By William J. Madl, Marketing Consultant on behalf of Ashtonne Packaging. The company has over 120 years of combined packaging experience and provides premier custom packaging services for large or small businesses in a wide range of industries. From product display to ease of access to product protection, their branded packaging aims to support clients’ bottom line and deliver impressive ROI solutions.
Amazon has been doing business since 1994, originally being founded by Jeff Bezos out of his garage. Starting with over $20,000 in sales weekly, his company has gone on to reach $100 billion in revenue to date, has become responsible for over 49% of all online purchases, and employs over 155,00 full-time people. Due to many of these aspects, Amazon has altered packaging and the packaging industry in significant ways. Let’s take a look at some significant changes the company has helped to usher in and the impact they have had on the packaging landscape.
Push for Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness
Not only are consumers concerned with environmentally friendly packaging, but Amazon is setting goals with their suppliers to maintain standards of sustainability, including through recycled content of the packaging and the ability of the packaging to be recycled.
In 2008, Amazon established “Frustration-Free Packaging” (FFP) programs with their suppliers, which set industry standards and guidance for brand packaging. These standards optimized box selections to better fit product sizes and the specific weight of items. Working with their partners, Amazon reduced fillers in packaging and has also reduced packaging waste by over 1,000,000 tons.
Since 2015, Amazon has been able to reduce the weight of the packaging used by over 36%! This trend with packaging will continue well into future and is key to the efforts Amazon is engaging in with packaging.
Change in Materials Used to Package
As noted above, since 2015, Amazon has been able to reduce the weight of the packaging they use by over 36%. By working with their suppliers to eliminate fillers, making the packaging user-friendly to open, and ensuring it is recyclable, Amazon has dramatically impacted the materials used.
In fact, although plastic used in packaging is difficult to recycle at times, Amazon is working with their customers to educate them on how and where to recycle this form of packaging. Since plastic mailers and plastic sacks are being more widely used by Amazon to save space in trucks and reduce transportation costs, it’s imperative this education continue.
On-Time Deliveries and Shipping Rates
Amazon has been able to secure their online business by utilizing on-time delivery for their customers and ensuring their suppliers deliver as needed. Packaging must be on-time so Amazon can accurately let customers know when their products will be delivered and give them a reliable time-frame when placing orders. Due to Amazon’s success in this area, consumers are now demanding this quick delivery service and forcing competing companies to do same.
Related to this is Amazon’s free shipping offer for orders over $25. This long-standing policy has encouraged competitors to offer similar deals, including such outlets as Barnes and Noble and Walmart. Additionally, Prime members don’t pay shipping costs due to their membership fees, another Amazon innovation.
Amazon often utilizes warehouses and third-party shippers in their process. This entails having products, generally one at a time, going direct from third-party warehouses and straight to consumers. By shipping directly to the consumer and not to Amazon, suppliers are forced to ensure good quality with their packaging or run the risk of not doing business with Amazon.
This direct-to-consumer business model will continue as Amazon is working to expand its shipping offerings in numerous ways, including by way of utilizing drones and driverless trucks in the future. Packaging must be designed to handle these coming changes, and Amazon even holds classes for their suppliers to keep pace with the new landscape.
In summary, Amazon has changed packaging in many ways, but especially in how it is made, how waste is eliminated, how companies can save energy, and how to make packaging recyclable and eco-friendly. The future of packaging and Amazon’s competing companies will be looking to the online retailer as the industry leader, and the bar that they set for e-commerce shipments sold and delivered!