Before eCommerce took over, the logistics of traditional retail were quite straightforward. All goods were usually shipped in bulk to a warehouse and then later delivered to individual brick and mortar stores where consumers could pick them up. This meant less waste on packaging, creating a win-win situation for the shopper, the retailer, and the environment.
Fast forward to the era of eCommerce; things have changed immensely as now a significant portion of shoppers prefer to shop online. While it has brought a lot of conveniences, the downside is that we're drowning in a sea of packaging waste. For instance, as a leading eCommerce retailer behind 50% of all online purchases, Amazon has been repeatedly bashed for its wasteful packaging practices. The eCommerce giant has a reputation of shipping tiny products in oversized boxes filled with plastic air pillows. However, after a long time of being under fire, the company is finally turning over a new page by implementing an updated packaging policy that is intended to reduce wasteful packaging in Amazon shipments.
A Look into the New Amazon Packaging Program
In a bid to reduce packaging waste and cut on shipping costs, Amazon now requires all vendors on its platform to avoid using oversized packaging boxes. The policy became valid on 1st August 2019 and is part of Amazon's Frustration-free program. Under the new guidelines, any vendor who fails to adhere will get a $1.99 chargeback on every order that violates the requirements. Vendors who adhere, on the other hand, will have something to smile about as they'll receive a $1 credit.
Why the Policy is Both a Good and Bad Move
As noted earlier, Amazon is one of the largest eCommerce platforms globally and currently takes approximately 55% of all eCommerce transactions. This automatically makes the company the top packaging waste producer, especially because it has been shipping products in oversized boxes for the last decade.
This, therefore, makes the policy a good move as it'll go a long way in reducing the amount of packaging waste that the eCommerce giant produces. Also being a leading eCommerce retailer makes Amazon a trendsetter. This means that with Amazon already setting the pace, more online retailers are likely to follow suit, thus significantly reducing the amount of wasteful packaging from Amazon and other eCommerce retailers.
On the other hand, however, with the oversized shipping boxes out of the picture, more products will be shipped using smaller plastic mailers. Unfortunately, this is even a more significant problem as plastic is harder to recycle.
The Impact of the Policy on Sellers on and Off Amazon
Amazon's new Frustration-Free Program is a blessing to vendors on Amazon in several ways. First, it allows them to retain branding on the products being shipped. This'll enhance consumer satisfaction as customers will no longer have to go through the lengthy, frustrating process of unboxing. They'll also have a much easier time disposing of what they don't need.
The policy will also enhance brand reputation as vendors who adhere will be deemed environmentally responsible by current and potential customers. Additionally, by eliminating the oversized boxes, Amazon will increase its fulfillment center efficiency as more time will be spent on shipping products instead of packing them. This, therefore, means that vendors can have their products delivered to the consumer faster than before, which again enhances customer satisfaction and enhances brand reputation. Also, the $1 credit adherence incentive by Amazon will go a long way in helping vendors reduce operational costs.
Since consumers nowadays prefer to transact with green companies, the new guidelines on Amazon's Frustration-Free Program are likely to increase the number of people who shop on Amazon. Thus vendors off Amazon will be affected negatively by the increased competition, leaving them no choice but to find other ways to improve their packaging efficiency.
Benefits of a Sustainable Packaging Strategy
As an off-Amazon seller, you must come up with a sustainable packaging strategy so you can keep up with the increasing competition. Other than enabling you to keep up, a sustainable approach will accrue you many other benefits as shown below
Reduce Resource Wastage
No matter how simple your product might be, there're a lot of resources used in the packaging process. Usually, sustainable packaging uses minimal resources. Thus by coming up with a well-thought-out packaging system, you'll go a long way in cutting out operational costs, which is something most businesses work towards.
Boost Sales and Brand Recognition
As noted, there're various factors that consumers consider when making a purchase, and sustainability is among them. Thus, when you come up with a better and eco-friendly packaging strategy, your customers will have no reason to choose a vendor on Amazon. Potential customers, on the other hand, will be attracted as you're a brand focused on a greater cause.
Reduces Carbon Footprint
This is a benefit you're already aware of, but we'll mention it anyway. By coming up with a well-thought-out strategy, you'll not only enjoy monetary benefits, but you'll also do your part in protecting Mother Nature.
How Can You Reduce Wasteful Packaging?
One way to reduce wasteful packaging is by adopting Amazon's strategy. Other effective ways include...
Using Green Alternatives Whenever Possible
Instead of plastic, go for packaging that's easily recyclable such as paper.
Encourage Customers to Make Single Instead of Multiple Orders
Some customers usually order separately, which means that each product has to be shipped independently, resulting in wasteful packaging. Encourage your customers to make orders together so you can use as few packages as possible. To do so, you can offer a small discount to all customers who request this option.
Another way to ensure that your packaging doesn't end up in the trash is to make it multifunctional. For instance, you can make your delivery boxes useful to the customers by designing them as a child's toy. In other words, encourage the customer to reuse the packaging material instead of throwing it away.
In a nutshell, Amazon's new packaging policy won't save the world, but it'll go a long way in reducing packaging waste. You too can make your business eco-friendly by adopting the tips above and coming up with other creative ideas to enhance package delivery.
Rakuten Super Logistics is a leading eCommerce order fulfillment company that provides the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings retailers demand.
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