Amazon’s packaging vendor incentive program crosses the pond

By Lisa McTigue Pierce in Supply Chain on November 01, 2018

Leading ecommerce retailer Amazon continues to urge brand owners to optimize their packaging. On Oct. 31, Amazon added five European Union (EU) countries to its shortlist of those already asked to participate in its Frustration-Free Packaging vendor incentive program—the U.S. and Canada.

Amazon vendors in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom are now required to send specific products to Amazon fulfillment centers in packaging that doesn’t need extra preparation for shipping or an overbox. Vendors that optimize and certify their packaging before the EU deadline of Oct. 1, 2019, will receive a one-time early adopter credit on every unit received by Amazon to help compensate them for making the packaging change. Vendors opting out will incur ongoing chargebacks.

As a reminder, Amazon announced its new FFP vendor incentive program on Sept. 17, 2018, to vendors selling and shipping certain products in the U.S. and Canada. To help reduce packaging waste and improve efficiency of ecommerce shipping, those products must be certified under the Frustration-Free Packaging program guidelines, meaning the product does not require an overbox or any other prep.

For now, the program is limited to:

• Durable Goods, Consumables and Soft Goods;

• Items sold and fulfilled by Amazon; and

• Packages larger than 18x14x8 inches, or weighing 20 pounds or more.

Although Frustration-Free Packaging has existed as a voluntary program for 11 years, for the last couple years Amazon has actively collaborated with vendors and packaging suppliers to optimize ecommerce packaging in three ways:

1. Improve the customer’s experience.

2. Minimize the environmental impact of packaging, which includes reducing the amount of packaging.

3. Lower the cost of delivering goods.

Work toward these worthy goals expands through this now-international FFP effort.

 

Regional variances

The European Union is Amazon’s second-largest region, hence the reason for being next in line for the rollout. However, expanding the FFP vendor incentive program into Europe requires a couple changes for that region. Specifically:

• The program applies to packages larger than 45.5x34x26.5 centimeters (around 18x13x10 inches) or weighing more than 12.3 kilograms (about 27 pounds);

• The incentive payment (US$1.00 per item) and chargebacks (US$1.99 per item) are the same as in the U.S. and Canada, except in Euros or GBP (pound sterling); and

• As mentioned above, the deadline for the EU is Oct. 1, 2019—later than the Aug. 1, 2019, deadline for the U.S. and Canada because the EU program was introduced a couple months after the initial launch in North America.

More information can be found on Amazon’s websites in each European market:

France: https://www.aboutamazon.fr/durabilité/emballage/certification

Germany: https://www.aboutamazon.de/nachhaltigkeit/verpackung/zertifizierung

Italy: https://www.aboutamazon.it/sostenibilità/imballaggio/certificazione

Spain: https://www.aboutamazon.it/sostenibilità/imballaggio/certificazione

United Kingdom: https://www.aboutamazon.co.uk/sustainability/packaging/certification

 

What do you think?

Several packaging pundits have praised the FFP vendor incentive program in the U.S. Packaging Digest has not yet asked for similar analysis of the program’s extension into the EU. But we are interested in what you think about opportunities and challenges the program presents and invite you to take our short poll.

One of the questions, for example, asks: “Through FFP, product manufacturers can design shippers with their own branded graphics. How much of an incentive is it to retain your branding?” So far, people have indicated that maintaining branding through shipment packaging is a great incentive. Do you agree?

We’re also asking if brand owners will design or redesign packaging for ecommerce because of this program. It’s too early to make a definitive statement on this, but it’s looking like the FFP vendor incentive program will be successful in this regard. Are you among the ones who will make a change to your packaging?

Take our poll now:

 

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