Letterbox friendly boxes are opening up new doors for online retailers

Consumer habits and lifestyles are always changing, and retailers need to recognise and react to these changes, none more so than online retailers. As we return to work post-Covid, we no longer have the luxury of being at home to receive our deliveries. We’ve got used to seeing our delivery drivers on a weekly basis over the last 18 months or so and now we are faced with making choices again about our ‘safe-places’ and with it, the prospect of missing and lost parcels. So what’s the answer? How can we all be ‘in’ when in fact we’re actually out?

Hassle-free deliveries with letterbox friendly mailers

We have all grown accustomed to the convenience of online shopping, even more so recently when we didn’t need to worry about being out and missing deliveries. This was also good news for retailers who didn’t have to deal with so many failed shipments and lost parcels. The combination of the cardboard shortage we saw as a result of Brexit and Covid, as well as cardboard price hikes, lead many retailers to look at different ways of shipping to ensure they had ample supply as well as keeping costs to a minimum. It provided an opportunity for some to re-think their despatch methods.

Low-cost shipping is obviously extremely attractive to retailers and being able to optimise boxes and cartons for Royal Mail postal sizes is a huge gain, making the most of every possible margin. And who wouldn’t want to send a parcel for the same cost as sending a large letter!

One such example is our eco-friendly letterbox friendly boxes. We have seen these grow in popularity and they are equally at home with a high-end retail piece or something simple such as books, prints and frames. This is a great budget packaging solution that looks anything but budget. And as the festive season will be upon us too, this is a perfect way to ship for less.

Purchase and shipping costs for letterbox friendly boxes

There’s more good news with our NEST letterbox friendly mailers.  They can be purchased in small pack quantities of just 50 units with pricing starts at just 13p each. And with Royal Mail shipping prices starting at just £2.36, this really is a very cost-effective shipping solution that’s guaranteed to reach its destination every time – your entire shipping and packaging costs for just £2.49!

Not only that, box assembly times are literally a matter of seconds so there are time-saving opportunities here too.

How letterbox friendly mailers can deliver growth

Letterbox friendly box

Letterbox friendly mailers

Subscription-based online retailers have been quick to understand the value of this low-cost way to way to ship. From mini hampers to wine and gin, to ‘flat-packed’ flowers and plants – letterbox compatible mailers are taking over. The online subscription-based model is now believed to be worth £1 billion with more of a quarter of UK shoppers signed up to one.

It’s a perfect way for new start-ups as well as established brands to lock in customer loyalty with super low running costs.

Bloom & Wild are probably one of the most recognised brands that come to mind when thinking of this type of home delivery. In fact, they state they are the inventors of letterbox flowers. Since 2013, they have delivered to over 2 million customers, straight through the letterbox! Their business model was built entirely around one item of packaging – letterbox friendly mailers.

And when it comes to the customer experience, you can really go to town with the benefit of being able to keep costs low. Sending products made to measure for a letterbox mailer means void filling becomes easy and cost-effective as not no much is required. Team up your eco-friendly outer packaging with innovative and sustainable protective packaging such as Tesselwrap and Zigglefil which deliver a really special unboxing experience. Don’t forget tissue paper which always looks sumptuous and sophisticated. You can see more from our NEST range here.

Whether you’re a start-up, established brand or looking for a more cost-effective way of shipping, letterbox friendly mailers really can open those doors for eCommerce growth. If you’d like to find out how you can take advantage of this exciting and growing area of e-commerce, please get in touch below, we’d love to know all about it!

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Two things to look at right now to start your journey to carbon neutral

We all often hear a lot of different terms being used to describe organisations moving towards doing greener businesses.  Terms such as net carbon zero, carbon neutral, carbon offsetting – as well as a lot of misinformation on what these terms all mean. It’s not easy to understand what your carbon goal could or should be or how to start your journey.  We take a look at what some of these terms mean and how you can make immediate changes within your business to make a difference from Day 1.

What does carbon footprint mean?

This is the calculation of an individual’s, a company’s or even a country’s carbon dioxide emissions. This is essentially a meaningful way to understand your environmental impact. It’s your first step on your journey to finding out what your emissions are and then implementing a program of reduction. As we say, to measure is to know!

What is Net Carbon Zero?

