One of the biggest challenges faced by retailers who ship packages direct to customers is the need to place the item being shipped into a separate box that often contains packaging material to act as padding. This is especially true for Amazon that has already shipped nearly 2B packages in 2023.
If the brown boxes Amazon uses to ship products to customers on an annual basis were stacked into a pile, it would be taller than Mt. Everest. Amazon knows that customers love ordering from the company but most customers hate throwing away or trying to recycle the packages.
Amazon has announced that it is shipping more products to customers without additional packaging. How? By placing a shipping label on the package the product was placed in at the manufacture site. About 11% of Amazon’s products are now “shipped in their own container” in Amazon speak.
It’s a great idea and it’s something I’ve written about and championed since 2010. I congratulate Amazon for what they’re doing. However, I encourage Amazon to experiment with packaging that is made from kale, grains, or other edible materials. I remain convinced that packaging boxes can be ground up and mixed into feed for livestock and pets. In other words, instead of filling landfills with boxes, you fill the stomachs of cattle, hogs, horses, and possibly dogs and cats. It’s worth testing to see if this can be done.
The individuals who have the most control over reducing the need for packaging are manufacturers. I encourage Amazon and other retailers who ship products online to require manufacturers to design and use packaging specific for online shipping. Their regular product packaging can be used for products sold in stores.
Although not an intended consequence of shipping products without the use of extra packaging, I anticipate that many manufacturers will begin to ask this question: Why don’t we just ship direct to customers?
Manufacturer Direct is a concept that will significantly increase by 2030. Instead of shipping inventory to Amazon Fulfillment Centers, manufacturers can partner with a 3PL to provide labeling and shipping. This is similar to what Temu and SHEIN are doing. TikTok Shop will experiment with the concept as well. Note: TikTok Shop has partnered with Flowspace who has the ideal business model, tech stack, and software to manage Manufacturer Direct shipping. I don’t have a business relationship with Flowspace but I strongly recommend them as a company.
In addition to shipping products in their own container, the next big thing Amazon, other online retailers, UPS, FedEx, and the USPS must collaborate on is combining shipments going to the same customers. The best way for reducing carbon emissions and traffic is by combining packages for delivery in vans vs. each parcel carrier making a delivery. Frankly, Amazon can easily make this happen using their logistics network.