Unboxing vs. shipping efficiency in e-commerce

4 min reading time

Traditionally, the argument at e-commerce businesses goes like this:

  • Brand manager: “I need an exceptional packaging experience to make my sales take off!”
  • Purchasing manager: “Stop dreaming, we’re in charge of the shipping process and my goal is to spend as little as possible.”

In the end, they often meet somewhere in the middle – finding a perfectly bland compromise. But if you’re smart enough about packaging, no one needs to settle at all. Let’s analyse how each party can tackle this dichotomy and come out happy on the other side.

How marketing can craft an exciting unboxing experience

unboxing excitement

The number 1 priority for any Brand manager? Making sure that their product survives the e-commerce supply cycle and arrives in perfect condition. That’s why all your products should at least be protected by well-adjusted packaging.

If you compromise on box size or quality, your brand risks featuring in online videos about “packaging fails” where they complain about the amount of void fill used or damage suffered.

“When customers open our box, we want them to feel it’s special.”

If you create packaging that exceeds your customers’ wishes, you will be richly rewarded. One example: Amazon was being criticized for the packaging shortcomings of its sellers, and promptly declared war on “wrap rage”. By defining guidelines for the packaging used on Amazon, it presented a new way to boost your SEO rating, and therefore your sales results.

The direct influence of packaging performance on sales – and e-commerce success in general – is the subject of one of our most popular whitepapers: Transforming e-commerce: Why poor packaging is bad for business and how to avoid it.

How procurement can achieve more efficient shipping

packaging efficiency

Most e-commerce businesses struggle to consistently use well-fitted packaging since they offer a variety of products in a variety of sizes. Let alone the possible order combinations. Besides, more different types of boxes means more costs and more storage space.

“We buy thousands of boxes. Whatever you say, we can’t buy boxes for every product.”

Considering all this, you might think: “We need economies of scale to get a low unit cost. I want a minimal number of boxes or it’s just not efficient.” A logical conclusion, but one that introduces more risk than you might think. What happens, for instance, when your products are harmed in transit and have to be sent back? Or if customers are unhappy with your standard packaging and take their business to a competitor?

Packaging performance and procurement are heavily interlinked. You might, therefore, be interested in our whitepaper on this topic: Transforming e-commerce: Why poor packaging is bad for business and how to avoid it.

Keeps both sides happy, and the customers too

You can now get corrugated card templates that fold into different sized boxes. This innovation can even come with boxing machinery that senses the size of the product being packaged and automatically selects the right flat card template and folds it accordingly. If you don’t have the volume to justify the machinery, you can still use the templates manually.

This process minimises void fill and minimises the number of boxes used. It’s called Made2fit and you can read more about it here.

The customer gets a convenient, easy-to-open, e-commerce-ready package that fits the product perfectly. The best of both worlds. Happy now?

25% of e-commerce packaging is empty space

This trend carries out a toll on our economy, our environment and your profit margin. In this Forbes Insights report, we show how you can help your business prosper and reduce environmental impact at the same time.

Santiago Soria
Santiago Soria E-Commerce Right Size Packaging Business Development Manager Santiago.Soria@dssmith.com

About the expert

Santiago Soria, graduated in Industrial Engineering from Valencia Polytechnic University and obtained an MBA in Operations from EDEM business school. With more than 20 years of experience in the packaging industry in several roles (Quality Manager, Design Manager, KAM and Sales Manager), now as Ecommerce Manager he combines his innovation, value propositions and sales development skills. From FMCG to Ecommerce markets, his role is to develop and implement the Right Size Packaging concept and automation of the fulfilment centres. This is one of the biggest opportunities for the eTailers to reduce operational costs, improve customers experience and enhance sustainability.