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Are Re-usable Shopping Bags really reducing the Environmental Impact?

In October 2015 England introduced a single-use plastic carrier bag charge to reduce the amount of single use bags in circulation and encourage people to reuse bags,

Since the introduction of the charge the number of 'single-use' plastic bags given out by retailers has dropped from 140 to 25 for the average person each year*. In response to the introduction of the charge many retailers have introduced 'bags for life' in a range of styles and prices at till points.

But just how many times does a 'bag for life' need to be re-used to provide the same environmental performance of the average (LDPE) single use carrier bag?

RECYC QUEBEC, and The Danish Environment Agency have carried out independent studies to assess how many times a 'reusable' bag should be reused to provide the same environmental performance of the average LDPE carrier bag and the results have proved very interesting.

According to their findings, a non-woven polypropylene bag must be 6 times, woven polypropylene 5 times and cotton bags 52 times to equal the environmental impact of an average 17-micron carrier bag used just once. How many times do you re-use your 'bags for life'?

Shopping Bag Infographic

The conventional 'single use' plastic bags have several environmental and economic advantages; they are thin, light and the production requires little material and energy. Not only that, conventional 'single use' plastic bags can be re-used and are commonly re-used for bin liners. This second use avoids the production and purchase of bin liners reducing overall material use.

Top take always from the research:

  • Re-use all styles of carrier bags (even the ones dubbed as single use!) as many times as possible before disposal.
  • Prioritise functionality when designing your packaging product. The main aim is to maximise volume and weight holding capacity whilst minimising the amount of material needed and minimise the final weight of the carrier bag.
  • Recycle where possible at the end of use.





How to avoid costly packaging mistakes and become an unboxing hero

#Packaging Fails


Packaging plays a vital role in all online businesses, from protecting the products when stored in a warehouse through to providing protection in transit to its final stage, arriving with the customer. Products come in many different shapes and sizes and couple that with endless basket configurations, selecting the right packaging range can be tricky. If a customer's order is sent out in what they deem as unsatisfactory packaging this could result in them taking their frustration out by sharing the #packagingfail on social media.

We've researched the top #packagingfails making online shoppers blood boil on social media and have compiled a list of our top tips to help you deliver an Instagram worthy unboxing experience every time.

#1 Excess Packaging

According to eDelivery the biggest constraint for online retailers regarding their delivery packaging is cost with 74% of respondents saying it's a major or vital concern. The majority of #packagingfails relating to excess packaging show parcels comprising of at least three packaging items; a box, parcel tape and void fill. Three packaging items that have been sourced, stored, compiled and contribute to the final shipping cost. The packaging itself is just one strand of the total cost.

Packaging is a necessary spend for all online retailers and getting this right can save time, money and positively influence sales. A new packaging innovation developed to tackle the issue of excess packaging is the polythene bubble mailing bag. This packaging product offers a fast to pack compact alternative solution to boxes and void fill. Gone is the box assembly time, pesky costly void fill is avoided and as the outer material is polythene it can be branded. Your customers delicate purchase is inserted into the mailing bag where it is encased in bubble protection, the glue strip offers tamper evident security whilst the polythene outer protects from all weather conditions. An extra bonus for your customer is that they will only have one packaging item to recycle or dispose of.

#2 Unfit for Purpose

Packaging that is too big, too small, an unsuitable material or is not fit for purpose are just some of the common reasons why a customer deems their experience a #packagingfail. To help get your packaging back into shape answer these questions to assess the fit-ness of your packaging range:

  1. Does your packaging design represent your brand?
  2. What delivery options do you offer to your customers? Is this the delivery location the end destination?
  3. What percentage of your sales are returned?
  4. What are the most common basket combinations?

The answers to these question help to identify what functionality you need from your packaging range and provide the starting point to create your perfect range of packaging items for your brand. As your SKU's and customer buying trends change its good practice to evaluate the performance of your packaging regularly. Duo offer a free packaging audit to find out more click here.

#3 Single Use Packaging

According to the Royal Mail's annual tracker study, 49% of e-retailers believe a good returns process will make a consumer more likely to be satisfied with their service. Helping customers to re-pack and return any unwanted items can increase the likelihood that they will make a repeat purchase in the future.

The solution is simple: doubling the use of your mailing bags by adding a second glue strip. The second glue strip provides your customer with a ready to use bag eradicating the need for them to purchase an additional packaging item, enables them to quickly send their products back to your inventory and you can rest assured that your item is adequately protected in its journey back to you.

