Our peak survey reveals packaging challenges retailers face during seasonal demand

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For retailers and their third-party logistics (3PL) partners, packaging is a critical component in their operational success. That’s why we introduced our peak performance survey in January. The survey was sent to Macfarlane Packaging customers in these sectors and aimed to better understand the packaging challenges they face during seasonal demand of Q4 2021. Here’s what our survey revealed…

Packaging challenges during peak affect most retailers and 3PLs

The strain of peak effects productivity for retailers and 3PLs

It comes as no surprise that almost a quarter of respondents said productivity was amongst their biggest packaging challenges during peak. The spike in demand means it’s harder for retailers and 3PLs to get goods dispatched quickly and efficiently. Indeed, 42% of survey participants reported their pack times increased. Over 30% said their pack time increased by a minute or more.

Almost 40% of participants also hired seasonal labour to help them cope with demand.  However, less than 10% of retailers reported they are using packaging automation, which could help them save time and maintain quick pack speeds year-round.

In addition, a further 18% of respondents reported that their packaging materials were a challenge for them, believing they could be more sustainable or easier to use. Likewise, the same number reported storage was a big obstacle for them. They didn’t have enough room for both their packaging supplies AND their product. This highlights the importance of combining the right packaging material with an adaptable warehouse layout. This dramatically improves supply chain efficiency when properly considered.

Packaging challenges during peak include the demand for more sustainable packaging

Sustainable packaging materials remain a priority during peak

Positively, 88% of respondents report that the packaging materials they used during peak are recyclable.  40% of these also said their packaging is  sustainable. 47% of survey respondents also report that improving their sustainability will be a priority in 2022. They will do this by introducing sustainable packaging alternatives or reducing CO2 emissions.

This undoubtedly reflects the rise of eco-conscious consumerism, identified in our unboxing research.  It uncovered almost 1 in 5 consumers reported they will not buy from a retailer who doesn’t uses sustainable packaging.

damaged box

Damages on the rise under the stress of seasonal pressure

20% of retailers and 3PLs report that that their damages in transit increased during peak 2021. With pressure to dispatch product quickly and increased stress on courier networks, it’s easy to see why this problem increased.

It also emphasises the need for the right protective packaging.This is particularly important as 65% of respondents said consumers’ main expectation from packaging is that it gets their products to them safely.

If you’re a retailer or 3PL business that needs support preparing your operation for peak, get in touch with Macfarlane Packaging today. Our Packaging Optimiser can show you how the right packaging solutions can transform your productivity, reduce your costs, and lower emissions.

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