e-commerce packaging

In 2017 an estimated 1.66 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. During the same year, global e-retail sales amounted to $2.3 trillion and projections show a growth of up to $4.48 trillion by 2021 (1). e-commerce market share in 2018, as a percentage of all retail sales, is expected to increase to 11.9% - up from 3.5% a decade ago (2)

The development of e-commerce is the most significant change in retail since retail exists and it is still developing. All types of retail activities are directly impacted by e-commerce. Business leaders are scrambling to adjust to a world few imagined possible just a year ago.

e-commerce includes mobile shopping, a segment growing fast. In 2018, desktop PCs still accounted for the majority of global e-retail orders but smartphones were the number one device in terms of retail website visits. 11 percent of online shoppers said that they shopped online via smartphone on a weekly basis. In 2017, Black Friday and Cyber Monday mobile sales accounted for 64% of the transactions (2).  

e-commerce remains an untapped opportunity and new customers will see e-commerce as the default shopping method. According to McKinsey, 1.4 billion people will join the global middle class by 2020, and 85% will be in Asia Pacific.

e-commerce packaging and the corrugated industry in general are witnessing these developments where a CAGR at 5% is forecasted for e-commerce packaging through 2020 (3).

(1), (2), (3) 


Marketing is becoming more social and more granular. One-size-fits-all advertising messages are becoming obsolete and in e-commerce, the access to big data is helping companies optimize consumer engagement using micro-moments. Content is the holy grail.

A decade ago marketing automation was key for consumer goods sales. Today large brands are looking at e-commerce automation. This is now an accessible reality and packaging is part of the equation.

The packaging for e-commerce has improved significantly with easier to unpack boxes. We now talk about the "unboxing experience" and major brands see packaging as part of the e-commerce experience. It’s important to remember that the e-commerce experience includes the way the product is delivered in the mailbox or on the doorstep and in some case how they are shipped back. A positive experience can provide a bette impression of the product and make the brand more desirable, or it can create a negative perception that will affect both.

Within the e-commerce sphere and thanks to the collection of consumer data, it is possible and more important than ever to truly customize the unboxing and delivery experiences to consumers. This can include things like new packaging styles even printed inside, various container choices, inclusion of a personalized card or gift based on purchasing patterns. It has driven box manufacturers to come with new solutions where speed and quality matter.

This means producing e-commerce boxes faster than before with a growing offering in sizes. Fast running speeds, fully automatic settings, extreme configurability are the requirements for the machinery vendors.

BOBST solutions

e-commerce becoming potentially the largest retail channel, boxes will be part of the daily life of many consumers. The challenge of e-commerce boxes for converters resides in delivering boxes of all kinds within the shortest amount of time with the highest level of quality at the most appropriate price. In this given landscape, the BOBST FFG 8.20 is the industry benchmark in terms of speed and fast order change for a fully automated complete line.

BOBST is an expert in e-commerce packaging. With a wide range of machinery and services in the corrugated packaging sector. BOBST understands the specific considerations of e-commerce box production. The company knows that, with the high number of touch points in the e-commerce supply chain, the packaging must be both strong and flexible. It knows that retail companies are constantly looking for new ways to meet their customers’ needs, and that their packaging must be adaptable to fit with this.   

A new trend in ecommerce packaging is "inside out" laminated board. i.e. laminated corrugated board where the brown side is used on the outside for transport and inside an offset printed brand and product presentation can be found. On all laminating lines of BOBST these packaging types can be manufactured. Another typical trend is having both sides offset printed combined with flexo or digital as an alternative for double laminated sheets. BOBST In-line laminators provide these standard options at full speed. When manufacturing high added-value packaging in substrates from micro-flute to double-wall, MASTERFLEX-XL is the most productive flexographic printing press on the market with up to 9 printing units, post-print flexo on corrugated board with unmatched quality at lower costs in one pass.

The BOBST die-cutter EXPERTCUT 145 PER is the perfect match for medium volume production and unbeatable product quality thanks to a precise and powerful register. Even high volume productions find a solution with the most automated and productive die-cutter MASTERCUT 145 PER capable to run up to 9'500 sheets/hour. For flat-bed die-cutting of corrugated board and litho-lam, MASTERCUT 1.7/2.1 is the pioneering solution that delivers higher running speeds, fewer stops, shorter make-readies, and matchless quality.

MASTERFOLD 230 is the cornerstone of corrugated box production for many companies and arguably the world’s best folder-gluer. With very fast running speeds, fully automatic setting, a host of upgraded systems, and extreme configurability, MASTERFOLD is the fastest, most highly automated and versatile folder-gluer available today. The MASTERFOLD can be enhanced by a range of BOBST complementary devices that enable companies to make the most of its huge productivity. For example, the specific e-commerce configuration allows the production of complex, reusable boxes in one single pass. EXTENDED FEEDER provides the smoothest start possible for the feeding of extra-long boxes. It features a timed feeder and motorized feeding assistance, ensuring the regular and precise feeding of large boxes. POLYVACUUM XL is a module for in-line application of strips, self-adhesive tapes and special folding devices. It features lower vacuum transports for perfect stability of the blanks and bespoke upper transports, allowing the installation of external applicator devices. Meanwhile, GYROBOX XL enables blank rotation from 0° to 180° in any direction. It is associated with outstanding quality and high-speed production of complex designs, such as double folded boxes, in a single pass. ACCUEJECT XL enables automatic ejection of boxes that do not conform to the defined standard, ensuring zero fault packaging and complete customer satisfaction. Importantly, it does this without slowing down the production process.


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