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Staples Uses Custom Packaging to Cut Waste

Typically, a distribution center has a dozen box sizes, and it’s up to packers to choose which box best fits an order. Staples builds a box to fit each unique order and cuts material costs and increases truck capacity in the process.

(Boonton, NJ, January 23, 2014) — Place an order for a few reams of paper and a box of pens on Staples’ website, and the retailer immediately will get to work creating a customized shipping package, one that minimizes wasted space.

Through a partnership with software firm Packsize International, Staples creates a corrugated box at the fulfillment center. A large machine churns out boxes, some small enough for a box of paper clips, others large enough to hold a conference table.

Intriguingly, Staples was inspired as much by sustainability as by savings.

Office supplies isn’t exactly a niche associated with environmentally conscious consumers, but Staples says customers consistently complained about receiving oversized boxes filled with air pillows.

Details on how Staples is meeting customer needs while cutting material costs and increasing truck capacity, appear in the January issue of Distribution Center Management.


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