Amazon Wants Frustration-Free Packaging For Cereal, Cookies

Image courtesy of Mike Seyfang

Packaged food companies spend gobs of cash designing boxes and bags to catch supermarket shoppers’ eyes, but what’s the point of that flashy design when you’re shopping online? Amazon is hoping that companies like Mondelez and General Mills will agree to optimize packaging for shipping instead of shelf appeal.

Amazon has been offering “frustration-free” packaging for a wide array of electronics since 2008 — doing away with many of the packaging features that are primarily intended to prevent shoplifting and tampering. Those often-annoying safeguards are pointless for most things purchased online.

Amazon, which is so anxious to expand its grocery sales that it’s even opening brick-and-mortar stores, has invited big companies that sell consumer packaged goods to rethink their packaging in similar ways.

Instead of investing in packaging that makes products stand out on a shelf, companies could instead invest in making their packaging sturdier and better able to survive shipment. The three-day meeting even includes a visit to an Amazon fulfillment center.

Bloomberg News has a copy of the invitation, which explains that the event is meant to make companies rethink their supply chains. “Amazon strongly believes that supply chains designed to serve the direct-to-consumer business have the power to bring improved customer experiences and global efficiency.”

There’s an implied threat here, too. People love shopping on Amazon, especially getting their orders delivered in just a few hours or a few days. The company keeps expanding its private-label products for everything from electric cords to food products and diapers. If packaged goods suppliers don’t want to play along, Amazon can push its own brands on the shoppers that are already on its site.