Net Zero refers to the complete elimination of carbon production. In simple terms, it means that the processes and activities taking place in a business generates net-zero carbon emissions. Sometimes companies, even countries, will publish and commit to a date to achieve this. The UK, for example,  has set a pledge to achieve net-zero by 2050. In fact it was set in law, with a milestone of a 78% reduction by 2035. 

What is Carbon Neutral?

Where business activities do create carbon emissions, a carbon-neutral approach can be adopted. This is sometimes described as Offsetting. So a company would measure it’s carbon footprint and use this calculation to remove the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere.

What is Climate Positive?

While carbon zero is an incredible goal to achieve, many seek to do more. Climate Positive, or sometimes referred to as Carbon Negative, is the focus on the removal of more carbon than is being produced. So this goes beyond Offsetting.

The 2 areas where can you start to make a difference today

If you’re a retailer there are 2 things that you can have an influence on right away – your packaging and how you use transport.

How the right packaging can help get you to carbon neutral

Packaging has become a big issue and sometimes a concern for consumers. Large eCommerce companies are often ‘called out’ by consumers who receive their online orders in wasteful packaging. Using your packaging efficiently not only cuts costs on the boxes themselves but if you’re posting your items – you’ll be charged more for those oversize boxes! And that’s not even thinking about damage to your brand reputation if something like this (below) happens. You will be seen as wasteful, not caring about your environmental impact and likely end up a ‘star’ on YouTube and social media for all the wrong reasons! You can see the full story about this unfortunate Amazon delivery and packaging fail here.

How the wrong packaging can disrupt your journey to carbon neutral

How the wrong packaging can disrupt your journey to carbon neutral

But getting good with packaging choice is much more than just cardboard box size – do you know its provenance? By that we mean:

Do you know where it was manufactured?

How many miles has it travelled to get to your facility?

Does it have FSC accreditations?

What percentage of recycled content does it have?

Can it be recycled by your customer? 

 

Will your customers be delighted with your packaging?

Will your customers be delighted with your packaging?

Having a better understanding of these criteria and challenging those weaker areas will all contribute to a better carbon footprint. An FSC accreditation, for example, is really something to shout about and something more consumers are looking out for. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 67% of those asked recognised the FSC logo and 75% stated that it was important for the packaging of the products they buy to be responsibly sourced. 

We’re proud that our eco-friendly e-commerce packaging range NEST is all responsibly sourced – all from the UK or Europe, many with FSC accreditations. You can find out more about the importance of FSC here. Every single product in the NEST range is 100% recyclable and many are manufactured with 100% recycled materials. We know the importance that customers place on recyclable packaging with over 88% of UK shoppers demanding on-pack information that highlights how environmentally friendly it is – or isn’t!

All this was factored into our thinking when launching a dedicated eCommerce packaging range and you can find out more about NEST here.

How clever use of transport can help get you to carbon neutral

Eliminating or reducing wasted miles has a hugely beneficial impact on your carbon footprint and getting smarter with how your operation or network uses transport is a very quick way to going greener faster. Think about the journeys your products take from sourcing to final delivery, the double handling they may go through and the travel infrastructure needed behind these processes.

Today, we see a definite trend in the move away from suppliers from the Far East and Asia. Companies who found prices attractive and could wait a reasonably long time for transport were forced to re-look at their supply chains once Covid started. Left high and dry and with escalating prices on top of that, this no longer became a reliable service for many. Throw in the environmental impact of products travelling thousands of mile makes sourcing closer to home now seems much more attractive.

Become carbon neutral with single source supply

Become carbon neutral with a single-source supply

If your business is a multi-branch operation, how can you optimise the process of sending your everyday consumables to your entire network? There is huge scope for getting smart with this area of your operation. Working with a single-source supplier is a really clever way to reduce your transport burden. This approach can also alleviate storage challenges you may have on-site, leaving more room in your warehouse for your profitable products. A single-source supplier can coordinate all your store deliveries effectively and efficiently – have it when you need it and in as few deliveries as possible.

The first steps

Without a doubt, packaging and transport changes will deliver quick green wins. To be able to demonstrate how your business is actively working to reduce its impact is something that is no longer nice to have. Having a Corporate Social Responsibility policy in place is something all end-user of your products will look for and your partners and staff will expect. There has never been a better time to start this process, document and showcase your carbon savings and take your first step to reduce your carbon footprint.

Need help getting started with this? Why not get in touch for free help and advice, drop us a message below.

