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Is Your Packaging Returnable? Why Returnability Is an Essential Packaging Feature in 2022

 With the ongoing cost of living crisis, people are looking to save money wherever possible. Consumers are less likely to make purchases in the first place, but times of economic hardship are likely to increase the number of product returns your business receives too.

Returnability Is an Essential Packaging Feature

The global eCommerce market is expected to total $5.55 trillion in 2022. The market is expected to grow, and with continued growth comes a higher number of returns, meaning retailers need to be prepared to handle more returns than ever. 

One of the easiest ways for businesses to adjust is to re-evaluate their packaging operation and implement returnable packaging.

What Is Packaging Returnability and Its Benefits?

Returnable packaging is designed to be reused by consumers. It helps customers repackage their goods and return items they no longer want, need or are returning due to faults. Online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores may use different forms of packaging, but there’s at least one recurring theme: packaging should be returnable.

The Benefits of Packaging Returnability for Businesses

Using returnable packaging has several benefits for businesses, from savvy and sustainable start-ups to larger eco-conscious brands:

1. Items are Always Returned Safely

There are many reasons why customers return products, which is why it’s good practice to make customers include a reason for their return — the information they give you helps streamline the returns process. But if adequate packaging isn’t supplied in the first instance, their products may be damaged upon return. 

At scale, this issue can hurt your bottom line. Fortunately, returnable, reusable packaging easily solves this problem.

2. Returnable Packaging Prevents Waste

Reusable packaging goes further — literally. Using returnable packaging helps mitigate packaging waste since it can be used more than once to ship your merchandise. Once goods have been returned to your warehouse or processing facility, you can then optimise your waste streams to recycle the packaging waste. This can help reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint.

3. Preserves Raw Materials and Natural Resources

By investing in returnable packaging, less packaging needs to be produced overall. Consumers won’t need to use their own packaging to make returns; they can simply use what was used to ship their products. In turn, this lessens the demand for paper and plastic-based packaging, reducing deforestation and further minimising the need for single-use plastics, benefiting the environment.

The Benefits of Packaging Returnability for Consumers

Providing returnable packaging has numerous benefits for your customers, helping them to feel good about their purchasing decisions and less guilty about making necessary returns:

4. Consumers Won’t Have to Pay for Packaging

Returning a faulty item is one thing, but paying for the privilege is another. Offering free returns can increase sales by building trust and confidence with consumers. However, if the original box or bag used to package your goods becomes damaged after it’s opened, customers will need to return their products in packaging they've purchased.

This can lead to problems processing customer returns and cost your business time and money, which would otherwise be avoided with the appropriate returnable packaging.

5. Improved Unboxing Experience

Reusable packaging is almost always of better quality than single-use packaging. Cheap, plastic mailing bags are unfit for repeat usage as they’re easily ripped when opened. Similarly, shipping boxes over-packaged with too much tape can be damaged upon opening. Instead, simple solutions like pull-open tabs and tear-away strips can greatly enhance the unboxing experience, preserve the packaging and make returns hassle-free.

6. A Higher Chance of Repeat Purchases

You can use your returnable packaging as a marketing tool to encourage customers to give you more of their business. For example, they won’t feel so bad about ordering multiple sizes of clothing if they know their purchasing decision won’t lead to negative environmental consequences due to excess packaging waste from their return. 

Implementing returnable and reusable packaging is all part of maintaining your status as a sustainable brand. So how do you do it?


Plastic free recycling

Image: Eco-Friendly Mailers from Packaging Supplies

How to Make Your Packaging Returnable

No matter what kind of products you sell, making your packaging returnable is straightforward — all you have to do is invest in eco-friendly and reusable packaging with a few simple yet sophisticated features:

●Standardised Packaging Sizes: Use packaging that aligns with your delivery company’s standardised packaging sizing to minimise postage costs and ensure your deliveries and returns are processed efficiently.

●Tear-Away Tabs: Use postal boxes with clearly marked tear-away tabs that customers can use to quickly and easily unpackage their products. This makes for a satisfying unboxing experience that doesn’t damage the packaging, allowing it to be reused.

●Resealable Strips: Once opened, packaging can be resealed using tape, making it harder for returns to be processed. It’s more convenient if the packaging includes an adhesive strip that can be used to secure the packaging for a return.

Can You Save Money with Returnable Packaging?

While returnable packaging may be more expensive than single-use packaging, the benefits for your customers, your business and the environment are worth considering. If you implement returnable packaging, you’ll be able to recoup costs elsewhere, which will help you scale your business over time.

Author Bio: Adam Middleton is the Marketing Manager for Packaging Supplies Ltd, the UK’s first plastic-free packaging supplier and custom packaging service, delivering sustainable, carbon-neutral and plastic-free packaging materials, shipping boxes and fully customised packaging.

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