E-commerce packaging to top $100 billion by 2027, latest Smithers research finds

E-commerce packaging to top $100 billion by 2027,  latest Smithers research finds
LEATHERHEAD, Surrey, UK and AKRON, Ohio, USA – June 01 2022 – Demand for corrugated, paper and flexible plastics, mailers, and protective packaging for direct-to-consumer delivery is continuing to grow and diversify according to – The Future of E-commerce Packaging to 2027 – a new in-depth market data report from Smithers.

The market has boomed across the past two years, with total value rising from $34.7 billion in 2019, to a projected $63.6 billion in 2022 – equivalent to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.0% for the five years since 2017. This is due to the surge in online deliveries linked to Covid-19 lockdown orders, and while some trade has returned to physical retail, significant volumes will remain in the virtual space.

Smithers’ analysis tracks the latest material innovations and growth potential in this sales channel by material and product type across all world regions. Even as the pandemic peak begins to flatten, demand is far from saturated. Smithers forecasts the market worldwide will expand at a 9.8% CAGR through to 2027, pushing total value to $101.7 billion.

The main beneficiaries are, and will continue to be, corrugated board manufacturers, with these formats holding a 28% market share in 2022. Sustainability concerns, standardisation and the wider deployment of bespoke fit-to-product technology will help it grow its share within this generally booming sector. And multiple paper and pulp companies have developed dedicated board grades, and service lines to capitalise on this market. Sustainability issues mean flexible packaging will lose some market share over the next 5 years, but remain well established in clothing & accessories, and toys & sports equipment; with wider use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) stocks.  

  • Clothing, footwear and accessories sector is now the most important segment in
    e-commerce, and the fastest growing with a CAGR of 12.8% forecast through to 2027
  • The second fastest growing segment will be electrical and electronic goods, with deliveries especially strong in developing economies
  • One of the major changes during the pandemic has been an expansion in the range of goods consumers want, and are able, to order online. E-commerce food sales in particular is seeing accelerating demand – the third fastest growth rate over the forecast period – stimulating the market entry of new concepts including insulated packs and protective solutions for last-mile delivery
  • Demand for packaging for online personal care and cosmetics will be slower, but this is indicative of a market space where business models are already well advanced towards e-commerce and omni-channel models. It is also one business sector where sustainability in delivery packaging is at a premium
  • Books and electronic media (CDs, DVS, Blu-rays, etc) – were central to the earlier success of e-commerce businesses, especially Amazon. These have a one of the worst outlooks for 2027, reflective of declining reading rates and the greater availability of online streaming services.
Within all of these segments, brands are looking for innovation in formats, as well as improved usability and returnability for consumers. Sustainability is also increasingly important for both commercial and marketing reasons – favouring more fibre-based packs, and formats that minimise void-fill and other protective components. At the same time there is interest in branded packs for subscription selling and re-use packaging in e-commerce sales. 

The Future of E-commerce Packaging to 2027 combines penetrating market insights into the post-Covid market space, the business and packaging trends, and the evolving online technology landscape. This is quantified in authoritative dataset with over 150 data tables and figures, segmenting the market across four e-commerce packaging types, eight end-use applications, and 24 leading regional geographic and national markets.

This comprehensive strategic study is available to purchase now, priced $6,750 (€5,950, £4,950).



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