The future of online retail delivery packaging - how can we think outside of the box?

We are online retail natives, expecting nothing less that whatever we want and need, conveniently delivered to our door. As a result, we are getting accustomed to gaining a branded service in addition to the physical products we buy.

Health supplements get delivered each month with a seem-less digital experience that checks if I need any different or additional vitamins or minerals due to my specific life pressures that month. When I order Deliveroo, my phones finger print recognition is integrated to make payment quick and painless. Forward thinking brands are nailing convenience and hyper-personalisation and this will just get slicker. But when it comes to delivery packaging it still feels that we are lagging behind. 

Studies show that at least 18% of all UK retail sales take place online ( It is imperative that we keep working on the important challenge of sustainable delivery packaging and consider how new systems could make things better. The brands that make the most visibly positive steps in future-proofing sustainable delivery packaging will win consumer advocacy as well.

For brands and businesses that control the end to end user experience, there is a fantastic opportunity to think creatively and innovatively about how moments of delight can continue into the physical delivery conclusion and sustainability has to be one of the main considerations. At Echo we have been exploring how delivery brands can further think outside the box.

What are the ways in which brands can encourage savvy ordering so that items can be grouped together? How can packaging become reusable? RePack, a Finland based company reimburses shoppers when the bag or box gets back to them.

In the future, will we all have our own personal re-usable delivery boxes? How can these kind of packaging solutions actually work to extend our ongoing relationships with our delivery brands? How can we maximise local community drop and collect points? Online store Toad & Co send goods in a reusable package that you flip around and send back to the company to use again for the next customer. 

Limeloop reusable shippers

Limeloop reusable shippers

Limeloop has created Reusable Shippers designed specifically for the digital economy with the ambition to say goodbye to the cardboard box. 

What materials might offer a better solution to cardboard and plastic. For example mycelium, cornstalks or biological tissues? Can these materials be used to simply wrap goods rather than wrap and then box them?  Businesses like Evocative have been growing better materials for use in packaging. 

It is easy to oversimplify the issue of sustainable delivery packaging, but by bringing together designers, supply chain experts, scientists and engineers we can make great progress.

Delivery packaging doesn’t need to stand out on shelf in the same way that traditional packaging did. But its desirability will be in how it addresses the issue of sustainability in a way that is true to the brand it is delivering.