October 10, 2019

Reduce damage during shipping with sustainable packaging solutions


How to prevent product damage during shipping by replacing polystyrene packaging

Reduce damage during shipping with sustainable packaging solutions – Product packaging has one simple, overarching purpose: to protect products during transit and prevent damage. Packaging is necessary because the lifecycle of a single product involves a chaotic journey from supplier to fulfillment center to delivery provider to customer, with a complex process and many steps in between.

Moreover, every product’s transit chain is different, a unique web of warehouses and trucks, and every product experiences a multitude of potential problems. Anton Cotaj, owner of ANAMA Package and Container Testing, has “determined that an average package is being dropped 17 times.” It is the integral role of packaging to protect products against these conditions while ensuring a smooth and efficient shipping process.


How e-commerce changes the game

The rise of e-commerce multiplies the risk of product breakage, adding more touch points and transits to the process. The American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN) published a report in 2017 detailing how packaging must adapt to new changes in the transit process.

“This new distribution channel is a far more complex and interconnected logistics system.” It involves transit, inventory management and warehousing, sortation and ultimately parcel delivery to the customer. Traditional retail shipping involves, on average, 5 different touch points for a package. But, the maze of e-commerce transit networks often includes 20 or more touch points per product. Returns compound the problem as companies must ship broken products all the way back to step one and re-trace the entire process a second or even third time.


The costs of damages during shipping

Shipping damage hurts and companies know it. AMERIPEN estimates that the e-commerce industry loses $6 billion from product breakage every year. And products broken in transit place a heavy burden on companies, forcing them to return damaged items all the way back to the supplier and begin the entire transit process a separate time.

As a result, the length and rigors of e-commerce shipping multiply the cost of product returns. “Replacing a damaged product can cost an e-commerce vendor up to seventeen times more than the original cost to ship,” according to PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

On top of this, modern consumers pile on additional consequences from bad packaging and breakage during shipping. E-commerce shoppers quickly lose trust in a brand by receiving a single damaged product. And an estimated 1 in 10 e-commerce packages arrive to consumers damaged, according to a recent Stella Services study. Plus, in the age of social media, one consumer’s negative experience can have a widespread impact on a company’s reputation.


EPS fails to protect

Traditional packaging methods with polystyrene (EPS) material fails to provide adequate protection for products for a number of reasons.

  1. Single Impact. EPS is a single-impact material, meaning that it can only absorb one impact before it loses its cushioning properties. This is a huge problem for e-commerce shipping as packages suffer constant bumps, shifting, and drops during the long transit process.
  2. One Size Does Not Fit All. Traditional Styrofoam packaging designs, including Styrofoam end caps, operate under the assumption that every transit chain is identical. This results in major failures in product protection and is a huge factor in the shipping damage that wreak havoc on a business’s bottom line.
  3. Location, Location, Location. Void-fill packaging designs with polystyrene materials do not take into account where products actually need cushioning protection. As a result, packaging designs fail to provide optimized protection and allow for damages to occur.

Good packaging can make a difference

Better packaging can immediately negate the overwhelming burden of shipping damage. Innovative designs that are optimized for each product and utilize the exact amount of material at the exact bearing locations can dramatically improve packaging protection.

Further, utilizing materials capable of absorbing multiple impacts, like polyethylene and polypropylene, dramatically improves packaging’s ability to protect products for the long duration and added rigors of e-commerce transit.

In addition, improving the quality of your packaging causes ripples of positive consequences. For example, better packaging has proven to boost a brand’s reputation significantly. In a recent survey, 87% of consumers stated that safe packaging makes them trust the manufacturer or brand more and 86% are more likely to purchase more products from a company purely due to safe packaging.


Proven packaging designs

EPE understands that every product has unique requirements based on dimensions, fragility, and transit chain. We take the time to analyze all factors that go into protecting a product during transit. EPE then develops innovative and sustainable packaging solutions that are perfectly optimized to ensure maximum protective performance, utilizing the least amount of material.

And our successes speak for themselves. Recently, one of our polyethylene packaging designs successfully reduced shipping damage from 20% down to 1%. This dramatic improvement represents huge savings in comparison to current polystyrene packaging models.

Make the switch to better packaging and reap the benefits of less product breakage.

Talk to one of our professional packaging experts today about how you can reduce shipping damage by replacing Styrofoam with more optimized solutions.