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Paying to ship air: How packaging can save your brand

When starting an online store, e-commerce entrepreneurs have so much to consider, including how they will drive more sales and set up shipping.

For many e-tailers, packaging is towards the middle or end of their list of things to prioritize, but efficient packaging can be a cost saver and set you apart in the market.

Shipping air can be costly to your online business and reputation

Have you ever had an item shipped to your home, and when you open it up, it’s like opening a Russian nesting doll? You find a box inside of a box, inside of a box filled with void-fill material.

This first impression sets the stage for what online consumers associate with your brand. Is it an environmentally friendly company that cares about using less packaging or biodegradable materials?

The International Post Corporation’s Cross-Border E-commerce Shopper Survey 2020 revealed that 48 percent of global consumers strongly agreed that they would like the packaging of their parcels to be recyclable and expressed a strong preference to receive parcels in reusable materials.

For online merchants, packaging can be a way to position their brand as eco-friendly and sustainable, and an effective way to save on costs. For some companies, it is becoming an important topic for their business. In a survey conducted by DHL’s Customer Solutions & Innovation team, it was found that nine out of 10 companies say packaging will be high on their agenda in the next three to five years.

The DHL survey also revealed that the majority of respondents said the introduction of sustainable packaging materials was their number one near-future packaging priority.

Weigh and save

To save on shipping and avoid paying to transport air, online merchants should consider the following:

  • Shipping companies use a dimensional weight (DIM weight) pricing technique based on the package’s length, width, and height.
  • DIM weight is a standard pricing method used by most shipping providers.
  • If an item is lightweight, but you are using a large box, you will still pay more because of the volume and the space the box will take up during transport.  

What should an e-commerce merchant do?

  • Consider packaging at the onset of launching a new product or product line. Some packaging manufacturers can create custom packages that decrease dimensional weight, thus reduce costs and carbon footprint.
  • Weigh packages and consider dimensions when calculating shipping costs.
  • Talk to your logistics operators to see what options are at your disposal to make your packaging more efficient.

Packages go green

As packaging becomes increasingly a priority for online merchants and consumers alike, more options are becoming available. Not only are recycled materials the order of the day but also more packaging options that can be reused or compostable. Resealable bio-based alternative envelopes, pouches and labels, are also becoming more popular for e-commerce categories.

Before making any environmental claims on packages, companies should check the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides for guidance.

Sustainable packaging can have various positive impacts on an established or up-and-coming online merchant’s brand, including reducing its carbon footprint, reducing waste, and establishing a positive first and long-lasting impression that can lead to increased sales and loyal customers.

Lee Spratt is CEO of DHL E-commerce Solutions, Americas.

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