Dow’s Innovative Solutions Tackle Challenges in E-commerce Packaging


Online marketplaces are fast gaining popularity among consumers. Particularly in Asia Pacific, e-commerce growth is expected continue at a double-digit rate at least till 20201 and consumers in Asia Pacific are twice as likely to visit an online shop as in other parts of the world. It is forecasted that e-commerce transactions in Asia Pacific will surpass USD 33 trillion in 2030.

The meteoric growth in the Asia-Pacific e-commerce industry has generated big ripples of spending frenzy especially all across the region, most notably in China. The total e-commerce transactions in the country amounted over CNY 5 trillion in 2016. This prolific growth breeds marvelous opportunities for the packaging industry – provided the challenges that come along are addressed in a consumer-friendly and efficient way.

The development of the e-commerce industry, along with other digital aspects of retailing, has touched upon not only the small and ‘handy’ category of products, but also other goods and commodities like furniture, appliances, equipment, grocery, and even perishable food items. The proliferation of online retailing has forced a vast majority of retailers to make great effort to explore the online space. The opportunities and possibilities of this fast-growing industry has led to an amazing growth in the logistics and courier industry - stimulating flexible packaging in Asia Pacific, and triggering a surge in evolution and innovating for packaging materials across industries.

Challenges and opportunities

Packaging is the best form of advertising for any product or community. A good packaging can deliver a power message and promote the product’s attributes and the brand’s image effectively. Business strategists and marketers are focusing heavily on packaging design to enhance the recognition effect of their brand identity when the product is exhibited on the shelf.

Consumers are also more likely to prefer products whose packaging leave a positive and inspiring impression, according to Journal of Applied Packaging Research2. This is even more so especially for gift items.

The emerging e-commerce industry brings great challenges to flexible packaging. The appearance of the packaging is surely very important – but not more than the convenience and efficiency they are expected to deliver, including the product information that consumers can get from the pack. Consumers usually get detailed information of the products online, and then choose and buy the products according to their preference, and will only get to see the appearance of the packaging only after the delivery.

Packaging cost is currently a vital factor in ensuring a brand’s financial performance. With the convenience of the internet, consumers are able to compare prices and features of similar or congeneric products – simply by clicking on different websites. People choose, not surprisingly, the more cost-effective products that deliver the best value for their money. As a result, brand owners must take into consideration not only the cost of production, but also the packaging cost.

One of the most important challenge is to ensure that the packaging protects the size, shape, quality and appearance of the product. As almost everything can be bought online, people no longer go to shops and showrooms to check out the goods. Instead, they pay for it online, and expect the perfect and unblemished goods to be shipped to their doorsteps. It is a challenge for retailers to avoid damage, leakage and deterioration during the delivery process.

Global leader tackles industry challenge

Dow is not only a global leader in packaging materials, it is also a pioneer in supporting the e-commerce packaging sector. Staying true to its tradition of industry engagement and continuous innovation, Dow keeps a constant track of developments in the logistics and packaging sectors. Here in Asia Pacific, based on intensive research and development, the company has developed a range of flexible packaging solutions to meet the needs of the vibrant e-commerce market in this region. Dow’s patented innovative enhanced expanded polyethylene (EPE) foam technology is a solution to tackle the challenges faced by e-retailers.

Dow INNATETM Precision Packaging Resins provide excellent packaging performance

INNATE™ Precision Packaging Resins are a new family of innovative resins that address some of today’s more challenging packaging performance gaps with an unprecedented balance of toughness and stiffness in combination with excellent tear and puncture resistance. Created from a patented molecular catalyst coupled with advanced process technology, INNATE™ Precision Packaging Resins empower the consumers to unlock new packaging opportunities through stiffness-toughness balance, processing ease and improved sustainability profiles.

Co-extruded film made with INNATE™ Precision Packaging Resins offer up to twice as much abuse-resistance compared to traditional materials currently available in the marketplace. This family of resins is born from breakthrough process technology that allows accurate and consistent control of the resin chemistry for marrying film properties like never before.

