Online retailers fall short in Macfarlane Packaging survey

Results of Macfarlane Packaging's study
Results of Macfarlane Packaging’s study

Almost one in three of parcels dispatched by UK internet retailers could be unfit for purpose according to a study carried out by packaging suppler Macfarlane Packaging.

Inspired by the popular YouTube trend of “unboxing” videos, Macfarlane Packaging “wanted to understand better some of the packaging issues faced by internet retailers and their customers”. The company conducted its own unboxing survey to assess the suitability of online sellers’ packaging.

Macfarlane ordered 119 items from internet retailers from sectors including electronics, health & beauty and homeware.

The assessment criteria included appropriateness of outer packaging size, durability of packaging, ease of opening, amount of packaging materials used, recyclability of packaging, ability to use packaging for returns and use of branding.

The study found that 30% of the packages received were sent in packaging either too big or too small, 15% were dented, 8% were crushed, 8% were ripped and 4% appeared to have been opened or tampered with in transit.

Of the packages received 24% were considered to be difficult to open, 19% had too little packaging and 41% contained too much packaging. 53% of the packaging materials assessed were fully recyclable.

55% of the packages had no information on how to return the item and the packaging was not reusable. Also, Macfarlane assessed that 37% of packages did not reflect the value of its contents, 61% had no branding and 55% did not reflect the brand’s image.

Laurel Granville, Marketing Director of Macfarlane Packaging said, “As packaging professionals, we know that it’s important for customers to have a great experience when they receive the items that they have ordered.

“There has been much made in the media recently about inappropriate packaging and we wanted to take a look for ourselves to gain some insight into where some of the problems might lie in online delivery.

“This study identifies some very important issues for online retailers and highlights the opportunities that exist for them to enhance their image, build their brand and reduce their costs while delivering an excellent experience for their customers.”

Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at IMRG, the UK’s online retail organisation, said, “Given the need to continually optimise cost, service and customer experience, especially in an environmentally conscious world, efficient and appropriate packaging is becoming an increasingly important element in e-retailing.

“This latest research by Macfarlane Packaging gives useful additional insight to the issues and how they may be addressed. It is now clear that this is an area that requires careful consideration by all retailers and that investment can pay back in terms of reduced waste, cost and improved customer satisfaction.”