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It’s hard to comprehend all the ways in which the current COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our lives. It’s not just the way in which we socialise or increase use of hand sanitiser and face masks, it’s also affected something which people interact with almost every day (often without even thinking about it) packaging.
The pandemic has caused a shift in buying patterns of consumers, heightened health and safety expectations and a focus on sustainability. As a result, companies have to rethink the way they utilise their packaging supplies in order to keep up with the challenges posed by doing business in a post-COVID world.
If your business relies on packaging, it is important to learn more about the ways in which the pandemic has impacted the world of packaging. You may need to rethink your use of packaging supplies if you want to keep up and survive in an ever-changing business landscape.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed the way people shop. With various lockdown restrictions and the increased risk associated with shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store location, it’s no surprise that many people now view online shopping as the safest choice.
A recent study of consumers in Europe and North America revealed that 36% of respondents now shop online on a weekly basis (up from 28 & pre-COVID-19). Another survey conducted by UNCATD has shown that online purchases have increased by 6 to 10 percentage points across most categories.
This spike in online shopping means that it’s now more important for packaging design and packaging operations to be able to accommodate the rigors of shipping. With customer satisfaction increasingly dependent on delivering goods via mail, the inconvenience caused by damaged items needing to be returned and replaced can have an extremely negative impact on a business's bottom line (due to reputational damage and a loss of repeat customers).
With the pandemic looking likely to be around for a significant amount of time, businesses that rely on online shopping and delivery need to be mindful of the additional physical demands being placed upon their packaging. They also need to keep in mind the impact of the packaging supplies on the customer unboxing experience.
The spread of the novel coronavirus has made consumers question the safety of the products that they bring into their homes. As such, a significant number of people have begun disinfecting or quarantining packages before bringing them into their homes.
This has meant that businesses have had to rethink their use of packaging supplies in order to meet both the physical and psychological need for safer and more hygienic packaging.
There are a number of ways that retailers can use packaging supplies to prioritise the health and safety of their customers.
Using the right protective packaging is vital for protecting products from possible viral exposure. For example, it’s best practice to avoid product packaging with open cut-outs that would impact the integrity and hygiene levels of the product being shipped.
In addition to using protective packaging to ensure the safety of their products, businesses can also make strategic choices about the materials used in the packaging supplies they choose.
Various tests have demonstrated that the novel coronavirus remains infectious longer on smooth, non-porous surfaces. As such, companies looking to minimise the health risks to their customers might opt for paper or cardboard packaging supplies over plastic ones.
The increased risk levels from handling potentially infectious products and product packaging have, unsurprisingly, manifested in increased levels of anxiety in many people.
In fact, the CDC in American has found that anxiety symptoms have roughly tripled compared to pre-pandemic levels. While this is likely to be less severe in Australia due to the lower levels of COVID-19 infection, it’s fair to assume that there are significantly more people experiencing anxiety symptoms due to the pandemic.
This means that it’s never been more important for businesses to communicate effectively with their customers and pressure them that they have their best interest at heart. Well-designed, thoughtful custom packaging can speak to these anxieties in a powerful way and act to reassure consumers.
In order to remain competitive, it’s highly advisable for companies to redesign their product and food packaging in order to address their customers’ health and safety concerns. It’s also a very good idea to include copy that informs customers of the measures that you have taken to ensure that your products and packaging are safe to purchase.
With the sudden and devastating nature of the global pandemic, most people’s attention has been, understandably, less focused on issues related to environmental sustainability.
However, as life finds a new rhythm in the post-COVID world, environmental awareness is slowly but surely re-emerging.
As it does, a need for packaging supplies that are able to counteract the negative environmental impacts of the pandemic (such as a drastic increase in the amount of plastic packaging used in online shopping and food deliveries & takeaways) has become increasingly evident.
There are two major ways in which companies can act to increase the sustainability of their packaging supplies.
Eco friendly packaging supplies, such as biodegradable materials, are one important way that companies can reduce the ecological footprint of their packaging operations.
Materials such as bioplastics, corn foam and mushroom-based materials are now widely available to companies looking to be as green as possible.
Similarly, it might be as simple as choosing cardboard (which is also biodegradable) over plastic when selecting packaging supplies.
As an additional bonus, the porous nature of many sustainable packaging materials also makes them less susceptible to transmitting viral particles, so they have the ability to deliver powerful health benefits as well as being much better for the environment.
It really is a win-win situation.
Product packaging that can be reused is also another option open to companies looking to reduce their environmental impact.
Even with the implementation of plastic recycling in many cities, reusable packaging has been proved to reduce waste. Businesses that provide their customers with reusable product packaging are also likely to deliver an enhanced customer experience, along with the benefits that come from beings seen as a “green”, ecologically responsible company.
The global coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed many aspects of our lives, and product packaging is no different. If your business relies on packaging supplies, we can help you adapt to survive and even thrive in the post-COVID world with our wide range of protective packaging and eco friendly packaging.
Click here to get in touch with us today to find out more.