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April 2, 2007 12:03 AM

Broken: Amazon packaging

EfficiencyMike Berman points out: used an enormous box just for sending me a small electric shaver - they filled the rest of the box with about 20 of those little air-sacs.

They could have just sent me the electric shaver in a smaller box, which would prevented them from wasting packaging material.


On the other hand, it looks like that electric shaver is a weird shape. The more box sizes you want to make, the more complex and difficult-to-maintain your box manufacturing equipment becomes, and the more complex your shipping system becomes. Those air-sacs are specifically designed to be cheap, and involve basically no resources to make (a small amount of plastic.)

It's entirely possible that the money required to make better-fitting boxes would be far larger than the amount saved on shipping and packing.

(If you argue that money means resource consumption, keep in mind where the money goes - largely to the workers needed to make the added packing material, and those workers have to eat and live on their own. So, while it's not a direct one-to-one relationship, there's a definite connection between cost and material use.)

Posted by: ZorbaTHut at April 2, 2007 04:48 AM

The electric shaver box looks like a normal shape. Rectangular.

They should at least have a somewhat smaller box.

Posted by: sitruc at April 2, 2007 07:28 AM

Think that's bad? Check out what IBM did when I ordered a rack kit:

Posted by: aaamr at April 2, 2007 07:47 AM

The US still leads the world in per capita waste production and a large part of it is in packaging.

Posted by: Zephyr at April 2, 2007 12:10 PM

If you save and re-use their boxes and air bags for your own shipping (like I do), then it's not broken - at least not for the person who *does* save stuff.

Posted by: Sashazur at April 2, 2007 12:40 PM

What's even more broken is that many of the major shippers (UPS, FedEx, et. al.) have started billing by package size in addition to weight. If the package falls under a certain density, you get billed for the amount of weight they COULD have shipped in that space instead. Meaning your 1 pound item shipped in a box packed like that could cost Amazon as much as shipping 5-10 pounds of actual merchandise, then they pass the additional cost on to you.

Posted by: bkofford at April 2, 2007 07:17 PM

That's really disgusting. And all I can say about the IBM example is WOW.

Posted by: ambrocked at April 3, 2007 09:45 AM

First: They could use all that nice protecting material and PUT THE PACKAGE IN THE CENTER.

Second: Maybe they use a large box to thwart thieves looking for something small to steal.

Posted by: Sean Z. at April 4, 2007 12:53 AM

You know. I agree with you. However, there is a practical business reason why there is so much: it's much cheaper to do this packaging approach than to deal with the costs of a return for a damaged product. Trusted sources tell me this. Is it right from the environment and customer service point of view, probably not. But that's the why behind it.

Posted by: G.Scott!Design at April 10, 2007 04:08 PM

Funny; usually they're quite efficient in their packaging.

Posted by: Munchkinguy at May 17, 2007 11:20 PM

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