Chicago — Brand owners need to re-examine their views on closures as the popularity of online shopping and home delivery continues to grow, according to one packaging expert.
Traditional retail still holds the vast majority of the nation's sales, but people continue to buy more and more products through digital channels, said Joe Stodola, vice president of global business development for Jabil Packaging Solutions.
But unlike the traditional shopping experience, shipment of products — especially liquids — can challenge the integrity of closures and result in leakage, he said at the Plastics Caps & Closures 2016 conference in Chicago.
“We're challenged with how do we design packaging?” Stodola said. “Is it new plastic packaging? Or is it a variant of retail? Or should we have primary packaging for retail and primary packaging for home [delivery]?
“State-of-the-art today is we're grabbing a retail package, putting it into a box with a pillow pack and shipping it. The packaging of the future probably will be increasingly designed for the format which it's intended to ship,” he said.
Jabil Packaging, itself, is currently in confidential talks about solving this problem
“I'm not going to name names, but we are absolutely under non-disclosure with, let's call them large companies, that are trying to solve for how do you effectively get liquids delivered via the digital channel to the home,” Stodola said.
The vice president believes the future holds some type of new packaging to help address this challenge. But he's not exactly sure what that will look like.
“We have to come creatively with better designs that perform better in more aggressive environments like you are going to see when you ship a product,” he said. “But I also think that this is an opportunity for brand new classes of packaging that doesn't exist today.”
This could include some type of merging of flexible and rigid technologies, a move that could lead to more design freedom, Stodola said at the conference organized by Plastics News.
“I think there are new classes of packaging that will come up that have yet to be innovated. My message was if you look at what's coming at us, you just can't keep doing things the way we've been doing things,” he said.
Designers have pushed for thinner and lighter weight packaging in recent years, but with the backdrop of growing digital sales, Stodola sees value and performance regaining consideration.
Central to the issue of shipping liquids is the rub between designing closures that allow for easy dispensing of product verses closures that will withstand the rigors of travel.
“Think about how we've designed closures for the last decades. We're trying to get as easy as we can all of the product out of the package,” he said. “That works in reverse when a product goes for an air shipment, for example. It goes under pressure. It contorts. It swells. It leaks.”
The environment on a delivery truck can be just as tricky, with shipments knocking against one another, he said.
“As designers, yes, we have to start challenging ourselves to find new ways to answer future problems,” Stodola said.