Office products giant Staples Inc. said today it has begun using a specific type of packaging technology that customizes the size of a delivery box to fit each order's unique dimensional characteristics.
The system, called Staples "Smart-size" Packaging, was developed by Packsize International, a Salt Lake City-based packaging solutions company. The system uses specialized equipment that cuts and creases box materials into the correct size on demand instead of using standard corrugated boxes.
The product is designed to eliminate a major hurdle to cost-effective online shipping, namely being able to ship an order in a box that's comparable in size to its contents. For a company like Framingham, Mass.-based Staples—which is the nation's second-largest Internet retailer—keeping enough different box types on hand to match the dimensions of every order has been a complex and expensive proposition.
By having boxes that are custom built for each order, Staples said it can fit more shipments on each line-haul movement and more orders in each delivery truck. It also reduces the amount of warehouse space allocated for the storage of surplus boxes. The technology will slash by 60 percent the use of air "pillows" traditionally used to cushion shipments packed in oversize boxes, and it will allow Staples to reduce the size of the average cardboard box by 20 percent. Both advancements will cut Staples' annual carbon footprint by more than 30,000 tons, it said.
In addition, customers will no longer endure the aggravation of breaking down oversized boxes and excessive air pillows, Staples said.
In a statement, Packsize CEO Hanko Kiessner called the Staples deal a milestone in "mainstream adoption" of packaging technology that "reduces box inventory, eliminates inefficient use of warehouse space, and minimizes wasted space and dunnage material within the shipped product box."
Staples has implemented the technology at several delivery fulfillment centers and will expand it across its network next year, the company said.