Sustainable Supply Chain

Sustainable Packaging in the Digital Age: Insights with Arka's CEO

October 13, 2023 Tom Raftery / Phillip Akhzar Season 1 Episode 357
Sustainable Packaging in the Digital Age: Insights with Arka's CEO
Sustainable Supply Chain
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Sustainable Supply Chain
Sustainable Packaging in the Digital Age: Insights with Arka's CEO
Oct 13, 2023 Season 1 Episode 357
Tom Raftery / Phillip Akhzar

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Happy Friday folks, and in today's podcast episode of the Digital Supply Chain podcast, I had the pleasure of delving deep into the fascinating world of packaging with Phillip Akhzar, CEO of Arka.

We kicked things off discussing the common missteps businesses make with their packaging - from not having the right suite to not being timely with their packaging. If you've ever received a package and thought, "Why such a big box for a small item?" Phillip breaks down the reasons and how businesses can avoid these pitfalls. πŸ“¦

One key takeaway? The right packaging doesn't just save space and materials; it's critical for your brand's reputation in the age of social commerce. Think about it: a product sent in an oversized box might end up as a negative review online. Meanwhile, a product that arrives in a box perfectly tailored to its size becomes a social media moment. 🌟

And speaking of boxes, remember when Apple announced the packaging shrink for the iPhone 15? We dove into that and how sustainable packaging not only reduces waste but also shipping costs. Phillip even dropped some insights about Apple's move being a brilliant example for businesses, big or small!

Ever thought about branding on your packaging? 🎨 It's not just about aesthetics; it's a marketing spend. As Phillip emphasizes, your package is the first physical interaction your customer has with your brand. And hey, Apple fanboys, we shared a special moment about the art and beauty of Apple's packaging! 🍎

As we wrapped up, Phillip enlightened us on the various materials Arka uses, emphasizing sustainability and the importance of making the right choices. Whether it's moving to 100% PCR (Post-Consumer Recycled material) or focusing on paper over newer materials, Arka is pushing the envelope (pun intended!).

Elevate your brand with the β€˜Sustainable Supply Chain’ podcast, the voice of supply chain sustainability.

Last year, this podcast's episodes were downloaded over 113,000 times by senior supply chain executives around the world.

Become a sponsor. Lead the conversation.

Contact me for sponsorship opportunities and turn downloads into dialogues.

Act today. Influence the future.



Support the Show.


Podcast supporters
I'd like to sincerely thank this podcast's generous supporters:

  • Lorcan Sheehan
  • Olivier Brusle
  • Alicia Farag

And remember you too can Support the Podcast - it is really easy and hugely important as it will enable me to continue to create more excellent episodes like this one.

Podcast Sponsorship Opportunities:
If you/your organisation is interested in sponsoring this podcast - I have several options available. Let's talk!

Finally
If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to just send me a direct message on LinkedIn, or send me a text message using this link.

If you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it.

Thanks for listening.

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Show Notes Transcript

Send me a message

Happy Friday folks, and in today's podcast episode of the Digital Supply Chain podcast, I had the pleasure of delving deep into the fascinating world of packaging with Phillip Akhzar, CEO of Arka.

We kicked things off discussing the common missteps businesses make with their packaging - from not having the right suite to not being timely with their packaging. If you've ever received a package and thought, "Why such a big box for a small item?" Phillip breaks down the reasons and how businesses can avoid these pitfalls. πŸ“¦

One key takeaway? The right packaging doesn't just save space and materials; it's critical for your brand's reputation in the age of social commerce. Think about it: a product sent in an oversized box might end up as a negative review online. Meanwhile, a product that arrives in a box perfectly tailored to its size becomes a social media moment. 🌟

And speaking of boxes, remember when Apple announced the packaging shrink for the iPhone 15? We dove into that and how sustainable packaging not only reduces waste but also shipping costs. Phillip even dropped some insights about Apple's move being a brilliant example for businesses, big or small!

Ever thought about branding on your packaging? 🎨 It's not just about aesthetics; it's a marketing spend. As Phillip emphasizes, your package is the first physical interaction your customer has with your brand. And hey, Apple fanboys, we shared a special moment about the art and beauty of Apple's packaging! 🍎

As we wrapped up, Phillip enlightened us on the various materials Arka uses, emphasizing sustainability and the importance of making the right choices. Whether it's moving to 100% PCR (Post-Consumer Recycled material) or focusing on paper over newer materials, Arka is pushing the envelope (pun intended!).

