Five top tips for streamlining operational costs.

In today’s business world, it’s essential to keep operational costs low to remain competitive.


However, cutting costs without affecting the quality of products or services can be challenging.

With more retailers and consumers moving online, the traditional retail shopping experience has significantly changed and the expectation for well-packaged products is becoming the norm. As the first physical connection between brand and consumer, packaging plays a substantial part in defining the brand experience.

Despite this, packaging is still one area that businesses tend to overlook in favour of other, more straightforward options. By disregarding the packing process, many companies are leaving money on the table and are slowly eroding their brand credibility to other companies who tackle packaging more seriously.


1) Introduce an automated packaging process

Implementing automation technology can significantly reduce operational costs. Automation can streamline repetitive tasks, reduce errors and increase efficiency, allowing employees to focus on more critical tasks.

Automation is not a one-size-fits-all for every operation, but for some, it revolutionises how they run their packaging processes. Introducing automated machines into your packaging operation means that your package quality and therefore, the consumer and brand experience can be greater, as you can ensure that every package is well protected due to having a standardised, tight-knit packing process. This would subsequently minimise the number of returns from customers, as the likelihood of damage through transit is significantly reduced, saving you time and money.

To find out more about automation, click here.



2) Optimise shipping space to reduce transportation costs

To streamline packaging costs, it is essential to also consider reducing transportation costs. Perhaps one of the simpler cost-saving processes to implement, ensuring that products are being shipped in the correct size box is critical for streamlining operational costs and offers a more sustainable solution, as there are reduced waste materials utilised.

Prior to 2015, companies such as UPS and FedEx used to charge based on the weight of an item. However, upon the realisation that customers were using large boxes to ship relatively small products, they introduced dimensional pricing. Essentially, the more space that a package takes up, the more you pay.

Regardless of this, even in 2022, it was put forward by multiple sources that 24% of the volume of an average e-commerce parcel was empty space, suggesting that companies are still overpaying for the transportation of their goods.



3) Switch to sustainable packaging

According to Retail Times (2022), nearly 90% of global consumers are seeking out more sustainable options when purchasing. Furthermore, in the UK, 75% of respondents report that they have changed their purchasing habits over the past year to be more sustainable. Therefore, incorporating more sustainable packaging solutions into your operations should have a positive impact on sales, as this is what consumers are actively seeking.

Additionally, as you will likely be aware, plastic tax came into play in April 2022 and has been introduced by HM Treasury to provide a financial incentive to use recycled plastic in the manufacturing of plastic packaging. The tax applies to any plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content and we have already seen an increase from £200 per metric tonne of plastic packaging to £210.80, effective from 1st April 2023. Therefore, opting to use more sustainable solutions within your packaging will mean that you are not liable to pay, reducing your overhead costs.



4) Minimise returns

As mentioned in tip number two, ensuring that products are shipped in the correct size box is critical to streamlining operational costs. Not only does it utilise reduced waste materials, but also ensures that products are secure throughout transit, thus, minimising returns, as the package is more likely to arrive with the product unscathed.

To minimise returns, the product/s need to be able to withstand the transit and holding period. To facilitate this, you could introduce temperature tests that assess your products under extreme temperature and environmental conditions, discovering how to preserve the products further during transit. This would be ideal for companies who need to keep and distribute frozen or fresh foods, vaccines and other biologicals in perfect condition.

Lastly, you could advance your pack operations process by introducing pack testing and prototyping. From pack benches to pack processes to packaging samples, pack testing can be beneficial for several different purposes; when introducing a new product into your processes, updating a product, thinking about including an insert, or it may be that you are wanting to ensure that your packaging is still fit for purpose. There are several different types of testing that can be completed either in-house or within your operation that will help improve your operational processes.

To find out more about pack testing and prototyping, click here.



5) Pack optimisation and site audit

Businesses should be looking to introduce smarter processes to help optimise their packing operation. Optimising your pack operation involves designing and producing packages that are not only safe and secure but also efficient in terms of space usage and material consumption. By optimising packaging, businesses can reduce costs, minimise waste and enhance sustainability in the long run. Investing in pack optimisation is crucial for companies that want to stay ahead of the curve in a competitive market.

Reducing errors and efficiencies is fundamental to any pick & pack operation and challenges should be overcome as soon as they arise. Not having a lean operation can inflate expenses further down the line and such deficiencies can also lead to increased pick and pack lead time, delaying order fulfilment. Not having a seamless process from product to consumer can lead to reduced customer satisfaction as well as increased return logistics costs.

To overcome this, a site audit would expose any process issues that are causing unnecessary downtime or possible product damage that may be happening within your operation. Faults in your current system will be identified, with value-based solutions being suggested. As well as solving any current issues, site audits can also prevent other issues from arising in the future.

To find out more about site audits and its benefits, click here.




In conclusion, streamlining operational costs in packaging can be achieved through automation, switching to sustainable packaging, optimising shipping space, minimising returns and optimising your packing operation. By implementing these strategies, you can increase your bottom line and remain competitive in the industry. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new approaches to find what works best for your company.