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Alan Giles

By Alan Giles

Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging Initiative

Here’s an interesting initiative, with which all consumers will feel considerable sympathy (http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?ie=UTF8&docId=1000276271 ). Amazon’s focus seems to be to strip away those impenetrable, hermetically sealed transparent plastic clamshells that are used to package so many electronic accessories and toys. There is a clear consumer, and environmental, benefit from this but of course it must ultimately save considerable cost and therefore add to Amazon’s burgeoning margins. It also illustrates the sort of large-scale bargaining power to impose changes to suppliers’ business models which have previously been the preserve of Wal-Mart, who catalysed a similar change to smaller pack sizes on dishwasher, laundry and fabric care products. Furthermore it brings in to sharp focus the very different consumer goods packaging needs of an online channel, where all that matters is to protect the product in transit, compared to physical retailers who are concerned about attractive presentation, deterring shoplifters and maximising the extent to which browsing customers can inspect the item without destroying the packaging for the next customer. Amazon’s initiative, if successful, will either lead to split production runs for their suppliers, or tilt the playing field in their direction at the expense of their bricks-and-mortar competitors.

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