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It may be the height of summer but we’re already thinking ahead to winter. If you’re an online retailer, the chances are, you’re doing the same. But rather than focussing on what you’ll be selling, your thoughts may be turning to how you’re actually going to get your products to your customers. We still find ourselves in the grip of a cardboard crisis and the latest information suggests that the next six months are going to be just as tough. So what can be done?

Did how we shopped last Christmas contribute to the cardboard crisis?

As you would have guessed, we all took to the internet for our festive shopping in 2020. UK Finance said that 33.8% of the value of ALL credit and debit card spending was online. This was an increase from 28% the previous year. To put that into perspective, Christmas online spending totalled £27 billion in the UK, and interestingly 43% of global online purchases were made from smartphones. This was against a background of continuing uncertainty as we headed towards a ‘segregated’ Christmas.

Stunning silver Zigglefil - eco-friendly void fill

Stunning silver Zigglefil – eco-friendly void fill

What this meant was that the majority of gifts and presents found themselves delivered to relatives and loved ones in cardboard boxes and packaging courtesy of the retailer’s courier network boxes rather than in person.  Many consumers took advantage of gift wrap options where available and that’s something to keep in mind for this year if you’re an online retailer and not set up for this Christmas, you can see some gift wrapping and product presentation ideas here. Many were sent to the buyer, re-wrapped and then re-posted out again to relatives in time for Christmas. This kept cardboard out of circulation for recycling for even longer and the increased demand depleted already dwindling supplies.

The Recycling Association reported that there were an extra 200 million home deliveries over the festive period. All this additional activity and use of cardboard boxes have all played their part in the cardboard crisis we find ourselves in now. There are further reasons that contributed to this situation and resulting price hikes which you can read about here.

The cardboard crisis affecting and driven by eCommerce

Just looking at Royal Mail parcel deliveries alone, nearly 500 million parcels were delivered in the last quarter of 2020, an increase of 30% on the previous year. And as we head into 2021, there are indicators that this trend will continue with 46% of shoppers purchasing items such as clothing and accessories online, as well as electronics and beauty products. The way we shop and what we now shop for online has changed forever and this, in turn, means an ever-increasing demand for cardboard boxes.

When you throw sustainability and consumer desire for eco-friendly packaging into the mix,  corrugated cardboard and paper packaging ticks all the boxes with 66% of online customers preferring to see their orders arriving in paper packaging.  And a very telling statistic shows that the packaging used for online orders can make or break future orders with 44% stating they would consider shopping elsewhere if their chosen retailer was not actively reducing their packaging’s environmental impact by using cardboard and paper packaging.

And when you look at the recycling rates, corrugated boxes are recycled more than any other packaging material, it’s easy to see why this is the consumer’s top choice and will vote with their ‘online feet’ accordingly! Consumers want to do their bit and expect the brands they shop with to do the same.

What’s the cardboard crisis forecast for Christmas 2021?

Our suppliers had already warned us that getting hold of paper in this second quarter of this year is going to be more challenging than at any time before in this crisis. We were in rather a better position having secured plenty of stock of eco-friendly packaging in anticipation of launching our new NEST eCommerce packaging range. 

Christmas is such an important time for retailers and their customers and if you’re sending fragile items such as glassware or delicate gift items, you’ll want to know that they will arrive in perfect condition, especially if you’re looking at trying something new to send it in.  Asking for free samples is a great way to see the products and do some testing. Any good supplier will be happy to oblige and we have certainly completed our own testing to ensure our products perform, have good functionality and will become a real asset to the production line and the boxing-up process.

So what are the indications for cardboard box supply for Q4?

It would seem there will be no let-up to the current cardboard crisis and is predicted to worsen as we head through the final 6 months.  As we go to press, there is nothing on the horizon that indicates prices are due to come down.  This is the general consensus coming from the paper mills and suppliers we are in contact with and work with. This will obviously be a concern for online retailers who are looking for ways to mitigate losses due to cardboard packaging shortages with the double-whammy of price hikes.

Working collaboratively with a trusted packaging supplier is the best way to navigate this cardboard crisis. Ask them about alternative ecofriendly innovative products and ensure that they perform as well as their plastic counterparts.  Trying something different is a good way to find plentiful supplies of stock. It could make all the difference to your preparation towards successful Q4 sales.

