Cardboard boxes have never been in more demand, brought about by the boom in online sales as consumers opt to shop virtually. As a result, a growing number of internet retailers are struggling to fulfill orders due to price hikes and a shortage of cardboard packaging, only adding to the supply chain woes piling up for shippers. With some paper and sheet board producers rationing supply to even their biggest customers, buyers are having to pay a significant premium to secure the packaging materials they need.
Online Surges Cause Cardboard Supply Squeeze
“The price of corrugated cardboard (OCC) in the UK has risen about 21 percent a tonne from December 2020 to late January 2021. Throughout Europe, prices for cardboard and other packaging materials has risen by 30 percent, and sometimes as much as 65 percent. The same applies to United States as well.” says Richard Nijboer, director of sales and operations automated packaging solutions at Sparck Technologies. “The problem,” he continues, “has been caused by the switch in consumer spending from brick and mortar stores to online since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.”
Parcel shipping reached 103 billion in volume globally in 2019 and is likely to more than double by 2026. In addition, figures from the Office of National Statistics indicated that internet retail sales grew by 32 percent during 2020 along. With countless surveys indicating that any significant drop off in online sales is unlikely, even after non-essential retailers have re-opened, demand for cardboard is set to remain high.
“Quite simply, the switch to online retailing has resulted in a substantial and sustained hike in the amount of cardboard needed throughout the retail supply chain. At least for the short and medium term, packaging buyers will have to cope with longer lead times and higher prices,” says Jo Bradley, business development manager for packaging solutions at Sparck.
Reduce Cardboard and Material Use With Auto-Boxing
Despite the rising costs and supply issues surrounding cardboard packaging, it is estimated that e-commerce shippers continue to waste about 30 percent of this increasingly precious commodity by shipping orders in vastly oversized cardboard boxes.
“It has never been more essential for retailers to reduce the amount of cardboard material that they use within their pack and dispatch operation, and yet many continue to pack outbound orders in boxes that are way too big,” says Sean Webb, director of automated packaging solutions for North America at Sparck Technologies.
The CVP Impack and CVP Everest fit-to-size automated packaging solutions from Sparck have been developed to reduce the corrugate and materials waste associated with oversized packaging within fulfilment operations by creating custom right-sized boxes for every single- or multi-item order.
A single operator can construct up to 1,100 bespoke packages per hour with the CVP Everest – typically amounting in an average of 29 percent less cardboard and 38 percent reduction of material costs.
“Our CVP Automated Packaging Systems dramatically reduces cardboard and other materials use, and therefore reduces costs,” says Webb. With the upturn in demand for cardboard packaging forecasted to be on-going, and material prices set to continue their upward trajectory, the economic argument for investing in fit-to-size box making technology has never been more compelling. E-commerce retailers and their fulfillment service partners simply cannot afford to exhaust their valuable cardboard resources, and the best way to do this is to adopt technology that cuts down on waste.
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