28 Feb 2017 Sustainability and E-commerce Packaging
Sustainability and E-commerce Packaging
The impact e-commerce is having on the environment is a very hot topic and it should be as we all witness the shift from big box/ brick and mortar retail to internet shopping. Highly respected Packaging Digest and Environmental Leader both recently wrote about an excellent white paper published last month by Bob Lilienfeld of Ameripen and Kyla Fisher, founder of Three Peaks Sustainability. (Link below)
Whether you are new to e-commerce and just getting started or even if you have been at it for years, it is a white paper definitely worth reading.
After helping to create and launch hundreds of successful e-commerce boxes we offer the following suggestions from a practical rather than technical perspective:
With growth comes responsibility
We have had the pleasure of watching some of our clients grow from shippers of a few hundred orders per month to tens of thousands. It stands to reason that the more product you ship, the more packaging you use that ultimately ends up in the waste stream. For that reason, we will always suggest to do it right the first time or as early as possible in the design process.
Understandably, brand owners are usually very focused on how their e-commerce packaging is going to look. Concerns often include graphics, colors, textures, sheen, etc. What we usually suggest is backing up to less exciting, but we believe to be equally important packaging purpose/function and structural design.
1.Understand the application
It may seem hard to believe but many of the people who decide they want a custom shipping container really don’t have a firm grip on what they are trying to accomplish or a complete understanding of the packaging requirements. For example, is it designed to be returnable? Also, how fragile the product being shipped is and/or how much it weighs can be critical. Balancing protection and presentation can be a huge challenge, especially if sustainability is important to you and your brand and you want to avoid redundant or over packaging.
2. Know the materials being used
All corrugated and packaging papers are not created equally and can vary greatly in terms of recycled content. Also important is disposal and how easily the material being used can be reused or recycled.
Keep in mind that the material should help you satisfy your sustainability objectives as well as the application requirements, and may also be impacted by the graphic design you have in mind. For example, coatings and laminates may add gloss to a print job but have an adverse effect on the recyclability of the material being used. Conversely, if a great finish is desired, the board specs can play a major role in the final appearance.
3. Seek expert advice
Avoid self-diagnosis of your packaging needs and do not hesitate to ask for the assistance of companies who do this day in and day out. Keep an open mind because your design partner may have something to offer that is better and less expensive than what you originally envisoned.
The person who created your logo for your web site might be an incredibly talented graphic designer but in most cases they lack packaging and structural design experience. Graphic designers rightly are focused on how packaging is going to look. A good structural designer is also focused on how it will ship, how it will store, how it will be assembled, how long it will take to pack and seal, shipping weight, and even the prepress cost such as required cutting dies.
Remember that the easiest and most effective way to reduce your costs and make your packaging as sustainable as possible is to simply use less of it. A good structural designer can prove invaluable in that effort.
To discuss the branding or rebranding of your subscription box or e-commerce packaging, please contact Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 for a no cost, no obligation review of your project.