You can take a look at our entire eco-friendly packaging NEST range here to see full pricing and usage ideas. And if you would like some free samples to do your own testing, please just pop us a request using the form below.

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12 months that saw prices for cardboard boxes rise ten-fold

As UK society takes more tentative steps towards recovery in a post-Covid world, international markets have been faced with everchanging circumstances and trying to navigate through them – as indeed we all have. We all saw petrol prices plummet when we went into the first lockdown due to a drop in demand as we all stayed at home. Other commodities in sharp contrast have been in huge demand as well as being impacted by unforeseen events. So, we are going to try to explain the contributory factors behind the price hikes for cardboard boxes and why it’s now been coined the hunt for the new ‘beige gold’!

How cardboard boxes became hot property

So how did this all start?

Well as you have probably guessed, the 2 main reasons behind this have been Covid and Brexit – but what is interesting is just how these factors played their part in price rises and supply shortages.

The cardboard ‘lifecycle’ very much depends and relies on recycling. Before the pandemic, high street retailers played a huge part in this recycling process, returning used cardboard boxes for recycling that arrived in-store. With the start of lockdown, non-essential retail closed and along with that came the seismic shift to eCommerce and home deliveries – this situation turned into a perfect storm. This meant a significant amount of cardboard was no longer available for that all-important collection and recycling. The reality was it was all piling up in consumer’s homes or worse, ending up in the landfill. The delicate circular economy of the manufacture of cardboard boxes collapsed.

The impact of eCommerce on box supply

And so started the next chain of events

Doorstep deliveries in cardboard boxes

Doorstep deliveries in cardboard boxes

Non-essential shops were closed. With consumers afraid to go out and visit even essential shops such as supermarkets – the UK took to buying online. People who had never shopped online before were forced to do so. Consumers were panic buying ahead of Brexit and after seeing the shelves stripped bare in supermarkets. A year ago, retailers were predicting that the way we shop could change forever as 33% more of us switched to getting our groceries delivered at home. By August of last year, three-quarters of us were doing the weekly food shop online.

Online retailers were also stockpiling cardboard boxes out of their own concerns about supply, Brexit and border disruptions. Businesses such as pubs, breweries, garden centres, flower growers and nurseries and charities all had to suddenly pivot their businesses online to survive. And what did they all need? Cardboard boxes!

Demand continued to grow, reaching record levels of online purchasing with an increase of over 74% – pushing box supply into further scarcity.  There were winners and also losers and if you were a retailer in the home and garden space, the only issue was being able to keep up with demand! The Royal Mail reported that there were over 200 million extra parcels processed through their courier networks in 2020 alone.

Cardboard supply in 2021

As we entered 2021, prices of old board had risen to £118 a tonne compared to £10 in January 2020. An article at the beginning of this year described the UK supply chain as “utterly overwhelmed” for corrugated board. At the same time, online retailers were being quoted double the normal cost to purchase their cardboard boxes and lead times being extended from a matter of days to two to three months.

In March this year, the Confederation of Paper Industries said that demand was 5 years ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

Simon Ellin, of the Recycling Association, stated the shortage was down to the “Amazon effect”. “There is a monumental increase in demand caused by the surge in online deliveries during the pandemic,” he said. “It’s a global shortage – not just the UK or EU – given huge demand from China. People are going around stealing cardboard.”

Current prices of old board are being reported at levels around £140.00 per tonne so the last few months are still showing strong price increases.

A look to the future with eCommerce and cardboard boxes

The affect of internet sales on cardboard boxes

The continuing rise of internet sales will impact the supply of cardboard boxes

The mills and manufacturers we work with are continuing to talk of extremely difficult conditions. Mills have been operating non-stop with machinery running in continuous and additional shifts without planned and reactive maintenance. They are now being forced to stop in turn to carry out these essential works.

We are being told that we should be in no doubt that getting hold of paper in this second quarter of this year is going to be more difficult than at anytime before in this crisis. Here are the 4 current factors, some we have looked at already, that will continue to dictate price and supply:

  • Mill downtime
  • Cost of imported paper up by 40% 
  • Waste supply and prices
  • Panic buying

Paper supply will continue to remain tight for the rest of 2021 – there is no doubt of this. We will have to all prepare for further increases in the very near future. Our best advice? Work closely with your supplier and continue to relentlessly monitor and manage your own supplies. You may have to make concessions such as using non-branded boxes or work with box sizes that aren’t your top choices. Investigating different void fill to make the most of different sized boxes may be worthwhile too. Make sure you look at your own forecasting and get orders into your suppliers as quickly as possible.

