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Casino’s Cdiscount plans new trial with LivingPackets

Cdiscount will start another test run with the new generation of the smart reusable packaging from LivingPackets. As the Retail Optimiser has learned, the Groupe Casino-controlled French non-food online retailer is currently preparing the next round of piloting.

Online retail is growing worldwide like never before, also due to the lockdown. And with it the mountains of disposable packaging waste. Even if the cost of returning reusable packaging is the Achilles’ heel of e-commerce: The intelligent reusable packaging of the Franco-German start-up LivingPackets is currently motivating some e-commerce companies to take a fresh look at the subject of reusable packaging.

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The crates called ‘The Box’ are equipped with e-paper displays that also show the delivery codes and replace the labels. Localisation technology makes the physical package trackable without scanning. Customers can initiate a return at the touch of a button. Sensors monitor the shipment right up to recording shocks. The interior of the box protects the goods in such a way that filling material becomes generally obsolete.

New generation of the box

In October last year, Groupe Casino’s Cdiscount had already started a test run with 400 recyclable smart packages for same-day delivery in the Bordeaux region after a proof of concept in April.

The online retailer is now preparing a major test run with the next generation of computerised parcels. “Cdiscount is one of our most committed partners”, confirms Alexander Cotte, CEO of Living Packets, at the request of the Retail Optimiser: “We are working closely on continuing our cooperation and are currently preparing a joint project with the second generation of The Box”.

The second generation of its smart returnable packaging, LivingPackets upgraded with an integrated camera and sensors to monitor temperature, pressure, shocks and weight inside the box. The Box is available in different sizes with up to 32 litres of interior space. Retailers are interested in these features for the delivery of high-quality electronic devices, but also watches and jewellery. They want to get to grips with the problems of goods being damaged or stolen from packages in the supply chain. This is why the new generation of the box is also secured with an electromagnetic lock with a TSA interface.

The 7.8-inch e-paper display with shatterproof glass can display almost any shipping label. In addition, the new generation of the box is equipped with a loudspeaker and microphone, so that the recipient and delivery person can even talk to each other via the box.

Production line for the box at the start

The production line for The Box from LivingPackets is still under construction. In September, the start-up company plans to put it into operation with the support of the French production automation company Europe Technologies. LivingPackets could then produce 100,000 boxes per year at its own site in Nantes. The start-up admits, however, that there are no tests or orders to this extent yet.

Intelligent reusable packaging could also be a game changer for parcel shipments of food, since it can monitor temperature control and could perhaps offer active cooling in the future.

LivingPackets aims to bring the box to the market using the pool method. Retailers or logistics providers should pay per use. The start-up company is not only faced with the challenge of offering cardboard boxes and disposable filling material at very low prices, but also that someone has to pay the cost of returning the box to the cycle.

The challenge of the cycle

The parcel service providers know this from their painful – and mostly failed – price negotiations with food delivery services: Retailers want insulated reusable packaging with the necessary return of the transport crate — but when it comes to price, they tend to orient themselves more towards the conventional one-way package. However, the parcel service provider has at least twice the effort.

LivingPackets would therefore like to establish a pool system in the way that the box is also used by its recipient. For instance in shipping in the consumer-to-consumer sector such as selling things on Ebay.

But retailers are starting their projects with LivingPackets in the area of particularly high-quality goods that are not sufficiently protected against damage and theft in the current package. However, the German-French start-up also sees its opportunity for other goods in the seamless tracking of the physical parcel and the electronic documentation of the delivery and opening of the box.

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Björn Weber

Björn Weber has been a journalist, analyst and consultant specialising in the retail and consumer goods industry for over 20 years. Prior to founding Fourspot, which is publishing The Retail Optimiser, Björn Weber headed the international analyst group LZ Retailytics. Previously, he was Research Director Retail Technology and Head of Planet Retail in Germany. Before that, Björn Weber was editor for IT & logistics topics at Lebensmittel Zeitung for eight years. Björn Weber is a member of the jury of the Retail Technology Award (Reta Europe) of the EHI. He is a regular speaker at events of the EHI, the NRF, industry media and the Consumer Goods Forum.

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