Packaging Solutions: 10 Ways to Keep Packaging Costs Down

Packaging has to work well on multiple levels from package design, shelf appeal, security, protection and yes, all while keeping packaging costs down.

10 Ways to Keep Packaging Costs Down

Rule number 1 for anyone in charge of finding cost-effective packaging solutions is don’t compromise quality or protection in-transit.

At the end of 2017, it was reported that Amazon revamped its packaging strategy by cutting down on boxes in order to cut down on packaging costs. That’s right, even the world’s largest online marketplace is constantly on the hunt for ways to save a bit on packaging. Here are a few ways that you can keep packaging costs down this year without compromising quality or customer satisfaction. 


1. Push the Envelope, So to Speak

What we learned from Amazon’s anti-boxing effort of 2017 is that many of the goods we send in boxes can actually be sent in envelopes and parcels. The company’s Senior Manager of Customer Packaging, Brent Nelson, said that current packaging is designed for brick and mortar, which means it’s often too big and too bulky for the eCommerce shopper. Using algorithms, machine learning, and plain old common sense, retailers are finding that smaller products can be safely shipped in padded envelopes instead of boxes.

2. Start from the Warehouse Up

The warehouse or fulfillment center is the final stop on the product’s journey before reaching the end user, so don’t discount it when it comes to minimizing packaging costs. By using the right warehouse and shipping containers (coupled with the appropriate software and automation tools, of course), you can save space in the warehouse and pass the savings on to your packaging efforts. You can also adapt your storage and fulfillment equipment to save money. Use large pallets and industrial belts for heavy shipments to prevent costly damage.

3. Upcycle and Recycle

Upcycling was listed by packaging experts as one of 2018’s most likely packaging trends, and we’re happy to hear it! Upcycling—or using unconventional or recycled materials to create premium or smart packaging—isn’t just eco-friendly (which, by the way, is something that customers care about), it’s also cost-effective. Other experts claim that it’s only a matter of time before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates green shipping, so implementing it early can save you major on packaging costs down the line. 

4. Change the Way You Print

It’s all about direct-to-shape (DTS) printing and hybrid print technology. DTS is a highly efficient process that allows you to print full-color images and text directly onto packaging, eliminating the need for traditional labels. Hybrid print technology fuses digital and analog printing technologies, which equals a higher level of flexibility and efficiency for the manufacturer at a lower cost. If you rely on printing for your product or shipping packaging, make sure that you’re looking into all the cutting-edge new printing options on the market before committing to one.

5. Double-Down on Product Protection

Where do unforeseen costs come in to shipping and logistics?

Almost always, it’s in the form of product damage or loss. Whether it’s a single product or a whole truckload, damaged goods seriously drag your costs up. Protect your product with the right shipping containers—for example, using insulated containers as an extra layer of protection when shipping perishable foods—to ensure that they make it to where they’re going without damage. 

6. Go for Reusable Containers

If you have say in your logistics and warehousing operations, you’re in a good position to lower costs from storage to final destination. One of the ways many logistics professionals cut down on costs in processing, packaging, and storage is by swapping out single-use bulk boxes—read: cardboard boxes—in favor of infinite-use plastic containers. For one price upfront, you can eliminate the need to constantly reorder supplies for your fulfillment or distribution center. What’s more, most plastic shipping containers can be bought used for even more savings upfront.

7. Shed a Few Pounds

You already know that bulky, heavy packages cost more to ship than lightweight ones. And it’s no surprise why. When you’re shipping lighter goods, there’s more opportunity for efficiency and organization all along the delivery chain. Swap out heavy-duty boxes and packing materials, where applicable, for lighter weight options like bubble wrap, Styrofoam peanuts, and other weight-saving packing supplies. Obviously, you can only reduce weight in some circumstances. Never opt for lower-duty packaging of fragile items.

8. Buy in Bulk

Small- and medium-sized businesses often don’t take enough advantage of the option to buy shipping and packaging supplies in bulk. But once you get to a certain point in your business—the point where you can reliably predict upticks and downturns, and the point where you’re consistent in production and order volume—then it’s time to make the switch to buying in bulk. Of course, when you spend more on the outset, you’ll get greater discounts. Just make sure that you have enough storage space for the extra supplies.

9. Push Out Premium Packaging

We’re not saying that consumers don’t love flashy, memorable packaging; on the contrary, studies show that consumers care about packaging almost as much as they care about your brand itself. But here’s the thing: Consumers also care about price, and free shipping is one of the greatest value propositions to convert eCommerce browsers into buyers. Therefore, if you have to pick between lower prices or free shipping and premium packaging, go for the basic parcels until you can afford to offer both. 

10. Think About Packaging Earlier

Getting ready to launch a new product or have something in the embryonic stage that you might unveil soon? Before you so much as design a prototype, think about the packaging for that product. In other words, put it at the top of your product development list right alongside market testing and early-stage marketing. This will ensure that you don’t waste dollars adjusting packaging and design down the road. It may also help you come up with ways to package your new offering using the strategies you already have in place.