I have been with Sealed Air for more than 28 years, and I can tell you that this is without a doubt the most exciting, most transformative era that we as a company have ever experienced – and that is especially true for Product Care.
Because we are not a packaging company anymore.
We’re a sustainability company.
On August 27th 2015 we welcomed more than 85+ media outlets, customers, and partners to our PackForum space in Paris, France to see how Sealed Air is bringing purposeful innovation and measurable sustainability to the fast-growing e-commerce sector.
We talked about trends and challenges and shared insights from our consumer data study – but most importantly we got all of those visitors out onto the lab floor to see some of our innovative technology in action, including some of the technology that has just joined our portfolio through our acquisition of the indomitable B+ Equipment.
They got up close with the systems and products and people who are going to change the way the world of e-commerce works, and in doing so will change the way the world works – for the better.
Our commitment to sustainability and innovation takes the form of four key pillars of purpose:
Our commitment to damage reduction means that we ensure that the products and materials needed to make the world work are protected throughout their distribution journey. It means a smaller carbon footprint for every item (to ship and to return and to ship again), and it means that items don’t end up in a landfill because they were unrecoverable.
More and more, consumers are ordering everyday products online, which means more opportunity for damage, waste, and disappointment. We believe that customers should have the right experience with our products – and the products our stuff protects – the first time.
To guarantee that we can deliver on this commitment, we are investing more than ever before in our Packing Application Centers which use state of the art 3-D scanning and virtual simulation technology to determine exactly how a product will perform under different conditions and design the exact right solution to provide maximum protection with the minimum amount of packaging material.
Which brings me to perhaps the most surprising thing that the President of a packaging products business can say: we actually want our customers to use less of our stuff.
We put an enormous amount of effort, knowledge and engineering to designing what we believe to be the “perfect package” solution for every product – and the perfect solution is one that takes up minimal space, costs less to ship, uses less material to create, and still protects the item inside.
This isn’t just about saving on freight costs (though with changes to dimensional weight policy in the US, this is a serious issue where we have an enormous role to play) – it’s about saving our resources. Fewer trees cut down, fewer trucks on the road, fewer piles in a landfill.
We know from our own research that 77% of e-commerce consumers believe that the package their order comes in should reflect environmental values.
Nobody wants a box full of wasteful peanuts or excessive void-filling materials.
Nearly everyone (75% of consumers) wants packages that are fully recyclable or made from recyclable materials.
And just about everybody (94% of surveyed consumers, in fact) want a package they can easily re-use for returns.
These aren’t just “nice to haves” – this is the new frontier of customer experience for e-commerce and if brands fail to think about the role that packaging plays in helping them create loyal customers, they’re going lose – big.
Packages that are attractive, protective, and sustainable represent a new “high bar.” They need to do their job (protect the item above all else) and they need to convey to the consumer that the brand they trusted their dollars to appreciates and values them in return.
It’s a new retail covenant, and packaging plays the critical role.
E-commerce is evolving at record speed. Every day there is a new debate about which retail model will come out on top and when we’ll reach the tipping point of fast, free shipping (at this point I practically expect something I order online to show up before I’ve even finished entering my credit card number).
The truth is, we can’t predict where this industry might end up or how fast it will get there – what we can do is create smart, adaptive, data-rich systems and solutions that put resources and data back into our global supply chain, not just drain them out.
I am proud to say that Product Care isn’t in the business of selling packaging materials anymore – we’re here to create a smarter, more sustainable world that just works better. And I hope you’re ready to join us.
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.