Don’t ignore these packaging industry trends
Packaging has come a long way since coopers used to hand-craft wooden barrels to ship goods. We’ve relied on cardboard boxes and styrofoam peanuts for decades to ensure our items arrive safely, but the face of the industry is changing. Here are five packaging industry trends that you can’t afford to ignore, and how your business can benefit from switching to these new methods.
1. E-Commerce Packaging
E-commerce is quickly replacing traditional retail stores, and this trend will continue to grow as more customers become comfortable with the idea of shopping online. While e-commerce isn’t new, custom packaging for these purchases is a fast-growing industry trend. Some big names in e-commerce have automated this process — like Amazon, who uses robotics to handle every step of the logistics process — but you don’t need robots to improve your e-commerce packaging.
Utilizing this type of packaging means overcoming three challenges — sustainability, brand improvement, and returns. You need to ensure that your e-commerce packaging contributes to a sustainable circular economy, while adequately representing your brand and providing your customers a way to return the product if necessary. This trend will only continue to pick up speed as e-commerce grows, so it’s important to focus on customized packaging to stay ahead of these industry changes.
2. The Green Movement and Sustainability
We’ve heard the adage “reduce, reuse, recycle” since grade school, but how does that apply to packaging and logistics?
Consumers continually look for ways to reduce their carbon footprints, and in many cases, this means switching companies for their favorite products if manufacturers don’t take steps to make their supply chain and packaging more sustainable.
Take a close look at the packaging you use and see how you can make it more sustainable. Do you rely on new products or recycled substances? How much of your packaging utilizes non-biodegradable materials like styrofoam and plastic? Could you replace some of those materials with biodegradable alternatives, like shredded recycled cardboard instead of styrofoam peanuts?
Moving toward sustainability in your packaging isn’t just an option anymore — it’s becoming a necessity if you want to continue to succeed in today’s eco-conscious economy.
3. Customer Convenience
For a customer, there’s nothing worse than getting a package and digging through dozens of layers of cardboard, paper, and plastic to find the products. Inconvenient packaging will chase customers away, which makes this growing trend one to embrace. Otherwise, you risk becoming the subject of a meme, like the one showcasing the irony of purchasing a pair of scissors in a plastic clamshell package — one that requires scissors to open.
Convenience means different things to different consumers. Some might define it as single-use packages they can toss in a pocket or purse on the go, while others might consider a package that allows them to access their product quickly and easily without any additional tools to be the epitome of the word.
Making your packaging more convenient for your customers also lends itself to making your system more sustainable. Easy to open packaging — branded or not — is likely recyclable or biodegradable. Plastic packaging is popular because of its durability and versatility, but it is less likely to be recycled than cardboard or fiber packaging.
4. Return Packaging
E-commerce doesn’t offer the ease-of-return that traditional brick and mortar stores do. For most orders, especially from online giants like Amazon, the customer doesn’t have the option to drive to the store to complete their return. It’s important to remember that returns are not your enemy, and making them painless for your customers will often result in repeat business. Eighty-five percent of customers surveyed stated they wouldn’t order a second time from a company with a complicated return process.
What can you do to streamline your returns process? One idea is to consider return packaging — design shipping containers so all the customer has to do it close the package up and drop it off at their post office. The process is even easier if you pay for return shipping — slap a prepaid label on it, and you’re good to go.
5. Digital Printing
One of the most popular viral video trends right now is the unboxing video. People take recordings of themselves opening a package or product and post it on sites like YouTube, earning thousands or millions of views. Digital printing gives you the tools to get your brand name out there, both to your customers and anyone watching these unboxing videos.
Digital printing gives you the option to print shipping labels, logos and any other necessary information directly on the box, eliminating the need for non-recyclable sticky labels. According to experts, the digital printing market will continue to grow exponentially and will be worth more than $22 billion by 2022. The possible applications of this technology are endless, and while it will take a substantial initial investment to purchase the necessary printers, this trend could change the way the logistics industry looks at labeling and package customization.
Ignore These Trends At Your Peril
Now, we’re not saying you need to adopt any or all of these trends right now, but ignore them at your peril. The packaging industry is changing, and companies will need to change with it or be left behind.