The cost and scale of damaged online orders during peak seasons. DS Smith's sustainable packaging solutions mitigate risks and enhance e-commerce reliability

DS Smith Study: Impact of Damaged Online Orders during Peak Shopping Seasons

DS Smith, a global leader in sustainable packaging solutions, has examined the scale and cost of online orders arriving damaged during the Black Friday and Christmas period, the busiest e-commerce time of the year.

The DS Smith investigation highlights that the majority of surveyed buyers (88%) in the four largest economies of the Eurozone planned to take advantage of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or post-Christmas sales for shopping. Three out of five (60%) online shoppers stated that they had received damaged items in online purchases over the past 12 months.

Among online shoppers who received damaged products last year, the average number of damaged items was three, with an average value of 58 euros per product. "This means that the total cost of damages in these countries reached an impressive 21.9 billion euros," explains the statement.

According to the same source, as one of the main suppliers of e-commerce packaging, and amid one of the busiest retail sales periods of the year, DS Smith predicts that over 342 million boxes are expected to be returned across Europe following November purchases.

Diogo Mendonça Tavares, Head of Commercial Operations at DS Smith Packaging Iberia, states: "Damaged orders are a loss situation for everyone involved: buyers are frustrated, and retailers have to deal with the difficulty of processing returns. Online sales represent an increasingly significant proportion of retail sales in Europe, and as demonstrated by this study, returns have a significant cost at a time when online shopping is crucial for retailers given this peak activity season."

"To help, we are working with traceability technologies and impact testing to understand what really happens to orders on their way to our homes or workplaces. We recreate these conditions in the laboratory to test the packaging and do everything in our power to protect the product inside. Our R&D teams have found that through intelligent design, there are ways to not only limit damage but also use less material, all without plastic," he adds.

DS Smith's R&D and Innovation teams are using advanced impact testing technology to test the packaging carrying the most fragile items. This technology "recreates the supply chain and tests Drop, Impact, Shock, Crush, and Shake (DISCSTM) factors to determine the strength of the packaging and develop new designs to protect products more effectively."

For fragile items such as glasses, bottles, and ceramics, the drop test "proved to be a fundamental measure for developing better packaging. Products need to withstand 17 consecutive drops before being considered sufficiently protective for use. Each drop allows experts to examine the points of the box that need reinforcement to survive the journey to the customer's door," the statement emphasizes.

In addition to recreating the hazards of the supply chain, DS Smith's R&D team is placing "accelerometers" that track the speed of an order along its route and provide information capable of explaining the damage it suffers. DS Smith's research showed that, on average, a standard online order experiences G-forces reaching an astronomical 50Gs. This value is more than five times the level of G-forces that would cause an experienced astronaut to lose consciousness (9Gs) and is equivalent to 10 times more G-forces than those experienced on a roller coaster (5Gs), concludes the same source.


Keywords

DS Smith , sustainable packaging , online orders , e-commerce , impact testing

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