Director Interview: Fred Lill, Lil Packaging
In the run up to Post&Parcel Live: The Food Delivery Seminar, our editors caught up with one of our keynote speakers ahead of the event. Fred Lill is the Director and owner at Lil Packaging, one of Europe’s largest independent producers of eCommerce postal packaging to internet retailers. We caught up with Fred to get his thoughts on the role of packaging in the food delivery sector, future packaging technologies and more.
P&P – Do you have a different strategy for providing packing to retailers and restaurants (who have a demand for packaging in real-time)?
Fred Lill – Uniquely we do not (which might surprise some readers). We believe ALL clients should have next-day availability, regardless of sector/product type. Other packaging producers simply make-to-order resulting in catastrophe for retailers/restaurants during spikes in their demand. Every item we sell is not only produced by us but also 1 month of stock of each line is also available in our warehouse for client stock-outs. FYI – Our 2,100-pallet capacity warehouse is over 5x larger than other producers.
P&P – Do you think it’s beneficial to build track-and-trace into some types of packaging? If so, why? Can this be done with your packaging?
Fred Lill – RFID is the only technology we’ve investigated to apply to our packaging but is cost-prohibitive since it would double clients cost of each unit of packaging. Our team of Cambridge engineers are working on the development of our own technology to narrow that gap to only 20% but it’s not scheduled for release until 2022.
P&P – How do you adapt your packaging to accommodate for items that are heavy, fragile or food items?
Fred Lill – Testing, testing, testing, testing, testing and more testing. I wish we could create an algorithm to make our life easier but it’s the only proven method of success.
P&P – How do you decide what packing is most appropriate for certain items?
Fred Lill – It’s not at all simple. Right now, most retailers want a point of difference from their competitors, so we have to match their desires to the most relevant 2-3 packaging options. Ultimately item protection has to be paramount.
P&P – What current technologies have you used to improve your packaging?
Fred Lill – Having invested over £3m on machinery in the last 18 months we’ve already implemented 5 market-leading corrugated upgrades:
- Advanced metallic ink printing
- Advanced varnish coatings
- In-line 2nd adhesive peel & seal strip for returns
- Custom-printed integrated tissue
- Digitally printed custom-packaging using ‘Photobox style’ drag&drop software.
P&P – Is your packaging recyclable/reusable? Do these elements matter to end users?
Fred Lill – 100% of items produced by Lil are not only recyclable, but over 95% is also ALREADY RECYCLED – whether it be from post-consumer recycled waste paper or from mill offcuts. Generally, the only box that is not reusable is an awful one. Our products are all above industry standard BCT strength (Box Compression Test) and tested to survive 2 journeys for returns undamaged. We do not charge extra for our environmental accreditations (FSC/ PEFC/ ISO14001) but it is well evidenced that consumers feel more loyal to a retailer promoting environmental responsibility.
P&P – How do you ensure post-box deliveries are successful with your packaging?
Fred Lill – As self-confessed packaging geeks working with the largest internet retailers, our knowledge of letterboxable packaging is tried, tested & perfected. We even commissioned research recently into Letterbox sizes of over 10,000 homes.
P&P – Is your packaging suitable for locker deliveries? If so, have you had to adapt your packaging to make it compatible?
Fred Lill – The core of our business is inventions of snug-fit packaging. Therefore we’re an internet retailers best chance of squeezing anything into a locker (Currently, Lockers can accept parcels up to 42cm x 35cm x 32cm in dimension, with a maximum weight of 4.5kg). As a rough guide to our clients we say Locker max package dims are approx 2x Small Parcel sized Royal Mail items (45x35x16cm).