Saving money. That was easy.

A better customer experience, improved supply chain sustainability, and efficiency with every shipment.
Average corrugated usage has dropped over 15%
Void fill usage has been reduced by 60%
Customer satisfaction surveys shows that Smart-size Packaging is meeting customer needs and expectations.
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The Problem: 

Customers don’t like wasteful packaging

Waste reduction is a key pillar of sustainability improvement efforts, with packaging a  substantial component under consideration. As the second largest e-commerce fulfillment business in the world after Amazon, Staples ships millions of packages each year to  customers through their U.S. e-commerce fulfillment centers.

Looking for solutions to reduce packaging waste, Staples established its first packaging reduction goal, to accomplish a 20% reduction in packaging in the U.S. by 2020. Staples, in collaboration with Packsize International and its On Demand Packaging® technology, implemented a “Smart-size Packaging Program” in 2012 that produces customized packaging tailored to each order. The result—a better customer experience and improved supply chain sustainability and efficiency with every delivery order.

Many times when you make investments in your supply chain, you are competing for capital with other parts of the company. This is one of the few times where the business unit heads are pushing the supply chain to implement the solution faster because it’s been such a win-win for everybody.
Don Ralph
SVP of Supply Chain & Logistics

The Solution:

Smart-size packaging

A pilot was completed in Staples’ fulfillment center in Orlando, Fla., in early 2011. During this initial phase, Packsize and Staples teams collaborated on everything from equipment layout and systems integration to process design. Once the pilot was successfully completed, the team turned to planning the full implementation. All along the way, the partnership between the teams has been a major factor in a seamless rollout as well as the generation of improvement opportunities beyond the initial implementation.

The creative solution comes from process change thinking with the material supply.  Centralizing the packaging function, Packsize On Demand Packaging® improves the old
“store and retrieve” corrugated packaging process by placing a package converting  machine with a very small footprint together with a stack of corrugated material on the pack line. Workers now have the ability to instantly create a box that matches the  product to be packaged and shipped. Staples’ delivery boxes are customized for each order through a unique integration of systems, equipment, and processes. One Packsize corrugated converting machine is capable of converting up to 300 cases an hour in the  following flute options: E, B, C, BE and BC.

As of March 2013, Staples has implemented “smart-size packaging” in 15 fulfillment centers and has realized significant cost savings, carbon footprint reduction, and associate and customer engagement. A few of the key accomplishments so far include:

  • Average corrugated usage has dropped over 15%.
  • Air pillow (void fill) use has been reduced by ~60%.
  • Approximately 20% reduction in break-pack cube has been achieved, equal to 8% overall cube on trucks (total orders are a combination of ~40% break-pack and 60% full-case cartons).
  • Before working with Packsize, Staples had to carry at least 0.5-1 truck load of corrugated inventory for each carton size (typically 7 - 14 different options used in each facility); now the inventory is ~2 truckloads of corrugated bales in total. For a typical week’s worth of inventory, Staples needs ~50% less storage space.
  • A conservative estimate of the carbon footprint reduction is based solely on the corrugated reduction. For the 15 facilities already converted, that equates to more than 8,300 metric tons, equivalent to almost 31,000 trees. When fully implemented the projection is a carbon reduction of over 25,000 metric tons.
  • The custom cases derive from Packsize’s proprietary z-Fold™ corrugated stock, a 97% recyclable material. Staples has also reduced petroleum use by limiting air pillows and from a fuel needs perspective by maximizing distribution loads.
  • Positive customer satisfaction with the receipt of products shows that Staples is meeting customer needs and expectations in receiving the perfect order.

Staples plans to complete installation of the Packsize On Demand Packaging® technology solution in all of its U.S. e-commerce fulfillment centers by the end of 2013.  Beyond that, the company is evaluating expansion of the program across the global supply chain,  pending WMS upgrades in several countries.

Staples box comprison. Before and after Packsize.