InsideOutdoor Magazine

Inside Outdoor | SUMMER 2018 16 T he shipping mate- rials that you use, and the way you transport prod- ucts to customers both say a lot about your com- pany. This is very important when considering a third of global consumers now choose to buy from brands based on their social and environmental impact. Take a look around the out- door retail industry and you will find a growing number of busi- nesses finding creative ways to reduce packaging waste and lower their carbon footprints. Sustainable shipping is quickly becoming a differentiating factor across the industry. Here are some innovative strate- gies to consider: Smartwool now offers a custom- branded, reusable parcel that comes in two sizes (9-by-12 and 14-by-17 inches) and includes a shipping label for easy returns. This cuts down on waste, and as Smartwool director of ecommerce Sarah Seifert pointed out, it’s also easier on the eyes. “For our smaller orders, we were using a white plas- tic bag that was not recyclable nor a good representation of the Smart- wool brand,” explained Seifert. “Due to the white color, packages arrived at consumers’ homes dirty with generic messaging – which was in direct conflict with customer expec- tations of a premium brand.” Ugly packaging, it should be noted, was listed in a study by Shorr Packaging Corp. as a top customer irritant along with packaging that is non-recyclable, damaged, bulky and hard to open. In the same study, just 11 percent of customers report- ed they are completely satisfied with packaging today. “We embarked on a mini mission to identify a new solution that was not only more sustainable but could also be branded ‘Smartwool’ – and ultimately deliver a better customer experience,” Seifert continued. “We are happy that we were able to achieve both goals. The new bag is reusable for returns, made of higher recycled content, and is fully recy- clable, while easily identified as a Smartwool package.” If you are considering imple- menting reusable packaging, though, our advice is to avoid rushing in. Make sure that your shipping team has the bandwidth to handle the extra management this project will require. Not only will it add an extra step to the shipping process, but it will also require tracking packages and communicating with customers. To streamline the process, you may want to consider embed- ding GPS into your parcels, such as disruptive shipping startup LimeLoop is doing. LimeLoop recently launched a pilot program in conjunction with clothing provider Toad&Co and its Chicago-based distribution facility, Planet Access Company. This part- nership creates a full circle, paper and cardboard-free shipping solu- tion for Toad&Co. All of LimeLoop’s packaging is made from upcycled by Gerald Baldino Ship Shape Outdoor brands take steps to reduce shipping waste The Advocates