Returnable packaging is the future of e-commerce

Shoppers in e-shops want to receive goods in reusable returnable packaging and are ready to pay a deposit for them – according to the study "Returnable packaging in e-commerce logistics".

Conducted was the study on behalf of Arvato in Poland by scientists from the Department of Logistics and Innovation at the University of Lodz.

You can download the full test report here.

The popularity of online shopping contributes to an increase in the amount of packaging used and, consequently, packaging waste. Entrepreneurs operating in the e-commerce industry see the need to create conditions for full recycling of packaging or its multiple use. The growing environmental awareness of Poles is also of great importance, which translates into purchasing choices. One of the expectations of e-shoppers is the use of eco-friendly packaging for the products they ship. Many stores are innovating in this area, replacing foils with cardboard boxes or "slimming" the packaging, which results in a reduction in the raw materials used in their production. Now, perhaps, a revolution awaits us in this area! Research by experts from the University of Lodz shows that customers are ready to use reusable packaging and, what's more, they are willing to pay a deposit for it!

It's the packaging that counts!

For 56.4% of respondents, the material from which the packaging is made is important. Ideally, it should be biodegradable or recyclable. More than half of the respondents believe that clothing and footwear, children's articles and toys and books can definitely be packed in reusable packaging. And as many as 44% of respondents would like to receive products in returnable reusable packaging for a deposit. The desire to make such a purchase in an online store increases with age (up to about 50 years). The largest number of people who are undecided to buy a product in returnable packaging for a deposit are in the group of respondents over 60 (46.7 per cent) and under 20 (36.4 per cent).

What deposit for returnable packaging?

Returnable packaging must be returned, in which the consumer will recover the deposit incurred. Respondents are mostly prepared to bear such an additional cost. Over 40% of people declare their willingness to pay from 50 gr to 5 PLN. 11.9% of respondents would pay an amount in the range of PLN 5.01-10.00, and according to 22.5% of respondents, the cost of the deposit should depend on the amount of purchases.

And how would customers like to return the packaging and collect the deposit?

Respondents often indicated the same form of delivery as well as the return of reusable packaging. Over 46% of respondents would like to return the packaging in a parcel locker. This is followed by special packaging return machines set up at the entrance to each shopping centre (11.5 per cent) or at a multi-area store (21.7 per cent) and a courier (10.7 per cent). The preferred method of returning the packaging may also depend on the purchased product (i.e. the size of the package), the method of delivery/collection of the goods, or the current situation of the consumer.

"Our research shows what changes customers expect and how quickly their ecological requirements are growing," says Lidia Ratajczak-Kluck, CEO of Arvato Supply Chain Solutions in Poland. "Today's customers want to buy products from companies that take real measures to reduce the impact of business on the environment. That is why the introduction of eco-friendly packaging solutions for orders from e-shops is a very important task for all companies in the e-commerce industry – manufacturers, logistics operators or suppliers. The packaging tells the customer what brand they are dealing with and is a carrier of information about how the company cares for the environment.

"We are glad to be working with Arvato Supply Chain Solutions in Poland and to participate in a project aimed at bringing business practice and science closer together, especially at the intersection of logistics that is currently developing so dynamically and ecology that is so important to each of us. I believe that the study, which is part of the project "Development of eco-friendly reusable packaging for use in e-commerce logistics services", will bring benefits both to our business partner and to all of us – both customers who shop online and people who deal with the challenges of modern logistics," says Agnieszka Bukowska-Piestrzyńska, PhD, DSc, Associate Professor of the University of Lodz from the Department of Logistics and Innovation at the University of Lodz.

About the study

The study "Returnable packaging in e-commerce logistics" was conducted using the CAWI method on behalf of Arvato Supply Chain Solutions by experts from the Department of Logistics and Innovation at the University of Lodz on a non-representative group of 1213 Poles aged 17-79 between 4 May and 26 June 2021.

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