Canadian Packaging

Online pursuits

Upcoming PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019 show offers brands a wealth of packaging solutions to navigate the fast-growing e-commerce market channels


August 21, 2019
by Sean Riley

Sean Riley, Senior Director, Media & Industry Communications, PMMI

Consumers today have access to an almost infinite number of products at the click of a mouse or tap of their smartphone. Over the past 10 years, the U.S. e-commerce market has more than doubled its share of retail sales—amounting to $517 billion in 2018.

Though the e-commerce landscape has been growing rapidly, brands must tackle an increasing number of challenges to ensure products arrive intact and offer a positive brand experience to consumers.

Rising calls for greater sustainability, online accessibility of organic and natural products, and even the “wow” factor contribute to a tall order. As a result, companies may struggle to identify the best solutions that will ensure a healthy bottom line.

Insight into these changes is critical for brands to stay ahead of the e-commerce curve, and manufacturers seeking effective solutions can look to the PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019 as a valuable resource.

Produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, the growing show—running Sept. 23-25, 2019, at the Las Vegas Convention Center—will feature many innovative suppliers of economical, sustainable and marketable packaging equipped to withstand the rigors of the e-commerce supply chain.

As e-retail grows, supply networks become increasingly complex, prompting a change in brands’ logistical needs.

“Brands face an imbalance of traffic and order cycles due to customers’ holiday shopping, and other special events such as Black Friday,” says Sami Poukka, vicepresident of global business and segment development at UPM Raflatac.

As Poukka explains, increased traffic necessitates the need for increased speed, greater efficiency and improved reliability. At the same time, the rapid expansion of e-commerce also requires companies to have a larger inventory of packaging materials, necessitating the management of excess freight cost.

Unless inventory and processes are optimized, brands run the risk of missing sales opportunities and may struggle to balance peak and off-peak traffic.

“The lack of visibility into logistics leaves brands in the dark about where their shipments are once they leave their facilities,” Poukka states. “This can hinder swift customer service and good user experiences, which are essential to keeping consumers coming back.”

Innovations such as UPM Raflatac’s RafMore Internet of Packaging-based smart label solution, help brands manage traffic peaks and order cycles by enabling them to better manage and forecast inventory levels, respond to shipment delays and improve the accuracy of deliveries.

The evolving e-commerce market also changes brands’ packaging needs. One of the biggest additional cost layers in e-retail comes from sending parcels to individual consumers instead of sending pallets to retailers.

The barrier to entry for e-commerce capable packaging is ensuring the format and design provide the necessary levels of product protection. Crafting product specific packaging enables brands to reduce freight costs by utilizing less material.

The e-commerce market expansion raises valid concerns about sustainability and wasteful packaging, as consumers’ interest in sustainable brands continues to grow.

One way to reduce material is offering a range of sizes for cartonboard containers used in shipping, which helps to decrease waste and limits the environmental impact over time. Not only does right-sizing the container reduce corrugated material and weight, it requires less dunnage—whether it’s foam, paper or plastic—to protect the product inside.

Still, there is even more that can be done to minimize these materials.

“The use of dunnage leads to excess waste and could have a considerable impact on the environment over time as e-commerce continues to expand,” says Joe Albert, vice-president of sales and marketing for global wrapping technology at Signode Industrial Group.

As improving sustainability remains a focus of the e-commerce market, Signode offers technologies to provide alternative solutions to traditional dunnage. To be showcased at PACK EXPO Las Vegas, these machines provides a stretch wrapping solution that allows products to be secured to trays.

They eliminate the need for extra dunnage within cartonboard packaging and work together with an automatic case sealer, which ensures proper closure and sealing of the protective box.

Alongside this trend, consumers are increasingly purchasing healthier, organic and allergen-free products online. This requires products to have a longer shelf-life to make the journey from processing, packaging and, finally, shipment to consumers.

As consumers continue to gravitate towards healthier food options with fewer preservatives, more food manufacturers look to HPP (High Pressure Processing) technology—utilizing the application of purified cold water at incredibly high pressures—to compensate for a lack of chemical preservatives.

Well-suited for packaging organic and natural foods susceptible to spoilage—especially RTE (Ready-to-Eat) offerings such as fresh juices and dips— HPP provides an effective e-commerce solution that also helps brands meet sustainability targets by utilizing renewable energy and resources.

“HPP technology allows brands to accommodate consumer demands within the e-commerce market with ease,” said Lisa Wessels, marketing director, for HPP at JBT Corporation.

“Food products processed using HPP maintain their quality as well as taste, and are thus suitable to be shipped to consumers worldwide and nationwide, in protective lightweight solutions that take up less space for shipped products.”

According to Wessels, technologies such as Avure’s AV-X—also to be featured at PACK EXPO Las Vegas—offer an upgradable, energy-efficient HPP system with a space-saving design that allows brands to keep up with consumer demand for healthier food options online.

As Wessels points out, “The expandable machine from JBT Corporation allows e-commerce food producers to manufacture in record volumes, while reducing shrinkage and growing their distribution overnight.”

Just another great reasons not to miss out on PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019!

For more information and to register for the PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019 trade show, please go to www.packexpolasvegas.com

 






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