Complexity of e-commerce supply chain raises the stakes for manufacturers

With jumps in e-commerce volume and complexity, manufacturers must address challenges in shipping, communicating with third-party retailers, and secondary packaging marketing.

With 131,447 U.S. businesses selling their products online, revenues near $298 billion, and an annual growth rate close to 6%, the e-commerce supply chain’s growing volume is complemented by increased complexity, according to the “E-Commerce Market Assessment,” published this year by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, the owner and producer of the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows.

With jumps in volume and complexity, however, come challenges manufacturers must address. PMMI also produced an infographic highlighting the study’s new findings, now available at packexpolasvegas.com.

Keep the product safe

Replacing a destroyed item can cost up to 17 times as much as shipping, and overcoming negative online reviews stemming from such an incident can take months. Each step in the delivery chain only increases the risk of damage to packages and that makes engineering essential. Ultimately, manufacturers must ensure packaging remains undamaged throughout the delivery process, regardless of the shipping scenario. Another, related challenge is eased with the effective use of warehouse management systems, which help make rightsizing feasible.

Constant communications count

Strong communication with third-party retailers is another critical factor for manufacturers overcoming the complications of the e-commerce supply chain. Frequent communication can bridge disconnects that lead to consumer dissatisfaction. For example, when brand owners plan significant changes to primary packaging, they should work with their third-party retailers to take current inventory and marketing into account so the consumer experience is in sync with the marketing.

Secondary packaging is prime marketing space

Product marketing on packages presents another challenge: Distinct differences of opinion. Marketers want packaging to reflect their brand and even advertise products; operations and engineering question the value of branded packaging post-purchase; and logistics professionals face looming concerns of theft. These disagreements can present significant hurdles, but compromises can be found through tactics such as discreet branding and product advertisements on secondary packaging.

Professionals across a wide variety of vertical market segments can find the latest information and technologies to tackle the challenges associated with the growth of e-commerce at PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Pharma EXPO 2015 at the Las Vegas Convention Center Sept. 28-30, 2015. The shows’ first co-location in Las Vegas will draw 30,000 attendees to see 2,000 exhibitors showcase a variety of equipment and material solutions across more than 800,000 net sq ft of exhibit space. This record-breaking event will offer attendees opportunities to see the latest packaging and processing technologies, cross-pollinate ideas and innovation across industries, network with peers and suppliers, and gain insights from a diverse range of educational programming.

To register for PACK EXPO and Pharma EXPO, visit www.packexpolasvegas.com. Registration is $30 through Sept. 14, when it increases to $100. PMMI’s full “E-Commerce Market Assessment is available at PMMI.org ($500 for non-members).

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