Decades ago, primary packaging was the main concern of manufacturers, store owners, and consumers alike. For the most part, relatively few people handled items before they made their way into the hands of store owners and consumers. However, once the big box store came into play, bumping up the need for distribution centers around the country and warehousing of high-demand products, packaging concerns changed.
With more people handling each product before it eventually hit the shelves, the need for more durable primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging became clear. Thin boxes were replaced with heavy-duty, reusable containers that would withstand repeated handling and shelving. Just as the packaging industry caught up with these changes, however, it soon became clear that yet another change was on its way – the internet.
THE BIRTH OF ONLINE SHOPPING
Perhaps more than any other single instance, eCommerce has disrupted the way companies around the globe approach their packaging and processing needs. Not only are companies using a larger volume than ever before, but they’re having to alter the size and shape of their packing to continue to meet increased and changing needs. What’s more, it’s now clearer than ever that eCommerce isn’t going anywhere.
In fact, according to packaging market research firm Smithers Pira, while global packaging as a whole is expected to experience about a 3% growth per year through 2021, eCommerce packaging stands to grow by a comparably larger 14% during the same period. As a result, as more of the world begins to embrace online buying, packaging strategies continue to change and adapt.
CHANGES IN THE PACKAGING INDUSTRY
For perhaps the first time, tertiary packaging is handled by the consumer, forcing manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers to think outside the veritable box when it comes with how to process and package items. These adaptations have manifested in numerous ways thus far, prompted by the serious uptick in demand online shopping has encouraged:
- Focus on versatility. For many manufacturers, as well as warehousers and online retailers like Amazon, the focus has had to be on versatility first. Shipping products of almost innumerable different sizes puts a serious damper on the ability to provide a perfectly sized tertiary package for every product. Instead, packaging companies have had to provide packaging sizes that can become adaptable solutions for products in a range of sizes and shapes. Packaging companies have responded by producing packages that can be used for a number of items in various categories. Likewise, suppliers like APPLIED Adhesives have focused on including a range of adhesives that have a wide variety of applications. Hot melt adhesives can provide a durable seal for substrates of all types.
- Environmental friendliness. As the sheer volume of packaging arriving on the doorsteps of homes worldwide increases, so does the push for environmental friendliness. For the most part, consumers want to see economical packaging that fits the size and shape of the product well while remaining recyclable. This means attention to producing durable, recyclable, cardboard packaging. With this renewed ecological focus comes an increased need for hot melt adhesive products as well. A versatile adhesive like TechnoMelt 250A is able to provide great adhesion with a relatively small amount of hot melt. Better yet, the low temperatures required by the process use less energy and produce less waste than other sealing options.
- Attention to speed. With the advent of two-day, one-day, and even same-day shipping, online shoppers expect products to be in their hands as soon as possible. The result when it comes to primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging, is that brands, manufacturers, and suppliers alike are operating at higher volumes than ever. In these times, speed and efficiency in printing, manufacturing, and assembling packaging is of supreme importance. Fortunately, hot melt adhesives like TechnoMelt Supra 106M lend themselves very well to the increased packaging speeds required today. These adhesives apply quickly by machine or by hand and set almost immediately with no need for additional pressure. Overall, the packaging process can continue without the traditional wait time required by other sealants.
- Automation in packaging. While packaging has been automated for quite some time now, eCommerce has prompted a new focus on efficiency in machine technology. Every step of the process, from manufacturing the box to applying the final hot melt adhesive and labeling, benefits from automation. In particular, packaging companies are looking to the future, with intelligent monitoring of stock and individual machine components. When it comes to labeling primary packaging like bottles, liquid labeling and hot melt labeling adhesive both perform ideally in the automated environment. In addition, the quick set time and versatility in application methods of hot melt case seal and other hot melt adhesives allows continued flexibility no matter what automation techniques packaging companies choose to utilize in the future.
- Increased importance of durability. With numerous touches, transfers, machine handling, trucking, warehousing, and shipping from the eventual online supplier standing between the product at the manufacturer and the consumer, the ability to withstand this increased movement is key. Now more than ever, primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging must be as durable as possible. In primary packaging, this may mean a switch from glass to plastic or the use of pressure sensitive liquid labeling. In secondary and tertiary packaging, corrugated cardboard and hot melt case seal are more in demand than ever. What’s more, when set, these materials can withstand time and temperature fluctuations during shipping, warehousing, and even at the consumer’s door.
STAY FLEXIBLE WITH APPLIED ADHESIVES
As the global packaging industry continues to adapt to the increasing demands placed on it by the current boom in eCommerce, reliability remains key. Retailers and consumers require packaging that will withstand the stresses we’ve noted above – a full 58% of consumers admit that they would likely change retailers or refrain from purchasing again after receiving a product damaged during shipping, and retailers should do everything in their power to prevent that from happening. As a result, it’s clearer than ever that a durable, efficient packaging seal is key to maintaining your eCommerce business.
Ready to address your approach to eCommerce packaging? Unsure where to begin? Call the experts at APPLIED Adhesvies at (800) 274-9801, or reach out online today.
Written by Bob Hamilton