As 2020 comes to a close, it’s time for us all to look back and reflect on a remarkably challenging year. The events of 2020 have affected most of us personally and professionally, and they’ve forced us all to become stronger and more courageous. Here at BottleOne, we’ve seen consumer trends dramatically shift as we’ve all adjusted to our new COVID-19 world, and this has affected the relevance and importance of our BottleOne technology.
Recently I interviewed Bill Duelge, my colleague and BottleOne’s Chief Technology Officer. We talked about how the challenges of 2020 have affected BottleOne’s technology, the explosion of e-commerce (and the challenges that come with it), and what we can expect from BottleOne in the post-COVID era.
Now more than ever, it’s important to share our experiences with each other and celebrate our achievements. As the countdown to 2021 begins, we invite you to follow along through this thought-provoking interview.
Mike Cunningham: As we approach the end-of-the-year-no-one-saw-coming, how has your outlook on the BottleOne technology changed?
Bill Duelge: First, it’s impossible to talk about 2020 without reflecting on the enormous toll the pandemic has taken on our families, our communities, and our businesses.
In spite of the deluge of negativity, I think we should be encouraged by the countless stories of courage and resilience that we have seen from people and from businesses as we reach for our next, new, normal.
I heard an analyst say that the 2020 pandemic has brought us very unceremoniously to the year 2030. There is a lot of truth in that statement, and it has changed the relevance and the importance of BottleOne in many ways.
Mike Cunningham: Relevance and importance seem like an unusual lens in which to view a bottle technology. Can you explain?
Bill Duelge: The pandemic has changed the buying decision criteria for people and for businesses, which I believe is reflected in what gets purchased, and why a choice that seemed like an option a year ago feels like an imperative today.
Take for instance, food and beverage processors. Many of them rely on an external supply chain for their bottles. In the COVID world, there is a tremendous strain on these relationships. Bottle converters could not anticipate the shift in demand that the pandemic would bring, and as a result have been struggling to keep up.
For example, closing schools and restaurants has crippled demand for institutional products but that demand has been replaced by retail and e-commerce. The bottle converter base is agile, but not agile enough to keep up with that magnitude of change.
Customers who were thinking about self-manufacturing their own bottles a year ago are investing to make their own bottles this year. We see this trend in small and medium-sized privately-owned companies right now, in a very big way.
Mike Cunningham: Does that help or hurt BottleOne?
Bill Duelge: It makes the choice to implement BottleOne technology more relevant to these companies, and more interesting. BottleOne was designed to be simple and easy to self-manufacture, and it is perfectly positioned to benefit customers who make the commitment to make their own bottles.
Remember, these processors have struggled to secure enough bottles, and even when they can get bottles, it’s a struggle to get trucks to deliver on a reliable schedule.
Mike Cunningham: Is that why I’m having so many issues getting my online shipments?
Bill Duelge: Most certainly. And that brings me to my next reflection on 2020, which is the explosion of e-commerce. The direct-to-consumer delivery channel went from emerging to overwhelming overnight when the COVID lockdowns hit.
Coincidentally, online shopping at year end 2020 is very close to where previous predictions thought it would be in 2030. The bottom line is that success in e-commerce is no longer a casual concern. Many businesses depend on it for survival. The rules for packaging change in e-commerce.
Mike Cunningham: Why? I get the same items delivered to my house that I can bring home from the store.
Bill Duelge: The concept of a supermarket is about 100 years old. For a century, manufacturers packaged their product to get to the supermarket, period. E-commerce adds the delivery service from the supermarket to your door, in many ways returning us back to the way general stores operated before supermarkets.
That delivery function is more challenging for the package – as you know if you’ve ever ordered potato chips for home delivery. The package needs to be stronger, more durable, and needs to be fully sealed.
BottleOne packages perform well above their alternatives in all of these performance categories. E-commerce packaging performance standards are higher than that which bricks and mortar demand.
Mike Cunningham: But are they? It seems like I get the same stuff online that I buy at the store. In fact, when I go to the store I see e-commerce associates pulling items off the same shelves I just picked from.
Bill Duelge: And those people doing that selection are heroes to me. They could have stayed home, but they came to work, and because of that we eat better and live better. But if you ask online grocery buyers about their problems you will hear some common themes.
Number one is that they got a wrong or damaged item. The package cannot survive being picked, staged, handled, then dropped at your door. If the item is damaged, the consumer requests a refund, the consumer has to dispose of the product, and the consumer initiates the reorder cycle.
The amount of waste, inefficiency, and expense is unsustainable. The producer cannot afford it, the retailer cannot afford it, and the consumer won’t put up with it – not long term.
Producers and retailers now have a choice for higher performance packaging, and BottleOne has the beneficial economics to support widespread e-commerce adoption.
Mike Cunningham: What else are you hearing from the consumer?
Bill Duelge: We are hearing that secondary packaging is an issue. Have you noticed the difference in curbside recycling bins during the pandemic? They are overflowing.
More products are being consumed at home, generating more curbside volume for sure. But oh my the corrugated! There’s mountains of it, everywhere. Some of it is used for only the hour it took to come to my door from the store. It has to stop. It is not sustainable in any way.
BottleOne can’t end the 16oz of packaging material used to get that 1oz USB thumb drive to your door, but we can eliminate corrugated throughout the supply chain for other consumer products.
We can get your products into better, stronger and tougher bottles that don’t need corrugated at any time. BottleOne is part of the solution to the secondary packaging waste dilemma.
Mike Cunningham: It sounds like BottleOne technology has an exciting role in the post-COVID world. What can we expect in 2021?
Bill Duelge: Unlike the technology it replaces, BottleOne technology is a 21st century technology, with 21st century economics from a 21st century operating model.
The pandemic compressed 10 years of market evolution into a single year, and the fallout from this accelerated change is that BottleOne is more relevant and more important to the solution set for the future than anyone had imagined a year ago. 2021 will bring more BottleOne production platforms from more OEMs in more applications. Our 21st century designs might turn your head too.
Let us show you how BottleOne will improve your operating efficiencies and increase your profitability
BottleOne is an affordable large capacity, standard grade PET bottle with an integrated PET handle. BottleOne is designed to dramatically impact your supply chain. Let us introduce you to this 21st century operating model.