Developments in E-fulfilment industry


How do you achieve lower material, labour and shipping costs? The process and the packaging method are in many cases an important part of the answer. Changing consumer behaviour has major implications for both online stores and traditional retail – implications for which the solution is not always clear. We’ll examine the packaging process and go through the most important factors with you. Of course, we’ll also pay attention to the concrete solution offered by Audion Packaging Machines.

Change in consumer behaviour

More and more physical shops are disappearing because consumers are shopping online. Everyone expects that e-commerce will continue to grow in the future too. For example, one market where many stores have disappeared in recent years is fashion. A positive development for the physical retail channel is that sales per location are growing (on average). There are also some great omni-channel developments, where the power of both physical locations and an online journey that is perfectly tailored to the customer contribute greatly to the brand experience, such as the phenomena of pop-up stores or brand stores.

E-fulfilment challenges

As a result of the change in consumer behaviour, the E-fulfilment industry is also developing. E-fulfilment is very labour-intensive and the growth of this market means that many people are needed. This combined with the development of consumer behaviour poses the following challenges:

  • Higher material costs
  • Higher labour costs
  • Higher shipping costs

Lack of space during peak loads

In addition to the above challenges, E-fulfilment also faces a number of additional challenges at peak load:

  • Recruitment of additional staff
  • Lack of space

Due to the labour-intensive nature of the work, you see continuity problems, especially in the event of peak loads, such as around public holidays. In this case, there is a shortage of staff and the recruitment of additional staff is a challenge in today’s labour market. If companies already have sufficient staff (temporary and otherwise) at peak loads, a new challenge arises: space limitations. Companies have access to a fixed amount of square metres per location, so there is not always room for additional, manual packaging workstations. It is therefore ideal if this peak load is solved by a compact packaging machine that takes up considerably less space than a manual packaging workstation.

Flexible packaging versus cardboard packaging in E-fulfilment

The packaging market can be divided into two main segments, cardboard and flexible packaging. Flexible packaging in E-fulfilment is mainly about layflat tubing (LFT) packaging, plastic bags on rolls or (LDPE) shipping envelopes.

Advantages of flexible packaging

Flexible film packaging offers many advantages over cardboard packaging:

  • Reduced material costs
  • Higher processing speed
  • Reduced storage and shipping costs

The costs are lower, both in terms of material costs and processing speed. It goes without saying that a film material entails lower costs than a cardboard box. In addition, packing in a film takes less time than in a box, because there are fewer actions to take. In addition to these two advantages, flexible packaging also saves on two other very important items: storage and shipping.

Disadvantages of cardboard packaging solutions

When using cardboard packaging solutions, there is almost always a great deal of inefficiency. Some disadvantages of a cardboard packaging solution are:

  • Larger packaging and unnecessary air
  • Larger storage capacity needed

Because the packaging isn’t flexible, a large part of the air is packed in addition to the product to be packaged. Packing air is a very expensive affair, both in terms of storage and logistics. After all, fewer packages will fit into a warehouse or mode of transport if a large amount of air is packed. Packaging film is available to buy in many varieties and sizes. But also, in terms of colour, opacity, strength, barrier properties and many other industrial and other standards.

When cardboard packaging is a good idea

So, does cardboard packaging offer any advantages? Certainly, when it comes to fragile products, you have no choice but to use cardboard packaging. In addition, especially in the case of luxury products, packaging is an important part of the experience and therefore an essential marketing tool. In the case of luxury products and/or fragile products, more expensive and less efficient cardboard packaging methods are often unavoidable.

Disadvantages of LDPE shipping envelopes (low-density polyethylene)

The use of LDPE (low-density polyethylene) shipping envelopes also has some disadvantages. In particular, the labour-intensive process of manual packaging in shipping envelopes has a limiting impact on flexibility and cost efficiency. The cost of shipping envelopes is higher than the cost of layflat tubing (LFT) solutions.

Automating order picking and shipping

In the E-fulfilment sector, we currently still see operators filling bags with orders, but it is clear that in the future, this step will also be fully automated, even in more complex high-mix environments. It’s therefore good to know that the Speedpack Hybrid is a machine that is known for its excellent connectivity with conveyors and coding systems so that it can operate optimally as a link in a logistics environment. In terms of size and material, fashion products can be packaged perfectly flexibly. Worldwide, the Speedpack Hybrid is already present in many fashion-oriented warehouses and we are seeing a significant increase in requests and deliveries.

Current warehouse packaging methods

Many warehouses pack in roll bags: bags on a roll. The disadvantage of this is that the size of the bag is standardised, and small products are therefore packed in bags that are far too large. This results in an unnecessary amount of material being used. Precisely in view of the high volumes that are currently being processed in E-fulfilment, there is much to be gained if the bags can be cut to size. The Speedpack Hybrid does this from layflat tubing (LFT).

Fully automated process – the future of E-fulfilment packaging

With its flexible packaging solutions, the Speedpack Hybrid meets the challenges of the E-fulfilment industry perfectly. This packaging machine, equipped with a touch display, can be easily controlled by all operators. In principle, the basic configuration is that there is one operator working per machine. Certain customers have already taken the next step in further automation/robotisation –especially in the parts packaging business. This means that, in the best case scenario, there is no need to use an operator anymore. The products to be packaged arrive at the Speedpack Hybrid on a conveyor belt, are automatically packaged, labelled and then automatically disposed of.

Due to all developments in the field of E-commerce, there is a need for a packaging solution that solves the main challenges. The Speedpack Hybrid {link} saves on material, shipping and labour costs and is therefore the vital link in the E-fulfilment industry. Want to find out what the Speedpack Hybrid packaging machine can do for you? Our account managers will be happy to tell you, but you can also find all the specifications on our website.