Beyond the Box: Unpacking the Unexpected

Reliable and sturdy as a cost effective packaging solution, ecommerce assumed the corrugated box to deposit goods during the introduction of online shopping. Ecommerce businesses out the gate were striving to create packaging efficiency, reducing shipping costs, ultimately improving sustainability and cardboard became the dependable solution to rising needs.

However, in the spring of 2020, the world as we knew it came to a halt as Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread rapidly, forcing consumers to retreat within the confines of their homes for an indefinite period of time. The economy suffered, with doors locked, windows shut, and cars abandoned in driveways with entire cities showing no signs of life. COVID-19 spread quickly, affecting schools, churches, bustling cities, and small rural towns alike. Wallets got smaller, and budgets tightened as people prayed to keep their jobs. With boredom reaching an all-time high, there was a surge in another expected advancement: consumer reliance on ecommerce as their primary spending channel. Within just a few weeks, there was a noticeable shift in consumer behavior, with a greater focus on at-home consumption. People became addicted to the dopamine rush of online shopping, buying anything they would typically reserve for an in-store purchase without a second thought.

After the shock of the pandemic settled, demand soon swelled for packaging as retailers and shoppers alike adapted to the pandemic. The supply chain industry had to work tirelessly to combat potential cardboard shortages as our economy pivoted to obtaining necessary goods from the computer. The corrugated box industry became dependant on consumers to recycle the products to support its financial and environmental needs. Due to 60% increase in consumption of cardboard boxes packaging companies were forced to hire at a record rate to meet product production demands. These same companies found themselves having to balance these production needs with the extreme efforts required to keep the employee base safe during a worldwide pandemic.

The pandemic has brought about a significant transformation in the packaging industry, but there are positive trends emerging for ecommerce. As more employees return to their offices, schools reach capacity, and infrastructure expands to accommodate more commuters on the roads, ecommerce has stabilized. We are no longer solely relying on ecommerce out of necessity and fear. Shopping patterns have become ingrained, and the future looks promising for ecommerce in the long run. The demand for cardboard boxes is expected to grow as global shipping expands allowing us to ask “What is the future of packaging solutions?”