E-commerce has taken the world by storm. E-commerce markets are growing at staggering rates. The online market is expected to grow by 56% in 2015–2020. In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are expected to grow to 4.88 trillion US dollars in 2021. Traditional markets are only expected to have 2% growth during the same time. On the other hand, brick and mortar retailers are struggling because of online retailer's ability to offer lower prices and higher efficiency.
E-commerce provides multiple advantages. The foremost being convenience, it takes place twenty four hours a day, seven days a week at any part of the world. Secondly, stores provide a great variety of products online than they do in the brick and mortar counterparts. Also, consumers gain power through e-commerce. They are able to compare prices among retailers, avail discount codes and access detailed information which even the in-store staff cannot provide. E-commerce technologies also cut transaction cost by skipping through the intermediaries.
An important point to note is that e-commerce provides many opportunities for the growth of packaging industry. With the advent of e-commerce, the number of touch points have increased along the delivery route and with that the potential for product tampering and damage too has increased. This has enhanced the use of protective packaging materials. Companies are starting to move toward smaller, lighter layers requiring less material. Additionally, consumer preference towards sustainably packaged products is driving a continued focus on packaging optimization. E-commerce has also changed the way logistics system builders, cold chain suppliers, automatic warehouse machines and solution providers operate and this has increased the demand for different types of packaging materials and types.
All this points out to the ocean of opportunities that e-commerce provides to the packaging industry. The real challenge is whether the packaging industry utilises these opportunities efficiently or ends up wasting them.