All around the globe, lockdowns and restrictions in retail shopping further accelerated the growth of online sales. COVID-19 not only increased the volume of online deliveries, it has also fundamentally changed online shopping behavior. Before the pandemic, online purchases consisted mostly of clothes and consumer electronics.
However, ‘stay at home’ policies encouraged many households to extend their desktop shopping routines and to order everyday goods online such as hair and personal care products as well as home cleaning products.
This altered shopping behaviour presents a serious challenge for suppliers of liquid products: the product category is designed for brick & mortar shops, rather than for small parcel delivery channels. Products passing through the e-commerce channel have to withstand more frequent and rigorous handling. Statistically, a package ordered online is handled on average more than twenty times – four times more than in the traditional retail distribution chain. Moreover, online deliveries are more likely to be tossed into a van or dropped on a doorstep. As a result, many liquid products either leak or are damaged during the delivery process.
If the packaging is not sufficiently robust, the implications can be significant. Replacing a damaged item can cost up to 17 times as much as the shipping costs. And if other goods such as earphones or books are in the same parcel, these could be damaged by the liquid as well. On top of measurable costs, the disappointing customer experience results in negative product reviews and may even influence brand reputation. To avoid damages, e-commerce providers wrap the goods in secondary packaging with up to five additional packaging components. This results in unnecessary waste and packaging volume as well as extra costs. This is certainly no longer the right way to go, as many companies are now saving materials and resources wherever possible in the interests of sustainability. Three "R's" are now high on the agenda: reduce, reuse and recycle. The key, then, is to waste less material in the safe packaging of goods.
Less waste, less costs: Rieke’s smart packaging solutions for liquid products
The challenge of e-commerce fulfillment has been a major R&D focus for Rieke. When optimising packaging for e-commerce, the challenge was to deliver solutions that allow liquid products to reach the consumer without damage or leakage, while eliminating unnecessary multiple layers of secondary packaging components and reducing costs.
Rieke’s certified packaging solutions for e-commerce fulfillment set out to produce less waste and eliminate consumer 'wrap rage, ensure products arrive as intended without damage, reduce fulfillment processing time through the elimination of unnecessary and costly packaging componen, reduce the risk of fines for product fulfillment failures and leaks. Furthermore,‘frustration-free packaging’ items are given priority in Amazon search listings.
With the support of Amazon, Rieke established in-house ISTA-6 test labs which enable testing and optimization of liquid packaging. These Rieke solutions are certified to be in compliance with Amazon’s ‘Frustration-free packaging’ guidelines. The standards to fulfill ISTA-6 requirements are varied and include three main criteria for any project, including eliminating leaks, rather than simply reducing or containing them, providing an experience that is equivalent to, or better than, the brick & mortar experience, such as a product without inner seals for removal and is ready to use, and allowing consumers to remove the closure to refill the bottle.
Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!