For e-commerce packaging, leakage & breakage in delivery are the major issues for all stakeholders across the industry value chain. Consumers are dissatisfied with the leakage – and this definitely leads to a very negative impression about not just the brand but also the manufacturer itself. During deliveries, goods are stacked against each other while being transported over tens of thousands of miles, and the risk of leakage and wear and tear is very high. Dow’s innovation in flexible packaging, INNATE™ Precision Packaging Resins could address this problem and provide distinct advantages for e-commerce logistic packaging through its excellent stiffness, toughness and processability.

As a result, this innovative solution from Dow has won the 2016 Ringier Technology Innovation Award for its outstanding features and diversified adaptability. INNATE™ Precision Packaging Resins are at the cutting edge of high performance resins for packaging markets – it offers unprecedented performance levels to help businesses avoid the most complex and daunting challenges faced by the packaging sector.

AFFINITY™ Polyolefin Plastomers, excellent sealant performance

AFFINITYTM Polyolefin Plastomers (POP) can deliver greater sealant performance as compared to traditional polyethylene at much lower cost. Through the use of Dow’s patented INSITETM Technology, AFFINITYTM POP gains excellent sealability to diverse structures, as well as lower heat seal and hot tack initiation temperatures for faster filling speeds and lower leak rates.

Fresh food packaging is becoming more important in the booming e-commerce industry. Fresh fruit and vegetables require different degrees of oxygen or nitrogen transmittance and adjusting gas transmittance to preserve fresh food in its best condition during transportation is a challenge.

Dow has developed AFFINITYTM POPs used in breathable films for modified atmosphere packaging. Packages designed with selective barrier properties control the oxygen transmission rate (OTR) and oxygen concentration inside the package which gives outstanding protection for fresh food during transportation.

Meanwhile, the excellent sealant performance and improved tear resistance of AFFINITYTM POPs enable downgauging and improved package integrity, which can prevent leakage or damage during long-haul courier and transportation. The performance of AFFINITYTM POPs strongly supports brand owners in gaining core competitiveness in the emerging e-commerce market.

Besides INNATE™ Precision Packaging Resins and AFFINITYTM POPs, Dow also provides comprehensive product portfolio including ELITE™ AT polyethylene resins, ELITE™ enhanced polyethylene resins, and DOWLEX™ polyethylene resins for the e-commerce sector, to address challenges in different aspect and fulfill differentiated demands in the market.

Revolutionizing the value chain

Dow invests significant efforts and resources to collaborate with its industry partners. The company actively promotes continuous improvement and performance enhancement throughout the value chain by deploying innovative technologies and in-depth services.

When developing INNATE™ Precision Packaging Resins, Dow engaged manufacturers and brand owners to analyze the market trend and customer needs. Through deep and long consultations with industry stakeholders, Dow has promoted the innovative solutions among all parties in the value chain to best meet the customer needs. For film manufacturers, INNATE™ Precision Packaging Resins means higher process efficiency and more universal formulation and more opportunities. The resins also bring advanced performance and differentiated packaging solutions for brand owners. This precise and state-of-the-art packaging solution also helps the distributors in e-commerce industry to offer better reliability and integrity, extend the expiration date, and lower the risk of leakage and damage during the shipment journey.

Dow will continue to monitor the e-commerce industry by analyzing the integrated channels of the business – from online to offline, production to logistics. The rapidly developing cross-border e-commerce industry will bring unique, new opportunities and challenges to flexible packaging.

Continuing its pioneering role in market development, Dow will focus on exploring the integrated services involving all its business partners from the beginning point to the end of the make-move-deliver process. The ultimate aim is to provide more effective and comprehensive solutions to the booming e-commerce market, offering best value for businesses and customers alike.

On the other hand, Dow will remain committed to environmental protection - developing environment-friendly flexible packaging materials that perform better with lower weight, lower thickness, and reduced waste. By saving on packaging materials, transportation space and energy consumption from the very beginning, Dow seeks to contribute to the sustainable development of the e-commerce industry across Asia Pacific.

1 B2C Ecommerce Heats Up in Southeast Asia https://www.emarketer.com/Article/B2C-Ecommerce-Heats-Up-Southeast-Asia/1014588

2 The Impact of Consumer Product Package Quality on Consumption Satisfaction, Brand Perceptions, Consumer Investment and Behavior http://scholarworks.rit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=japr


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