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Development is more than just Technology - Dow Promotes E-commerce Packaging Evolution by Driving Value-Chain Collaboration and Innovation

2017-12-13 09:00

SINGAPORE, Dec. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- All elements in an industry's value chain -- from raw materials to production, packaging to distribution -- are important to the collective progress of the sector as a whole.

Manufacturers who chase for short-term gains by resorting to quick-fixes, such as price cuts or cosmetic changes, without paying attention to the comprehensive product offer may initially attract a few impulsive consumers. However, they will not achieve long-term, sustainable development and growth. 

When multiple segments of the industry chain collaborate, their symbiotic and coherent development leads to the advancement of the entire value chain.

Pack Studios, a platform of collaborative innovation

Dow, a global leader in innovation, has always been driven by its mission to positively impact the world and build a better future for everyone. It overcomes challenges with creativity and addresses constraints with innovation, setting it apart from many others in the market through its innovative product offerings. Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics (P&SP) is a market-oriented organization that sees healthy, cohesive development of the whole industry as the fundamental dynamic to promoting innovative development of the entire sector. It is through this vision that Pack Studios, the global network of packaging experts, equipment and testing capabilities, was set up to accelerate the collaborative development for better packaging.

Currently there are seven Pack Studios centers around the globe: Freeport, Texas, USA; Ringwood, Illinois, USA; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Horgen, Switzerland; Mozzate, Italy; Shanghai, China; and Singapore. Among these, the center in Singapore was opened in August 2016 while the Ringwood opened a month after. In 2018, the eighth Pack Studios will open in Mumbai, India.

Pack Studios bring together the key contributors necessary for cultivating packaging innovations. Dow's resins and adhesives experts collaborate with equipment manufacturers, packaging designers, brand owners and prototyping specialists, and the result is faster commercialization of new and improved packaging.

Identifying critical success factors, and enabling the industry to achieve them

Driven by the rising Asian middle class -- particularly in big markets like China, India and Indonesia -- and the increasing popularity of mobile devices, retail e-commerce sales in Asia Pacific hit USD877.61 billion in 2015, up 35.7% from 2014. Retail e-commerce sales in Asia Pacific is reckoned to reach USD1.89 trillion in 2018, accounting for some 20% of the overall retail sales in this region1.

The e-commerce wave has been reshaping the consumption landscape. The growing middle class in Asia Pacific is experiencing a tremendous rise in living standards, with consumers increasingly prioritizing quality over price. Enabled by the world-wide-web, consumers now have more options as global logistics companies have made it possible for anyone to order anything from almost any corner of the planet. An overall customer experience has become the crucial parameter in determining repeat purchases.

These new market trends translate into both opportunities and challenges for market players in the value chain. What is the key factor that affects the online-shopping experience? What can be done to help brand owners and the e-commerce industry enhance the consumption experience and improve their competitiveness?

Dow's P&SP value chain team has dedicated efforts to uncover the ever-changing requirements and develop comprehensive solutions to overcome challenges in the e-commerce industry. It does this through market research and direct communication with major e-commerce platforms. Possessing a thorough understanding of the sales process and product transportation process -- obtained through discussion with the e-commerce logistics companies, Dow understands that repeat online-purchases are largely determined by whether products reach the end consumers safely.

Courier service plays a critical role in e-commerce logistics. E-commerce enables everything to be shopped online and hence requires different kinds of packaging for various types of products -- from toys and clothing to perishables. Rough handling, careless transportation, and especially inadequate packaging may lead to damages, causing consumers to not only reject the product but also affecting brand equity in the long run as the consumers associate these poor experiences with both the online retailer and the courier companies.

Secrets to Success -- Collaboration and innovation

As a global leading packaging solution provider, Dow P&SP strives to address the concerns that affect the e-commerce industry by analyzing the market demands prevalent across different stages of the value chain, and cooperating with industry-wide partners to deliver practical and efficient solutions for the industry.

Packaging plays an important role to ensure the integrity of products in the e-commerce logistics process, and high-quality cushion-packaging can significantly reduce the negative impacts from jolting, squeezing and collision during delivery. Commonly called the pearl cotton, enhanced expanded polyethylene (EPE) foam is one of the most popular types of flexible cushion packaging, used widely in numerous logistics packaging applications.

As a key project developed by Pack Studios in Asia, the innovative EPE foam solution from Dow delivers as much as a 20% increase in compression strength and almost twice the tear strength as compared to conventional solution. This advanced solution significantly improves the protection of e-commerce goods, and greatly minimizes product damage during shipping and handling -- helping merchants to cut material and transportation costs while enhancing efficiency and sustainability.

Dow's EPE technologies can be adopted across a wide range of applications. This innovative solution is compatible with many types of consumer goods that were previously unsuitable for EPE packaging due to the poor compression and tear strength of the traditional EPE foam solutions. Sharp or edgy objects, thorny fruits like Durian, and heavy items such as appliances can now be safely packed and wrapped using Dow's LDPE solution.

EPE foam sheets made from Dow's solutions enable merchants to reduce the number of layers needed without affecting packaging integrity. Reduction in material results in the lowering of energy consumption, savings on space and transportation and further benefits the environment by reducing the amount of packaging diverted to landfills.

Besides EPE foam, other innovative solutions include gas bags to cushion products and modified atmospheric packaging that allows online fresh food purveyors to ship more products to a bigger geographic audience without compromising on freshness.

Dow P&SP value chain team works hand-in-hand with e-commerce platforms in its R&D efforts to develop innovative solutions. It also helps them to identify packaging partners who can deliver high-quality, cost-effective and reliable packaging products.

Sustainable development via collaborative innovation

Besides co-development with partners in the value chain, Dow P&SP is also committed to sustainable development of packaging materials. In 2015, Dow Chemical launched its '2025 Sustainability Goals' -- a commitment to applying its science and engineering expertise to create sustainable solutions to some of the world's greatest challenges.

As a member of Circular Economy 100 (CE100), Dow encourages its scientists and innovation experts to develop scalable solutions that ensure the purity of materials for effective material flow within the circular economy. It is committed to delivering solutions that optimize design, production, use and recovery phases of products and services -- closing resource loops to benefit communities.

Innovation leads to development that is more than just technological wonders. Dow has proven to be a responsible corporate leader with strategic insight, technological expertise, and superior innovative pursuits, placing it in the best position to promote industrial excellence through technological innovation and collaborative development together with partners across the whole value chain.

1 Asia-Pacific is Home to Majority of World Retail Ecommerce Market

®™Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company ("Dow") or an affiliated company of Dow

Source: Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics

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