As someone who oversees order fulfillment services, your focus tends to be on accurate, on-time delivery and controlling parcel shipping costs, which can be up to 70% of total fulfillment costs. There isn’t a big interest in box sizes, bubble wrap, and other packaging-related details.
But that’s a mistake.
Fulfillment packaging and fulfillment packaging services hold the key to hidden savings – if you know where to look.
You Could Ignore Packaging, But Don’t
Depending on the volume of orders you ship, incremental savings from optimized packaging can really add up.
If you can save a few cents on the price of every box and you’re fulfilling over a million online orders a year, you’re talking about 6-figure savings.
Time savings can be just as significant. Saving time involved in constructing a shipping box, for instance, could bring high-volume shippers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in labor savings.
Today’s emphasis on creating a memorable unboxing experience is another big reason eTailers overlook packaging efficiencies and economies. Many brands are more than willing to spend a little more on touches that promote a premium brand image. But these extra touches cost money and drive CFOs crazy.
When you think about optimizing these two things – packaging-related costs and the customer’s unboxing experience – what do outside fulfillment packaging service providers bring to the table?
The answer is the best of both worlds: cost savings and an impressive unboxing experience.
Whether you are handling online order fulfillment yourself or using a 3PL to handle your fulfillment, it pays to know the ways a fulfillment packaging service provider could and should bring efficiencies and outstanding unboxing experiences to your fulfillment operations.
How Can Fulfillment Packaging Service Providers Save You Money?
1 - By Optimizing DIM Weight
Fulfillment providers bring an understanding of DIM weight and its impact on parcel carriers’ shipping rates. DIM weight is based on a shipment’s density or weight in relation to dimensions. So shipping smaller items in big boxes will cost you more than it should – as much as 5–15% more. A good fulfilment partner knows the rules and specs boxes that save money.
Poly bags are a shining example of how to mitigate DIM weight charges. Switching from boxes to poly bags for durable, lightweight products can produce 6-figure savings in some operations. The reason is there is virtually no wasted cube. If you’re shipping products like textiles or nutraceuticals that ship in small plastic bottles, big savings can be achieved through this DIM weight hack.
2 – With their Purchasing Power
3PLs obtain bulk prices on packaging materials. Etailers can leverage fulfillment providers’ buying power when it comes to cardboard, tissue and tape. Buying such large quantities gets them preferred pricing, which shippers like you can benefit from.
3 - By Ensuring the Right Size Boxes Are on Hand
There's a bias among eCommerce brands to minimize the variety of boxes they use. That may be easier, but it's certainly not economical.
Having enough box size options on hand to avoid dim weight charges and providing clear guidance to packers can bring significant cumulative savings. An operation that optimizes its shipping box selection process typically saves 10% and can save as much as 20% when you add up the impact on warehouse storage, handling and shipping.
Experts say that around six boxes is the optimal number for a manual fulfillment operation. More than that and workers get slowed down trying to make the right packaging choice.
4 - By Leveraging Automation
Fulfillment packaging service providers that deploy automation can kick back significant savings to shippers related to the labor required to prepare shipments. Using box erectors can reduce the labor cost per box by 70% by increasing box assembly throughput from 3 to 15 boxes per minute.
An automated box taping machine can free up warehouse associates while reducing tape waste.
Automatic label applicators can free workers from sticking a label on every parcel.
Poly bagging machines eliminate boxes and the need to build them and they also auto-print the address on the bag, eliminating the cost of labels and the labor to affix them.
By saving associates from rote tasks, automation frees them to perform value-added tasks that can make for an even better customer experience.
5 – Through Experience and Standards
Experience providing packaging fulfillment for a wide range of clients, products and industries brings proven processes and fresh approaches to your fulfillment packaging operation.
By creating cartonization rules based on precedent and the particulars of your brand, fulfillment packaging specialists remove variables in packaging that lead to waste. Rules created for every SKU guide associates to select the optimal box and packaging, eliminating overpacking and the time required to make packaging decisions.
How Can Fulfillment Packaging Service Providers Elevate the Customer Experience?
1 - They Serve as an Extension of Your Brand
A good 3PL understands their role as a brand ambassador. Your brand reputation is very much influenced by how your product presents at that moment of truth when it’s delivered. A fulfillment packaging service provider needs to understand how a brand’s goods are packaged as well as why. See how the team at Amware Fulfillment invoked the heart-tug of the Slumberkins brand through the packaging process in this accompanying video. The inside and outside of boxes delivering plush toys and children’s books make for a fun, family-oriented unboxing experience.
2 - They Bring Ideas to the Table
Encouraging repeat business and referrals requires work. For many brands, especially in fashion, cosmetics and accessories, the #unboxing experience is a hobby and obsession for their customers. Even brands that you might not consider “fancy” are now focused on delivering wow experiences. Fulfillment packaging service providers are immersed these experiences. They can bring inspiration to you – like the latest crinkle paper dunnage in your brand colors or custom touches like packing tape that has your logo. Importantly, they have experience bringing these brand experiences to life for other brands.
3 - They Can Customize an Experience
When it comes to brand-specific packaging, 3PLs are built to pivot. They can help you take advantage of big opportunities like subscription programs or gift boxes. They can also implement important little touches that make an impression. One premium skincare brand has its fulfillment partner sign off on every package it ships with a personal note inserted into the box – “Packed with care by….” The note is hand-signed by the packer. A fulfillment packaging service provider can help you execute these touches with efficiency, and without a learning curve.
Is It Time to Consider a Fulfillment Packaging Service?
There is a world of opportunity for B2C brands from taking a good hard look at your organization’s fulfillment packaging. It’s an area that’s easy to ignore but one that can deliver significant cost reduction and an improved customer experience. Perhaps it’s time to unbox this opportunity through a relationship with a fulfillment 3PL that truly understands fulfillment packaging.
As with any new frontier, an experienced guide can be the surest way to reach your goals. To discuss the opportunities to optimize packaging in your fulfillment operation, arrange a short call with the fulfillment packaging specialists from Amware Fulfillment.