaging Chain is a great way to ensure you’re sourcing the right packaging the first time, and optimise the packing process.

However, e-commerce packaging solutions, consumer desires, and your own business’s demands are rapidly changing. So we suggest you revisit these points on a regular basis to ensure you’re running at full efficiency with as little wasted spend as possible.