But what do you do with the packaging that has been returned to you? Polythene is as easy to recycle as cardboard and it can be recycled in the UK. Demand for products containing recycled material has soared in recent years yet there is a lack of scrap in circulation. To incentivise businesses to save this precious material from a life in landfill Duo offer to collect polythene scrap and pay a price per tonne.

Recycling your polythene waste makes economic and environmental sense. Find out more about Closed Loop Recycling click here.

Be a #Packaginghero. We can help you find a perfect packaging product for your product range. To arrange a free packaging audit, send an email to enquiries@duo-uk.co.uk or contact our team on 0161 203 5767.

Download and share this article here

7 eCommerce Shopping Days You Can't Afford to Ignore

The Christmas Holiday season is fast approaching. Whilst the sun is shining many are busy thinking about the impending (and much colder) peak season.

Planning for peak season is currently top of mind and the key to a successful (and stress free) season starts with understanding when peak season is going to hit. According to ecommerce consultancy Salmon this year we could see November overtake December as the year's peak trading month.

78% of ecommerce businesses say that meeting the additional demand for orders at peak times was an ongoing challenge in 2016 and with expectations of next day/same day delivery becoming the norm for customers delivery failures are a big no no!

Managing peak trading is dependent on efficient planning and getting forecasting right. It's never to early to start planning for peak and to kick start your planning we've created a peak season calendar featuring the 7 key shopping dates for 2017.  

To avoid the issue of insufficient stock hampering your productivity and profitability can be tackled by using Duo's free stock management tool which monitors usage against projections and provides you with an insight led delivery schedule. For more information about how we can help your brand maximise productivity and profits during the peak season contact Duo on 0161 203 5767 or email enquiries@duo-uk.co.uk


7 Ecommerce Shopping Days You Can 't Afford To Ignore






























Download 2017 peak season key shopping dates here so you're not lastminute.com

5 Steps to a more successful & profitable online business

5 Steps To A More Successful And Profitable Online Business

UK ecommerce sales are expected to top £70 billion in 2017 helped by a strengthening economy and growth in smartphone-based buying. For growing online businesses, keeping on top of the game requires constantly re-evaluating end to end business processes.

The packaging selected to pack and ship the customers order in is the final impression. We've listed the 5 key steps to deliver a great brand experience end-to-end.

Step 1 - Selecting Your Packaging Range

Packaging selection on many occasions falls solely to procurement buyers, however, the role packaging plays and its catalytic properties to improve profitability and customer satisfaction, deciding on the specification is best not decided in isolation. The inclusion of representatives from CSR, logistics and warehouse and marketing to ensure the final range performs functionally, in-budget, on brand and ethically. 

Step 2 - Optimising Packing Performance 

Product lines and customer buying habits frequently change. To check if you packaging range is performing at its optimum, conduct an end of packing line audit. Seeking the views of the packers on the front line about the usability of the packaging, reviewing the presentation of the outbound parcel, assessing the range and number of items packed per order plus reviewing the design of the outer packaging helps to understand areas where your range could be improved. 

Step 3 - Consistent Customer Journey

Customers engage with retailers across a number of channels, consistently reinforcing the brand message across all touch points enhances the customers overall experience.

The increased visibility of postal packaging outside of the home bolsters their power as a marketing tool. Take advantage of this cost effective and versatile product by changing the design in line with current marketing promotions or trends. 

Step 4 - Delivery is not the finish line 

Returns are an inevitable part of online shopping and a good returns process can amplify customer satisfaction and repeat sales. Packaging plays a huge part in making this process convenient for both the customer and retailer. For example, including a twin-glue line to outbound mailing bags makes it easy for the customer to return the product and for the retailer to process it ready for resale as quickly as possible. 

Step 5 - Building Brand Equity 

Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their purchases. Helping them to re-use and reduce their packaging waste using simple on-pack messaging is one way to create a deeper relationship with your brand.

Visit DuoGreen for more tips on how to achieve optimum performance in a sustainable way. 

Feeling inspired to take action to grow your online business? Take advantage of Duo's free end of line packaging audits by calling our team on 0161 203 5767 or email enquiries@duo-uk.co.uk

Download this article here.


What do you get when you cross Social Media with Packaging?

Packaging that includes brand icons taps into the heart and minds of consumers. 

