FedEx CEO Blames Customers Shoddy Packaging

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, FedEx CEO Fred Smith took e-retailers to task over poor packaging practices.  In an effort to share the blame for lost, damaged, and delayed deliveries over the 2013 holiday season, Mr. Smith pointed a finger at shoddy labeling and improper packaging.

The WSJ article quotes Mr. Smith stating the obvious, “No one wants to order something over the Internet, get it three days before Christmas and it is smashed or the label comes off it and the package goes into the ether.”

In our faster, cheaper, information overload internet age, consumers’ expectations often defy logic.  Amazon recently launched a viral video campaign for Amazon Prime Air illustrating delivery by drone helicopters – not exactly helping to set appropriate customer expectations.  Consumers have every expectation that they can place an order and receive it within a day or two, indifferent to the fact that, as WSJ reported, “UPS delivered a record 31 million packages on Dec. 23, up 13% from its peak day in 2012, while FedEx said it had at least three record delivery days in December of more than 22 million packages.”

Drones aside, Mr. Smith’s message is clear and timely.  E-Commerce is booming, shipping packaging is booming, and the old ways of cheaper is better packaging might not work anymore.  In the electronic environment of online purchasing where consumers never step into a store, pass by a friendly greeter, get sales help or technical assistance with a new product, tactile touch points are gone.  In place of the in store experience, e-Commerce consumers interact with a website, receive order and shipping status emails, and finally receive product packaging.  Marketers need to make sure that product packaging matches or exceeds the tactile in-store experience.

Few e-Retailers take shipping packaging seriously.  Most of the big players still rely on brown boxes with white labels – few “splurge” on printed packing tape.  I wonder when marketers will step up to create a shipping experience on par with their in-store experience.

-Bob Makofsky at


About Bob Makofsky

Bob runs operations and marketing and is Conformer’s resident postal expert. Bob has over a dozen years of entrepreneurial experience in the technology industry, in both marketing and business development roles ranging from negotiating $100 million-plus contracts nationally and abroad to developing marketing campaigns. He is regularly featured in print and packaging trade magazines on innovation. Bob is a competitive cyclist and longtime member of the Century Road Club Association in Central Park, competing in the Empire State Games (2007, 2008). Bob graduated from the University of Denver.
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