There is also no doubt that the UK’s love affair with eCommerce, born out of necessity from shopping restrictions due to Covid, will continue to grow. Last year, it was forecasted that we would spend £80,678 million in 2021 according to Statista so the struggle for cardboard boxes is definitely with us a while longer.

Need support or advice? We’re here to help. Just drop us a quick email and we’ll get right back to you.

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Six benefits of eco-friendly packaging

Now more than ever, corporations and communities are realising the threat that climate change poses. While undoing the damage that has already been caused is impossible, we can prevent further damage to the environment. The fact of the matter is that changes have to be made if the situation is to improve. Companies must exercise corporate social responsibility by ditching the past and moving forward with renewables to promote a more ethically conscious business climate. A significant step towards accomplishing this is making the shift to eco-friendly packaging materials.

What makes packaging eco-friendly?

With sustainability constantly trending in the social and corporate spheres, many people may wonder what constitutes as sustainable, and in the context of packaging, what makes a package sustainable? The answer is not as complicated as you may think.

At its very essence, eco-friendly or sustainable packaging is packaging that’s recyclable, safe for people and the planet, and is made from recycled materials. Sustainable packaging uses materials and manufacturing practices that have minimal impact on natural resources and energy consumption.

Why should we care?

Eco-friendly packaging

Eco-friendly packaging

The fact of the matter is that there is no future in limited resources. The role that packaging plays in reducing product waste can result in a positive environmental impact on a global scale. This is both interesting and significant. Packaging indirectly affects volume and weight, which can in turn, reduce transportation dramatically and ultimately contribute to reducing greenhouse gases. Simply put, we cannot overstate the importance of investigating what affect shifting to sustainable packaging might have on our communities, companies, and the environment.

Even McDonalds is joining the movement; the global fast-food giant announced that its packaging will be 100% renewable and recycled by 2025. Consumers want brands to practice their social responsibility, so implementing eco-friendly packaging in your business operations is no longer an option – it’s a necessity.

What are the benefits of using sustainable packaging?

Besides the obvious one: that it’s better for the environment – there are many benefits of shifting to sustainable packaging options. The benefits of switching to sustainable or green packaging solutions include:

  • Reducing the amount of product package waste
  • Endorsing the use of renewable/reusable materials
  • Cutting back on packaging-related costs
  • Eliminating the use of toxic materials in the production of packaging
  • Decreasing your carbon footprint
  • Improving overall brand image which in turn increases your fan base

What Are Some Popular Eco-friendly Packaging Solutions?

Paper tape on parcel

Paper tape on parcel

It’s a common misconception that shifting to a more eco-friendly option means you skimp on quality, when in fact, green packaging is often more durable. In addition, sustainable packaging solutions offer brands a variety of packaging options. With so many eco-friendly alternatives on the market at competitive prices, more businesses are investigating their options. Packaging tape is one area where significant improvements can be made with products like paper tape, which is completely environmentally friendly meaning it can go straight into kerbside recycling. You also need to use much less of it compared to standard vinyl tape so there is a cost saving there too.

Another innovative green packaging product is the Grip Film system. A high performance, pre-stretched pallet wrap that reduces plastic wastage by 40% and costs by up to 25%. This eco-friendly wrapping solution is quick, easy, safe, and offers a cost-effective option to wrapping pallets every single time.

Shifting To Sustainable Packaging Solutions In 2021

If you want to make the shift to introducing more sustainable packaging options into your business operations, there’s no better time to go green. Green packaging can reduce the amount of packaging you use, promote packaging reuse, decrease your carbon footprint and save you tax with the impending plastic packaging tax looming in 2021. These are crucial aspects to your business and your bottom line.

We’re committed to helping you leverage these critical points with our range of sustainable packaging products. We can help you create a sustainable and eco-friendly packaging approach that boosts your brand, products, and operations. After all, we only have one earth and must band together to make the change – starting with one eco-friendly package at a time!

Some eco-friendly packaging options to think about

NEST eco-friendly packaging solutions for ecommerce

Paper tape

Grip Film hand pallet wrap

iWrap machine pallet wrap

 

Need some help to get started? We’re here to help – just pop us an email using the form below

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