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How the move from high-street to e-commerce has put a new focus on the importance of packaging.

By Jake Kirk • Friday 29th April 2016

How the move from high-street to e-commerce has put a new focus on the importance of packaging.

Jake Kirk, Managing Partner of Kite Packaging’s Ecommerce division considers the changing role of packaging in a world where consumers are shopping online more than ever before.

The internet and smartphones have fundamentally changed the way people shop and the subsequent way retailers approach their position in the marketplace. Fuelled in part by the rapid growth of online companies such as Amazon, consumers are far less likely to visit the high-street when products can be ordered from phones, laptops and tablets. This in turn, has had a significant effect on the way companies consider the purchase and use of packaging. It has long been known that the packaging and presentation of products can be a key selling point for many consumers. The type and style of packaging can be as important to the buying experience as the product itself and is highly likely to influence a consumer’s decision to revisit a particular brand. This raises questions for retailers who are seeing an increasing percentage of their turnover come via e-commerce routes. With high volumes of product to ship through e-commerce delivery networks the focus sits with not only offering the customer an experience, but also ensuring the product is fully protected so that the customer receives their product undamaged and fit for purpose. Striking just the right balance is more important than ever.

Packaging plays a critical role in the success and reputation of a company, and if not done effectively can negatively impact a company’s bottom line profits. Before a parcel reaches a customer it goes through several key stages of picking, packing, despatching and of course the all-important ‘final mile’ of delivery. It is vital for a product to be protected against the possibility of being dropped, crushed and the vibration it suffers during transit. However, despite recognising that damages can occur to products as a result of ineffective packaging, it is common that many companies underestimate the underlying implications this can have not just on cost, but crucially on reputation.

The global growth in e-commerce revenues has left companies facing increased pressures as a result of the increased demands of consumers. The days of “Please allow 28 days for delivery” are long gone and customer satisfaction is often measured by how instantly their experience of online purchases and delivery is achieved. Fulfilling increased customer expectations can often see companies taking the path of least resistance and adopting the cheapest solution in term so of packaging solutions and courier partners. During seasonal peaks and facing a struggle to work to strict delivery deadlines, this attitude can prove all too harmful.

The companies actually designing and distributing packaging materials are all too aware of the need for constant change and innovation, in order to keep pace with the ever-changing market demands. As one of the UK’s leading providers of packaging products and solutions, Kite Packaging has helped lead the way in using innovation as the key driver for continuous improvement and has come to understand it as being crucial to supporting a customer’s growth and success.

Innovations in Kites range of packing systems, particularly the ‘Mini Air’ system offers a recyclable, protective void fill solution to suit a range of packaging requirements. Mini Air cushions offer great protection during transit and provide the opportunity to limit waste. The system is designed around producing air filled cushions ‘on demand’ and provides the key element of versatility in bust pick and pack environments. Speed is often another major consideration in the packing process and finding efficient ways to pack items in high volumes is critical. Kite assist in finding the ideal solution for customers, by focusing on the correct sized packaging for the product, one that not only affords effective protection but reduces waste and helps control costs.  Bringing to market such innovative machines such as the ‘Auto Airshock’ machine (which runs up to 480 pouches per hour) can save significant time and money, whilst achieving the fundamental principle of packaging - offering excellent protection.

Packaging needs to do more than just offer adequate protection, it needs to be high quality and efficient to use. Many companies also see it as a great opportunity to add their brand identity and give the customer the overall experience they expect. Connecting with consumers through brand identity often starts with the packaging. With an increase in environmental concerns companies also need to respond with a greater range of environmentally friendly solutions. As packaging has a direct impact on a company’s reputation, and where the packaging has an environmental attribute, customers will make a direct positive association between the packaging of a product and the brand name. Kite packaging believe in investing and providing their industry expertise to provide companies with new and innovative packaging solutions. They assist customers in becoming more environmentally friendly by reducing waste, whilst simultaneously providing customers with products and solutions that give first class protection.

The media has recently put focus on bad practice from courier companies, highlighting not only bad service but illustrating the apparent casual attitudes towards packages being damaged in transit. Whether or not the supplier or the courier is at fault is irrelevant to a customer, a business can see their brand reputation harmed if due consideration is not given to the packaging solution being employed. The cost of replacing returned and damaged items can be incredibly harmful to a company’s profit margins, not to mention the wider issue of reputation. Re-sending an order as a result of damages brings 100% cost and 0% profit and for any company experiencing this as a repeat issue, and not addressing it, long term sales growth can be jeopardised. As a sector (driven by our customers) we are all too prone to finding the cheapest solution rather than the best one, however, companies need to consider the direct impact that damaged goods can have on their company, reputation and profit. Kite provides expertise in the packaging industry, with a key focus on protective packaging for industrial and retail solutions.  Kites extensive range includes boxes, Airshock, Mini Air, void fill, pallet wrap and Airshock mailers.

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Jake Kirk

Jake Kirk

29th April • 2016