The current e-commerce environment resembles panning for gold around Sutter’s Mill in 1849—prospectors shifting to figure out where the value lies then moving away from the elements that didn’t make sense. One factor that seems evident is that the dramatic upward surge in e-commerce during the pandemic has started to level off a bit, yet it’s still predicted to grow at impressive rates.
Bill Hutchinson, long-time supply chain veteran of Dell, Sears, Belk and now senior vice president of enterprise logistics at mega-paper products producer WestRock, watched the packaging market take off in front of his eyes during the pandemic.
“It wasn’t only the volume surge that parcel carriers had to deal with,” says Hutchinson, “it was also the rapid growth of ‘unattractive’ freight originating from stores and other low-density origins, which challenged carrier networks in ways for which they weren’t prepared. Stores don’t have the robust packaging solutions, the dock space, pick density and typically don’t have large back rooms for staging shipments.”