Elevate your brand with the β€˜Sustainable Supply Chain’ podcast, the voice of supply chain sustainability.

Last year, this podcast's episodes were downloaded over 113,000 times by senior supply chain executives around the world.

Become a sponsor. Lead the conversation.

Contact me for sponsorship opportunities and turn downloads into dialogues.

Act today. Influence the future.



Support the Show.


Podcast supporters
I'd like to sincerely thank this podcast's generous supporters:

  • Lorcan Sheehan
  • Olivier Brusle
  • Alicia Farag

And remember you too can Support the Podcast - it is really easy and hugely important as it will enable me to continue to create more excellent episodes like this one.

Podcast Sponsorship Opportunities:
If you/your organisation is interested in sponsoring this podcast - I have several options available. Let's talk!

Finally
If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to just send me a direct message on LinkedIn, or send me a text message using this link.

If you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it.

Thanks for listening.

Phillip Akhzar:

All of that is a marketing spend. They're going to talk about you, they're going to review you, and they're going to share the experience on socials as a result of that marketing spend, or lack thereof that you invested or didn't invest in your packaging. It is the one thing that you send to your customer that has a 100% open rate

Tom Raftery:

good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the Digital Supply Chain Podcast, the number one podcast focusing on the digitization of supply chain, and I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Hi everyone. Happy Friday and welcome to episode 357 of the digital supply chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery and I'm excited to be here with you today, sharing the latest insights and trends in supply chain. Before we kick off today's show, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to all of our amazing supporters. Your support has been instrumental in keeping this podcast going and I am really grateful for each and every one of you. If you're not already a supporter, I'd like to encourage you to consider joining our community of like minded individuals who are passionate about supply chain. Supporting the podcast is easy and affordable, with options starting as low as just three euros or dollars a month. That's less than the cost of a cup of coffee, and your support will make a huge difference in keeping the show going strong. To become a supporter, Simply click on the support link in the show notes of this or any episode or visit tinyurl. com slash dscpod Now without further ado i'd like to introduce my special guest today Philip. Philip, welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Phillip Akhzar:

Thanks, Tom. Thanks for having me. Yeah, absolutely. Founder and CEO of Arka. We have an API that connects to any warehouse management system, to auto replenish packaging for warehouses and we provide custom branded packaging for direct to consumer merchants.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, well first off, nice to have someone with also with a hat on the podcast, so thank you for that.

Phillip Akhzar:

Absolutely. I got the memo. Yep, of course.

Tom Raftery:

Great. Tell me a little bit more about Arka, Philip.'cause that was a very high level. What was the genesis of Arka? You know, why did you decide to wake up one morning and say, oh, I must start Arka.

Phillip Akhzar:

Sure. So initially I, so I went to school for industrial engineering. And my main focus was just like facility redesign, warehouse management, dealing with products that eventually get shipped. When it came to packaging, it always ended up being a bottleneck. So, I figured there could be an easier way of getting packaging, especially for direct to consumer merchants that are just starting out. They wanna scale their business. There's, there's so many times you graduate in the lifecycle of being an e-comm business from a certain provider that you really want someone that can grow with you. And that's exactly what Arka can do. We can grow with businesses, whether you just started out or you're doing over 10 million a year we'll be able to help you out. Then like what we discovered through helping more merchants was there was a deeper issue on the warehouse level, and that's where we created the API to connect to any warehouse management system. Tracking and, tracking and purchasing of packaging is fairly neglected on the warehouse level. So what we've been able to do is connect to the WMS, which is essentially the brain of the warehouse, and create an auto replenishment function, which sounds fairly straightforward and sounds like something that warehouses should already have, but they don't. When it comes to the governance and tracking of packaging, it's, it's fairly low visibility. So essentially what a warehouse manager can do is get set up with our platform and and when they run low on boxes, they can set a minimum threshold of, let's say, 500 boxes. When you have only 500 of this box left, we'll send you more, we'll update your warehouse management system and, you will get that receiving, like warehouse receiving order, or ship notice or ASN that, that more boxes are en route. And it's, it's become an absolute game changer for, for those warehouses and as a result for those merchants. And as a result, consumers like we won't, like our products won't be late, at least for that reason any longer.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Is that a big bottleneck for warehouses generally running outta boxes?