Social media and packaging may not seem in any way related but together they form a powerful marketing force that can really bring a brand to life! 

For brands, packaging is an important marketing tool to engage consumers and persuade them to buy a product.

Smart brands are using packaging concepts to increase online exposure, a great example being the use of hashtags on packaging to spread a social message. 

But the key to grasping the power of packaging and social media is to make the shopping experience personal to the customer in every way possible.

A great example of this is Coca-Cola's campaign #ShareACoke, where the company replaced its logo with first names. 

 Share A Coke

Coca-Cola's personalised packaging helped to make a personal connection with customers and certainly increased motivation to share on social media! 

Coca-Cola then went a step further to ensure everyone was included in the campaign, adding a feature on its website where customers could personalise their own bottle.

The campaign went down a storm on social media, especially on Twitter, with 235,000 tweets shared throughout the campaign, from 111,000 fans, using the #ShareACoke hashtag.

By using unique social media icons on branded packaging, businesses aren't just creating something to look good - they are selling and engaging people into the brand itself.

Social networks are used by 2 billion people worldwide and more than two thirds of the UK are active on social networks. This huge audience provides the perfect channel to promote a brands personality and values and connect with customers on a more personal level.

Packaging is a really versatile and powerful marketing tool. Packaging items such as mailing bags used for ecommerce deliveries and luxury paper bags used for retail store sales, can be printed with anything from bold designs to intricate images. With small print runs available, it is now possible to order specific packaging to coincide your social media campaigns. View our full range of packaging products that can be personalised for your brand.

This is also featured in The Juice Academy Blog

Get social with Duo @DuoUK

Looking to add a little love to your products this Valentine’s Day?

Valentines Image

This year romantic Brits are expected to spend in excess of £1.5bn on Valentine's Day gifts and surprises. With just under two thirds of UK adults stating professional gift wrapping makes goods 'extra special', offering the option of gift wrapping by introducing tissue paper, ribbon and stickers can improve sales and leaves them with a warm loving feeling about your brand.

Overall gift wrapping and luxury packaging has a strong positive impact on the customer shopping experience and has halo effects such as improved perception of value for money, increased recommendation to friends and increases prosperity to make a repeat order.

  • In love with gift wrap - Men and women alike appreciate the attention to detail associated with luxury packaging, with a particularly positive impact seen among young consumers, those aged between 18-24 years old. Typically men are willing to pay more for gift wrapping as an added service than women, so appealing to the young male demographic is particularly important. 
  • Perfect Package - Men are far more likely to request professional gift wrapping when purchasing a gift for their wife or partner. On average men are willing to pay more than women, with the majority happy to spend around £2 for the gift wrap service. One in ten men are happy to spend upwards of £4, and this figure increases among 18-24 year olds. 
  • Wrapped with love - Whether online or in store, our advice is to introduce gift wrapping as a service option that is part of the purchasing experience, by having branded luxury paper bagsbespoke gift boxesbranded tissue paper and branded ribbon available. 
  • Love for the long-term - High quality, luxury packaging can do wonders for a brand's image and is known to influence consumer behaviour long term. Introducing a gift wrapping service can lead to an increase in repeat orders, more word of mouth recommendations and is associated with investment in customer service. The best news for retailers enjoying their improved profitability is that gift wrapped goods are actually perceived to be better value for money. 

Valentine's Day is just around the corner but there is still time to order packaging to meet the demand for gift wrapping and make the most of this opportunity to add some love to your customers shopping experience. For more information on gift packaging contact Duo on 0161 203 5767 or enquiries@duo-uk.co.uk

Read the full gift packaging research report here


Don't forget that packaging is key to customers

Customer centricity is vital in ensuring a positive customer-client relationship. Putting the customer at the heart of a business can bring great business results, and particularly in manufacturing, can help in the development and implementation of innovative products.

At Duo UK, manufacturer and supplier of packaging to the retail sector, we work in partnership with clients with the central focus being what their objective is or what problem they need to solve. We offer clients a range of solutions to meet their needs whilst educating and advising our customers every step of the way. We find this approach achieves a higher success rate when introducing new packaging products especially if a new process has to be adopted too.

