By: David Roberge on February 22nd, 2019
Packaging Trend: Opaque Packaging Films for E-Commerce
Equipment | Packaging Materials | The Business of Packaging | Plant Performance | Investment | Packaging Design | Shipping Protection | Packaging Psychology | Fulfillment | Warehousing
One of the hottest new trends to hit the packaging world is the introduction of opaque packaging films, particularly for e-commerce businesses that ship a diverse array of items to consumers all over the world.
Opaque packaging films are new films that eliminate the need for traditional corrugated boxes and fillers. With this innovation, the machinery wraps items as they are, cutting out bulky packages. And because the film is opaque, what’s inside remains private.
This new type of film cuts down on waste, reduces costs, maintains privacy, takes up less space, improves overall efficiency, and upgrades the consumer experience.
Cutting Packaging Costs and Keeping Privacy Intact
Cardboard boxes have always been the ultimate in privacy when it comes to shipping.
Only x-ray machines and other high-tech sensors can see what’s inside — so they’re perfect for consumers who order from online stores and want to keep their purchase decisions to themselves.
Unfortunately, they can cause waste, both the box itself (which is often larger than the product inside) and the filler, even if it’s just air pillows. Either way, there’s more material involved than may be necessary for some items.
Replacing cardboard isn’t necessarily an easy task, however, as traditional films are transparent and don’t offer any physical protection.
But the introduction of opaque packaging films is changing the future of e-commerce, cutting back on costs, waste, and staff time.
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Innovative Trend: Shield Packaging Is Now an Option
One of the newest options in opaque packaging films is Exlfilmplus SHIELD, a product from ipg (intertape polymer group). It’s perfect for packages that meet certain physical conditions.
When a product is already protected, boxed, or difficult to damage — say, for example, athletic shoes or documents — SHIELD can replace the need for an additional corrugated box or filler material.
SHIELD is ideal for:
● Mailing insurance policies, annual reports and other sensitive documents.
● Shipping expensive items like high-end auto components, electronics or jewelry.
● Packaging items that can withstand rigorous shipping conditions without a corrugated container.
Sealed Air is another brand that offers an opaque packaging film, Stealth Wrap.
While opaque packaging films have a lot of potential, particularly for e-commerce, it’s not necessarily as easy as simply making the switch to SHIELD or another product.
When running opaque films, it’s important to have the machines specifically set up to run this innovative new packaging component.
Currently, many industrial machines use photoelectric sensors (also known as photo eyes) to determine when a product is in the proper place to seal.
Photo eyes emit a beam of light that observes the presence or absence of items or changes in conditions. When the beam is interrupted or reflected back, it’s measured by a receiver and the machinery reacts accordingly.
On clear film, the photo eye can see through the film. But it can’t see through opaque films.
With the prevalence of photo eyes, not all machines have the capability to run opaque films. Yet.
Some already do, however, including manufacturers Industrial Packaging works with, notably Kallfass and Conflex.
The Benefits of Opaque Packaging Films
For companies, particularly in the e-commerce industry, these films:
● Cut billable weight costs and freight. Because there’s less packing material, the shipping costs are lower, and more product can ship for the same price.
● Minimizes labor costs. With opaque packaging films, staff members don’t have to manually package items or stuff boxes. This cuts an entire step out of the manufacturing line.
● Less storage space. Opaque packaging films fit directly to the size of the product, eliminating the need for overly-large corrugated boxes. This means companies can fit significantly more product in warehouses and trucks.
● Offer a more sustainable option. With no boxes or air pillows, the waste leftover from packing material is significantly minimized. That gives companies a smaller environmental footprint.
For consumers, opaque packaging films:
● Cut back on waste and unboxing time. Consumers have less material to dispose of, and don’t have to worry about breaking down cardboard boxes or recycling significant amounts of material.
● Offer well protected and private packaging. Opaque packaging films retain privacy and provide physical protection during the shipping process, so consumers can trust that the items they ordered remain confidential and safe.
● Provide easier access to the products. Consumers can directly access the items they ordered, much more quickly.
● Reduces mess. Traditional packaging often leads to a lot of cleanup for the consumer, whether it’s multiple air pillows, styrofoam peanuts, or shredded paper. Opaque packaging means there’s minimal material to throw away.
Overall, opaque packaging films are an innovative and promising development for companies in e-commerce. Less waste, a reduced environmental footprint, happier customers, and lower labor costs are all a major win for manufacturers.
Have you considered upgrading your packaging processes? Download our Ultimate Guide to Protective Packaging to aid in keeping your products and your consumers protected!
About David Roberge
I am grateful for my 9 years as part of the outstanding Industrial Packaging team. I was able to hang out with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the packaging industry. I feel even luckier that I was able to share that knowledge with you. I love learning, hiking, and growing people and teams both personally and professionally, and helping companies grow better.