Amazon, Wal-Mart and frustration-free packaging; a toy industry challenge


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Earlier in the year, I visited our nation’s capital with about thirty other members of the toy industry.  We were there to do some lobbying and were fortunate to have a meeting with Gary Lock, the Secretary of Commerce.  

Mr. Locke had a different toy issue on his mind; PACKAGING!  He said that he hates toy industry packaging; finding it too complicated for parents, too messy (think twist ties and clamshells) and too wasteful.  That was the first thing he talked about and the last thing he talked about.  He smiled…a bit…but not too much.  He was serious.

The toy industry over-packages because of the fear of in store pilferage.  That is probably why Amazon, which does not have to worry about shoplifters, is leading the charge to cut out the work, the trouble and the mess of over packaging.   It seems that a lot of people agree with Gary Locke and want to see a change in how products are packaged for market.

6a0133ec87bd6d970b013487523ef7970c-320wi A great article in the New York Times entitled, “Packaging Is All the Rage, And Not in a Good Way,” explores the issue on the front page of the Business Section.  Here is how the article puts the problem and Amazon’s roll in changing it: “For nearly two years, Amazon has been trying to get manufacturers to adopt “frustration-free packaging” that gets rid of plastic cases and air-bubble wrap — major irritants for consumers and one of Amazon’s biggest sources of customer complaints.

It appears that Amazon is fighting an uphill battle.  As the article states:  “Only about 600 of the millions of products Amazon sells come in frustration-free versions. And other big online retailers, like Walmart.com and Target.com, have not embraced the new packaging, even when manufacturers make it available.”

I think Wal-Mat and Target are being short sighted and not just about ecommerce.  “Frustration-free-packaging” should be the standard for every retailer, manufacturer and package designer.

I will write about why in my next blog.

4 thoughts

  1. I think that “Fustration Free” packaging is just a term used by Amazon to repackage customer returns. I recently purchased a few pallets of customer return merchandise and two very expensive interactive dolls came in “Fustration Free” packaging in which these items were clearly returnd by customers.

  2. Interesting topic! I agree with Mr. Locke on the issue of packaging in the toy industry. I consider our company, Imagination Box Co., to be an environmentally sustainable company, which to us means…NO WASTE….end result? Our packaging is 100% recyclable and completely frustration free!
    Unfortunately, this does present some issues within the toy industry – Retail store owners sometimes tell us that consumers are still looking for that same old type of packaging, i.e., plastics, etc….
    We believe that more and more consumers are becoming aware of this issue and that hopefully more and more retailers will support us “environmentally minded” companies.
    We are also 100% made in the USA, another anomaly in the toy world, but so much better for the environment and also the US economy.
    Thanks for opening up this important topic!!

  3. Great insight. This is not to mention that it is a huge cost to the environment. That said when you consider retailer compliancy with drop testing and the theft it will need to be the retailers who take the lead as vendors are more times than not forced to follow their requirements.

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