December 11, 2014
No, there isn’t an excuse for oversized boxes any more.
I was recently reading an article on PackWorld.com titled Amazon shops on-line for feedback about its packaging. It’s mostly a rundown of a survey Amazon sends out to analyze it’s Frustration Free Packaging (FFP) program, followed by some brief commentary on each question. Nothing too out of the ordinary…except one survey question and the resulting paragraph that did catch my eye:
Rate Amazon’s Packaging. Please rate the packaging protection on your shipment. Was the box size and packaging appropriate for the items?
Caution: lay respondents might be inclined to answer in accordance with how custom-fitted the box is to its contents, without due regard for certain realities. The greater the number of box sizes, the greater the user company’s purchase prices (due to lower economies-of-scale) and the greater that company’s inventory-carrying costs (more sizes to store and account for). Striking the optimal balance between the two necessitates considerable collection and analysis of data related to sales and logistics. No matter how well done, that exercise won’t eliminate the need to compensate for voids, whether with bubble-wrap, crumbled paper, expanded polystyrene peanuts, or other means.
So basically, the author says we should go easy on Amazon (and I assume other fulfillment companies) when they send us oversized boxes because it’s just too hard to get the right-sized box for every package.
I have to respectfully disagree with the author here. Sure, we used to have to strike a balance between carrying enough box sizes and still having a manageable inventory. But Packsize’s On Demand Packaging® has allowed companies to carry an infinite number of box sizes while still reducing corrugated inventory up to 60 percent for 12 years now. Quite a few companies are able to get a custom fitting box every time they need one thanks to Packsize.
I would like to take a moment to point out some of the things Amazon (and many other fulfillment companies) can do:
- Get a package to your door within 24 hours of you ordering it (a modern logistical miracle if you stop and think about it).
- Make accurate suggestions on what it’s users would like to buy based off of their browser history and big data.
- Use tiny little Roomba-like robots to move items around their warehouse.
- (Coming 2016, probably) Use drones to deliver items to your door 30 minutes after ordering an item.
If you had to choose between (1) trying to implement a fleet of smart drones to move packages across the country, or (2) try to figure out how to use smaller boxes; which do you think would be easier?
So when someone says that fulfillment companies can’t always have properly fitting boxes because it’s just too hard…well, I just can’t accept that. It’s not that it’s an insurmountable obstacle, it’s just that the company hasn’t made it a big enough priority to find a solution yet.
And yes, I will admit that smaller boxes aren’t as sexy as an army of delivery bots. But the benefits of On Demand Packaging® are very well documented now. Since switching to Packsize, Staples has reported the following benefits:
- Corrugated cardboard usage has dropped by over 15%
- Air pillow use has been reduced by 60%
- Customer satisfaction has been greatly increased for the “size of box” and “way order was packaged”
- The vast majority of Staples employees agree—Packsize has made their jobs easier
- The equivalent of 100,000 trees are saved every year from reduced material usage
Other companies have been able to figure out how to solve the problem of too many box sizes. Will yours make it a priority?
If you would like to learn more about On Demand Packaging® and the problem the author of the PackWorld.com was talking about, download our white paper, How Many Box Sizes Are Enough, by clicking the link below: