It’s no secret e-commerce has seen a boom over the last couple of years, and as customer expectations continue to evolve, shipping packaging continues to fall under more scrutiny. Many e-commerce companies are asking themselves: How can we ship orders faster and more efficiently? How can we lower operating costs? How can we recruit and retain workers? Are we prioritizing sustainability? These challenges combined can be overwhelming.

We’re letting you in on some of the biggest packaging trends today for e-commerce shipping and why they’re worth integrating into your operations to improve overall process efficiencies and reliability.

1. Adopting packaging automation

Historically, some e-commerce companies have been hesitant to implement automation for a variety of reasons. However, they’re realizing more and more just how efficient they must be to stay competitive. Because of this shift, e-retailers are moving to an automated packaging solution. These systems create fit-to-size boxes on demand every three or seven seconds for single- and multi-item orders while reducing or eliminating the need for void fill. Automated packaging is creating a streamlined fulfillment process that can effectively overcome challenges with higher speed, efficiency, and reliability.

2. Overcoming labor constraints

Next to inventory, labor costs are usually the largest expense in a warehouse facility’s operating budget. It’s difficult to maintain steady throughput when you struggle to source labor and have high turnover and labor costs. Right-sized automated packaging is providing a key means for many e-commerce companies to overcome this challenge, by only requiring one or two operators and eliminating up to 20 packing stations. By automating the packaging process, e-retailers are reducing and reallocating labor, boosting overall profitability.

3. No longer shipping “air”

Shipping “air” is extremely expensive, and unfortunately very common among many e-commerce companies. Dimensional (DIM) weight, or the amount of space a package occupies in relation to its actual weight, matters. With shipping costs only going up, many companies are decreasing the size of their shipping packaging and eliminating the need for void fill with fit-to-size automated packaging solutions. As a result of a right-sized box, e-retailers require fewer truckloads and save on the cost of wasted fuel and carbon emissions, all while shippers are experiencing an average of 32% savings in freight costs.

4. Enhancing the customer experience

When it comes to e-commerce orders, first impressions matter. With more orders being placed online and the only interaction with a company happening during the unboxing experience, many e-commerce companies are bridging the gap with branded, right-sized boxes that are void fill free, arrive on time, and deliver orders undamaged. Some automated packaging solutions can service three different branded corrugates with one machine, turning every box into a brand ambassador. By right-sizing and branding the packaging, e-retailers are showing customers that they can provide the expected customer conveniences without sacrificing productivity.

5. Prioritizing sustainable packaging

When it comes to e-commerce, packaging is the most outward testament to a brand and its commitment to sustainability. Implementing eco-friendly processes are good for building an organization’s positive brand awareness and showcasing its commitment to the environment. A number of strategies are available to companies to support this priority, with automated packaging leading the pack. By creating the smallest parcel necessary, businesses can lessen their environmental impact and lower shipping material costs by an average of 38%, for a more environmentally friendly parcel. As e-retailers reduce each package's carbon footprint, they are saving valuable money and resources in the long run.

Sean Webb is the director of sales and service for North America at Sparck Technologies, a global leader in the design and fabrication of advanced, fit-to-size automated packaging systems. Sparck’s revolutionary auto-boxing solutions, the CVP Impack and CVP Everest, optimize all steps of package fulfillment by measuring, constructing, sealing, weighing and labeling each variable dimension single- or multi-item order of hard of soft goods in a custom fit-to-size box. For more information, visit