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4 ECommerce Packaging Trends To Look For in 2020

Unless you’re a cat or a small child, eCommerce packaging probably isn’t going to be at the forefront of your mind most of the time. After all, you have bigger fish to fry. Development. Marketing. Conversions. A cardboard box is likely going to take less precedence when reviewing your eCommerce strategy.

But on Amazon alone, two out of every five U.S. receive at least one package per week. And with approximately 165 billion packages shipped annually through major delivery solutions in the U.S., at least 5 billion packages are received by Amazon Prime consumers alone.

But eCommerce packaging isn’t necessarily effective. A recent survey indicated that only 11 percent of all U.S. customers are entirely satisfied with eCommerce packaging solutions, indicating their displeasure with everything from the actual design of packaging to the excessive use of materials. Nor is it environmentally friendly. Packaging solution provider Limeloop recently estimated that the current amount of cardboard used in eCommerce packaging could be equivalent to approximately 1 billion trees per year.

Your customers demand efficiency as much as they demand customization. And they’re increasingly more conscious of sustainable solutions in their order fulfillment solutions. Before you consider contributing to a $2.5 billion market, here are some growing trends you may want to keep in mind about eCommerce packaging in 2020.

1. Sustainability Is No Longer An Option

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, almost one-third of all nonindustrial waste in developed countries is caused by packaging materials. And with the increased shift towards wide scale consumer recycling, you can be absolutely certain that regulatory policies will be significantly more demanding for packaging solutions over the next five years.

While a substantial amount of consumers have already indicated their frustration with excessive packaging, many retailers are often at a loss between finding a balance between sustainable packaging options and quality manufacturing. Amazon may have made great strides by the introduction of their Frustration Free Packaging service, but both they and other platforms still have a long way to go before a well constructed alternative can be found which can reliably reduce waste.

2. Connectability

A recent report from Cisco predicts that over 70 percent of the global population will have some form of mobile connectivity by the year 2023. And with this rise in connectivity comes a drastic change in mobile eCommerce—including packaging. 

Virtual connectability isn’t necessarily a new development in packaging, but you can expect to see an increased interest in the coming years as more and more customers voice their frustration with inefficient tracking methods. Fulfillment tracking solutions through QR codes, radio frequency identification, bluetooth and augmented reality will soon play a fundamental role in ensuring prompt delivery across all platforms, providing a much more refined and seamless digital shopping experience.

3. Retail Ready Packaging

While aesthetic design of packaging has always been a chief marketing component for many consumers, eCommerce retailers fail to capitalize on branded packaging. More often than not, they’re reliant on platforms to provide their own standard packaging design, creating homogenous and virtually indistinguishable solutions.

Retail ready packaging has been estimated to command $7.9 billion of the packaging market in the U.S. by 2023.  And as eCommerce customers are demanding more cost effective delivery methods, more and more manufacturers are providing fairly low cost solutions which both emphasize brand identity as well as higher graphic design quality. With retail ready packaging, you can combine both storefront ready design as well as an affordable delivery solution without relying on the all too familiar “smile” that comes from an Amazon package.

4. Customer Friendly Return Policies

When Amazon expanded their Free Return Policy during 2019’s holiday season to include previously ineligible items such as electronics, housewares and kitchen appliances, retailers were hardly pleased with the decision. And with good reason. An estimated 22 percent of consumers who purchase at least $200 worth of products from Amazon each month have indicated they wind up returning over a quarter of their purchases.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to combat customer returns. But you can help simplify the process with your packaging. Resealable packaging, self adhered return labels and automated refunds may seem like a minor consideration in packaging optimization, but they can go a long way in ensuring customer loyalty during. And if you’re worried about recouping the cost, just keep in mind that current policies on Amazon may allow you to charge a 50 percent restocking fee if you receive a return in a different condition than you shipped it in.

Need More Help With Your ECommerce Packaging Solutions?


Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your ecommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.

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