The retail industry is leading the way when it comes to offering customised customer experiences. Speed and ease is key to be able to react to changing market demands.  Recent trends which have resulted in a change to product specification, is the increase in popularity of click-and-collect orders and also a focus on reducing carbon footprint. In Duo's case, this resulted in looking at options such as including a carrier handle to glue strip mailing bags for click-and-collect customers or, for customers with environmental concerns developing odourless 100% recycled mailing bags and introducing new material, GreenPE, a thermoplastic resin made entirely from sugarcane ethanol.

Research and development ensures the customer is at the centre of all our business decisions. We've seen so much growth in demand for recycled products that we've recently invested in a second closed loop recycling machine and we're working with clients to make the collection of polythene easier and more financially rewarding for them. Whilst it requires a lot of investment, ensuring your product range is developed for your customers' needs means the end result ensures higher customer satisfaction rates and relationship longevity.

Our approach is to have a close and honest relationship with our customers at all times and ensure that if we make a promise, we deliver. It's more than just taking an order, it's about taking the time and interest in customers' needs and offer a range of appropriate packaging products and or services that really benefit their business, and in turn, ours.

Being customer-centric is what will set you apart from competitors and ensures your business remains competitive and relevant. Make sure you keep up to date with news in your own industry, but also with that of your customers. For example, what are the current trends in retail?  Will you need to adapt a product for this specific requirement? It's this knowledge and approach to change that will ensure you exceed your customers' expectations and position you as the expert and build trust in your professional opinion.


Featured Article: Direct Commerce March/April 2015 

A Responsible Path to Luxury

Individual Agency 95523

While the overriding trend in most industry sectors over the last few years has been to reduce the amount of packaging used, one group of companies has eschewed this new convention. For purveyors of luxury goods the mantra appears to be "packaging sells".

They can't afford to cut corners and skimp on materials or finishing embellishments. The packaging of a luxury item is almost as important as the product it's protecting or showcasing. That's why during the recession, while other industries looked to cut costs, luxury goods companies continued to pump cash into creating ever more eye-catching packs.

But is this tried and tested approach changing? There is growing consumer pressure on luxury goods providers to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and offer more clarity around where materials are sourced. What are the luxury brands doing in response to these calls and is there such a thing as environmentally responsible luxury packaging?

In the luxury goods sector, arguably more than in any other sector, packaging has an important role to play in persuading the consumer to part with their money, with consumers generally willing to spend more on an item if the packaging screams 'luxury', says Sharon Crayton, head of marketing at Ardagh Group.

"During research for its report on The Future of Packaging to 2019, Smithers Pira found that the packaging of a product is part of the brand's image, thus it is important for the packaging to correctly represent the premium value of the product it is encompassing," says Crayton. To 2019, Smithers Pira forecasts that the luxury packaging market will grow by 4.4% reaching $17.6bn, and consumption will reach 9.9bn tonnes with growth of 3.1%.

If these projections are accurate the pressure placed on luxury goods manufacturers to reduce the impact of their packaging will continue to grow, leaving companies faced with addressing the difficult question of how can you design packs in a way that helps them be sustainable, but continues to look luxurious?

Christiana Mitchell, senior graphic designer at Sheridan&Co, says that there are a number of luxury brands out there that have made major progress towards becoming greener. "Other brands have been following suit, particularly due to the regulation that passed in 2012 requiring European Union companies with a turnover in excess of £2m and using over 50 tonnes each year of packaging to comply with the EU Producer Responsibility Obligations by making a proportion of their packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable," says Malham. "As a result, developing a luxury packaging solution that is sustainable is not really an option; it is a requirement, and packaging manufacturers are developing ways to make this possible."

"Manufacturers are opting for more environmentally friendly inks and materials such as paperboard and glass instead of plastics, are reducing the environmental impact of the manufacturing process and are using light-weighting techniques," she explains.

Mitchell concurs, adding that there are a number of further techniques that luxury brands looking to go greener could adopt, with the most effective approach being simply to reduce the amount of material used in the packaging.

Some brands are also using their sustainable packs to create a point of difference in the marketplace, says Susan Wilson, luxury packaging manager at James Cropper.

"More and more brands are going further than seeking formal certification and are thinking hard about how their packaging can differentiate though ethical sourcing, going as far as to reuse non-pulp waste products from their own production methods in their packaging," explains James Cropper's Wilson. "For example, our cocoa shell paper is made with a percentage of ground cocoa shells, repurposing a primary waste product of the chocolate industry - in this case major cocoa trader Barry Callebaut - to then wrap around confectionery products and other items. Brands are increasingly recognising sustainability not only as a responsibility, but potentially a great story to share with their customers."

