As part of the global automotive industry, when you think of packaging, you start with two options: re-usable packaging used in OEM assembly: custom-built, durable containers and dunnage that require a sophisticated return logistics program, and expendable packaging for aftermarket parts: single use, one-size-fits-most boxes or mailers filled with protective cushioning or bracing.
Despite expectations that were somewhat gloomy at the start of the pandemic in 2020, the automotive service market remains robust. If you’re a parts manufacturer or distributor, that’s good news – and understanding more about what’s behind the boom may provide clues about what is or isn’t working in your packaging lineup.
Material shortages and steep increases in raw material costs are reducing sales of new light vehicles. While sales of gasoline hybrids and electric vehicles are up YOY, volumes remain low overall, resulting in the need for more drivers wanting to keep current vehicles, even aging ones, on the road longer than planned. Ditto that when the rising price of fuel impacts the consumers wallet.
Travel preferences that shifted away from mass transit during the pandemic are resulting in more use of the family vehicle or fleet rentals for road trips, boating, camping, and staying in locations within driving distance of home. Not only is this increasing the need for parts aligned with recreation and towing, it also contributes to the need for on-the-road repair to be quick and certain.
E-commerce now penetrates every facet of everyday life and everyone – from manufacturers and shippers, to distributors, retailers, and consumers – are becoming accustomed to fast, frustration-free shipping, free and easy returns, and packaging that protects against damage regardless of how it ships. This is particularly true in the fast-growing do-it-yourself segment or those who buy parts online with a ship-to-store option.
Just-in-time manufacturing has been hobbled by labor availability and cost, production slow downs, supply chain and logistics constraints, making parts delivery more unpredictable than ever. At a time when drivers are dependent on mobility more than ever, extended waiting for repairs because a part was delivered damaged keeps customers from getting back on the road quickly and puts your reputation at risk.
As many corporations work to improve metrics related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting, sustainability discussions are shifting to focus on net zero emissions. Now, more than ever, packaging designed to prevent damage plays a critical role in ensuring a smaller carbon footprint. When a part gets damaged in transit, not only does repair get delayed, but there could be return shipping involved as well as a duplication of all the resources needed to replace it.
When market conditions shift in your favor, there’s no better time to take a look at how changes in packaging could give you an even better boost. Are you ready to take the next step with a packaging project?
We’re here to help. Contact Sealed Air today to learn more.