Efficiency is key for retailers, and sustainable initiatives play a huge role in making gains. In fact, not engaging in these practices could be costing organisations more than ‘just’ their reputation, as retailers who have addressed their environmental and surplus transit packaging issues have unearthed multimillions in savings within the first few months. Using cloud based technology, retailers can approve or reject any transit packaging options and ensure suppliers use the correct packing to produce the right results.

Sustainability initiatives are not only about reducing the number of boxes used. These initiatives also involve addressing carton fill, increasing container load and reducing the amount of space required to store stock through pallet optimisation. Inventory is something that many UK retailers are currently struggling with as they battle against, or even give in to the temptation to stockpile products. But, rather than opening new warehouses and piling in products in order to cope with consumer demand, retailers should be better managing their processes by streamlining their transit packaging.

What can retailers do to change their approach to transit packaging?

Start with raw materials: While many retailers regularly shout about the sustainable and eco-friendly materials their consumer-facing packages are composed of, they rarely extend this to their transit packaging. As well as benefiting the environment, investing in transit packaging materials with the same dedication to sustainable and ethical practices as consumer packaging, allows retailers to appeal to more conscious consumers.

Consider the conscious consumer: This year has seen consumers take more of an active role in investigating the inner workings of the supply chain behind their products, engaging with campaigns such as #whomademyclothes. While more retailers are disclosing information about their suppliers, packaging often falls down the list when it comes to transparency, with policies and aims kept in the background. Although it may feel like transit packaging is a behind the scenes element, with more retailers starting to share in-depth information with their consumers through website trackers, social media content and advertising, it’s important to promote packaging initiatives in the same manner in order to reassure consumers and stave off the competition.

Reduce waste: The waste from transit packaging can be a lost cost. Rather than creating a tower of waste in the corner of a warehouse, each package should be made from resistant materials that can be used to repackage returns, or surplus items. Compactors or bailers can also help to utilise warehouse space and can even bring in extra funds should the contents be sold to recyclers, but most importantly still giving back to the ecosystem.

Assess the environmental impact: While the transit packaging itself may be sustainable, the environmental costs of transit packaging can go awry, as the pollution from transporting goods is considerable. Advances in technology are making some headway in reducing the C02 and oxide omissions that stem from container ships and vehicles, but what’s on the inside counts just as much. Carbon savings come from not only reducing the volume of packaging but also through shipping less empty space in individual cartons and containers. Retailers need to standardise their packaging options and sizes, and partner with collaborative suppliers to guarantee that containers are fully optimised.

To solve these issues, complete visibility of the supply chain is vital. Using cloud based technology, retailers can approve or reject any transit packaging options and ensure suppliers use the correct packing to produce the right results. Through this system retailers can cross check the size and weight of each box being packed onto a container and calculate the environmental and financial impacts this will have. The tech is there to help retailers and suppliers but everyone needs to be committed to the overall goal, reducing expenditure and the environmental impacts of packaging.