This story telling process only serves to strengthen the relationship between a brand and a consumer - especially in the current day and age where consumers have an increasingly high awareness of product lifecycles.

"They don't just look at the end product in isolation," explains Zoe Brimelow, brand director at polythene packaging specialist Duo. "They want to understand where it has been produced, if it has been ethically produced and the values of the company that has produced the product, and only then will they form an opinion on a product's sustainability.

The packaging a product arrives in is all part of a product's lifecycle and has a significant impact on the product's sustainability and green credentials. Therefore a luxury brand can only strengthen its relationship with consumers by improving its green credentials and making a commitment to sourcing locally."

So perhaps it's likely that consumers will start hearing some loud messages about sustainability emanating from luxury goods manufacturers any time soon.

This article was featured on Packaging News


Floating shoes, peelable bottles…the best new interactive packaging designs

Nike 1Nike 2

Nike is one of the largest footwear corporations in the world with roughly 120 million pairs sold each year, the design of the trainer has altered over the years however the appearance shoebox in which they're contained has remained almost the same. The lack of innovation in the design of the shoebox has leaded the German design agency Scholz & Friends to create a prototype for the Nike air model.

The new design for the shoebox consists of an airtight transparent plastic bag firmly moulding around the shoe giving the illusion of a 'floating' shoe which reiterates the Nike 'air' link.

This concept makes the whole shoe more visible to customers and also acts as a more effective form of protection during the shipping process; the lighter packaging can also save on transport cost, fuel and reduce emissions.


Smirnoff was founded in the early 1860's and since then has slowly grown to be, as of 2006, the best selling distilled spirit brand in the world. The company has produced an extencive range of different vodkas and flavours but no spirit brand has presented their product quite like smirnoff have done with their Caipiroska' range. The line of  fruit flavoured vodka is packaged in a way where the bottle can be 'peeled' off just like the fruit they represent giving the consumer a added aspect of interactivity, they are even sent in wooden crates just as the fruits  they represent are transported in large produce markets in Brazil. JWT the advertising agency responsible for the packaging said they wanted to create the unique feeling of peeling a drink made of fruit.


Much like the Smirnoff peelable bottle these cartons are an amalgam of fruit and packaging. These clever cartons are the product of Naoto Fukasawa of Japan, an industrial designer who is famous for his innovative and practical inventions.; the clever designs feature the same texture, colour and aesthetics of the fruit they represent designer Naoto said "I imagined that if the surface of the package imitated the colour and texture of the fruit skin, then the object would reproduce the feeling of the real skin." At the moment the product is only available in Japan with just three flavours available, but with a huge amount of different fruits around the world the possibilities are endless.


Source: http://www.creativebloq.com/

Wouldn’t return friendly packaging make the returns issue worse for retailers?

Returns and Refund

Returns are a real headache for almost all online retailers, with some analysts quoting a return rate of 30%, so why on earth would any businesses want to make returning goods easier?

Well the answer is simple; research we commissioned shows that 95% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they know they can return it easily.  In other words, an awkward returns policy equals lost sales.

Our research went on to examine which part of the returns process was most irritating for customers and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority, 56%, identified a trip to the post office. However a significant minority, 30%, said repacking goods was the most annoying part of the process, with men and younger adults particularly averse to doing battle with the sellotape.

While it's tricky for internet retailers to control a customer's experience at the post office, helping consumers to repackage goods can boost the customer experience as well as offering other business benefits:

  1. Make your packaging reusable: Adding a double glue strip to your mailing bag allows consumers to re-use the packaging to send their unwanted product back to you in the post. This improves the customer experience and is environmentally friendly.
  2. Reduce damage caused by inadequate packing: Make sure your packaging can withstand the weather and the rough and tumble of the sorting office. Damaged packaging can lead to damaged goods and poor impressions; almost 95% of consumers claim poor quality or damaged packaging negatively impacts on their perception of a business.
  3. Recycle your returned packaging: While cardboard is widely perceived as a recyclable commodity, other types of packaging, including polythene are also easily recycled. In the UK there is a shortage of good quality polythene scrap leading to an increase in the price per tonne, this means recycling makes economic sense as well as fulfilling CSR aims and reducing landfill tax.

Article featured on Drapers Online 28th Jan 13.

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