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eCommerce market in the USPMMI study on packagingWith 131,447 US businesses selling their products online, revenues near US$ 298 billion and an annual growth rate close to 6%, the eCommerce supply chain’s growing volume is complemented by increased complexity, according to the E-Commerce Market Assessment report published this year by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, the owner and producer of the Pack Expo portfolio of trade shows. With jumps in volume and complexity, however, come challenges manufacturers must address.Secondary packaging can be used for discreet branding and product advertisementsReplacing a destroyed item can cost up to 17 times as much as shipping, and overcoming negative online reviews stemming from such an incident can take months. Each step in the delivery chain only increases the risk of damage to packages and that makes engineering essential. Ultimately, manufacturers must ensure that packaging remains undamaged throughout the delivery process, regardless of the shipping scenario. Another related challenge is eased with the effective use of warehouse management systems, which help make rightsizing feasible.

Strong communication with third-party retailers is another critical factor for manufacturers overcoming the complications of the eCommerce supply chain. Frequent communication can bridge disconnects that lead to consumer dissatisfaction. For example, when brand owners plan significant changes to primary packaging, they should work with their third-party retailers to take current inventory and marketing into account so that the consumer experience is in sync with the marketing.

Product marketing on packages presents another challenge – distinct differences of opinion. Marketers want packaging to reflect their brand and even advertise products; operations and engineering question the value of branded packaging post-purchase; and logistics professionals face looming concerns of theft. These disagreements can present significant hurdles, but compromises can be found through tactics such as discreet branding and product advertisements on secondary packaging.

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