Today’s e-commerce model has shifted from being a trend, to a paradigm for shoppers. This has created a considerable impact on the packaging industry compelling it to adapt to the Internet of Things (IoT) by integrating innovative solutions, catered to a seamless customer experience.
This global rise of e-commerce has pushed packaging manufacturers to reconsider their performance, keep a close eye on consumer demand and restructure their operations in order to successfully serve this fast-paced environment.
The challenge facing packaging manufacturers, lies in the need to create new packaging solutions that are driven by key parameters arising from new market attributes. Therefore, the framework of developing an effective e-commerce packaging guideline must encompass predominant factors ranging from material choice and design, to speed of delivery and eco-friendliness.
While none of the below trends are new, they will certainly change the face of the packaging industry as we know it.
Minimalism. Minimal design ranging from the packaging structure, to the graphic artwork is the first criteria challenging the industry to reduce the usage of substrates, inks, and finishing techniques. Consequently, creative minimalist designs should eliminate unoccupied product space without hindering the overall package performance. Although the reduction of design elements decreases revenues, thus creating a challenge for packaging manufactures, it also offers economical, operational, and ecological advantages. These benefits extend from waste and energy reduction, to shipping costs savings and diminishing environmental footprint.
Ergonomics and Convenience. Functionality remains the most critical component of success for all packaging. Hence, ergonomic innovation catered for e-commerce must focus on offering easy-to-pack and un-pack solutions designed to reach the end user in mint condition. In addition, enhancing the “unboxing” experience must be paired with safety to provide a pleasant shopping journey with zero-risk of damaging the product.
Personalisation. Personalised designs are more in demand as consumers are becoming increasingly self-associated with branding. Digital printing and private labeling grant a high level of personalisation to any package when nowadays, consumers care more about the experience than the product. Private labeling creates an in-house brand awareness, as opposed to generic brands offered by many competitors. Moreover, technological advancements in digital printing have made it possible to create faster designs, print high definition quality, and produce extremely short runs with minimal set-up times; not to mention the “lean” nature of the process requiring less and less inventory with virtually zero waste. Evidently, personalisation drives interactive experiences and supports the development of customer loyalty.
Supply Chain Velocity. The key to success is in creating short lead times when availing and delivering packaging material. This involves setting up efficient supply chain practices, integrating automated manufacturing processes and relying on lean manufacturing principles. Further to that, the growth of global e-commerce drove the necessity to integrate advanced robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled systems into automated lines and warehousing facilities. When it comes to a winning e-commerce strategy, speed is the name of the game.
Sustainability. As environmental concerns are on the rise, more retailers are taking responsibility by cutting back on packaging, while manufacturers are playing their role by sourcing responsibly and designing for recyclability and reusability. When the ecological package guarantees the protection of the product from damage, the sustainable formula of success is attained.
In brief, with the increasing pressure of sustainable packaging requirements coupled with society’s shift to e-commerce, packaging companies need to adopt a well-developed strategy with a focus on the understanding of consumer behaviour and emerging trends. Additionally, with the diminishing margins passed on by manufacturers and retailers, they ought to re-examine their product mix to serve speed, product protection, convenience, customisation and sustainability while managing cost related concerns. This also necessitates a refocus on agile supply chain processes for fulfilment and shipping efficiency.
Finally, the industry will require significant investment in innovation, R&D and automation to cope with the increasing adoption of digital solutions and IoT, exploiting various options for improving cost efficiency and faster response.
About the Author:
"Marwan Diab is an accomplished executive with over 20 years of experience in the printing and packaging industry. He is currently COO of a conglomerate group specializing in printing & packaging, industrial adhesives and construction materials, and is responsible for running all facets of the business.
His previous executive positions include Vice President and Area General Manager of INDEVCO Group, where he led the transformation of the business into a regional player positioning it at the forefront of the industry. He spent his past 15 years holding several executive positions across Europe and the MENA region. Marwan holds an MBA from Concordia University in Montreal and a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the American University of Beirut. "
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