A Smithers report revealed that the global value for eCommerce packaging will reach USD 51.7 billion in 2020, as the pandemic-induced lockdown and shop closures have pushed more consumers online. The report found that the projection represents an increase of USD 14 billion compared to the USD 33.7 billion market of 2019.
An in-depth analysis in the new Smithers study – The Future of E-commerce Packaging to 2025 – shows consumption will be around 40% higher in 2019. "As consumer habits change, business models adapt, and more retailers close physical stores; demand for eCommerce packaging will continue to boom through to 2025 at an accelerated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17%. In 2025, this market will reach a value of USD 113.5 billion, over 10% of the total packaging market worldwide," the report, which was shared with PrintWeek, stated.
This would make eCommerce as one of the most important market opportunities for packaging converters and material suppliers. The analysis sub-divided this segment by eCommerce packaging format (corrugated board; flexible paper, plastics, and foil packaging; mailers; protective components); end-use application, and geographic market.
"All eCommerce formats will see double-digit CAGRs through to 2025. Corrugated is the most valuable segment of the e-commerce packaging market," the report found. "Value will rise from USD 30 billion in 2019 to USD 41.6 billion in 2020 and is forecast to more than double again by 2025 as it witnesses the fastest growth of all eCommerce formats."
The Smithers analysis also identified some changes in the market that would define future profitability for packaging suppliers and converters in eCommerce. In 2019, clothing, fashion accessories, and consumer electronics were already well established in eCommerce channels. In 2020, the market expanded with high volumes of groceries, sports equipment, cosmetics and personal care items being shipped. This prompted demand for new packaging solutions that could protect goods in shipment, and provide a connection to the at-home consumer.
Global eCommerce packaging sales by packaging type 2020–25 (% share by value)
"Covid-19 has broadened the consumer base using eCommerce, beyond millennials and digital natives to include older age groups. Many will continue to use this sales channel even when lockdown orders are withdrawn, fundamentally reshaping the retail landscape," it identified.
According to the report, a major value-adding service for packaging suppliers and converters are delivery formats that enhance consumer experience. This includes brand printed packaging, pre- and post-ordering customised packs, and innovative designs that differentiate a product by giving it a unique unboxing experience on delivery.
"Sustainability is also an important, if not secondary consumer concern. This is prompting the use of more bespoke designs that eliminate unnecessary protective packaging, and new material concepts, such as fully pulp-based, easy-to-recycle mailers," the report stated. It also found that reliability, speed of delivery and hassle-free returns are leading priorities in online shopping, and will shape the design of specific eCommerce and omnichannel packaging in the future
"Existing eCommerce trade is being supplemented by subscription platforms, more mobile-based sales, and even voice ordering via software such as Alexa. This is forcing brands to reconsider packaging designs to appeal even when seen on a tablet or smartphone screen," the report mentioned.