28 November 2019. Cyber Monday, as one of the largest e-commerce days of the season and the year, people hunt for deals online ahead of the holidays. As more and more customers look to the internet for their shopping needs, the way we think about e-commerce packaging and its environmental impact starts taking on a new scope, raising concerns about packaging waste.

1. E-commerce is booming

As more than one billion people have bought something online, e-commerce is here to stay. In 2019 alone, retail e-commerce sales amounted to $3.5 trillion USD, and will grow to $6.5 trillion in 2023, Statista projects. In 2018, Cyber Monday in the US saw sales of $7.9 billion, with a 19% growth from 2017. In 2019, single’s day in China broke new records by reaching $38 billion in sales.

2. Fashionistas love online shopping

As the e-commerce industry keeps growing, the largest market segment in 2019 is fashion. By 2023, roughly one third of the e-commerce sales will be in this market. Investing in e-commerce and digital marketing was considered the number one priority for fashion executives in the 2019 McKinsey report.  As fashion mainly ships non-sensitive items, shipping them is easier and have lower risk of being damaged en route. The common shipping  by major e-retailers are plastic mailing bags.

3. Online retailers and customers are paying attention to packaging

Awareness about the impact of packaging is increasing, but there are currently little to no government legislations in place regulating e-commerce packaging.   Retailers are taking the lead, like Amazon and Chinese market regulators, who are looking for e-commerce solutions that are not only “frustration-free” for the customer to open, but also recyclable. In Amazon’s case, this even meant that online retailers had to pay a fee for packaging that didn’t comply. Customers are also becoming more aware of the sustainability of their orders, and awareness about the entire value chain’s sustainability is driving demand for sustainable solutions.

4. But shoppers don’t want complicated returns

This sustainability awareness does not stop shoppers from wanting their returns to be easy and friction free. Today, returns are part and parcel of the e-commerce market, as noted from 1,000 surveyed consumers, 89% of consumers have returned an online purchase in the last three years.  41% also buy multiple sizes or colours of certain items with the intent of returning them. 72% of shoppers also said they would buy more often from stores who make the return process simpler. This means providing packaging which is easy to reuse, return and close without extra adhesives, tape or glue.

5. Sustainable packaging for e-commerce isn’t the future: it’s here

Sustainability is a growing priority for customers and retailers alike. However plastic bags are a common e-commerce solution for non-sensitive shipping items like fashion.  A new alternative is already available, a recyclable paper mailing bag, which can protect fashion items sustainably from the distributor to the client. Paper provides an alternative that is strong enough to be reused and resealed again by the customer for seamless returns, or can be fully recycled if the customer decides they have dressed to impress and keeps the item. Using paper where possible and plastic where useful is key to sustainable packaging. As fashion and non-sensitive items do not require barrier properties, using a paper shipping bag provides a fit-for-purpose alternative.  

6. More than just hot air: Easy fulfilment and a lower carbon footprint for transport

Shipping air not only costs more in transport, but also requires added filling material, and slows down preparing orders at the fulfilment centre. A third of business leaders admit that what they ship is in a package double its size. Paper shipping bags take care of this issue for non-sensitive items like fashion, where the bag protects the order but leaves out the rest, air to bubble wrap to extra paper, leaving the customer happy without extra waste, and reducing the CO2 footprint of the order along the way.

7. Mondi’s MailerBAG is a sustainable solution

Strong and flexible enough to endure the journey- Mondi’s MailerBAG is made from Sack Kraft paper which gives the bag extra durability, meaning it can be reused for returns, or recycled in the existing paper recycling streams. The Return Magic study found that 77% of shoppers who make returns are also actively engaged with the brand, which makes the packaging an opportunity to engage with the customer. MailerBAG stands out to customers with a unique appearance, takes up less space than a standard box, reducing the transport’s carbon footprint, and can be recycled by the customer or reused to fulfil a return.

Find out more about MailerBAG here.