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E-commerce and drive-in: packaging codes must change

E-commerce and drive-in: packaging codes must change

Press Release September 2014

E-commerce and drive-in: packaging codes must change

Having assembled for a working session facilitated by the international expert in packaging and consultant for EMBALLAGE 2014 Annette Freidinger-Legay, the members of the EMBALLAGE 2014 PACK EXPERTS committee noted an upheaval in the traditional packaging functions caused by new e-commerce and drive-in channels. Better knowledge of secondary and tertiary packaging life cycles would therefore enable this packaging to be designed and used within a circular economy.

This observation implies that the current codes for packaging, from primary to tertiary, should be reviewed by taking account of the demands arising from each circuit (e-commerce and drive-in) and optimising logistics and handling overall.

Packaging for e-commerce and drive-in?

Attractive packaging, essential for display on supermarket shelves, does not have a significant impact on e-commerce websites without a 3D perspective. Secondary packaging, traditionally only visible to the distributor, is now seen by the consumer. So experts consider it necessary to rethink the traditional packaging functions, taking into account the different requirements of these two channels.

Discrete, protective, attractive and customised packages for e-commerce

Secondary packaging for e-commerce deliveries should be proportionate to the relevant size of each "consumer sales unit". The first solution would be to produce packaging automatically, the volume depending on the products to be packed. This packaging, with no empty space, should be strengthened at the closing edges and comprise a surface that is slippery enough to avoid damage from handling. It should also be cheap, environmentally friendly, tamper-resistant, easy to open and attractive. The second solution would be to develop more "individual" packaging for transport purposes.

Secondary packaging eliminated for drive-in

For drive-in, secondary packaging for delivering each "consumer sales unit" to the warehouse should, ideally, disappear and be replaced by the pallet or "group delivery packaging" combination to support the picking process.

Regardless of the sale or distribution channel, the outlook is good for packaging development subject to maintaining pack traceability, obtaining the requisite resources for possible returns by internet users, guaranteeing product authenticity, meeting the requirements of cold chain shipping and enabling the sale of products with no fixed weight, such as meats.

Impact on the logistics and handling channels?

Packaging, considered to be a transport cost-reduction driver, should help to accelerate the handing and flow processes. The objectives are to optimise the size of the packaging, from primary to tertiary, and to foster change in order to make industrial packaging lines more productive and to automate platforms and warehouses to a greater degree.

Harmonisation of distributor storage

By way of example, the harmonisation of distributors’ shelf dimensions would enable secondary packaging to be standardised (as for pallets) and logistics, delivery and shelving to be optimised.

Harmonisation of information on secondary packaging

This would enable international trade, pack traceability and identification to be optimised in B2B and B2C channels alike.

Stakeholders need to agree

Initial proposals from the PACK EXPERTS committee are to improve the "resilience/content" ratio by controlling costs and environmental impact to protect the products better (including "ready-to-sell"), restrict the use of transport packaging and/or use returnable packaging and even eliminate tertiary packaging, these functions being taken over by secondary packaging or vice versa.

The PACK EXPERTS committee concluded that the establishment of an inter-company task force (manufacturers, logisticians and pack developers) would enable common directions to be developed and single-use solutions to be avoided.

For further information on the conference programme, log onto