How Food Packaging Must Evolve for E-Commerce

Posted by Rob Helmke | Thursday, March 22, 2018 4 Comments

By 2025, 70% of consumers will be purchasing food and beverage products online, reaching $100 billion in consumer sales, according to the Food Marketing Institute. To meet the rising demand for digital grocery services, many retailers are adopting e-commerce solutions to supplement their existing brick-and-mortar presence. And to fill online orders for groceries and meal kits, some brick-and-mortar retail grocers are even turning portions of their facilities into miniature distribution centers. 

But the challenges associated with setting up a safe, sustainable, and profitable delivery service are becoming very real, very fast. To ensure you provide a positive consumer experience, companies must carefully consider the journey a product takes from warehouse to doorstep and the role packaging will play in that journey.

Below are a few key tips to keep in mind when navigating the ever-evolving landscape of grocery and food delivery.

Make Use of Barrier Technologies 

food-industry2.jpgWhether consumers are ordering food for delivery or in-store pickup, they have high expectations for quality and freshness. And considering that the majority of online grocery orders include perishable items, grocers must have proper systems in place to keep these orders fresh. 

Barrier technology will likely play a major role here, as it’s becoming the go-to solution for extending the shelf life of refrigerated food products. Foods that are designed for extended travel time require longer shelf lives and superior stability, and barrier films offer both of these features. These films provide a range of benefits, such as reliable food-spoilage prevention and contamination protection. 

Grocers with strict quality assurance practices and a dedication to customer satisfaction throughout all interactions will have the best chance of succeeding in today’s shifting market. Making quality standards well-known, educating shoppers on safety procedures, and building meaningful relationships can all go a long way in earning consumer trust.

Plan Ahead to Prevent Damage 

Standard retail shelf packaging is often insufficient for meeting the unique protection and merchandising requirements of online grocery shopping. Therefore, fresh-food e-commerce companies who are looking to meet evolving consumer demands may need to rethink their primary and secondary packaging solutions.

  • Primary Packaging — Primary packaging is crucial for reducing the risk of product damage during delivery, extending shelf life, boosting brand presence, and providing a visual “wow effect.”
  • Secondary Packaging — Secondary packaging should reduce packaging waste and reusability, while also guaranteeing freshness. While safety and food quality should always come first, secondary packaging can be catered to specific delivery needs while taking into account growing consumer interest in environmentally friendly business practices.

Both types of packaging must be easy for consumers to open while still protecting against contaminants. Putting the consumer experience first will also improve operational efficiency and can allow for significant market growth.

Make a Strong First Impression

The real “moment of truth” in the fresh-food e-commerce industry occurs the moment customers receive and open their packages. This is their first chance to assess what they’ve ordered and gauge their level of satisfaction. Shipping groceries direct to consumers presents companies with valuable opportunities to strengthen their brand. Secondary packaging, for instance, gives businesses the chance to ditch the plain cardboard boxes and create a unique canvas for marketing products. 

As with brick-and-mortar setups, packaging design continues to play a significant role in shaping consumer perception of a product, and has a huge impact on the customer-delivery and in-store pickup experience. With so many shoppers now browsing online without an established brand loyalty, area grocers can focus on attaining repeat online customers. 

E-commerce Packaging Solutions From Plastic Ingenuity

As shoppers shift toward online grocery shopping, food manufacturers and packagers have more and more opportunities to effectively convey their brand message.

Whether consumers encounter your brand on a grocery-store shelf or an e-commerce site, smart, attractive food packaging design is key to keeping your brand in the minds and hearts of today’s savvy shoppers. 

Need some help getting your food packaging designs just right for both in-store and online customers?

Reach out to the team at Plastic Ingenuity today, or download our free eBook, How the Shift From Brick-and-Mortar Stores to Online Retail Is Impacting the Packaging Industry.”

Topics: Food Packaging, packaging industry, barrier technology, brick-and-mortar, e-commerce solutions, secondary packaging