Discover how Amazon's Ships in Product Packaging initiative reduces waste, cuts costs, and benefits sellers, customers, and the planet.

Amazon's Ships in Product Packaging: Reducing Waste and Costs

Earlier this year, Amazon announced the rollout of an innovative scheme that it hopes can help to reduce unnecessary packaging – an issue for which it has frequently been criticised in the past. The ‘Ships in Product Packaging’ programme tests packages to see if they can be shipped in their original manufacturer’s packaging, eliminating the need for extra cardboard boxes or paper bags from Amazon. Products that pass this text are eligible for discounts on the fulfilment fee that Amazon charges its partners. To learn more about this project, we caught up with Kayla Fenton, Ships in Product Packaging Programme Global Lead at Amazon.

Amazon has expanded its Ships in Product Packaging programme to all of its Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) sellers across Europe, the US, and Canada. The programme is designed to reduce unnecessary packaging by testing products for their ability to ship in the original manufacturer’s packaging, without additional cardboard boxes or paper bags from Amazon.

Since 2015, packaging programmes like Ships in Product Packaging have reduced average packaging per shipment by 41% and eliminated the need for more than 2 million tons of packaging material. In 2022, 11% of packages worldwide were shipped without Amazon packaging.

Along with the benefit of cutting down on packaging, participating sellers are also now eligible for discounted fees. In Europe, products certified to ship in their own packaging can receive a fulfilment fee discount ranging from €0.01-€4.83 per unit, depending on item size and weight.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into this initiative now – how does the process actually work at each stage of the journey?

Ships in Product Packaging encourages Selling Partners to package their products in easy-to-open packaging that is recyclable and ready to ship to customers without additional Amazon packaging. Products are shipped with just an address label added. If the product is not fragile or doesn’t contain liquids or sharp items, then sellers can perform a self-test to certify.

Detailed instructions are provided on the Amazon packaging site and Seller Central, including different testing steps depending on whether the product is packaged in a box or bag. They can also use a third-party, certified lab to test and then enrol their product, and Amazon provides a list of labs where the test can be completed. All fragile, liquid, and sharp items must be tested through a certified lab.

What was the thinking behind implementing this move for Amazon, and could you also talk a bit about the expected benefits, as well as any concrete projections?

We’re committed to delivering the products our customers love in packaging that protects their items, while minimising waste and materials used. By incentivising manufacturers and sellers to design their packaging to ship safely and securely without the need for extra packaging, we’re improving customer experience and reducing packaging waste. It’s a win all around for sellers, customers, and the planet.

The Ships in Product Packaging programme has the benefit of helping sellers connect with customers, who immediately see their branding upon delivery. Packaging designed for ecommerce is typically easier to open and creates less waste.

It can also reduce costs. In addition to being eligible for lower FBA fulfilment fees, Ships in Product Packaging means selling partners can save on the cost of the packaging itself. Retail packaging can be oversized and glossy to capture customer attention. Because customers can see multiple product images online, ecommerce allows for simpler – and often lower-cost – packaging.

By using more compact packaging, selling partners can potentially reduce transportation costs and carbon emissions by using less packaging material and taking up less space on trucks, which means fewer trips.

This project had been in existence for a while before the recent announcement regarding its expansion. Looking back at its entire lifespan, what are some key learnings that Amazon has picked up, and what has feedback from sellers looked like?

In 2023, we ran a Ships in Product Packaging incentive pilot programme with selected sellers, gathering feedback to build a programme that fit their needs. This year, we have already seen successful examples of sellers converting their products to ecommerce packaging.

B2Fitness, an international sports equipment seller on Amazon, has been able to test and certify more than 30 fitness products to ship as Ships in Product Packaging with minimal adaptations, using its existing packaging for products including boxing gloves, weight lifting belts, and weight lifting wrist wraps.

Because the company’s existing cardboard packaging – already recyclable and designed for ecommerce – proved sturdy enough to ship these items to customers without additional delivery packaging, the only adjustment required to certify was to apply standard tape to seal the box.

Go North Group, an aggregator that owns and operates a collection of nearly 30 brands, has also had a positive experience of testing and certifying products for Ships in Product Packaging, with the company saying the programme is helping it reduce packaging while benefitting from cost savings, making it an excellent way to help future-proof its ecommerce business.

Go North Group has already tested and certified 165 products and received incentives for over 45,000 units shipped in their own packaging.

This is the latest in a number of sustainability-focussed packaging moves from Amazon in recent times, including making 100% of its delivery packaging in Europe recyclable and promoting “right-sized” packaging. I wonder if you could situate the wider rollout of the Ships in Product Packaging programme in this context?

Amazon customers want right-sized, easily recyclable packaging that minimizes waste and ensures damage-free delivery. Our first priority is to eliminate additional Amazon packaging unless necessary – and this is where Ships in Product Packaging comes in. When packaging is required, we optimise with lighter, right-sized packaging to reduce waste and carbon, while ensuring products arrive


Keywords

Amazon , Ships in Product Packaging , FBA sellers , Sustainable packaging , Packaging reduction

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