RePack: How we design reuse concepts together with businesses

Designing reusable packaging services together with online retailers and logistics companies needs expertise, experience and a a simple framework based on circular economy principles, writes Jonne Hellgren, Co-Founder and CEO of RePack, in the article below.

Designing reuse

Like many businesses, you have identified reusable packaging as part of your circular economy strategy. You see how reuse has the potential to reduce costs, trash and CO2 in your operations. Or maybe you have a new service that would benefit from reusable packaging.

Now what?

Reusable packaging is often seen as no brainer solution. “I like it. It just makes sense” is probably the most common phrase we have heard when proposing to replace single-use packaging in online deliveries.

The benefits are clear:

  • Cost reductions
  • Reduced environmental impact
  • Positive consumer feedback

Great goals. Fantastic goals. And many companies reach them too. But why then have we not seen more reuse solutions being implemented in consumer-facing businesses? Mainly because reuse is complex. There are so many details and touchpoints to be considered. Warehouse operations, IT, marketing, logistics, packaging, return channels, packaging, sealing, returns, data, PR, end-user communication, sustainability impact, costs, product returns, c-level, peak seasons…the list is exhausting.

So reuse is complex.

But it’s not complicated.

How to tackle this complexity?

Example – Matkahuolto

Finnish delivery company Matkahuolto had an idea. Everyone who has sold an item online knows the problem. “What packaging do I use to ship a thing I’ve sold online?” Matkahuolto wanted to introduce a new service that’s both convenient, reusable and returnable.

It seemed like, well you know, a no-brainer.

“You know, reusable packaging that can be sent again, or returned.”

“Sounds good. I like it. Let’s do it.”

“Ok, great. So…Ummm..what do we need to do exactly?”

So, Matkahuolto contacted RePack with the idea.

Our response?

“Sounds complex.”

In reality, any reuse service has a myriad of touchpoints, both physical and digital. In the front end and the back end, consumer-facing, operational, conceptual…

Our first task was simply to identify the relevant personnel impacted by introducing reuse and circular economy into the business. Together with the good people at Matkahuolto we had a workshop or two with people from IT, marketing, operations, sales and sustainability.

We drew things on the wall, exchanged ideas and inspirations, walked the reuse concept through again and again until we identified all relevant touchpoints. We supported the new ideas of Matkahuolto staff with our expertise and experience from past reuse concepts.

The process helped both Matkahuolto and us to identify what:

  • Had to be done
  • Should be done
  • Could be done to launch a mythical “Minimum Viable Product”

That was the hard part.

It was also quite fun because you have no limitations yet.

Once we had the visualisations, it was easy to communicate and everyone knew what needed to be done, by who and when in order to launch the reusable packaging service.

And yes, based on the visualisation of the service, we built this consumer-facing reusable packaging service and it is available in the Finnish market at matkahuolto.fi/RePack

Read more about the co-creation project from RePack’s blog.

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Images: repack.com, matkahuolto.fi

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