Tips for Practical and Sustainable eCommerce Packaging
Have you ever heard the saying “Packaging is everything”? Well in today’s E-Commerce world those wise words from your grandma’s day still ring true. In fact, packaging has never been more important to the success of your business than it is right now.
E-Commerce packaging has become a hot topic in the last two years. With the rise in online shoppers and the decline in brick and mortar stores, the ecological effects of the packaging e-marketers use is growing rapidly.
Once an order is placed and paid for you as the e-commerce store need to get the purchase shipped safely to the customer. Often items being delivered are fragile or will experience wear and tear if they are not carefully packaged.
From water damage to dropped boxes and over-packed trucks, there is an array of disasters that can easily befall your shipment. Needless to say, if your products arrive at the client with damages, you will not only lose both the stock and the sale, you will also damage your brand’s reputation.
The knee-jerk solution is to package your goods thoroughly. Wrap them in plastic, surround them with packaging bubbles and put them in a big cardboard box.
The only problem is that with more than 50 tonnes of goods being delivered around the world every hour, this packaging is fast becoming an ecological nightmare and a moral dilemma for companies.
So, what can you do? How can you protect the environment and still get your goods delivered safely?
Finding the balance between presentation and protection has been a challenge to e-commerce marketers from day one. Now we are starting to realise that we also have to factor in sustainability - not just because our customers demand it, but because we have a responsibility to protect the environment.
It may seem difficult to achieve all three, but if you don’t find a way you could be cutting the legs out from under your business. You don’t want to end up shutting down your operation just because you couldn’t sort out packaging.
Top Tips for Sustainable Packaging
How much Packaging do you need?
Think about your products. The rule of thumb is that your product should be packaged to survive a four foot drop. If you are sending a book that will be easier to package for than if you are sending something made of glass. The more fragile your product is, the more packaging it will require. You must be realistic about how much protection your products need.
However, you should also make sure that you don’t use more packaging than you really need. To wrap a T-shirt in bubble wrap is not only wasting your money, it’s also creating unnecessary waste.
Choose Sustainable Packaging Materials
Not all packaging materials are the same. Look for packaging options that are made from recycled waste paper or recycled plastic, and make sure that the materials you use can in turn be recycled. If you’re not sure – ask the supplier. Most packaging suppliers will be very proud to tell you if they are using sustainable methods.
Keep in mind that using recycled materials could have an impact on your design and colour palette if you are printing your logo in the packaging. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though. IN fact it shows your customers that you care about sustainable commerce.
From Corrugated boxes to packaging chips, there are recycled materials available for every step of your packaging process.
Spell it out for them
Packaging is a marketing opportunity, and not just because you can print your logo on it. Give instructions on how your packaging can either be recycled or returned for a small deposit to be reused.
This tells the buyer that you care about the environment and it strengthens your brand.
Help them to Upcycle
You can also show your customers how innovative you are. Give them instructions and ideas on how your specific packaging can be used for other things in their own homes. If you send a poster in a tube, that tube could be used to make pencil holders. Brown paper can be used to make wrapping paper. Adding a sheet with some ideas (Or even printing a URL where you can publish ideas online) is a great way to ad value for the customer and tap into the global move towards upcycling.
Ask for Help
Your packaging is as important a part of the buyer’s journey as your marketing. So, it’s okay to ask for some help around it. If you are not sure how to solve your packaging issues talk to your designers, your marketing team and even your other members of staff (like the guy who packages the parcels) You never know who might have a great idea for you.
You can also speak to a professional packaging consultant.
Well designed packaging could also mean less packaging – which is both sustainable and cost effective.
Remember the 3 “R”s
When in doubt remember your three “R”s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This is something children learn in school, and yet as professionals we tend to forget these basic concepts which can save us money, help save the environment and please our customers.
For more information on the sustainable e-commerce packaging in 2017, here is a whitepaper you can download, for your convenience.