Phillip Akhzar:

It is especially during peak season, which is upon us. So what, what typically happens is the process of, of tracking packaging today in most warehouses predates the fax machine. It's, it's someone walking the warehouse floor with a clipboard counting how many boxes they have. Maybe it ends up on an Excel sheet somewhere. Then they will flip open the Uline catalog, pick up the phone and order more boxes. Like that's the basic process today. Whereas with us, we abstract away that manual process by just having it be automated. It'll just come in as like a, notification to whoever's managing the, the procurement of packaging of that warehouse to say, okay, you're, you're low on this 500 more are en route. Do you want to, do you wish to proceed? Yes. Awesome. Ship notice created three pallets of a 10 by eight by four are en route. Warehouse can get ready for it. They don't have to worry about running out. They don't need to purchase or overnight packaging at, at a premium, which happens all the time. Like it's a, it's a fire drill that happens on, on the warehouse level. And it's something that you can feel insured. Like we're essentially providing that insurance for a warehouse because if, if that happens, your, your merchant that you're servicing is, is obviously gonna be furious 'cause that means late orders, which means their customers are gonna be furious. That merchant very well might churn from your warehouse. So if you're a 3PL and you wanna make sure you keep your merchants happy, you gotta keep their customers happy and our solution helps provide that.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And what about right sizing of packaging? Because, you know, that's often an issue I receive parcels and it's, maybe a, a matchbox size component that I've ordered and it's come in a box, you know, that could hold a pair of shoes or similar. Is, is that something that you're also helping warehouses with?

Phillip Akhzar:

Absolutely. So let, let's, let's double click on that for a second. I think anyone listening right now has received a product in the mail that was in a package that was far too big. As a result, that product was likely more expensive than it should have been because the warehouse albeit they pass on those, those that charge, but it makes the warehouse come off as more expensive because the package is more expensive than it needed to be. It was too big. The shipping is gonna be more expensive than it needed to be. There's more volume that's being sent out and potentially more weight. That means there's less room on their pallets, which means there's less room on the back of the trucks, like it lowers efficiency across the board has negative rippling effects throughout the rest of the supply chain. The carbon footprint goes up for that location. The customer experience goes down for whoever who receives that package like, like yourself that you're describing. And it's happening to me all the time. So to answer your question directly, first of all, yes. We do have a box algo that'll help with the box assortment that you'll have. So we have a box assortment optimization solution for warehouses. And that's just a fancy way of saying if they're selling these products in a mixture of different size products, you wanna make sure that the size packages line up and you wanna make sure that it lines up anytime a new sku, meaning like a new product that's being sold, enters the system or exits the system. How often do you think a warehouse is actually auditing what came in and as a result, what should we change when our, with our, with our packaging suite? It's like once or twice a year. With, with our system, we're actually checking that nightly, right? So the next morning they'll be able to see new suggestions. And that's not to say it needs to be some crazy scramble to order this box now, move, move on and order that box the following week. That's not at all what we're saying. However, you will have the information so that you can make the informed decision if you choose to every day if you wanted to. But point being is the reason why the product does arrive in a package that's too big can, can be one of two reasons, is what we've discovered. And we're experts on this. So one is they didn't have the right suite to begin with. Like they never accounted for the fact that this SKU has entered the system. So they're still sending it in the package that ships this, right? And that's actually like a conservative comparison. Sometimes it'll be in something way larger than this because they have, because they've already recognized the package that this is optimal for and it'll just share with this guy, right?'Cause that's what they're gonna do. So one, have the right assortment. Two, make sure you're getting your packaging on time. They might've run out for the, they might've had the right package assortment that included this, but they ran out. And because they ran out, they're gonna have to ship it not in something smaller. That's impo, physically impossible. It's gonna go in something bigger and that package, that's something bigger. You'd be lucky if this is next in line in terms of sizing. As a result, that's what they're gonna use.'cause the order's gotta go. Like they're not just gonna sit on it if they have something to ship it in. That's priority number one. Get this out the door. The customer's paid for it. The merchant expects it out the door. You're gonna send it out the door, even if it comes in, something that ends up being ridiculous. And as a result is not, is not exactly in in the world of social commerce. It's not something they're gonna share online unless it's a negative review. Meaning they're gonna say, I love this thing. I'm so glad this came in the mail, but, look at this. It, it came in a massive box. This is ridiculous. I don't like waste. I don't like what this company's doing. I don't stand for it. I don't recommend them. Right? Like that's what they're going to say. They're not gonna say, wonderful. I got this product. It came in something that was ballooned 10 times the size of it. No. If you want them to share your product and, and have, have the concept of what you did as a company with, with the, with, with the efficiency of sending it in the right package and also being a great product. Those two things need to be reconciled with the right size package. Otherwise, it's gonna turn into a, a bad review. And that's something we'd like to avoid

