Knowing ecommerce packaging costs can free design creativity

The growth of ecommerce sales adds another channel, with unique packaging demands. Should you create a separate package or rework one you already have?

As a packaging developer or designer, you’re probably already familiar with the cycle of new package introductions and the inevitable optimization process, where you have to reduce the number of stock-keeping units (SKUs). The growth of ecommerce sales adds another channel, with unique packaging demands. Should you create a separate package or rework one you already have?

Michael Gorges, managing director for North America and Asia at More from Less, will present “When is it Time to Make the Move to an Omni-Channel Pack?” at the 2018 TransPack Forum (Mar. 20-23, San Diego, CA), organized by the Intl. Safe Transit Assn. (ISTA). Ecommerce packaging is a particular area of expertise for the company. Last year, More from Less presented in a successful webinar for Packaging Digeston “Ecommerce Packaging: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right from the Start”, which you can view on-demand.

Here is a taste of what attendees will hear from Gorges at the upcoming TransPack Forum:


How easy or hard is it to calculate the total cost of an omni-channel package and why?

Gorges: The difficulty or challenge to establish the total cost of omni-channel packaging is not calculating the direct costs—such as packaging, freight/logistics and warehouse handling—but with the indirect or “unseen” costs. The real challenge is determining these costs, as they are often poorly tracked.

Most often these costs are things like damages and returns. Most organizations do not have the granularity necessary to understand where and how damage occurs, never mind to what degree a well-designed omni-channel package reduce these costs.

Equally important, if not more so, how will a well-designed omni-channel package improve the customer experience and extend the brand promise? In many cases, the only way to get at this information is with a combination of a thorough supply chain touchpoint audit, methodical testing and a rigorous pilot program.


Why should brands take the time and effort to analyze the total cost of an omni-channel package?

Gorges: Most importantly, research and analysis shows, customers are demanding more and more ecommerce access to your products. Online shopping is a fast moving and growing marketplace. You may not understand options available and costs associated with omni-channel packaging, but rest assured your competitors are already on with the journey, or at a minimum, have started working on it.

There is no silver bullet out there, though. This is a complex challenge, with numerous unknowns and conflicting data.

However, don’t let this paralyze you or your organization into doing nothing. You need to research and develop a plan, at the center of which should be a well thought out data collection process. You may not have all the answers today, they may not be easy to find. But as it relates to better packaging solutions, put yourself in a position so that six months from now you will be in a better position to answer questions with greater certainty.


What are the benefits of an omni-channel package?

Gorges: The ultimate goal of packaging does not change regardless of where or how it is being used. Omni-channel package or not, delivering the brand promise at the lowest supply chain cost is the fundamental ambition.

In its simplest form, companies have three basic packaging options when managing their omni-channels:

1. A single-channel SKU that is re-packed for each channel—that is, a brick-and-mortar (B&M) SKU that is over-boxed for ecomm.

2. Multiple SKUs—that is, one SKU for your B&M channel and a second SKU for your ecomm channel.

3. An omni-channel packaged SKU.

Depending on the product, the channel mix and speed-to-market requirements, you will need to select one of the above. In doing so, it’s highly likely you will need to make a cost or branding compromise. Theoretical at least, a well-designed omni-channel package will not require you to make any compromises.


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