E-Commerce Packaging | Sustainable Packaging Machines and More
Packaging options for e-commerce grow more important every day, as the rate of shoppers who choose to participate in online ordering continues to climb.
Even before we were encouraged to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers had begun to realize that ordering online was an easy and safe way to shop.
What Is E-commerce Packaging?
E-commerce packaging is used to ship products directly to the consumers who purchased them online.
E-commerce Packaging vs Standard Packaging
Unlike standard retail packaging, e-commerce packaging must be able to withstand the less-predictable e-commerce shipping process – and the bumps, drops, and shakes that come along with transporting the item. While packaging for the retail shelf often has to help sell the goods inside, e-commerce packaging needs to not only protect products but also offer an enjoyable unboxing experience.
How to Use Banding for Custom E-commerce Packaging
At Felins, we are proud to offer a variety of packaging machines to help clients like you ship your products with the confidence that they’ll withstand the shipping process safely, and arrive at their destinations damage-free.
Banding has quickly become the method of choice for packaging e-commerce products.
Unlike other popular methods, banding keeps a strong hold on products without the risk of causing damage, by using wide but thin material. While similar to strapping, one thing that sets banding apart is that it can handle a variety of substrate materials including papers, films, papers that are as strong as films, pre-printed bands for labeling, recyclable materials and more – giving you the ability to select the material that best suits your product.
While packaging experts like us will inform you that more sophisticated methods exist, we also realize that in some cases, strapping is still a solid option.
Strapping remains a common, inexpensive solution for bundling a wide variety of different-sized products together. The material used ranges from hard rigid straps to delicate, ribbon-like material.
Strapping equipment applies the straps around the product with strength and security. The system we offer provides protection and tamper-proof security for applications needed in industries such as banking and casinos.
Stretch Film Banding, Tying, and Other Technologies
In addition to banding and strapping, there are a few more packaging options that, while typically not the best solutions for e-commerce packaging, are still applicable in some situations – especially when packaging larger, odd-shaped products.
Stretch Film Banding: This methodology uses a heat seal to adhere material to itself, without glue or sealant, to keep products secure – and spiral banding keeps items of irregular lengths in place. With adjustable wrapping tension and flexible material, stretch film machines can be adjusted to package boxy or otherwise abnormally shaped products, such as lumber and pipes
Tying: The most economical bundling method, tying accommodates a variety of material options, including twine, plastic, elastic, and biodegradable / food-grade material. Tying equipment allows facilities to increase productivity, reduce labor costs, and eliminates repetitive motion for operators. It’s a popular choice among the floral, food, and manufacturing industries – especially for applications where manual rubber banding is being used.
What Is E-commerce Packaging?
Bundle Multi-Item Orders
With the growth of e-commerce comes the growth of multi-item orders. Sellers know that when a consumer adds something to their cart, it’s very likely they need (or would simply be interested in) more products to go with the purchase, so sellers serve a pop-up of either similar items or items used in cohesion with the product(s) already in their cart.
Instead of sending out three separate packages with different shipping labels, banding machines allow vendors to band varying items together, using inline printing to put license plates, barcodes, and live data on the band. After bundling the orders, adding the right size packaging becomes simple.
Band Loose Products to a Corrugated Insert
One way of using banding machinery to secure e-commerce products for shipping is to band the item to a corrugated cardboard insert. This is a low-cost, lightway way of ensuring the product arrives intact.
Ship in Own Container
Banding technology has become a boon for sellers on Amazon, as the company imposes increasingly strict guidelines and qualifications on them to reduce packaging material, environmental impacts, and overall costs. Amazon’s competitors have begun implementing similar requirements, too.
One major development stemming from these requirements is Ship in Own Container (SIOC): This means that when Amazon ships your product out to a customer, it does not require any additional packing fill or an Amazon over-box.
SIOC is one tier under the Frustration-Free Packaging tier at Amazon, which is considered the best form of packaging. Amazon has put a lot of effort into expanding the FFP tier, and continues to reap excellent results – especially when it comes to cutting out up to 50% excess packing material.
FFP measures help sellers avoid customer dissatisfaction, save money, and greatly reduce their impact on the environment.
Can Be Adjusted for a Wide Variety of Products
One of the most economical benefits of using banding technology is that the equipment needed can be adjusted to accommodate a wide variety of products.
For vendors, this means the ability to introduce new products without having to replace or upgrade machinery.
