The most significant influence on protective packaging in 2019 is the e-commerce market and its ever-expanding assortment of players. While the growth in online purchasing drives changes from product design, to package changes, picking, fulfilling and shipping, product protection stands alone as the main issue, according to the E-Commerce: Think Inside the Box report by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. A package’s ability to safeguard against breakage becomes its most vital function.

Consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) and brand manufacturers are exploring multi-channels to get the product to the consumer, adding more touch points and creating the need for packaging to protect a product more than promote it. Protection over promotion is a significant shift from packaging’s traditional role as CPGs foremost opportunity to draw consumer attention on store shelves. Customers are purchasing products digitally, and in most cases, making their decisions on items presented package free. Products not sent through traditional retail channels usually are not shipped on pallets, where padding and wrapping protect them.

E-commerce shipments also often pool mismatched products into one box. For example, a food product may arrive in the same box as a household cleaning product, and if either product incurs damage and/or leaks, it may present a health risk.

On the retail shelf, a product is touched six to seven times from the moment of packaging to the time the consumer takes it from the shelf. With e-commerce, this number increases to around 20 to 30 touches, significantly raising the risk of damage. In addition, e-commerce return rates are two to three times higher than traditional retail, contributing even more touchpoints and need for product security. This growing threat supports further findings from PMMI’s report that indicate 71 percent of CPGs are considering changes to their secondary package and 72 percent are looking for more durable materials for product protection.

As a result, the global protective packaging segment is forecast to grow at a CAGR of over 5 percent through 2022, with the most substantial gains projected in the plastic packaging subsegment, both rigid and flexible. Plastic packaging offers the required durability to guard against product damage without the risk of breakage that comes with glass. Metal packaging provides similar benefits, maintaining its shape throughout shipping but also offering a lightweight package with high recyclability.

Determining what package type will work best depends on a product’s weight, consistency and shape, and is critical to ensuring goods product reach the consumer in the proper condition.

No event in North America will offer more technology and protective packaging innovation than PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019 (Sept. 23–25; Las Vegas Convention Center). Produced by PMMI and co-located with Healthcare Packaging EXPO, this event will bring together more than 30,000 attendees, including 5,000 international visitors from over 125 countries, and 2,000-plus exhibiting companies spanning nearly 900,000 net sq. ft. of the exhibit floor. Protective packaging solutions will also populate education sessions at the Innovation Stage, where exhibitors present breakthrough technologies during free 30-minute seminars, and The Forum, featuring free 45-minute interactive sessions on the latest industry innovations.

Registration for PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019, which includes access to both PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO is $30 until Aug. 30 when the price increases to $100. For more information and to register, visit