In 2008, Amazon launched its Frustration Free Packaging, a programme which encouraged the use of 100% recyclable, easy to open products which were suitable to be shipped in their original packaging. This tackles the issues of over-packaging, difficult to open packaging, and the environmental impact of packaging. Since November 2008, Amazon’s FFP has reduced ‘packaging waste by 16% and avoided 305 million delivery boxes’.
Unfortunately, for companies that aren’t certified with Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging, Amazon still have to package and protect the parcels using standard packaging. This often leads to larger boxes than expected, and large amounts of void fill (although this void fill is usually either recycled paper, or recyclable air pillows). Amazon also advice customers about the recycling of their packaging via their website, confirming that all of their packaging is recyclable. Amazon also offers customers the option to deliver their FFP products in Amazon packaging if required, allowing presents to stay under wraps.
Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging is based on the notion of packaging ‘that delights customers, reduces waste, and minimises cost.’ The introduction of FFP is based on the consumer move from traditional shelf-ready retail products to ecommerce items, and the idea that ecommerce packaging has different requirements to shelf-ready packaging. The key aspects of this are that;
- Ecommerce has no requirements for so called ‘romance’ packaging, as the product itself is shown on screen.
- There is no need to make packaging stand out on the shelf, or take up more shelf space than competitors, as there is no size comparison online.
- Theft prevention features such as tags, straps, and dyes aren’t required.
- One of the main selling points for products online tends to be reviews from other customers, an aspect which can suffer if a product is shipped in excessive packaging or packaging which is deemed to be bad for the environment.
Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging Initiative can be separated into three tiers; Tier 1 is Frustration Free Packaging, Tier 2 is packaging which is Shipped In Own Container (SIOC), and Tier 3 is classed as Prep-Free Packaging. Products in all of these tiers must be compliant with Amazon’s ISTA 6 guidelines and require no additional preparation by Amazon, Tiers 1 and 2 must also be designed to reduce waste by being shipped without an overbox, and Tier 1 products must also be in 100% recyclable packaging, and easy to open (which Amazon classifies as requiring minimal use of scissors or box cutter, and removable within 120 seconds).
So, how does a vendor optimise their packaging to suit the changing needs of Amazon, and the ecommerce sector as a whole? The key is to look at packaging design and performance, with a view to striking a balance between minimising packaging whilst also providing sufficient protection. All of this can be resolved with custom made boxes and packaging, with a focus on thicker board grades, product protection, and a snug fit.
Bespoke packaging can be shaped to fit close to your product, whilst also being printed to reflect your brand, and including additional features to protect the contents. This is easily accessible within the packaging industry, as exemplified by ukpackaging.com and their Box Calculator tool. This provides the customer with instant pricing on a wide range of bespoke plain and printed boxes. The company has also taken on more specialised products such as custom made postal boxes, and boxes with lithographic printing. For more delicate items, ukpackaging.com can also work on building protective features into the packaging in order to both cut down on excess packaging and void fill, whilst also providing damage protection. These options are a great way for vendors to optimise their packaging for the ecommerce sector, whilst also retaining the ability to create a wow-factor unboxing experience.
A great, cost-effective, alternative to bespoke packaging, also offered by ukpackaging.com, is the option of multiscore boxes. These boxes are scored at multiple box depths to reduce the need for void fill, whilst also being able to closely fit products of varying sizes. For smaller products, the company also offer a wide range of coloured and plain postal boxes which can also be branded and adjusted to fit your ecommerce needs. With the changing retail landscape, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to invest in optimising their packaging for ecommerce, and it is up to packaging companies, like ukpackaging.com to offer suitable solutions for vendors, and ultimately, for the consumer themselves.