The Advantages of Banding for Your E-commerce Products
We’ve outlined even more advantages of using banding machinery as an e-commerce packaging solution below:
Reduce Void Fill
When packaging smaller items, banding is a smart choice for reducing excessive void fill.
Older methods for shipping smaller items, such as box-within-a-box packaging and void fill, result in excess waste – and we want to avoid that!
Banding secures products – even oddly-shaped items – to a corrugated insert, which prevents items from rattling around inside the box during shipment.
Optimize Your Warehouse Space
The ability to use one machine – with the flexibility to bundle a very wide variety of products – greatly improves warehouse storage optimization, thereby increasing throughput while decreasing frustration and labor costs.
Bundling multi-packs, shoe boxes, and more also helps warehouses make better use of available space by keeping products together during picking, conveyance, packaging, and more. This practice also allows packages to be stored sideways to increase capacity.
Banding uses less material than other packaging processes – and the less materials used, the less waste generated, and the easier it is to recycle. It’s a simple equation!
Another simple equation: When you take advantage of methods that use less packaging materials, one of the added benefits is spending less on material costs.
Better Unboxing Experience
The material used in the banding process cuts back on unboxing frustrations, since it can be removed easily without the aid of a cutting tool.
When banding is used to secure products, the products are also presented more elegantly for the end user. Opting for more sustainable packaging like banding can also promote your brand and your values, allowing you to connect with your customers on causes that matter to them.
Less Damage to Product
The wide, soft nature of banding materials (such as ribbon, paper, etc.) are gentle and won’t damage products.
Increase Order Fulfillment Capacity
Banding machinery allows vendors to increase order fulfillment capacity in a variety of ways: ease of conveyance, automatic wrapping, the ability to use the same machine to package a wide variety of product types, and inline license plating directly onto the packaging band.
Overview of Traditional Packing Supplies
The following is a general overview of traditional packing supplies commonly used by e-commerce retailers:
Types of E-commerce Product Packaging
Shipping e-commerce products usually entails using one or more of the packaging options below:
As mentioned above, cardboard boxes are now available made from recycled materials and are easily recyclable, lending to sustainability practices. They are inexpensive and readily available, making them a very popular option for e-commerce shipping.
Among the options for tailored e-commerce packaging are customized labels and branding imagery that may be printed directly onto the box. There are also a variety of companies that will provide equipment to allow e-commerce retailers to build custom size boxes on site minimizing shipments and the inner pack/void fill required to fill half full boxes. You can also obtain right-sized poly bag mailers to achieve a similar result.
Banding machinery is capable of preparing products for shipment in bags, which come in a variety of materials at different levels of cost.
These bags are typically a flexible pouch with a sealed opening on one end. They can include features such as tamper evidence, built-in bubble wrap, and POD jackets.
Envelopes or Mailers
Banding can also be used in combination with envelopes and mailers. Any time an order containing more than one item needs to be consolidated (think holiday cards, photographs, etc), banding is a great solution to ensure that the unitized order stays together as it is transported and conveyed inside production facilities and warehouses.
Tape, which is another name for banding material, can be customized to your needs and formulated for superior feeding, strength, stretch, tension, texture, and printability. One great feature that banding material offers vs. conventional (sticky) tape is that banding material does not use any adhesives. The band wraps completely around the product and is sealed/welded to itself.
Another name for void-fill, the choices available for infill material seem to grow by the day:
Packaging inserts are typically made from a material like cardboard, that allows them to maintain a structure but not add much to the package’s overall weight. Inserts are used to protect products and can be used in combination with banding to secure products into a corrugated box.
Brown Paper, Tissue Paper, & Shredded Cardboard
Three more lightweight, recyclable options for infill are brown (kraft) paper, tissue paper, and shredded cardboard, which can be wrapped or stuffed around the items being shipped.
Air Pillows & Bubble Wrap
Both air pillows and their cousin, bubble wrap, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be made from recycled materials, making them another popular option for e-commerce infill material.
They’re one of the original solutions for infill, and still used today due to their low price and lightweight. Unfortunately packing peanuts are not easily recyclable and are thus not a popular choice with companies working to improve their sustainability efforts.
Common E-commerce Packaging Problems
If you work in e-commerce, you’re likely familiar with the pitfalls. Although the industry has seen many advancements in recent years, there are still problems that e-commerce companies run into time and time again.
