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The E-commerce Dilemma: How to Protect the Product Using Less Packaging

A new study from PMMI Business Intelligence examines the impact the omnichannel is having on packaging materials.

While some CPGs have to deal with altering their primary package, especially in the case of leakers, most efforts are focused around improving the secondary package to survive a supply chain with multiple touches and up to 30% returns for damaged goods.

There are a variety of reasons for the need to change secondary packaging (see chart) with half of the respondents citing smaller pack counts and almost 30% looking at reducing carton size and unnecessary filler. Box on demand gets a lot of attention, but the process is slower than traditional cartoning line operations.

And while corrugated and molded pulp are expected to grow, according to “E-Commerce 2018: Think Inside the Box,” a whopping 72% of those polled  “are looking for materials with greater durability to prevent product damage.”

All involved in the study know things need to change. And that e-commerce has totally disrupted traditional production and packaging operations.

“Our entire distribution center is not working for us any longer for direct orders and e-commerce sales” said a Project Manager for a fragrance firm.

“E-commerce products need to be more durable and stronger to survive the distribution channel”  remarked a Packaging Engineer of nutritional supplements.

Some of those in the study are already taking steps to achieve a more efficient supply chain. “We did some special packaging for international shipping; added protection on the shipper and more appealing visuals on the primary package,” offered a Project Engineer for a nutrition company.

But many are still trying to figure it out. “We just went through packaging redesign for consideration of e-commerce; we need to protect the fitment, but it’s still showing signs of fragility issues,” said one Sr. Packaging Engineer for an industrial products company.

For more information on the impact of e-commerce on CPGs, 3PLs and packaging OEMs, download the FREE Executive Summary below. PMMI members can access entire 56-page report here.

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