As an ecommerce business, the order fulfillment and packing process is one of the most crucial steps in delivering your products to customers. However, manual packing can become challenging when trying to keep up with the demands of the market while also maintaining speed, accuracy, and efficiency. In today’s ecommerce environment, your organization must be flexible enough to respond to evolving consumer demands. By turning to automation, you can enhance your daily operations and scale for future growth. Here are four signs your business should consider automating its packaging process.
1. Speed, Accuracy, and Efficiency are Compromised
Manual packing can slow down the overall order fulfillment process, as workers can only move so fast. In a fast-paced environment, mistakes can be made, such as using the wrong-sized box. Automated packaging allows for consistent throughput and ensures your customers receive their packages on time, right-sized, and undamaged. These machines can create a fit-to-size box every three or seven seconds. In addition to helping maintain consistency and speed, automating your packaging process will allow your operations to scale with consumer behavior.
2. Your Organization is Experiencing Labor Problems
Hiring and retaining reliable talent can be a challenge in any industry, and ecommerce is no exception. In December 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were two job openings for every one person looking for a job. A packing operation that relies heavily on manual labor is especially vulnerable to fluctuations in the labor market. During peak seasons, the reliance is exaggerated. No one can predict exactly what the labor market will look like in the near to mid-term.
Companies adopting automation may be a real draw when recruiting younger generations. Automated packaging machines are high-tech and easy to use, allowing employees to focus on less tedious and higher value work. With only two operators required, companies can save an average of 88 percent in labor costs. While human error is natural, an automated process ensures every action is performed identically, for high quality and reliable results. Overall, automating your packaging process will allow you to be confident you’ll have consistent throughput.
3. Your Organization is Producing High Levels of Waste
With the US as the world’s leading contributor of plastic waste, approximately 287 pounds of plastic is generated annually per person. In fact, packaging is one of the biggest contributors. Manual packing tends to lead to overuse of materials as the amount of void fill used is up to the packer. In this case, some might use more than others, leading to unpredictability.
While your organization cannot control if or how much your customers recycle, you can control how much plastic and cardboard you send them. Automated packaging machines perform a 3D scan of each single- or multi-item order on demand and create a right-sized box requiring little to no void fill. In addition to saving your company money, this reduction in material use will make your business more environmentally friendly and appeal to eco-conscious customers. Smaller parcels will also allow you to fit more orders on trucks, reducing your carbon footprint even further and increasing efficiency.
4. Your Organization’s Operating Costs Need to be Cut
Through more efficient packaging, your organization stands to save on labor, material, and shipping costs by switching to fit-to-size automated packaging. Companies who switch to automated packaging have the potential to realize up to a 38 percent reduction in material costs, such as corrugate spend and void fill, a 32 percent decrease in transportation costs and a full return on investment within six to 18 months. Savings like these will free up resources that can be allocated elsewhere in your business and improve your bottom line.
It’s not always easy to know when to make changes to your operations. From reducing labor costs to increasing speed and efficiency, automating your packaging process can have a significant impact on your business’s success. For years, Sparck has helped numerous customers enhance their packaging process with their fit-to-size auto-boxing technology. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, this is your sign to consider automating your packaging process.