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    Optimization in the e‑commerce packaging process: faster, better, cheaper

    Model consultant Stephan Hägele explains how e-commerce benefits from automatic packaging processes – and which trends will shape online retail.

    Online retail: automatic packaging

    Folding packaging yourself? That might still work at the start with online retail. But with an increasing number of customers, different packaging sizes and higher demands for efficiency, the e-commerce packaging process has to be automated. How does it work? That's what our experts from Model come are there for.

    Our colleague Stephan Hägele has been with Model for over 15 years and has been a Model consultant for five years. This is something Stephan knows from experience: «When we analyze the packaging process, we always find potential for optimization.»

    Development in e-commerce

    Stephan, what questions do online retailers come to you with?

    «If the store is doing well, online retailers eventually realize: I need different packaging sizes, things need to be faster, and I need a warehouse. That’s where we come in. We look at how we can optimize the packaging process. It’s about packaging faster and more efficiently. The solution isn’t always a giant machine. Even small, minor changes can make a big difference. For example, a machine that attaches an adhesive to the top and bottom of the box.»

    Can’t be overlooked with packaging

    Pay attention to the total costs

    «You shouldn't make the mistake of only looking at the price of the packaging in e-commerce,» says Stephan Hägele. «Of course, a standard folding box is cheap, like the classic Fefco 0201. But only at first glance. Because this box has to be set up manually, which takes time. Packaging with an automatic bottom makes the entire packaging process more efficient. You just press the two edges of this kind of box together and it’s ready to go. Then just fill it with products, close it and the package is ready.»

    Matching e-commerce packaging

    What challenges do you keep encountering?

    «We have to let the air out of the packaging,» says Stephan Hägele and explains: «Online retailers who offer different products can't use the same packaging for everything.» Small goods in oversized packaging aren’t sustainable and annoy end customers. «At Model we look at the entire packaging process and find a tailor-made solution. Our customer might be able to send 80 percent of their products in one (automatic) packaging size. And packaging that requires manual set-up is more appropriate for the other 20 percent. Because the unboxing experience is really important with these products. That’s something we figure out together.»

    The «extra» at Model

    Trust and service

    «I like the freedom I have in my work,» says Stephan about his job. «Our customers also benefit from this: At Model, we trust the employees – that’s how good ideas and solutions are created. This is also true across different departments of the Model Group. It’s particularly important for e-commerce that the packaging process works, from print to logistics. We offer this kind of full service at Model.»

    Excellent advice from Model

    «Model supports automation. This means that if the number of packaging in an online retailer increases, it makes sense to use the right machines. We advise our customers on all of this,» says our consultant Stephan Hägele, describing his department at Model Group. «The right machine depends on the specific job. We have a lot of experience with various machine manufacturers, so we can give our customers the optimum advice. Model is also there if a customer has technical problems with a machine or with special packaging, for example.»

    Optimization in the packaging process: the trends

    «What will shape e-commerce in the future? Avoiding returns and just-in-time availability.»

    Stephan Hägele, Model Consultant at Model Group

    E-Commerce Trend 1: Fewer returns

    «I look at developments in e-commerce in my work,» says our colleague Stephan. «In the future, it will be more and more important to avoid returns. Response rates of 60 to 70 percent are not feasible for online retailers in the long term. Of course, consumer behavior in society won’t change overnight. But at Model we do our best to support online retailers on their way to greater sustainability.»

    Read more about our path to CO₂-neutral packaging here.

    E-Commerce Trend 2: High Availability

    «Consumers already expect an enormously high level of availability,» says Stephan Hägele. «If someone orders something at 10 p.m. in the evening, it should be in the mailbox the next day.» This is a challenge that affects not only packaging but also logistics processes. It’s important to avoid high storage costs or empty runs. «For e-commerce, the just-in-time concept means one thing more than ever: I doesn't work without the right packaging and logistics partner

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