Close this search box.

Packaging can balance the demands of eco-conscious consumers and supply chain efficiency for retailers


Internet and multi-channel retail is a highly competitive industry with an increasingly demanding customer base. It can be challenging for retailers to balance the complexities of the customer experience and their supply chain efficiency.

The past 12 months have seen the UK public turn to online shopping like never before. 88% of consumers say that they now spend more time making internet purchases than before the-pandemic and 64% of people said the change in their shopping habits is permanent. As a result, retailers have been dealing with an unprecedented demand which has put a great deal of strain on global supply chains. Coupled with increasing input costs on goods and containers and the current UK labour shortage, it’s no surprise that retailers across the country are looking to maximise every penny they can from their operations and make the process as efficient as possible.

It is also clear that buyers are now more aware of what they’re consuming and who they are buying from. Almost 1 in 5 consumers say they won’t buy from retailers who don’t use sustainable packaging and some 50% of UK adults have made a resolution to use less plastic in 2022. This means retailers now have the added challenge of addressing the demands of an eco-conscious consumer on top of the everyday pressures they face. So, what are the opportunities for retailers?

Packaging and the ‘unboxing’ experience are critical considerations for retailers who want to optimise their costs while meeting or exceeding customer expectations and maintaining a competitive edge. The unboxing experience represents an important element in their engagement with a customer. For many internet retailers, packaging is the first physical touchpoint for customers and represents an important opportunity to spark joy with customers, build brand loyalty and differentiate themselves in a busy marketplace. Operationally, the right packaging also has the potential to drive down costs, improve labour efficiency and help retailers reduce the amount of waste they create, as well as reduce their carbon emissions.

To identify savings and take a fresh approach to packaging, it’s important for retailers to understand how their packaging is performing now and how changes to their packaging can influence areas throughout their packing operation.

Using a new, industry-first tool, the Packaging Optimiser, Macfarlane Packaging can help internet and muti-channel retailers identify how their packaging performs across their supply chain. The tool can provide a clear illustration of total cost, time and greenhouse gas savings and looks in detail at how packaging affects transport, damages & returns, productivity, and storage. For example, using the Packaging Optimiser could help retailers see how packaging automation could reduce their labour costs or calculate how to best optimise parcels to maximise output capacity while minimising damages in transit. Retailers are also able to use the tool to see the sustainability impact their packaging materials are having and compare the benefits of varying solutions, like paper cushioning vs. air pillows for example.

As well as helping provide retailers with packaging innovations that deliver operational efficiency, Macfarlane Packaging can also design packaging that enhances the customer experience at its market-leading Innovation Lab. This service can help retailers create the wow-factor and support them in differentiating their brand through innovations like connected packaging (using augmented reality) and 3D pack design, while using sustainable packaging materials.

For more information about Macfarlane Packaging and the Packaging Optimiser visit

Read More