01 Oct 2018 --- The rise in e-commerce has redefined the requirements of FMCG packaging from the supply chain to brand identity, presenting both challenges and opportunities. The demand for packaging which is specifically designed for e-commerce has further intensified amid Amazon’s new requirements, announced last month, for Frustration-Free solutions which are appropriately sized, consumer-friendly, protective and more sustainable.
“We have reached a significant next step in Amazon’s packaging vision,” Virginie Maes, Vice President Corporate Strategy for Amcor, tells PackagingInsights. “Amazon are now pushing for the adoption of its standards in addition to encouraging voluntary adherence. The standards are clear and Amazon is showing that the smallest and biggest items can be packaged e-commerce ready by working with suppliers to showcase suitable examples.”
“Amazon has collaborated with non-profit organization, the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA), to develop specific criteria that evaluate the ability of primary packaging to resist damage from various environmental forces,” she says.
“Packaged products – such as flexibles pouches or rigid containers – must pass the ISTA-6 simulation, a general simulation test for individually packaged products shipped through a parcel delivery system. Here, the packaged product undergoes dropping, vibration, temperature and humidity tests and, in addition, a test that ascertains if the package is designed to protect against damage, reduce waste, be recyclable and ship in its own container,” Maes explains.
Amazon's Frustration-Free regulations
In a letter to vendors, Amazon states: “Ten years ago, we invented Frustration-Free Packaging to reduce waste, lower cost, and delight customers with easy-to-open, 100 percent recyclable packaging. Since then, we’ve partnered with thousands of you to redesign your packaging as Frustration-Free, and we’ve received very positive feedback. Our Frustration-Free Packaging program includes multiple sustainable packaging initiatives, such as moving small items from boxes to flexible mailers, optimizing our selection of boxes to better address product size and weight, launching fully recyclable mailers, and working with our global Vendor partners to develop ready-to-ship packaging. Together these initiatives have eliminated more than 244,000 tons of packaging materials, and in 2017 alone, they saved the equivalent of 305 million shipping boxes.”
“We’re encouraged by these results, so we are now requiring that by August 1, 2019, all items larger than 18" x 14" x 8" or 20 lbs. or more sold through Amazon be designed and certified as ready-to-ship (Tier 1 – FFP or Tier 2 – SIOC) within our Frustration-Free Packaging programs. That means they’ll be right-sized, protective against damage, ready-to-ship without the need for additional packaging, and ideally easy to open, and recyclable. This will reduce waste through the entire supply chain and ensure that customers have a great experience every time they receive and open a package. While this won’t take effect for 11 months, we are offering an early adopter credit for all items certified from September 4, 2018, until July 31, 2019, and received in our fulfillment network up until the launch date of August 1, 2019.”
Testing for e-commerce suitability has become more significant for packaging suppliers. Amcor is investing in two International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) testing laboratories: one in the US and one in Europe, which will both be fully operational by May 2019. The ability to develop, test and certify primary packaging under one roof will accelerate the process of getting customers’ products e-commerce-ready quickly and cost-efficiently.
Amcor will test against specific criteria that evaluate the ability of primary packaging to resist damage from various environmental forces. Packaged products – such as flexibles pouches or rigid containers – must pass the ISTA-6 simulation, a general simulation test for individually packaged products shipped through a parcel delivery system. Here, the packaged product undergoes dropping, vibration, temperature and humidity tests and, in addition, a test that ascertains if the package is designed to protect against damage, reduce waste, be recyclable, be frustration-free, and ship in its own container.
Style and sustainability: DS Smith’s new e@Box
Similar to Amcor, DS Smith now uses a “foolproof” testing method for distribution packaging called DISCS. This testing process measures the durability of a package against potential drops, impact, shocks, crushes and shakes.
A recent DS Smith e-commerce solution is the e@Box: an award-winning design which combines both primary and secondary packaging in a stylish, sustainable and protective single solution. PackagingInsights caught up with the e@Box designer, Quaas Volker of DS Smith, just before he collected the Deutscher – Verpackungspreis (German Packaging Award) for his design during FachPack 2018.
“The inspiration for the e@Box derived from different market trends in e-commerce. Two of the biggest trends are gifting and unboxing. We have a lot of different packaging solutions for e-commerce but we missed a special solution for unboxing only.”
“With the help of internal workshops, we have designed the e@Box, which can deliver a great WOW effect during the opening. The WOW effect is helping our customers to generate a high recognition effect for their brand and support the reselling of their products.”
“We are using only 100 percent recyclable materials – corrugated board materials,” continues Volker. “The design uses RightSize which allows us to avoid any void fill between the primary and secondary packaging solution. Therefore, the e@Box uses a minimal amount of material.”
“The e@Box is a perfect frustration-free packaging solution which conforms to Amazon’s new requirements. The design has no perforations, is tamper evident and is completely closed,” he adds.
See more about DS Smith’s latest e-commerce packaging here.
E-commerce as an opportunity: Garçon Wines
Garçon Wines – a start-up which describes itself as the intersection of the emotional, functional and sustainable in wine packaging – has reimagined wine retailing, logistics and delivery with the invention of a full-sized, letterbox-friendly 750ml wine bottle made from 100 percent recyclable PET in collaboration with RPC M&H Plastics.
Speaking to PackagingInsights, Santiago Navarro, CEO and Co-Founder, explains: “Our bottle was developed primarily to deliver the wine safely and seamlessly through the letterbox. To this aim, a fit in the majority of postal boxes was a must and so we researched letterbox dimensions at a level that few others would ever do.”
“It was also created to minimize the amount of packaging used and to ensure it was easily and fully recyclable after, seeing as being eco-friendly and sustainable is fundamental to everything we do. Finally, we care about the emotional and experiential, and so we designed our postal pack to be as attractive and appealing as possible,” he adds.
Read more about Garçon Wines’ latest projects here.
According to Virginie Maes, Vice President Corporate Strategy for Amcor, designing with e-commerce in mind should increase sales, improve brand reputation and create happy customers who receive orders quickly, safely, and in easy-to-open packaging.
“That doesn’t have to come at the expense of design,” she says. “Quite the opposite in fact – the possibilities of innovative packaging are almost endless when designing for e-commerce.”
An example of this is Amcors’ recently developed highly sustainable, unique polyolefin-based film that can be used for ambient and retort high-barrier applications. When used for pet food packaging, for example, it performs better in the online channel than cans and at a lower overall cost.
“While not every CPG has technical requirements that necessitate a redesign to ensure e-commerce suitability (temperature, fragility, etc.), there are some products that do: pet food, detergent, pasta sauce and shampoo are just a few examples,” she says.
“This focus on design (and redesign) for e-commerce is an industry priority and it’s no surprise that the big e-retailers, such as Alibaba, Amazon, and JD, are driving innovation in this area: implementing protocols that ensure packaging survives the e-commerce channel, without product damage or failure,” Maes concludes.