With Christmas – and Black Friday and Cyber Monday – almost upon us, are you absolutely confident that you have everything in place to cope with the pressure of getting deliveries from your door to your customers on time, intact, and looking good?

According to the UK’s online retail association, IMRG, £25bn was spent online in the run up to Christmas 2016 (13 November – 24 December), accounting for around a quarter of all retail sales during the period.  That equates to an awful lot of packages being delivered, which also equates to an awful lot of stress for retailers and logistics managers.

All that stress might have been worthwhile if every one of those parcels had reached its final destination in perfect condition, meeting expectation and completing an exciting, seasonal customer experience.  But, sadly, they didn’t.  In fact, JDA & Centiro Customer Pulse 2017 reveals that a staggering 25% of items ordered online in 2016 arrived damaged.  That also means that 25% of items had to be somehow packaged back up and returned, which is a hassle at any time of year, but even more so at Christmas. An even greater threat to customer experience is when that package contains a present that has to be replaced in time for the big day.

The trouble is, when a customer has a bad experience like that, it might be the last time you hear from them. Apparently, UK consumers aren’t very forgiving when it comes to online retail, with 76% stating that they would switch to an alternative supplier when shopping online as a result of a poor home delivery experience.  Factor in also that, according to an article in The Financial Times, “the average returned purchase in the UK passes through seven pairs of hands before it is tested for resale”, the cost to online retailers of goods arriving damaged can be very high indeed.

So how do you ensure that not only do your online orders arrive undamaged, but that you delivery a customer experience that keeps your customers coming back?

Well, the best place to start is by taking a very close look at your packaging.  At a time of year when delivery drivers are also likely to be feeling the pressure, your packages may take a few extra knocks than usual, so it’s important to use not just good quality packaging products, but the right combination, too.  Below, we have identified five ways that could really help to reduce the number of online purchases arriving damaged:

1. Package – but don’t OVER package

To prevent damages, it can be tempting to think that more packaging is needed.  That is rarely the case.  Using more packaging than is necessary will end up costing you more and will lead to disposal issues and a poor experience for the customer.  The key is using the right kind of packaging as the next four points illustrate.

2. Retention and suspension packaging

Ensuring products don’t move around in their packaging while in transit is important if damages are to be avoided. Retention and suspension packaging uses a thin film to secure the item in place, creating a space around that effectively becomes a crumple zone. Antalis Packaging created bespoke retention cartons to help one of its customers not only achieve better protection of its products in transit, but also reduce packing times, transportation costs and environmental taxes.

3. Bubble and foam rolls

Bubble wrap has been around for about half a century now, and there is obviously a reason for that: it does the job of protection very well.  So if you are already using bubble wrap and are happy with, then great.  But the thing with bubble wrap is that it takes up an awful lot of space.  Foam rolls also offer very effective protection, but again, can take up quite a bit of space.  Add to that bubble and foam rolls needing to be replenished regularly, which can eat into valuable packing time. If space is an issue for you then on-demand cushioning systems could be the way to go.

4. On-demand air, foam and paper cushioning systems 

There are several very effective on-demand cushioning systems on the market that, as well as providing excellent impact protection, can help ease the pressure on tight workspaces. Many of them are mobile, too, which means they can be moved around to different workstations with ease.  On-demand cushioning products worth investigating are Fillpak TTInstapak® foam cushioning systems or the Mini Pak’R Retail, Mini Pak’R Industrial and Pro Pak’R ranges.

5. Bespoke packaging solutions

If you are serious about providing customers with not just a good, but an excellent online purchasing experience – and, according to JDA & Centiro Customer Pulse 2017, “…UK shoppers are coming to expect an excellent end-to-end online experience from shopping card right through to delivery and possible returns” – then thinking about bespoke pack designs. There is no better way to create a lasting impression than an innovative pack design that truly showcases your brand and its products, all perfectly tailored to keep your product safe, too.

So, if you are concerned about just how protective your packaging is, why not take advantage of our free packaging assessment? One of our packaging specialists will review all aspects of your packaging operation and devise a personalised plan to make sure you have the optimum packaging solutions in place.