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Pack it up, pack it in – crack down on theft with smarter packaging


Andrew Smedley_Ambassador AntalisAndrew Smedley, Midlands & South Divisional Manager at Antalis Packaging looks at how the growing upward trend of on-demand retailing and ecommerce is driving stakeholders to consider greater securities and efficiencies in transit packaging.
With UK shoppers spending £107 billion online in 2014[1], an increase of £16 billion in just one year, internet retailing is spiralling upward. Online sales exceeded all expectations in December last year, and with the ongoing ownership of internet-enabled mobile devices, tablets and smart phones, this trend shows no sign of abating. Indeed, industry experts are predicting year-on-year growth of 14%[2], with sales forecast to reach £116 billion by the end of 2015. Furthermore, with ecommerce now representing around a quarter of the total retail market, the movement and security of goods has never been more important.

It is estimated that around 3.7 billion[3] parcels are despatched every year to customers throughout Europe; a figure that is set to continue growing in the foreseeable future. In addition, the goods being transported are ever-increasing in value, with a higher online demand placed on luxury items such as smartphones, tablets and other premium products – 2014 saw an estimated 74.5 million[4] devices shipped from Samsung and Apple alone.

This increase in the revenue of luxury goods will certainly work well for the value of the market, however with it comes an increased risk of theft, loss of business income and more specifically loss of reputation. And, when considering the theft of goods in transit is costing businesses in excess of £6.6 billion[5] every year according to Home Office figures, now more than ever, is the time to step up the security and efficiency of transit packaging.

For retailers and logistics companies, it’s not just the cost of replacing a damaged or stolen item, there are also related costs to re-packaging, courier costs and time spent on investigating where the shipment has gone – something far more complex to calculate and with much wider implications. What’s more damaging however, is the cost to your business through loss of reputation. It is not uncommon for companies to be defrauded when expensive and luxury items have being stolen in transit and replaced by similarly weighted material, or where generically packaged products have been opened and easily replaced to imitate the original package. It’s therefore essential that secondary packaging is fit for purpose, and offers sufficient security and anonymity to avoid recognition while in transit.

Retailers and logistics suppliers should take advantage of the wide range of secure packaging options available to reduce the risk of losing customer loyalty, revenue and reputation. Even when responsibility shifts to the courier to ensure the safe delivery of goods, theft or damage will still impact negatively on the retailer, and the brand owner.

Packaging supplies such as standard bubble wrap envelopes and brown packaging tape are now widely available on the high street, making it all too easy for thieves to “clone” generic shipments. Gone are the days when a pallet wrapped in plain black film provided sufficient protection. Today, this form of wrapping affords little security, making it difficult to spot-check for missing or tampered goods.

The choice of secondary carton can also add to the security of a load; generic packages make one parcel indistinguishable from the next, and therefore less attractive to thieves, while others offer tamper-evident closures and fixtures. In addition there are the all-in-one retention packaging solutions designed for the safe transportation of higher value goods, such as smartphones, perfumes and tablets. With load bearing foam to counteract impact, and a self-sealing, tamper-evident tear-strip closure, these cartons allow the supply chain as well as the recipient to instantly see if their package has been compromised.

One area often overlooked is that of the standard brown packaging tape, which is too easy to remove and replace. Companies shipping high volumes of more expensive goods should therefore consider looking at more secure options, such as bespoke, personalised tape printed with a company logo or traceable code. Then there are tapes offering tamper-resistant features such as ultra-delamination or inking, and tapes using invisible UV fibres and polydot technology that is almost impossible to duplicate. Originally designed for applications in the Ministry of Defence and high-security government shipments, these tapes are now being used in the transportation of large-volume consumer goods to minimise the risk of theft.

Of course, such packaging enhancements may incur an increased cost compared with generic packaging, but logistics suppliers and retailers need to weigh up the associated risks to product damage, theft and brand reputation, versus opting for the cheapest packaging solution. At the end of the day, it’s all about choosing the right solution for the value of the product to ensure safe and secure delivery to safeguard ongoing customer loyalty.

[1] Internet Retailing 2014

[2] IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index (

[3] European B2C E-commerce Report 2014 (

[4] Engadget 2014

[5] The Manufacturer 2012

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