Online Retailers Face Cardboard Shortage

According to the German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association (bevh), online retailers are currently suffering from significantly rising costs for cardboard packaging. Bottlenecks could arise if the energy crisis intensifies in winter.

What happens if gas supplies continue to decline over the course of the year and there are supply restrictions or even a standstill in the paper industry? The German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association (bevh) asked itself this question and conducted a survey of the supply situation for cardboard boxes among its members.

The result: online retail is already suffering from significantly rising costs for cardboard boxes, according to bevh. According to the survey, for 93.8 percent of companies, the prices for cardboard boxes had “significantly increased” in the past 12 months, while for a further 6.2 percent the increase was “moderate”. Not a single company said purchase prices had stayed the same or fallen. Asked whether further price increases for the coming 12 months had already been announced to retailers by suppliers, 70.8 percent answered “yes,” while only 14.6 percent were able to answer the question in the negative.

Stocks are diminishing

As a result, inventories are shrinking, according to bevh. Only 18.8 percent of the companies surveyed said they either had enough cardboard boxes in stock for the next 12 months (14.6 percent) or did not expect a shortage of cardboard boxes in view of low order volumes (4.2 percent). The majority of retailers see themselves as being undersupplied: 52.1 percent of the companies surveyed are under pressure to buy cardboard boxes at higher prices. Another 22.9 percent cannot afford even that and are already working on alternative packaging.

“From discussions with retailers, we know that the majority have indeed stocked up in good time – there is talk of quadrupling inventories in some cases,” explains Martin Groß-Albenhausen, Deputy Chief Executive of bevh. “But if prices continue to rise, and retailers are firmly assuming that they will, even that won’t be enough.” Some would therefore try to reuse cartons or switch to B-cartons. Others are looking at alternative packaging materials such as kraft paper instead of folding cartons.

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