Packaging’s role in e-commerce

by MM&D Staff

From the MM&D January-February 2015 print edition

With continued growth in e-commerce, retailers need to take a closer look at their packaging for fulfilling online orders, according to new data from the a 2014 Packaging for e-Commerce Success survey.

Packaging not only tells consumers how much a retailer cares about them and the environment, but it’s also critical for protection of retailer reputations. In fact, 58 percent of consumers say that if they receive a damaged or broken product from an online order, they would either consider purchasing from a competitor or would not purchase from that retailer again.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Sealed Air in August 2014 among over 2,000 US adults (aged 18+).

Packaging expectations also extend to the length of time consumers are willing to wait for order fulfillment. A full 78 percent think orders should be packaged and processed for shipment within 24 hours after an online purchase. The average amount of time buyers think is acceptable for processing an online order for shipment is 23 hours.

“In order to gain an edge in the world of e-commerce, retailers should be looking at every step of the online customer experience, and a key part of that is packaging and online order fulfillment,” said Ken Chrisman, president of the Product Care Division of Sealed Air.

“With competition heating up in the retail industry, companies can differentiate themselves through better packaging solutions that enhance the customer’s experience with their products and even drive repeat business and positive retailer reputations.”

How much does packaging actually influence consumers’ e-commerce experiences with a company?

According to the survey findings, packaging plays the following role in consumers’ perceptions of their online orders:
• Tells them how much the retailer cares about them and their order (66 percent);
• Reflects the value of the shipment ­ the better the packaging, the better the product inside (48 percent). This viewpoint is more prevalent in younger purchasers ­ those ages 18 to 34 years (59 percent) are more likely to say this than those age 35+ (44 percent);
• Reflects a retailer’s environmental commitment (34 percent).

The role of packaging is actually increasing, likely driven by the rapid growth of global e-commerce. Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) say they are more conscious of packaging materials and design today than they were five years ago.

Along with the rise in e-commerce, environmentally friendly packaging has been in the forefront of many consumers’ minds. According to the survey findings, 94 percent of consumers believe there are environmentally friendly packaging solutions, and 77 percent say that a company’s packaging should reflect their environmental values.

Consumers have varying views on what constitutes environmentally friendly packaging. More than three quarters (78 percent) say it can be easily recycled or made from recycled materials (75 percent); 63 percent believe it can be reused for other shipments; 55 percent say it biodegrades or composts; and 31 percent believe it prevents them from having to return a damaged product.

Other topics covered in the Sealed Air 2014 Packaging for e-Commerce Success survey include top e-Commerce purchases, impacts of broken or damaged products, views on over-packaging and consumers’ top packaging pet peeves.