This study examines global e-commerce packaging demand at the manufacturer level. In this study, packaging is only counted when used in business-to-consumer e-commerce sales, e.g. transactions between businesses and consumers conducted via devices that access the internet, such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and smart wearables.
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Packaging in this report is only considered e-commerce packaging if it is not used as a primary container for products sold in retail stores.
Demand is segmented by the following product categories:
boxes, including regular slotted containers, other corrugated containers such as die-cut and five-panel folder boxes, and set-up boxes
protective packaging, including air pillows, bubble packaging, paper fill and cushioning, loose fill, and other protective packaging products such as molded and rolled foams, gel packs, molded pulp, and paperboard protectors
mailers, including padded, poly, paperboard, and corrugated types
labels, including standard shipping labels, integrated labels, warning labels, and instructional labels
tape, including pressure-sensitive and water-activated types
insulated shipping containers
other e-commerce packaging, such as paperboard tubes, packing list pouches, tissue paper, ribbon, and strapping
Global e-commerce packaging sales are also broken out by:
computers, electronics, and software
apparel and accessories
food and beverages
health, personal care, and beauty products
multimedia such as books, video, and music
other merchandise, such as lawn and garden products, pet products, and automotive products
This study excludes consumer-to-consumer transactions (e.g., a private individual selling used items through an online marketplace), business-to-business transactions (e.g., a business purchasing office furniture online), online sales of cars and other motor vehicles, online transactions involving houses and real estate, primary retail packaging, such as retail boxes and protective packaging used for products sold in stores (e.g., a retail box, molded foam, and plastic film used for the protection of a television in a store), and returned items.
Large retail facilities that resemble conventional stores but are not open to the public, instead housing goods used to fulfill online orders.
Retailers that have traditionally had a physical store presence.
Pickup of an order made online inside a retail store.
Pickup of an order made online outside of a store, usually where store employees load merchandise into a customer’s vehicle.
Direct-to-consumer shipments directly from a manufacturer or wholesaler that fulfills an order from an e-commerce retailer
Reducing packaging size by using a box that minimizes empty space, decreasing the amount of protective packaging needed for void fill, paper waste, and costs while still maintaining adequate protection for the package’s contents
Fast Growth in Online Shopping Provides Opportunities for Packaging Suppliers
Global e-commerce packaging sales are forecast to rise 11% annually, reaching $22.1 billion in 2023. Ongoing robust growth in e-commerce sales worldwide will drive gains.
Key Findings in the
Global E-Commerce Packaging Study:
Well Established E-Commerce Markets Will Account for Most Packaging Gains
The greatest opportunities exist in countries with well-established e-commerce markets. In 2018, China and the US were the two largest markets for e-commerce packaging, respectively, and will account for over 70% of gains between 2018 and 2023. Beyond growth in e-commerce sales, advances are propelled by increasing e-commerce purchases in categories requiring higher value packaging for shipping and well-established manufacturing sectors in these countries that are increasingly dropshipping directly to consumers in other countries.
Corrugated Boxes Are A Target for E-Commerce Packaging Reduction
Corrugated boxes along with protective packaging components are the highest profile targets for sustainability and cost reduction efforts due in part to their size and ubiquitous nature in shipping. Right-sizing of boxes is prevalent in advanced e-commerce markets, while efforts to eliminate boxes altogether include development of e-commerce ready primary packaging and privacy-enhancing shrink film overwrap as well as rolling out more local delivery and pickup options that reduce the need for secondary e-commerce packaging.
This Freedonia industry study analyzes the $13.0 billion global e-commerce packaging market. It presents historical demand data (2013 and 2018) and forecasts (2023 and 2028) by product (boxes, protective packaging, mailers, labels, tape, insulated shipping containers, shrink film, and other packaging), by market (computers, electronics, and software; apparel and accessories; home furnishings; recreation goods; food and beverage; health, personal care, and beauty products, multimedia; and other merchandise) and by region (North America, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Africa/Mideast). The study also offers competitive analysis on industry competitors including International Paper and Sealed Air and insights into growth drivers and opportunities for expanding e-commerce packaging sales in regional and national markets.