Large High-Tech Computer Screen Being Packaged to Ship from Warehouse
Shifting From Pallets to Parcels

Online Shopping Goes High-Tech — and High Risk

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November 19, 2020

Have you ordered electronics online in the last few years? If so, you’re not alone. 

Consumer behavior shifts to buying more online every year — a trend that has been accelerated by COVID-19. It also shows no signs of stopping; many investigations into these new shopping behaviors reveal they are likely to outlast the pandemic. Excluding food and beverage and gas and auto sales, all of which are still primarily a brick-and-mortar shopping experience, e-commerce's share as a percent of total retail is predicted to jump 6.8 percentage points to 29.4% in 2020, according to a recent study by eMarketer. Electronics has remained one of the last bastions of brick-and-mortar shopping, with a slight majority of consumers still feeling more comfortable picking out their tech in person, but the advantage is starting to slide rapidly toward e-commerce. The same study from eMarketer reveals computers and consumer electronics as the leading e-commerce product category by sales, at $156.5 billion (22% e-commerce market share). 

That means a lot more TVs, drones, video game consoles, VR headsets, laptops, Bluetooth speakers, and even non-consumer electronics like servers and components will be dropped onto doorsteps this year. 

And we do mean dropped. Damage in transit is a leading cause of returns (20%) – and the cost of reshipping, replacing, and disposing of electronics can drastically increase cost and carbon footprint. 

Manufacturers, retailers, and transportation providers have to adapt their practices for smarter, faster, safer shipment of electronics — and here’s a hint: The answer isn’t more cardboard or polystyrene (EPS). Blocking and bracing electronics inside traditional packaging materials isn’t enough to stand up to the rigors of the road (or sea or air) — but there is a better way. 

One option? Suspending electronics between sheets of high-strength plastic film to protect from shifting or bumping. Manufacturers should also consider creating custom-fit corner cushions from high-performance foam that provide superior performance at the most high-risk points of impact. They might also create on-demand pouches that surround small electronics in a custom cushion of protection. These are all solutions on the cutting edge of damage reduction for modern e-commerce — even in the B2B world. 

But of course, we wouldn’t trust our new TV to packaging that hasn’t been rigorously tested. That’s why we put our packaging designs through the same rigor of real and simulated testing that products in the automotive and aeronautics industries go through. We can virtually crash test flat screen or electronics components to develop the best packaging to protect it. 

We know that nothing spoils the excitement of a new gadget or electronics item like a busted screen or damaged drone.