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Poor packaging could cause e-commerce delays at Christmas

03 Dec, 2020


New research commissioned by DS Smith reveals that an extra 145m Christmas presents will be brought online as we try to keep the spirit of Christmas alive despite the impact of COVID-19 – taking the total number of presents brought online to over 1bn for the first time.


Whilst this boom may well be reassuring for struggling retailers, experts at DS Smith are warning that this surge in sales will result in 86,488 tonnes of unnecessary packaging and comes with real reputation and business risks. Poorly designed packaging means less packages can be stacked in vans and more breakages, having a knock-on effect across the supply chain and resulting in extra vans on the road to deliver presents to homes across the UK.


DS Smith has calculated that there will be an extra 1.5m trips by made delivery vans over the Christmas period to deliver these additional 145m presents. However, due to the excess packaging in the 1bn presents being brought online, there will be nearly 150,000 avoidable delivery journeys causing 2,500 tonnes of additional CO2 emissions – a significant increase when most companies are working hard to reduce their environmental impact.


There is also the impact on retailers’ long-term reputations to consider; 44% of consumers said that they would expect a replacement gift delivered free of charge should a gift arrive broken, while 44% said they would be unlikely to buy from that retailer again and 43% said they would request a refund if a gift arrives damaged.  When it comes to delivery times, shoppers continue to demand excellence despite the pressures of the pandemic, with 44% of people unlikely to buy from a retailer again if their package turned up late and 27% of people saying they would cancel an order if they learnt their gift was going to arrive late. What the gift arrives in is also important – four in nine (44%) consumers said that recyclable or reusable packaging are features of their packaging they consider particularly important, more than any other category.  As a result, DS Smith is urging retailers to invest in sustainable and effective packaging ahead of this year’s predicted record Christmas to ensure presents arrive safely and on time.


Stefano Rossi, DS Smith Packaging CEO, said, “The rapid growth of e-commerce that occurred over the lockdown period combined with the always-busy Christmas period is putting unparalleled pressure on the behind the scenes logistics operation.  Where poorly designed packaging is used it has consequences – it leads to more journeys which means it takes longer for precious presents to get from A to B. Businesses need to carefully consider how they pack goods effectively and with sustainable packaging materials and help is at hand. Our high-performance packaging solutions can ensure the best use of fibre – reducing the space needed and the number of breakages whilst also increasing sustainability.”


However, better packaging isn’t just for Christmas. Additional research conducted by DS Smith revealed that nearly three-fifths (58%) are concerned about the sustainability of using excess packaging. The same research showed that 64% would change where they shop if it meant using less packaging and 45% say they would like to see it produced in a way that has a low impact on the environment.