13 September 2020

Talking E-Commerce

Growth in e-commerce in Australia and New Zealand is changing the retail and hospitality landscape, providing exciting online business and market growth opportunities.

Visy is uniquely placed in the market to not only provide expert advice on e-commerce packaging solutions, but also insights and intelligence to optimise individual elements of the supply chain model, along with tailored end-to-end solutions.

We chatted with Sean Meneaud, Visy Innovation Projects Manager, about the growing e-commerce industry and what’s coming next in the market.

Sean Menaud

Q. So, tell us, why e-commerce? And why now?

A. I don’t think it comes as much of a surprise to anyone that e-commerce is absolutely booming at the moment. The space was already seeing substantial growth and then COVID-19 has just accelerated the demand for online shopping beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.

You only have to think of how your own shopping behaviours have changed this year – I bet if you weren’t shopping online before, you’ve probably tried it now… and if you were already shopping online, you’re probably online now more than ever.

Massive growth is forecast in the market. In Australia the e-commerce market is predicted to be worth A$32.5 billion by 2024, and in New Zealand it’s forecast to be NS$6.1 billion*.

Business are really being forced to reconsider how they operate to remain current. Not only do businesses need to be online but, as the market evolves, they need to ensure that their products – and the way they’re delivered – delights their consumers.

Q. How are retailers and wholesalers reacting to this opportunity?

A. It’s a trend everyone wants to make sure they’re taking advantage of. We’re helping out a whole range of customers - from those who are just starting out on their online journey, to those who are already online and want to make sure they adapt to upcoming changes and really create unique experiences for their consumers. For example, with COVID restrictions many restaurants and suppliers are shipping ingredients to consumers so they can cook and enjoy restaurant quality food in their own homes.

We’re finding we’re partnering with a lot of customers who already had done a bit in the online space, but are now really looking to increase and improve their offering because that’s where they see the future opportunities. They’re looking for ways to offer their consumers high-quality personalised service and creative product offerings, as well as looking for improvements across their supply chain as they ramp up their e-commerce models.

Once again, if you think about it through your own experience as a consumer – when you buy something online and it’s delivered, one of the first things you notice is the packaging on the product you’ve ordered. It’s the first tangible engagement you have with the actual product and it contributes to your experience and the likelihood or you recommending the product others.

Not only do our customers want the packaging to protect their product – that goes without saying – but they want it to really represent their brand as well. Consumers form their initial opinion of a product in about a millisecond, so it’s just a vital piece of the puzzle to get right.

Q. How do you help them? What is Visy offering?

A. We’ve developed a new tool, the e-commerce optimiser™. It enables us to provide our customers with insights and recommendations on how they can make improvements. Through the e-commerce optimiser™ we conduct a thorough analysis of sales channels, product requirements, fulfilment and warehousing needs and delivery methods.

We then combine those insights with the latest market trends to provide our customers with innovative packaging solutions, consumer experience intelligence and supply chain improvements. At the end of the day it’s about working with our customers to help them grow their market share.

Q. Tell us about an example of a customer you’ve been able to help through the e-commerce optimiser™ process.

A. A great example is our recent work with Thomas Farms – a South Australian family business delivering premium Australian meat and seafood, direct to their customs doorstep – think safety, sustainability and uncompromising quality of service. It’s vitally important that their product is delivered to consumers in the ultimate condition.

We worked together to determine the relevant specifications – what are the products, how will they be shipped, will they be refrigerated, will they be frozen, what’s the optimal temperature they need to remain at, will they be warehoused, will they be left unattended, what sort of temperature will it be outside when they’re delivered… as you can imagine there’s a long list of variables that need to be considered. And that’s where the e-commerce optimser™ really comes into play - by providing customer specific supply chain and product insights that are then used to provide packaging solutions specifically tailored to our customers’ needs.

Based on the work we did together, Thomas Farms are using cartons from our Thermal Home Delivery range, which was specifically engineered for items like meal kits and premium grocery items – any products that need to be kept ambient, cool, chilled or frozen. This allowed them a great level of confidence that their products will reach their consumers in optimal condition. It has also enabled Thomas Farms to be creative with their online range and really solidify their offering in the market.

Thomas Farms have received positive feedback from their consumers around both the environmentally conscious aspects of the carton, as well as how robust it is – in fact, consumers are often reusing the box for other purposes. Thomas Farms has experienced significant growth and acceptance with consumers and the collaboration with Visy on an innovative packaging solution will support its ongoing growth ambitions. All in all their consumers are delighted with the product quality and online shopping experience, including positive feedback on the effectiveness of the box in keeping Thomas Farms’ products cool on the doorstep for multiple hours.

Q. What do you see happening next in this space?

A. I can only see it growing. I really think COVID-19 has changed the way people shop – and even the way they dine – and that a lot of those changes will be long-term, if not permanent.

I predict we’ll see more and more innovation and customised packaging design as companies compete to really enhance their consumers’ experiences. We’re already seeing brands starting to experiment with different ways of engaging consumers.

And, as consumers themselves become more comfortable with online shopping – and believe me, that’s happening super quickly – we’ll see different markets and opportunities open up. People will get more comfortable with buying all sorts of products and services online.

It’s a really exciting space for us to keep innovating in, keep collaborating with our customers, and keep helping create what comes next.

Thomas Farms


* Source: Ibis World Online Shopping – April 2020


Visy Boxes & More, part of the Visy family, are Australia and New Zealand's premier 'one stop shop' for your packaging supplies and consumables. We offer an extensive range of high quality, competitively priced packaging solutions.