AICC: E-Commerce & Corrugated Packaging Post COVID-19

AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, with the support of HP, brought members a free webinar, E-Commerce & Corrugated Packaging Post COVID-19, on June 15. Presenters Ron Sasine, Principal, Hudson Windsor LLC, and Ted Samotis, Director of Go-To-Market, HP PageWide Industrial Corrugated, HP, shared their insights about e-commerce, digital printing, and new opportunities. Panelist Mark Mathes, CEO, Vanguard Packaging, and Louie DeJesus, Owner, CompanyBox, also shared some of the secrets to their success. 

“We’re glad to provide AICC members, converters and brands, HP’s professional knowledge, to better embrace e-commerce opportunities with digital corrugated presses,” said Sharon Chesler, Marketing Manager, HP PWI Corrugated. “With HP PageWide customer panel discussion, this webinar became a live platform for Q&A by attendees to industry experts like Vanguard Packaging and CompanyBox.”

At the beginning of the webinar, Sasine shared several statistics about the e-commerce market, including “e-commerce of consumer packaged goods totals $36 billion and is growing at 5x the growth rate of conventional retail.” 

He noted, “we saw declines in the early parts of this year, and we will continue to see some declines across the broader corrugated market, but there are opportunities and windows of growth within that declining segment over the next year or 18 months…That means we will face challenges, and those who are equipped will succeed.”

He went on to discuss e-commerce consumer trends and the growth of customization and the continued move away from standardization. The ability to customize and provide additional value to customers is one of the “windows.”

Sasine said, “customization creates opportunities at different places in the supply chain. In the digital print world, we will see expanded offerings, touching both high-volume and low volume prices allows for extreme quality in the print and variability, changeovers…There is a massive opportunity in digital simplicity. There is also a massive opportunity in logistics and tracking with tied-to-data management.”

Later in the webinar, Mathes, using an example from Vanguard, showed how they had used tied-to-data management as one part of a packaging overhaul they lead for a customer. To better understand the customer, Mathes ordered one of their products, a pair of hunting boots, and then analyzed the packaging it came in to see how they could take that packaging and emulate the experience of buying it in a store. 

The first step was to add the name of the company on the box. This was a simple solution that helps cut through the clutter on the front step, just as package designers try to cut through the clutter on a store shelf. Vanguard wanted to offer their customer the chance to separate themselves from the other boxes piling up on a porch and begin to build the excitement a consumer might feel in a store. 

Vanguard then moved into inside the box printing to create a message. The flaps showed other people doing the activities the purchaser wanted to do with the boots, hunting, fishing, etc. The design also included store information and a QR code for the company’s loyalty program, which triggered an email that offered a discount off of the next purchase and a way to send pictures to the company of the customer using the boots. The sides of the interior of the box were even designed to look like targets, so the packaging would be more than just a shipper. 

Mathes explained that the entire redesign took about an hour for his art department.

Samotis began by saying, “independent converters have a real opportunity to design supply chains and solutions, similar to the growth of the display business, which is analogous to e-commerce. Retail went to local grocers, big box stores, Walmarts, and is now moving into e-commerce supply chains.”

Using case studies from The BoxMaker and CompanyBox, Samotis showed how, using digital printing, they transformed the customers’ packaging from a brown box with a litho label to unique, customized packaging that could include on the box, in the box, and a call to action for the consumer.

“Brands large and small have effectively used the flexibility and agility of digital printing, but more importantly of a digital packaging supply chain, to make it easier to deliver via e-commerce and make it more profitable,” said Samotis. 

DeJesus explained how CompanyBox is giving their customers tools and empowering them to make more of their packaging decisions. Among other tools, CompanyBox provides their customers with instant pricing and graphic tools for beginners and experienced designers. 

CompanyBox uses a highly automated web to print platform, which includes proofing, pre-press, scheduling, sheet stock ordering, and invoicing, to shorten lead time. 

They are also launching the 2.0 version of their online package builder that will have a 3D preview of the packaging for one and two-sided printing. Predesigned templates are also offered to help their customers get started. They are also offering more customizable options, like tape, tissue, and inserts.  

A recording of this webinar can be found on AICC’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/AICCvideo

More information about upcoming webinars can be found at www.AICCbox.org/calendar. Questions about seminars or webinars and the value a well-trained workforce brings to a company can be directed to Taryn Pyle, Director of Education & Leadership Development, tpyle@aiccbox.org, or Chelsea May, Education and Training Manager, cmay@aiccbox.org or 703.836.2422.