Amazon Pushing a Phase-Out of Corrugated Boxes in Global E-Commerce

The corrugated box, the primary vessel of e-commerce delivery, has been instrumental to the gradual chipping away of brick-and-mortar’s dominance of retail over the past decade: durable to ensure that online orders arrive intact, lightweight to keep shipping costs down, and opaque to protect customer privacy and prevent theft.

However, a number of packaging innovations – spurred in part by Amazon’s desire to boost e-commerce’s environmental profile while further reducing operating costs and increasing customer convenience – could mean the beginning of the end for the tried-and-true packaging format in e-commerce.

A new Freedonia Group study on the nearly $13 billion global e-commerce packaging market analyzes these trends and more.

The study page is here: https://www.freedoniagroup.com/industry-study/global-e-commerce-packaging-3744.htm

 

Source reduction, right-sizing, & recyclability trends drive packaging innovation

Amazon and other global e-commerce leaders such as JD.com in China are driving an industry-wide trend toward primary packaging formats that:

  • can be reused by the customer or the shipper if it is returned
  • reduces or eliminates need for void fill and protective packaging (i.e., right-sizing)
  • reduces or eliminates need for secondary packaging, such as boxes
  • uses less material overall (i.e., source reduction)
  • uses more recyclable materials

Amazon works closely with packaging manufacturers to achieve these goals, and even has an in-house team dedicated to solving packaging problems, with an eye on eliminating the need for packaging altogether.

For Amazon & other e-retail leaders, sustainability saves time, money

For years, Amazon has offered certifications to packaging that is “frustration-free” and “e-commerce-ready”. A big part of the goal is sustainability. However, the potential for cost savings is also high as more online orders are delivered in recyclable, easy-to-open boxes that come “without excess packaging materials,” per company standards, and are “ready-to-ship” direct from the manufacturer to the consumer, saving time and money in the process.

Driving this shift toward more sustainable packaging, Amazon pays its vendors for packing heavy and bulky products in 100% recyclable primary packaging that can be shipped without need for an additional box. This year, that incentive will be replaced by a penalty for vendors that do not comply with the standards.

Want to learn more?

For more insight on the trends driving packaging innovation in e-commerce as well as food e-commerce, see the Freedonia Group’s two latest packaging studies:

  • Global E-Commerce Packaging covers the global market for boxes, mailers, protective packaging, labels, tape, insulated shipping containers, and other packaging types used to ship online orders.
  • Food & Beverage Packaging Innovation leverages consumer survey data to analyze key trends driving innovation in food and beverage packaging, including for food e-commerce applications.