When packages are sent from a manufacturer to a retailer, they are usually part of a tightly wrapped full pallet. However, when individual items are sent from the retailer to a consumer’s home they may endure up to 30 touches along the way and be thrown around in the back of a truck.
The main purpose of the package is still to protect the product. The last mile for e-commerce usually involves different types of transportation, manual handling and the risk of inclement weather and theft. As a result, Amazon’s new strict shipping standards have forced manufacturers to rethink their packaging for online shipments. Let’s look at some of the way’s CPG companies are adapting their packaging for online delivery.
P&G recently released their new “Tide Eco-Box” complete with a twist-to-open pour spout, a pull-out stand and a measuring cup. The liquid detergent comes in a sealed bag and contains less water than before. It uses 60% less plastic then an equivalent 150-ounce bottle of Tide because it doesn’t require extra layers of cardboard or bubble wrap. It’s also saves P&G money on shipping costs as it’s lighter and takes up less space. Perfect for the ecommerce supply chain as it’s easy for anyone to pick up, use the opening features and dispense from.
P&G has also developed a new “AeroFlexx” package for liquid products like Dawn Soap and Old Spice body wash. The cap-less bottle and flatter design use 50% less plastic and doesn’t need bubble wrap to ship. The more flexible bottle makes it easier to pour and more convenient to use with one hand.
These products are also more practical because they are less susceptible to leaking or spilling along the supply chain. They are also more environmentally friendly as they don’t require bubble wrap or cardboard to protect them for shipping.
Other examples include U.K. based Garcon wines who have rolled out flat wine bottles. They were trying to make the bottle smaller so that it would fit through a standard mail slot to avoid missed deliveries. But it ended up having additional benefits as well. Shipping weight and cost is drastically reduced as the flat bottle uses 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic instead of glass. This also reduces the risk of breakage in transit and is naturally eco-friendlier. They hope to introduce this packaging to other countries and use it for sprits as well.
There’s also the leak-free trigger sprayer that Reike Packaging developed for Amazon. Reike worked closely with the e-commerce giant to develop the Ultimate-E trigger sprayer, which is said to prevent leaks of liquids shipped in the small-parcel environment — to include liquids with minimal product viscosity.
Puma’s new shoe packaging changes the idea of the shoebox by wrapping footwear in a simple cardboard structure held in place by a reusable bag. Puma’s packaging, which it’s calling its “Clever Little Bag,” will contain 65 percent less cardboard by using a bag made of recycled plastic as the outer layer that holds the inner cardboard structure (which has no top) together. The bag’s handles slip through a hole at one end of the inner box, securing the bag to the cardboard and providing a plastic-bag-free way to carry the shoes. Puma has also eliminated all plastic bags and tissue that typically come in shoeboxes.
Some manufactures are getting smarter about how their products are shipped in other ways. As an example, instead of sending one bottle of shampoo with a possible “leaky” pump, they bundle three bottles with tight, leak-proof seals and a reusable pump packed separately.
PepsiCo’s Drinkfinity brand lets customers add flavoring liquids (packaged in pods) to tap water in specialized bottles. This results in less packaging overall because the pods are full of concentrated flavoring and are much smaller than ready-to drink bottles. Also, shipping boxes don’t need to be filled with as much cushioning because the pods are made of stiffer plastic construction. By recently acquiring SodaStream, Pepsico has also reduced its need to ship and package water, the biggest ingredient in many of its products. SodaStream uses cylinders of compressed C02 to make soda water at home with flavored SodaStream syrups.
But what about the brand message getting lost in all this protective, environmentally friendly packaging? In response, plain brown corrugated shippers have been designed that can sport internal graphics and interactive designs, allowing manufacturers to maintain brand messaging. Digital print can also be used to send customized messages and promo codes.
As more and more consumers shop online, manufacturers would be wise to develop packaging that is geared for ecommerce. Please contact us if we can help with any of your new ecommerce package testing.
Partner, Explorer Research