As more and more consumers turn to online shopping, packaging becomes more important to the consumer’s e-commerce experience. Online shopping has caused retailers to re-assess their packaging needs.

E-commerce has grown rapidly, with developed countries leading the charge. Of the current 22 trillion USD global retail market, e-commerce accounts for 1.3 trillion USD. This percentage is indicative of the remarkable growth in this sector, with a 20% CAGR in the global e-commerce market over the past ten years. In South Africa, e-commerce is making steady progress although the overall market share remains minimal. The annual projected growth rate is 15%, and online revenue is 2.69 billion USD. Currently, South Africa has 18.43 million e-commerce users.

How will this impact packaging?

As e-commerce gains ground, brands have had to reassess how they package products to adapt to the needs of the consumer.

Versatility and product protection

Versatility is critical in e-commerce packaging needs, as packs must be available that can accommodate a vast range of product sizes and shapes.

As e-commerce necessitates a supply chain that is more complex and less automated, e-commerce shipping cases need to be strong enough to withstand this. Products ordered in e-commerce are handled approximately 20 times, where the same product will only be handled 5 times for in-store stocking.  Negative reviews can severely damage brand reputation and are often the result of impaired goods, and the cost of replacing damaged products is high. Brands will, therefore, seek protective packaging to courier e-commerce items. This protective packaging may include flexible packaging, foam packaging and rigid packaging.

Changing equipment needs

As speed has become a prime concern in service delivery for the e-commerce consumer, package providers have become more concerned with the speed and flexibility of packaging equipment. Sustainability, durability, size and presentation of the shipping cases have also become important.

Modern tastes

As sustainability has become an essential consideration to large numbers of consumers, sustainable packaging solutions have become a key priority, with second-life packaging presented as one solution. Reusable or recyclable packaging materials are gaining popularity as a result of the movement towards sustainability.

E-commerce packaging raises certain concerns amongst consumers, including; the integrity of the package, the ease of opening, the excessive volume of secondary packaging, user-friendliness and the size of the packaging, relative to the items being shipped.  These concerns must be addressed for consumers to become frequent users of e-commerce, and packaging plays a vital role in the meeting consumer needs and creating satisfaction.

Plastic & Chemical Trading together with international partner KraussMaffei Berstorff deliver world-class plastics, injection moulding, and extrusion solutions.