E-commerce packaging is functional and environmentally friendly

Gütersloh - Arvato SCM Solutions and C & A have jointly developed a new packaging solution for shipping fashion items in the online business. So far, cartons have already been automatically cut to the actual size required, which saves costs on the material and optimizes shipping, as less air is transported. Now, the lid has been redesigned, and is fixed to the back and front of the carton after being positioned. The punched tear strip on the front of the lid enables easy opening as well as re- closing in case of a return of the package. The cardboard itself, which adeptly displays C & A branding on all sides, is made from unbleached recycled material.

"We have noticed that many of our customers are not sure where to open packages," says Knut Brüggemann, Head of E-Commerce Operations at C & A. "That's why we analysed our packaging concept together with Arvato and developed a more functional design that now displays our C & A branding even more prominently."

Efficient use of materials saves costs

But not only simple handling and an appealing design are required for modern packaging solutions. Sustainability also plays an increasingly important role against the backdrop of steadily increasing transport volumes in online commerce. For this reason, C & A not only uses recycled materials in its cardboard packaging, but also uses as little material and space as possible to protect the environment: for this reason, the cardboard is automatically cut to the correct size before the package is sealed.

In practice, this process is as follows: after the articles have been picked and automatically pre-sorted for the customer’s order, an employee at the shipping packing station checks the ordered goods for completeness and packs all articles in a prepared cardboard base. After that, the open carton is transported to the sealing machine by means of conveyor technology that is equipped with both photo and video documentation as well as weight determination. After the delivery papers and a return label have been automatically attached to the packaging, a pressure-sensitive unit measures the box filling height. Once this has been determined, the cardboard is reduced at the corners to the exact size in millimetres by means of cutting knives and is then glued to the newly developed cardboard lid.

Through this cutting process, less filler material such as air cushioning is needed because the cut-down material remains in the carton as a space filler. In addition, adhesive material is saved because, thanks to the innovative cover, only an adhesive strip for closing a return shipment is required at the most.

A further environmental aspect: "If the boxes contain less air, they require less space on the truck. This reduces the transport volume by around 250 truck journeys per year. Not only does this benefit the environment through less CO2 pollution, but also the consumer who has less packaging material to dispose of," explains Michael Sorge, site manager of the 45,000 m2 Arvato distribution centre in Hannover-Langenhagen, from where C & A customers in 20 European countries will soon be supplied. “Space-saving packaging brings the requirements of environmental compatibility, resource avoidance, damage limitation and customer experience into an optimal relationship."