The E-commerce era is accelerating the need to rethink packaging

The DHL Trend Report offers a comprehensive look at the future of packaging in the logistics industry

DHL recently released “Rethinking Packaging,” an important report that identifies the trends driving change in packaging, how industries and their packaging needs are evolving, and how packaging innovations will shape the near future of the logistics industry. There is growing evidence that today’s approaches to packaging are struggling to meet the changing needs of companies, consumers, and the wider environment. Across all sectors, companies are recognizing that it is now necessary to adopt new packaging optimization tools, materials, and handling technologies that will significantly boost efficiency, productivity, and sustainability. According to the report, existing packaging systems are being tested by three major trends:

The Rise of E-commerce

The expanded variety of e-commerce products has led to new challenges in shipping and packaging. The overall volume of products shipped is rising, and packages are traveling further through longer, more complex cross-border logistics networks. With each of those touchpoints presenting an opportunity for an item to be dropped or damaged, e-commerce supply chains create much higher requirements for packaging robustness and product protection.

Packsize recognizes and addresses these challenges with its On Demand Packaging® solutions that create a right-sized box for every product shipped. Right-sizing eliminates excessive empty space in each box which greatly reduces product damage in transit, thereby resulting in an optimal customer experience. Packsize follows ISTA® testing protocols and design standards that define how packages should perform during normal distribution and carrier supply chain processes to ensure products arrive undamaged to customers.

The Drive for Packaging Convenience and Positive Experience

Customers are demanding higher quality standards—packages that arrive on time and in perfect condition every time. As a result, e-commerce retailers have encouraged the development of packaging designs that prioritize access with minimal effort. For example, Amazon’s packaging certification guidelines promote the concept of ‘frustration-free packaging,’ which requires packages to be easily accessible, recyclable, and designed to minimize waste. DHL’s survey revealed that almost 50% of e-commerce customers said that receiving a damaged item would make them less likely to purchase from the same retailer again.

As the leading provider of lean packaging systems for businesses with corrugated packaging needs, Packsize can help Amazon vendors through the process of revamping from standard retail shipping to the FFP program requirements and remove or reduce any Amazon chargebacks with its On Demand Packaging custom box-making solutions. Right-sizing eliminates the need for secondary packaging and void fill materials, cutting costs, reducing waste, and improving the overall customer experience.

Demand for More Sustainable Packaging Materials and Less Waste

Customers are also increasingly agitated about wasteful and inefficient packaging. Today’s packaging systems have a significant environmental footprint. Analysis of e-commerce parcels shipped shows that around 24% of their volume is empty space, adding significant cost and waste. Increasing the package utilization rate benefits all parties in the e-commerce supply chain, from operations to the customer and the environment. Simultaneously optimizing fill density and package protection, while operating at high speed and large scale, remains perhaps the most significant packaging-related challenge to date.

With an ongoing commitment to Smart Packaging for a Healthy Planet®, Packsize understands the impact sustainable packaging practices have on the environment, communities, and continued business success. Utilizing flat stacked z-Fold®, made from responsibly managed and renewable resources, eliminates the need to buy and store pre-made boxes and double the SKU count. Not only does this reduce the “footprint” of the packaging supply chain, but also results in more warehouse space and significant corrugated cost reductions.


Source: DHL

Implications for the Logistics Industry

The logistics industry will play a key role in reducing the cost, inconvenience, and environmental impact of packaging. To achieve those objectives, logistics must adopt new technologies, materials, and processes. The following are some of the areas covered in this section of the DHL report:

Packaging Optimization

Inefficient packaging, especially sub-optimal fill density, means companies must pay to wrap, ship, and store empty space. Underutilized packaging can also increase the risk of product damage in transit. Determining the optimal number, size, and shape of cartons to balance efficiency and complexity at the lowest total cost is key to optimizing packaging processes and performance. Advances in algorithmic performance and new image processing systems make it easier for companies to build accurate master data on the dimensional and physical characteristics of each SKU they need to pack.

The Packsize Software platform (link) features state-of-the-art packaging design software that gives businesses of all sizes the ability to match their operations’ corrugated packaging requirements with the dramatic shift taking place in the way product orders are picked sorted, packed, and shipped. This production, optimization, and packaging software automatically calculates the right-size box for each shipment with automated dimension capture and WMS integration.

Packaging Automation

The packing industry has introduced automation as a way to address rising demand, an aging workforce, and difficulty recruiting and retaining skilled workers. The demand for greater speed and convenience in e-commerce has also contributed to the adoption of end-of-line packaging automation, that creates right-sized cartons on demand while minimizing packaging material and maximizing product protection.

Packsize recognizes the importance of continuous improvement in packaging and shipping operations. That’s why we provide our customers with the most advanced, eco-friendly packaging automation in the industry, with the proven speed and reliability to handle the most complex demands of a fulfillment operation, while significantly reducing labor shipping, and material costs.

The X7TM  from Packsize fulfills the industry’s need for fully automated packaging with the capability of boxing a right-sized order in just three seconds. At the maximum rate of 1,200 orders per hour, orders can be boxed at up to ten times the average rate of a human, reducing additional packing labor requirements.

Sustainable Packaging Materials

In the DHL customer survey, the majority of respondents said that the introduction of sustainable packaging materials is their number one near-future packaging priority. Research into green alternatives to plastic shrink wrap and single-use plastic envelopes, as well as sustainable groceries packaging is ramping up, while at the same time, balancing cost and customer convenience is proving challenging for retailers.

Packsize Right-sized Packaging on Demand ® requires less corrugated fiberboard, removes or reduces the need for void filler, improves less-than-full-case average cube utilization, and reduces the overall carbon footprint. By removing the air in the box, customers reduce the carton size, often by as much or more than 40%. This translates to 60% less void fill, 20% reduction in corrugated, and the reduction of 25 tons of CO2 for every 1 million square feet of corrugated saved.

The DHL trend report and customer survey illustrates significant challenges impacting the packaging industry today and the need for further innovations to reach the next level of packaging performance.

For the full trend report: “Rethinking Packaging – A DHL perspective on the future of packaging in the logistics industry” click here.

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