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Logistics

A boom in online retail, action by packaging and logistics

Published on - updated on - Brève

On 28 May 2020, the latest figures issued by the global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen, in partnership with the French e-commerce and distance selling federation FEVAD, showed a substantial increase in online food sales in France during lockdown. This explosion in demand had a knock-on effect on logistics and packaging firms.

In 2019, according to Fevad and Nielsen, online shopping accounted for 5.7% of sales. During the lockdown, the sector at times surpassed the 10% mark in consumer goods. “The Covid-19 sequence both accelerated digital transformation and revealed the capacity of traditional market players to adapt to new consumer demands born out of the public health crisis. Quite clearly, French retailers displayed remarkable agility and high reactivity during the crisis, finding new solutions and developing click and collect to overcome logistical obstacles,” observes Marc Lolivier, managing director of Fevad.

Driven by demand for essential and non-essential products, the retail industry and its players were obliged, throughout the public health crisis and more specifically lockdown, to make full use of the logistics chain to provide daily service to consumers. This situation was seen as a true operational feat.

Increased responsiveness from logistics

Because, while the continuity of the supply chain for retailers and manufacturers depended first and foremost on the health and safety of its players, from an operational point of view many measures had to be taken to ensure business continuity and cope with the increase in demand. Service providers and buyers exchanged and adapted their processes every day to keep up with the explosion in demand, particularly in the food e-commerce sector. 

Automation and the growth of intra-logistics were of particular assistance to them in adapting and controlling processes, especially in terms of order preparation and dispatch. Pick to belt, station systems, sorters, mobile shelving, automated packaging lines, palletising robots, etc. proved to be major allies in maintaining and even intensifying logistics flows during the crisis.

Packaging faced with major spikes of activity

In the packaging field, manufacturers reacted quickly to cater to the growth in food e-commerce and deal with particularly sharp spikes in activity. And with good reason: according to an IFOP survey conducted in May 2020 for the exhibition, 40% of respondents said that they bought more products with packaging today, since the Covid-19 crisis. “If manufacturers do not have any packaging at the end of their lines, then cannot pack, or for that matter, deliver their products. Their production is therefore at a standstill,” emphasised the cardboard packaging manufacturer DS Smith Packaging in a press release dated 31 March 2020. The company, the author of a report entitled “The Empty Space Economy,” will moreover address the issue of e-commerce, logistics packaging and void fill in a talk dedicated to the subject at ALL4PACK 2020.

Sources: IFOP survey, FevadVoxLogASLOG