Little is as important for getting your product safely to the customer as the right packaging. With lengthy journeys, varying weather conditions and multiple handoffs there are lots of risks of a package getting damaged on the way.
Packaging that prevents possible damage is often not only costly to your business but also to the environment. Ecommerce leaves a big environmental footprint and packaging is one of the main causal factors in that.
But there is hope. Companies have started working on more sustainable packaging options. In this article, we will examine Amazon’s efforts in sustainable packaging, first and foremost their Frustration Free Packaging (FFP) program that is designed to not only satisfy customers but also to continually minimize product and shipment packaging. Find out what the program is about and why and how you should participate.
Packaging Weighs Heavily on the Ecommerce Eco Footprint
The right packaging plays a big role in the business of Ecommerce. Ensuring that your products reach the customer undamaged requires a lot of thought since the journey from warehouse to final destination often includes stressing factors like:
- Changing and / or challenging weather conditions
- The package being moved multiple times, each time involving shocks of varying degrees
- Handling by different people often under time pressure
Protecting the product against stress factors like that as well as the logistics of packaging often lead to an excess amount of packaging:
- Standard cardboard box sizes often don’t match product size and require extra filling
- Layers of cushioning are needed to protect the product against shocks
- Insulating materials have to be used to keep the product at a steady temperature
No wonder packaging makes up a big part of the environmental impact of Ecommerce.
In fact, about 1/3 of solid waste in US landfills currently comes from Ecommerce packaging and that number is likely to rise if Ecommerce continues to grow like it does.
Therefore, packaging is rightfully on the agenda of sustainability efforts of many Ecommerce companies that work to make Ecommerce packaging more sustainable by:
- Decreasing the overall volume of packaging
- Increasing the recyclability or reusability of used materials
How Amazon is Making Packaging More Sustainable
Without a doubt Amazon is the biggest player in the world of Ecommerce. In 2018 more than half of all Ecommerce orders/packages were delivered from an Amazon warehouse. Therefore, the company is particularly under the public eye when it comes to environmental impact and planned actions to improve it.
These are the main efforts Amazon is currently working on towards more sustainable packaging:
- Inventing recyclable materials: Recently Amazon has come up with a fully recyclable mailer that uses paper padding, eliminating unnecessary plastics.
- Using powerful big player resources like industry partnerships and AI to come up with more efficient packaging: Companies like Fisher-Price, Hasbro or One Blade are now shipping in packaging that is more efficient and eco-friendlier.
- Providing a specific program to certify vendors and sellers that use minimal packaging: Frustration Free Packaging (FFP) Program.
As a small or mid-size brand that values sustainability you should consider becoming a part of the FFP program. Let’s look at the why and how.
Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging Program – What Is It
Excessive packaging is not only unsustainable regarding the environment but also highly annoying to the customer. Unwrapping multiple layers of plastic, having to cut your way through inaccessible packaging, cutting yourself on sharp edges – we have all been there.
Amazon is striving to improve their customers’ experience of unwrapping their products and has come up with a Frustration Free Packaging (FFP) program. Entailed in this program is the aim to reduce overall packaging for sustainability purposes.
Amazon’s FFP program has different tiers that come with specific requirements for you as a brand to participate in. Once you have defined which tier you qualify for you can apply with Amazon and not only use your participation as a valuable claim in your communication but also qualify for being found by users under specific search term filters.
The different certification tiers and their basic requirements are as follows:
FFP (Frustration-Free Packaging)
- Must have minimal packaging that’s supposed to be removed in 120 seconds or less.
- Must use 100% recyclable materials in all packaging.
SIOC (Ship in Own Container)
- Must ship without the Amazon over box.
- The product’s volume must be smaller than 50% of the total volume of packaging.
PFP (Prep-Free Packaging)
- For products that can’t be shipped in their own containers.
- Must be easy to open and not require extra prep by Amazon.
- Products can be max. 9” L x 6” W x 0.375” H in size
We recommend aiming for the FFP or SIOC certification.
Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging Program – Why Should I Participate
Becoming a member of the FFP program provides benefits that go beyond aligning your sustainability values with your selling practices. Amazon generally places high priority on increasing efficiency and customer satisfaction, and you can be sure that any program they design will help with these goals.
Participating in the FFP program will:
- Lower your overall packaging cost because of a decreased amount of packaging material.
- Increase customer satisfaction by making the package easier to open and lowering the amount of waste the customers have to deal with, possibly leading to more favorable customer reviews.
- Offer you access to being found by users that filter for FFP products.
- Provide you with an official label for you to use in your customer communication that has trust among Amazon customers and distinguish your products from competitors.
- Motivate you to rethink your packaging and come up with creative solutions that are both better for the environment and your customers.
Some might criticize that the FFP program doesn’t go far enough in its efforts towards sustainable packaging. While there is some truth to that, we like to think about it more as providing incentive to a big player like Amazon to continue their efforts. The more sellers participate in programs like these and the more customers get exposed to them the higher the probability for Amazon to put resources into making the program better.
Convinced already? Let’s look at the process of how to enrol in the program.
Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging Program – How Do I Participate
The process for enrolling in the FFP program is straight forward but at the same time quite involved since it requires 3rd party testing of your packaging. This article provides a detailed overview on all the steps required to get certified. For a quick estimation of time and resources here is a summary of the required steps.
- Get the appropriate passing test report (ISTA 6), go through the requirements and make sure your product will pass.
- Lab Test: Have your packaging tested by a 3rd party lab to meet requirements. In some cases you can perform the tests yourself.
- If the product passes the tests, it can be submitted to Amazon via the ‘Contact Us’ portal. Once approved products may immediately ship in their new packaging otherwise the certification might be lost.
Even though the process might seem involved and costly by involving 3rd party testing keep in mind that the objective is to save money on packaging long term and generate more revenue by increasing customer satisfaction, ultimately repaying the cost.
Further resources for your FFP enrolment process: Official Amazon resources on process and enrolment template
Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging program is a crucial part of Amazon’s sustainability program. In this article we have examined that participating in it not only decreases the environmental impact of packaging but also helps increase customer satisfaction.
We have outlined:
- Why packaging should be number one priority in Ecommerce sustainability efforts
- What Amazon is currently doing to improve the environmental impact of overall packaging
- How Amazon’s FFP program is helping both customer satisfaction and sustainability
- What the requirements are for joining the FFP program, which tier is right for you and what does the process look like
Whether your brand is already selling on Amazon and you would like some help joining the FFP program or you are interested in starting to sell your products on Amazon, reach out to us and we will help you along your journey.