Deliveries are reaching doorsteps across the United States without any extra packaging, implying that items like your fresh computer or sophisticated surround sound speakers might seem as if they were plucked directly from a warehouse shelf and brought to your doorstep.
This transition is the latest step Amazon is taking to overhaul its delivery protocols — a change that Chief Executive Andy Jassy hopes will strike a chord with customers who are dissuaded by the sheer number of Amazon-branded boxes they receive and discard on a weekly basis.
The company has been revamping its logistical network for the past year, which has been giving it quicker and more efficient delivery outcomes. The scaling down or removal of packaging has gained heightened importance for Amazon, playing a pivotal role in maintaining its leadership position, reducing costs, and attaining its goals related to environmental impact.
Leveraging Tech to Cut Excess Packaging
Approximately 11% of the items dispatched by the company presently reach their destinations devoid of supplementary packaging, a concept referred to by the company as “ships in own container,” according to Amazon’s statement. Generally, customers are afforded the option to indicate their preference for additional packaging or the absence of it during the checkout process.
In order to achieve this, Amazon is tasked with helping its suppliers design packaging that achieves a delicate equilibrium: it must be sturdy enough to withstand shipping on its own while avoiding the inclusion of excessive materials that would undermine the core goal of minimizing packaging.
Moreover, the company needs to assess whether customers could be hesitant about having prominent deliveries, such as a sizable package of toilet paper, showcased on their doorsteps and visible to their neighbors.
The company is thus conducting packaging trials to determine its eligibility for shipment without additional packaging and utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance its testing. The company is conducting as many as 19 distinct tests at a facility close to its Seattle headquarters, encompassing various aspects, such as item compression, vibrations, and drops from different angles.
Utilizing its substantial sway over companies dealing in packaged goods and other suppliers, Amazon is also tapping into its influence, coupled with incentives, to motivate them to improve their packaging for better resilience during shipping. For example, vendors on the platform can be rewarded for simplifying their packaging components.
That said, there is a downside to reducing packaging for Amazon, as no extra packaging means fewer branding opportunities. However, the company hopes the move will cultivate positive customer sentiment. The company pointed out numerous customers have asked for these changes, reinforcing its confidence that this decision will be well-received.
Impact of a Bigger Logistical Network
Over the last year, Amazon has also intensified its efforts to expedite customer deliveries by revamping its delivery procedures, thereby decreasing the distance products traverse within the United States. As per a report by The Wall Street Journal earlier this year, the company has adopted a new regionalized model where numerous items are situated in proximity to one of eight regions.
During the pandemic, the company’s warehouse network experienced substantial growth, with its U.S. warehouse space nearly doubling within two years. This development has proven pivotal, as proximity to the destination enhances movement efficiency, reducing the need for excessive packaging. Amazon has effectively decreased the travel distance for items from fulfillment centers to customers by 15% and simultaneously minimized the frequency of package handling, signified by a 12% reduction in touch points.