New Sealed Air Survey Reveals Why and How e-Commerce Retailers Need to Rethink Their Packaging

Packaging Plays Key Role in e-Commerce Experience and Impacts Retailer Reputations
Monday, November 3, 2014

ELMWOOD PARK, NJ, 3 November 2014 – With continued growth in e-Commerce, retailers need to take a closer look at their packaging for fulfilling online orders, according to new data from the Sealed Air 2014 Packaging for e-Commerce Success survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Sealed Air. Packaging not only tells consumers how much a retailer cares about them and the environment, but is also critical for protection of the retailer's reputation. In fact, 58 per cent of Americans say that if they receive a damaged or broken product from an online order, they would either consider purchasing from a competitor or would not purchase from that retailer again. The survey was conducted in August among over 2,000 US adults (aged 18+).

Packaging expectations also extend to the length of time consumers are willing to wait for order fulfilment. A full 78 per cent of Americans think that their orders should be packaged and processed for shipment within 24 hours of their online purchase. The average length of time Americans think is acceptable for processing an online order for shipment is 23 hours.

“In order to gain an edge in the world of e-Commerce, retailers should be looking at every step of the online customer experience, and a key part of that is packaging and online order fulfilment,” said Ken Chrisman, president of the Product Care division of Sealed Air. “With competition heating up in the retail industry, companies can differentiate themselves through the use of better packaging solutions that enhance the customer’s experience with their products and even drive repeat business and positive retailer reputations.”

How much does packaging actually influence consumers’ e-Commerce experiences with a company? According to the survey findings, packaging plays the following role in consumers’ perceptions of their online orders:

    • Tells them how much the retailer cares about them and their order (66 per cent)
    • Reflects the value of the shipment – the better the packaging, the better the product inside (48 per cent)
      • This viewpoint is more prevalent among younger purchasers – those aged 18 to 34 years (59 per cent) are more likely to say this than those age 35+ (44 per cent)
    • Reflects a retailer’s environmental commitment (34 per cent)

The role of packaging is actually increasing, probably driven by the rapid growth of global e-Commerce. Nearly 7 in 10 (68 per cent) Americans say that they are more conscious of packaging materials and design today than they were five years ago. Along with the rise in e-Commerce, environmentally friendly packaging has been at the forefront of many consumers' minds. According to the survey findings, 94 per cent of Americans believe that there are environmentally friendly packaging solutions, and 77 per cent say that a company's packaging should reflect their environmental values.

Consumers have varying views on what constitutes environmentally friendly packaging. More than three-quarters (78 per cent) say that it should be easily recycled or made from recycled materials (75 per cent); 63 per cent believe it should be able to be reused for other shipments; 55 per cent say it should biodegrade or compost; and 31 per cent believe it should prevent them from having to return a damaged product. 

“Sealed Air has been developing environmentally responsible packaging solutions for many years, such as our Korrvu® packaging, which is kerb-side recyclable, and paper cushioning that uses 100 per cent recycled content material,” stated Chrisman. “In addition, Sealed Air products, such as Bubble Wrap® cushioning, Instapak® foam and Fill-Air® cushions, reduce damage and can be reused several times in future shipments and continue to provide excellent protection.”

Other topics covered in the Sealed Air 2014 Packaging for e-Commerce Success survey include top e-Commerce purchases, the impact of broken or damaged products, views on over-packaging and consumers’ top packaging pet peeves. For more information about the survey and to download an executive summary, visit