Complexity of E-Commerce Supply Chain Raises the Stakes For Manufacturers

With 131,447 U.S. businesses selling their products online, revenues near $298 billion and an annual growth rate close to 6 percent, the e-commerce supply chain’s growing volume is complemented by increased complexity.

Reston, Va.With 131,447 U.S. businesses selling their products online, revenues near $298 billion and an annual growth rate close to 6 percent, the e-commerce supply chain’s growing volume is complemented by increased complexity, according to the “E-Commerce Market Assessment” published this year by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, the owner and producer of the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows. With jumps in volume and complexity, however, come challenges manufacturers must address. PMMI also produced an infographic highlighting the study’s key findings, now available at

Keep the Product Safe
Replacing a destroyed item can cost up to 17 times as much as shipping, and overcoming negative online reviews stemming from such an incident can take months. Each step in the delivery chain only increases the risk of damage to packages and that makes engineering essential. Ultimately, manufacturers must ensure packaging remains undamaged throughout the delivery process, regardless of the shipping scenario. Another, related challenge is eased with the effective use of warehouse management systems, which help make rightsizing feasible.

Constant Communications Count
Strong communication with third-party retailers is another critical factor for manufacturers overcoming the complications of the e-commerce supply chain. Frequent communication can bridge disconnects that lead to consumer dissatisfaction. For example, when brand owners plan significant changes to primary packaging, they should work with their third-party retailers to take current inventory and marketing into account so the consumer experience is in sync with the marketing.

Secondary Packaging is Prime Marketing Space
Product marketing on packages presents another challenge: Distinct differences of opinion. Marketers want packaging to reflect their brand and even advertise products; operations and engineering question the value of branded packaging post-purchase; and logistics professionals face looming concerns of theft. These disagreements can present significant hurdles, but compromises can be found through tactics such as discreet branding and product advertisements on secondary packaging.

Professionals across a wide variety of vertical market segments can find the latest information and technologies to tackle the challenges associated with the growth of e-commerce at PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Pharma EXPO 2015 (Las Vegas Convention Center; September 28–30, 2015). The shows’ first co-location in Las Vegas will draw 30,000 attendees to see 2,000 exhibitors showcase a variety of equipment and material solutions across more than 800,000 net square feet of exhibit space. This record-breaking event will offer attendees opportunities to see the latest packaging and processing technologies, cross-pollinate ideas and innovation across industries, network with peers and suppliers, and gain insights from a diverse range of educational programming.

To register for PACK EXPO and Pharma EXPO, visit Registration is $30 through Sept. 14, when it increases to $100. PMMI’s full “E-Commerce Market Assessment” is available at ($500 for non-members).

About PMMI
PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies is a trade association representing more than 700 companies that provide a full range of processing and packaging machinery, materials, components and containers. PMMI actively brings buyers and sellers together through initiatives such as, educational programs and world-class events, connecting participants in the processing and packaging supply chain with their customers around the world. PMMI produces the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows that include EXPO PACK México 2015, June 16–19 (Mexico City, Mexico); PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2015 (Sept. 28–30, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nev.); PACK EXPO International 2016, Nov. 6–9 (McCormick Place, Chicago, Ill.); Pharma EXPO, co-located with PACK EXPO International 2016; PACK EXPO East 2017 (Feb. 27–March 1, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia) and EXPO PACK Guadalajara. PMMI owns PMMI Media Group, a market-leading B2B media company that produces information for processing and packaging professionals, bringing together solution providers and end-users and facilitating connectivity throughout the supply chain. Its world class media brands Packaging World, Automation World, Healthcare Packaging, Contract Packaging and Packaging + Processing OEM are proven leaders in covering this diverse and dynamic marketplace, and its digital products incorporate leading edge media technologies to deliver informed, actionable business intelligence to the industry. PMMI Media Group also produces The Automation Conference, an annual education and networking forum, taking place in Chicago each spring. 

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