There was a simpler time when order fulfillment meant picking an item, throwing it into a carton filled with peanuts, paper, or air pillows, and adding it to a pile of packages to be loaded onto a pallet or truck. With e-commerce driving rapid direct-to-consumer (D2C) fulfillment and delivery, management is having to pay more attention not only to rising fulfillment costs but also to their customers’ sustainability experience.

To remain successful during the COVID-19 crisis and the new normal aftermath, it is vital that e-commerce shippers, 3PLs, and manufacturers focus on retooling systems and technology that automate how they package, pack, and containerize orders, while reducing unexpected shipping costs, wasted fill and corrugated packaging, and their carbon footprint.

During a recent webinar, leaders from Pierbridge, Beneship, and Chainalytics discussed how to solve the biggest packaging and packing challenges facing shippers today:

- Optimize Customer Sustainability Experience: We’ve all had the experience of ordering a small item delivered in a large container with lots of fill, then having to haul it away to a dump. One way to delight customers and build brand loyalty is by using cartonization algorithms to instantly determine the best way to pack an order, minimizing carton sizes and fill. The other way is to provide e-commerce marketplace with packaging that is ready to ship right off the shelf without having to break cases and pack “eaches” in yet another layer of corrugated cardboard.

- Reduce Fulfillment Costs: Leaving it to pickers and packers to determine how to pack a carton without the benefit of fulfillment cost-effective technology is leaving your bottom line to chance. In addition, unnecessary corrugated cardboard and fill cost money. Even for those shippers who choose not to pay attention to their customers’ concerns over what a 2019 DHL report described as “agitation with wasteful and inefficient packaging and dents to company reputation,” they should be concerned with their bottom line. Beneship explained that their studies show that cartonization technology can save an average of 13% in corrugated cardboard costs (around one square foot of cardboard per carton).

- Minimize Shipping Costs: With merchants having to manage consumer demand for “free” shipping, it is more important than ever to avoid unnecessary transportation costs. This is even more important as package carrier capacity constraints are forcing many to limit the number of shipments they will pick up and penalize those shippers who waste space on their vehicles. By using cartonization to pack items into the right-sized cartons, that are neither too big nor too small, shippers can not only reduce the number of packages they ship, but also avoid unexpected carrier dimensional weight (DIM) fees at the same time.

By utilizing a multi-carrier management solution that incorporates cartonization, shippers can deliver the results that will keep them successful during the current COVID-19 crisis and for years to come.

For more than 25 years, Bob Malley has helped thousands of businesses reduce costs and streamline logistics with transportation software solutions. As managing director of Pierbridge, Inc., Bob has built an international organization that has successfully established Transtream as an industry-leading multi-carrier management platform that powers some of the largest shipping operations in the world.