Macfarlane ordered 119 items from internet retailers in a range of sectors including: health and beauty, homeware, gifts, fashion and electronics.
The study found that 30% of parcels despatched by UK internet retailers could be unfit for purpose, with as many as 10% containing damaged contents as a result.
A huge 41% contained too much packaging material that would need to be disposed of or recycled, but only 53% of the packs assessed used packaging materials that were fully recyclable.
Macfarlane’s criteria included: appropriateness of outer packaging size; durability of packaging; ease of opening; amount of packaging materials used; recyclability of packaging; ability to use packaging for returns; and use of branding.
It found that 30% of the packages received had been sent in pack sizes that were either too big (often meaning that the contents were at risk of damage from moving around too much in the pack) or too small, risking the package breaking open. The contents of one in 10 (10%) of the packages tested were actually damaged.
While most packages were judged to be clean (84%) and dry (80%), 15% were dented, 8% were crushed, 8% were ripped and 4% appeared to have been opened or tampered with during transit.
Almost a quarter (24%) of the packages assessed were found to be difficult to open, with assessors often having to resort to scissors and knives to access the contents, while 19% had too little packaging.
The research found that 55% of packages had no information on how to return the item and the packaging was not reusable.
Additionally, 61% of the packs had no branding (inside or out) and 55% did not reflect the image of the brand.
Laurel Granville, marketing director of Macfarlane Packaging, said: “There has been much made in the media recently about inappropriate packaging and we wanted to take a look for ourselves to gain some insight into where some of the problems might lie in online delivery.
“This study identifies some very important issues for online retailers and highlights the opportunities that exist for them to enhance their image, build their brand and reduce their costs while delivering an excellent experience for their customers.”
Andrew Starkey, Head of e-Logistics at IMRG, the UK’s online retail organisation, said: “This latest research by Macfarlane Packaging gives useful additional insight to the issues and how they may be addressed. It is now clear that this is an area that requires careful consideration by all retailers and that investment can pay back in terms of reduced waste, cost and improved customer satisfaction.”
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