New E-Commerce supply chain demands new package design standards

The multifaceted nature of the e-commerce supply chain is advancing at a fast pace, and new testing standards and information are required to stay aware of new performance demands.

As indicated by Eric Hiser, Vice President of Technical at ISTA, the evolution of e-commerce and it’s undeniably mind boggling conveyance techniques joined with expanded touch focuses (block and mortar has a normal of 7-9 contacts versus-e-commerce’s 20+ touches), create a higher potential for product damage during shipping.

Hiser presented at the ISTA European Packaging Symposium in Amsterdam today, and said that because traditional retail packaging is typically not sufficient for direct-to-consumer ­– and has been reduced in past years due to concerns over sustainability – more packaging may be required now to avoid the loss of product and the resultant cost and environmental impact of a wasted product.

Hiser said that safety is even more important than damage, and cited a January 2018 Packaging World example of a test of cold food items in 169 meal kits – 47% arrived with surface temperatures in the USDA “danger zone.”

CPGs need to design for this new supply chain, says Hiser, and how the last mile impacts packaging. Tools such as the ISTA for SIOC (products shipped to consumer without any additional packaging) or Overboxing (multiple products in one package), or the ISTA Test 3 – a “great tool for the single parcel environment” – should be leveraged to test package design. Hiser said that Amazon’s deep learning of purchasing and its willingness to share that data will help to improve the package design process.

Hiser likewise referenced Amazon’s “Frustration Free” packaging program. Early adopters of its testing prerequisites have profited with a for each unit credit of $1.00, yet the individuals who are not certified will before long be penalized after 8/1/19, with a charge of $1.99 per unit. The APASS program bolsters merchants in the certification process, and will accept certification from any ISTA certified lab.

Coordinated effort is vital to advance, as per Hiser, and ISTA and itspartner companies have pledged $1.75 million towards research in key areas such as the elimination of over-packaging; distribution environment data collection; single parcel environmental research; development of a test to predict package performance in e-commerce retailer shipping systems; and, the study of unit load stability transportation hazards.

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