If you operate an e-commerce business, packaging is something you can’t avoid but reducing packaging is becoming even more important . Whether you’re sending your products onto suppliers or onto consumers, it has to be packaged in a way that keeps the goods inside safe and secure until they reach their final destination. So can reducing packaging work?
The risk here is that, in an effort to make sure your product doesn’t get damaged in transit, you use too much packaging which can end up costing you money that you would much rather see going to your bottom line.
In manufacturing, Forbes magazine identified packaging as one of the three best ways to cut costs, and the same applies if your business is online. How, though, do you reduce the amount of packaging you use? Here we look at some six simple fixes for reducing the packaging your business uses.
- Review your packaging
Before you start to reduce your packaging, you need to know just how much you use. Look back over the past three or six months and work out how much packaging you used – and how much you spent on it.
Then, look at how much packaging you keep in reserve and whether any of it has been sitting there for more than a month; if it has, it probably means you don’t need it. Don’t forget to look at additional packaging material such as bubble wrap too.
- Decide on the packaging you need
Take a look at the goods you sell and decide what type of packaging is best when it comes to shipping. If you sell clothes, for example, mailing bags may be better than boxes and probably won’t need much, if any, additional packaging materials to keep them damage free.
You might need to use additional packaging materials for fragile items, which will also most likely need to be shipped in cardboard boxes. As well as the material, consider the size. If you ship smaller items, you won’t need big boxes; if you ship items in bulk, you will.
Finally, think about how you store goods in your warehouse. Do you use cardboard boxes for these that are then discarded? Can they be replaced with reusable plastic crates? These not only reduce the packaging you use (internally) but reduce your costs (though there may be an additional initial outlay).
- Only buy what you need
Once you know what packaging you need, work out how much stock you think you’ll be shipping and buy just enough to cover these sales. This way, you won’t be left having paid for packaging you don’t need, and you won’t be tempted to over-pack an item.
Better yet, consider investing in a system such as Right Size that lets you customise your packaging to perfectly fit the items you’re shipping and create exactly the number of boxes you need at any given time.
- Cut back on additional packaging
One of the best things about systems such as Ribble Right Size is that they allow you to cut down on additional packaging. The same applies if you buy boxes that are as close in size to the products you want to ship. This is harder if you buy in bulk because you can end up with too many boxes that aren’t a good fit, meaning you’re much more likely to use boxes that are too big and fill up any empty space with bubble wrap or packaging peanuts.
- Change your mindset
Using the right sized-packaging and reducing the amount of additional packaging material aren’t difficult changes to make but they could well mean you need to change the way you work. The same applies to your employees too. So, while it might be quicker and easier to reach for the first available box when preparing an item for shipping, instead, you’ll need to look for the box that best fits the product.
- Reuse and recycle
Think about how you can reuse packaging too. Can used packaging paper be shredded and used as packaging material, for example, or can boxes used by customers to return items be reused when you send out your next order?
By taking these simple steps, you’ll be able to not only reduce the amount of packaging you use but cut your operational costs (including warehouse space and transportation). You’ll also be reducing the amount of waste going to landfill and your carbon footprint, both of which are good for not only the planet but your reputation.