Inappropriate or Insufficient Packaging
Packaging that fails to protect or contain the items within is a common issue in the e-commerce industry. When packages become damaged in transit due to inadequate packaging, there is little that recipients can do to resolve the issue on their own. Companies must prioritize integrating sufficient, appropriate packaging for the products they ship out to reduce waste, prevent bottlenecks, and provide a more satisfying experience for end users.
Perhaps one of the most common issues associated with e-commerce, excessive material is annoying for your customers and ends up costing more in the long run. While it’s important to keep your products safe during shipping, doubling down on the amount of material you use usually isn’t the answer. It can create a frustrating unboxing experience for your customers, as well.
As customers become more familiar with sustainability issues, they’re looking to e-commerce companies to use eco-friendly to fill packaging voids or avoid void waste altogether.
Not Cost Effective
Excessive packaging or packaging that damages boxes isn’t cost effective. In a world where e-commerce companies are handling high demand, supply chain issues, and more, optimizing DIM weights by selecting the appropriate packaging to properly protect products without overdoing it is paramount to maximizing profitability.
E-commerce Packaging Trends
Third-party logistics (3PL) centers work with many different companies – and each of those companies has a wide variety of products that differ in size and shape. Felins banding machines recognize the size of the item placed on it before they begin banding, allowing the machinery to apply the precise amount of tension every time.
Plus, the ultrasonic technology can be calibrated to store different tension and seal presets for different products.
Increases in Demand
Even though consumers are ordering more products online, suppliers can’t always find the labor needed to keep their warehouses running efficiently. This shortage exacerbates the overall increase in e-commerce demand – but the benefits of banding machinery help to alleviate the bottlenecks.
Packaging Automation Is Crucial
As vendors seek as much automation as possible in their logistics centers, banding machines provide a multitude of options – including inline printing, counting, stacking, measuring, scanning, and more.
Retailers are also investing in auto-box making, also called “box-on-demand” solutions. These solutions help reduce packaging volume and mass by customizing the size of the box to the products being shipped.
Banding aids this process by unitizing orders with more than one item, ensuring that products (banded into a bundle) maintain the bundle shape and size as they travel via conveyors through the entire scanning and boxing process. Without a band, orders with more than one product can shift, causing machine jams and unwanted downtime.
Desire for Eco-Friendly Packaging Options
Whether they’re aiming to meet their own standards, Amazon’s requirements, or new regulations, many sellers are looking for eco-friendly packaging options. Thanks to modern innovations, Felins is able to offer environmentally-conscious and sustainable options for every type of material used in the e-commerce packaging process.
Sustainable E-commerce Packaging
Banding allows participants in e-commerce to implement more sustainable measures than ever before.
Reduction in Packaging
Banding uses less packaging material overall than other options – an important factor of sustainability. Plus, right-size packaging allows for more orders to ship per truck, which equals less trucks on the road, and lower carbon emissions.
Recyclable & Reusable Packaging
Due to the adaptability of banding machinery, vendors have plenty of recyclable and/or reusable packaging options to choose from.
In some cases, packaging material doesn’t even have to be thrown away! Innovative companies like Felins and our partner ATS have introduced banding materials that are compostable.
Interested in learning more about our commitment to providing sustainable packaging solutions?
Frequently Asked Questions About Packaging for E-Commerce
What’s the Best E-commerce Packaging Solution?
Among the best and most popular e-commerce packaging solutions are corrugated boxes, courier bags, and security envelopes – all of which are compatible for use with Felins machinery.
Can Banding Machines Incorporate Branded E-commerce Packaging?
Yes, banding machines are easily able to incorporate branded e-commerce packaging.
Why Is It Important That E-Commerce Packaging is Environmentally Friendly?
As sustainability regulations and consumer demands for sustainable packaging alternatives increase, more and more vendors are realizing that they must adapt their methods to become more sustainable. As the prevalence of e-commerce grows, so does the need to take steps to make sure that every packaging decision we make helps and doesn’t hurt the environment.
What’s the Difference Between E-commerce Packaging and Retail Packaging?
The main difference between e-commerce and retail packaging is that retail packaging is designed to advertise its product and entice the customer to buy it, while e-commerce packaging is designed to protect a product that the customer already purchased online. Banding machinery makes it possible for both types of packaging to be customized and aesthetically pleasing.
E-Commerce Packaging Solutions from Felins
Want to improve the efficiency, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness of your e-commerce packaging practice? We can help. Get in touch with our highly-skilled representatives today to learn more about our banding and strapping machines for e-commerce applications.