Minimal shipping option for Amazon

Amazon packaging - DaveTavres.comI love Amazon.com (as many do), but I’ve been bothered for several years at the incredible waste from their shipping packaging. Now, I’m no tree-hugger, but I am a business person and it’s easy to deduce that there’s a significant cost to the boxes and packing paper and air-bags that get put in almost every box. Not to mention the cost of shipping a larger item.

Every year Amazon ships tens of millions of packages – some big, some small… this idea is focused on the small items and I’d really love to see Amazon implement it (or some form of it.)

When I order a few cables or a rubberized case for my Android phone or even a monopod for a camera, I HOPE that the cables come in a small mailing envelope and the monopod box to come in a box just big enough for its size. Instead, when I ordered ONLY a monopod, I got a giant box with fifteen feet of packing paper crumpled up to ‘protect’ the box the monopod was in. However, the actual monopod was in it’s own nylon ‘carry case’, which was inside a plastic bag, which was inside the manufacturer’s box… which was in this giant box full of packing paper.

This is not an unusual occurrence. When I was working at a company that received a lot of small items from Amazon, I use to unbox 5, 10 and sometimes 20 boxes a day with as few as one item in each box. Certainly Amazon does a good job of combining shipping when they can, but the issue was that they would send one or two USB thumb drives in a small box with four air-bags or eight feet of packing paper… in EACH box!

For certain items, like cables, thumb drives, batteries, markers, chop sticks, etc., Amazon should show another checkbox option when users are editing their cart: “Use minimal shipping packaging”. This would tell the Amazon shipping specialist to NOT put the ‘extra padding’ into the box – and to use the smallest box possible for the items being shipped. (See mockup below)

Minimal shipping packaging - DaveTavres.com
Mockup of a “Use minimal shipping packaging” checkbox.

Now, not ALL small items would show this checkbox, for instance a portable external hard drive SHOULD be packaged with air-bags and/or packing paper to reduce the chance of receiving a damaged hard drive, so the checkbox should NOT be shown. On the other hand, a USB Bluetooth dongle SHOULD show the ‘minimal shipping packaging’ option. In fact, even most books should just be shipping with the minimal shipping option.

There is a caveat to the checkbox – the customer is accepting responsibility that a manufacturer’s product packaging may show up with dented/smushed corners or a dirty/scratched box as it slides around inside the shipping box… but seriously, most people won’t care about those things, as they’re just going to cut open the product packaging, toss it,  then use the item.

Yes, I imagine there are efficiencies to shipping items without having to go find the ‘best’ size box, but there must be a way to simplify or automate the process. I’m fairly sure that Amazon already has box-size recommendations based on every product in their database to make it easy for their shipping people, and I’m also guessing that they don’t want to carry 50 different sized boxes. That aside, there MUST be a way to optimize the box sizes as well.

Overall, this should save Amazon money, reduce trash and trash collection for the customer and should help the environment.

So Amazon – what say you? PLEASE – put this idea into action – free of charge :)