Future opportunities to develop a sustainable e-commerce packaging supply chain

19-04-2018
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As e-commerce shifts the focus from an established retail network to a disparate network of consumers, a whole new chain of actions is established to provide direct delivery and to respond to new expectations. As these shifts become better understood, the process of developing responsive strategies will improve. Ensuring that these strategies avoid unintended consequences remains key. Doing so will require dialogue and collaboration across the supply chain. Working together, the entire industry can utilize this opportunity to integrate sustainability into e-commerce supply chains much earlier in their development.

Understanding effective packaging design strategies

As more is learned about shipping products for e-commerce, the understanding of what designs and materials work best will grow. While there is some initial research and anecdotal evidence by vendors, there is no national association or collaborating body making information on effective e-commerce materials or formats available, or assisting in testing for application. The International Safe Transit Authority (ISTA) has traditionally played a role with testing and has recently begun to develop further studies on damage, however, more investment into research and sharing of existing data by players across the supply chain will help standardize and share best practices on materials and design decisions suitable for e-commerce.

Recovery considerations for emerging e-commerce packaging

As e-commerce packaging changes, consideration must be given to the end of life management of those materials. As corrugate rises in curb-side collection, it replaces a flagging paper stream lost from the decline of legacy newspaper circulations and home delivery. It also creates more challenges in terms of transportation logistics, as it takes up more space but weights less in transport. Additionally, the emergence of new materials which may offer strong protective qualities at lighter weights versus traditional protective packaging (i.e. jute, wheat straw, molded pulp, multi-material films) challenge existing waste streams that are not yet scaled to sort, process, or commoditize these materials. Consideration and collaboration across the supply chain will be required so that all players in the e-commerce packaging waste stream can anticipate and plan for these and future shifts expected by continued e-commerce growth.

Material demand studies on source reduction and recovery

In the traditional retail environment, secondary and tertiary packaging was disposed of by retailers. Consumers were responsible for the disposal of primary packaging only. As e-commerce increases the amount of protective packaging going to consumers, frustration related to this increase in packaging is rising. In this case, previous policies focused on capturing commercial recycling may need to shift to assist consumers with residential recovery. Additionally, understanding if cumulative packaging material is increasing or decreasing as a result of e-commerce will assist in evaluating if packaging disposal is simply shifting to the consumer or is indeed growing. This knowledge will further help to identify how best to leverage recovery systems and influence design through effective policies and mandates, ensuring that these valued materials are collected at the end of their life in a cost effective manner.

Utilizing reverse logistics for packaging recovery

Significant investments into innovative logistic systems is occurring. This is a result of the need to coordinate multiple delivery systems while providing transparency to both the consumer and retailer, and to establishing return systems. Not only are companies investing in how to get the product to the consumer (and back if necessary), they are also investing in solutions to simplify delivery and to create take-back schemes where packaging or other products are contributing to consumer frustration.

Testing and safety mechanisms needs to be developed

A rapidly expanding area for e-commerce is the distribution of home furnishings and other heavy products. In a traditional retail supply chain, these products were palletized and transported by freight and forklift to a retail environment. Home delivery would then be managed by a specialized team. Should a product fall, this process assured maximum drops of six to eight inches and was subject to safe transport testing mechanisms established by ITSA and/ or ATSM.

However, in the e-commerce environment, heavy items are shipped independently and handled by individuals rather than on pallet and with forklift (e.g., mattresses and toilets). Such a change now subjects heavier products to potential drops of at least 12-24 inches, depending on the mode of handling. There are currently no standards or testing formats to ensure safe transport for both the item and those handling it. This is an area where new industry standards for packaging and transport could help reduce damage and establish safer working environments. Additionally, the expansion of online grocery delivery increases opportunities for spoilage, contamination and malicious tampering. Testing to ensure the safe distribution of foods should be established.

Pacfo: An e-commerce portal for e-commerce businesses

Quality and innovation is the basic foundation of the vision of Pacfo which has become a working ethic with every pacfo-nian. Earning more than thousands of new customers till date, we are excelling towards our dream. We are one stop solution for any packaging requirement you may have. Being an e-commerce ourselves, we understand the key areas of packaging requirements and that’s why we call ourselves “An e-commerce portal for e-commerce businesses”. We have all the generally used packaging requirements like corrugated boxes, BOPP tapes, Tamper-proof courier bags, Stretch, Bubble-wrap and corrugated wraps, strapping rolls and packaging tools readily available on our portal. All you need to do is to choose the desired product with quantity and order them all in one go. In this way, you will be able to save on your shipping costs (which will go high if you order them from different vendors). If you need these items frequently, you can add them to your portfolio which will make it easier for you to repeat your orders.

We understand that as a manufacturer or trader, one might have different needs which suits your requirement. For the same, we have our customized solution wing which understands your requirement and engages with your team in order to design a valuable packaging solution which not only ensures safety of your product, but also holds great quality and aesthetic-values.

Pacfo already is manufacturing packaging materials for Amazon and Paytm. So, when you will have received any shipment through any of these e-commerce platforms, you have indirectly get in touch with Pacfo. As we always say: “We know that the quality, optimism and sustainability in packaging is what market looking for and we can deliver it!”

Registered users on pacfo receive additional benefits like discount coupons or free gifts. Register yourself today on the portal to get started with quality packaging and updates too.

Call on 1800-120-9299 or write to [email protected] today for any queries related to your packaging! May be we can yield better quality in lower cost for you specific to your product, so, get in touch!

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