Why explore RTP rental in e-commerce?

By Jon Walkington, sales director, retail & system integrators at Schoeller Allibert UK

ONE of the most compelling aspects of retail is that it never stays still for long. The market is heavily influenced by consumer trends and behaviours, which adds new challenges for brands hoping to claim a bigger share of sales.

Current market direction is clear – e-commerce is continuing to grow at a strong pace, which puts retailers and brands with a solid online sales platform in an inherently strong position. For sales success in today’s commercial environment, it’s all about being able to offer omnichannel choice for consumers.

Retailers that can build rapid response and flexibility directly into their warehouse and logistics operations are set to capture market share as shoppers, when faced with delays or stock outages, can simply take their online purchases elsewhere with just a few clicks.

At Schoeller Allibert, our position as a cross-market supplier of durable transit packaging solutions means our team gets fascinating insight into the development of multiple sectors, as well as an overall view of how brands are responding to evolving demands.

Cardboard vs plastic for retailers

When it comes to transit packaging, the cardboard versus plastic debate continues. When we look at the evolution of containers used to transport goods around a busy production floor or further through the supply chain, the scales are continuing to tip in favour of plastics.

A significant drawback to cardboard for e-tailers is that is has an extremely short lifespan, designed for a single trip or very few journeys. Inherently, it’s less robust than plastic. When so much depends on rapid turnaround and short lead times between purchase and delivery with the consumer, what e-tailers need from their supply chain is not just speed, but consistency.

There is also a big difference to be seen in sustainability, where cardboard is erroneously seen as inherently more sustainable than plastic. Simple routes to disposal and recycling are great, but each time the production loop restarts, it comes with energy and carbon costs, even before we get to the transport and logistics demands involved. Cardboard may be simpler to recycle than plastic, but it’s undergoing this process much more often.

The perks of rental in e-tail

Naturally, our own range of nestable and stackable containers, bulk containers, pallets and dollies is shaped by changing market demands, but we take that one step further and build our service offering around the needs of our customers.

This has led to the creation of our rental scheme, which provides a new way to integrate high performance Schoeller Allibert products into supply chains.

So, where does rental fit in with the needs of retailers and why is it proving so popular in today’s e-commerce focused supply chains? It’s all about agility, cost control and keeping inventory lean and optimised – all crucial considerations in the world of digital retail.

From a budgetary standpoint, the first key advantage is that there’s no bulk down-payment required, helping to control costs and in doing so, help to create a more profitable e-commerce business. Adding to this, as with all rental models, the actual inventory remains the property and responsibility of Schoeller Allibert. Crucially, this means it doesn’t need to eat away at valuable capital expenditure (CAPEX) budgets and can instead be categorised as operational expenditure (OPEX).

Secondly, and one of the reasons that resonates particularly strongly with online-only retailers, is that rental solutions from Schoeller Allibert can be supplied with SmartLink. This is a secure cloud-based platform that used LPWAN wireless technology to link individual containers and create a network of intelligent assets that can be managed and controlled from a single source.

Speed is of the essence when it comes to optimising online sales, and SmartLink opens up an incredible level of visibility. With SmartLink, retailers have full oversight of where inventory is at any one time, as well as a variety of important metrics available for monitoring. This helps to minimise losses, and again, control costs.

Online retail is under pressure to become more meaningfully sustainable, which can be made simpler with the right supply chain solutions in place. Schoeller Allibert transit packaging, for example, is a closed loop system that unlocks carbon footprint reductions with 100% guaranteed recycling.

Adding to these benefits, plastic transit packaging is extremely durable and has a long service life, but when repairs are eventually required, under the rental scheme this is handled by Schoeller Allibert. This helps to keep online retailers streamlined and lean, freeing up operatives to focus on what they do best.

In the UK specifically, rental of transit packaging has become particularly attractive under the UK Plastic Packaging tax. As the containers remain the property of Schoeller Allibert, brands that rent our solutions are not liable to pay UK Plastic Packaging Tax.

In Summary

With e-commerce showing no sign of slowing down, there is a lot of exciting opportunities on the table for brands that can reach and maintain consumer agility demands. With rental solutions providing a unique spectrum of benefits over outright ownership, it can prove to be a highly effective way to implement leading technologies into the e-commerce supply chain.

Today, the technology available, including our own returnable transit packaging, creates more efficiency, speed and transparency. When we look at how high-performance transit packaging is creating a slicker operation, the advantages of rental simply add to an already-strong proposition.

Jon Walkington