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's interesting because in the recent Apple Developer Conference where they announced the iPhone 15, One of the points that they made was that they had shrunk the size of the packaging of the phones, and as a consequence, they could fit more phones per container and therefore they could get, you know, it required less shipping to, to move the same amount of phones from where they were manufactured to end customer, you know, so they, they actually made a point about the fact that more efficient, more efficiently sized packaging helps reduce the footprint. So it's, to your point I think it was Lisa Jackson mentioned that she's the head of sustainability for Apple. But it it makes your point very nicely.

Phillip Akhzar:

I am actually gonna save that talking point. That's, that's, that's freaking brilliant. And it's something that is, is a universal problem and a universal opportunity for businesses. Don't think that just because you're a small company, you don't need to pay attention to these things. If anything, you definitely should. How are you gonna scale if you're paying extra money where you don't have to? So, helping eliminate this waste is, is going to start trending good habits of building a company that'll have positive rippling effects throughout the rest of your supply chain. This doesn't, this does not just apply to Apple. Sure, apple is the one that's gonna be saving, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars as a result. But why wouldn't you save hundreds of dollars if, if you could do it? Especially when the solution is far less expensive than that. It's just a matter of best practices, and that's what we'll be able to share with you, the merchant, or you the 3PL since we're the experts on this. So I'm glad, I'm glad you brought off that point. Apple definitely leads the way on that.

Tom Raftery:

And the packaging that I get from you for my warehouse. Is that packaging that you have created yourself or are you sourcing it from someone else?

Phillip Akhzar:

So Arka does not. Does not own, produce or store any packaging. Like we, we, we have a network of suppliers that we leverage to make sure that you get the right packaging at the right time, that has proper proximity to your location. Most of all our packaging that we source is in North America. Arka has a FSC certified, which is Forestry Service Certification for a chain of custody, best practices around materials, the sourcing materials to the production of packaging. This is something that we get audited for every year and we're big, we're, we're big evangelists of this. So you make sure that you're getting eco-friendly packaging. It's something that we take super seriously. So our whole thing is we'll get the right provider for you. We will get this shipped to your warehouse or your living room if that's where you're fulfilling your, your, your products. So that you can get the best solution, right? So we get discounts as a result of this, and we pass those savings onto our customers because we actually, we, we essentially act as like a wholesale distributor where we're sending a bunch of orders from merchant A, B, C, and D to specific locations that then aggregate these orders together and then give us a discount that we pass on to customers so that you can get a better price than if you were to go direct. And, you know, myself being an industrial engineer, having structural engineers around packaging on our team and experts on the, the manufacturing, printing, and distribution of packaging on our team. Like, that's like we, we are essentially your COO when it comes to procurement, packaging and shipping of any sort of like supply chain related materials that you would need so that you don't need to, to deal with it. Because I mean, it's such an old school industry like. Our jobs aren't easy. Again, sometimes it's really not fun, like dealing, dealing with these old school manufacturers. There's a lot of negotiation that needs to go into place. There's a lot of time management. We, we've queued up specific manufacturing dates for Arka on, on, on the dates that you, the merchant or you the 3PL needs your packaging. So we've already have, we already have that table reserved for you because it's reserved for Arka.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Okay. I'm just wondering as well, in terms of odd shapes, is that an issue or, you know, if, if I have something that's dodecahedron or irregularly shaped or, you know, how is that taken into account or, do all of your customers have everything square and rectangular?

Phillip Akhzar:

no, definitely not. I mean, everything . At least in, in shipping is ultimately seen as like cubic dimension that then gets placed inside of a, a package of some sort. Unless it's apparel, which is like a mobious shape that goes inside of a bag, most likely to get shipped out the door, especially if it's not fragile. So putting that aside for a second if you do have hard materials, we actually have corrugated inserts. So they're essentially cavities that you can place whatever shape your product is inside of that corrugated tray, which you can brand, place inside of the box, close it up and it gets sent as a square or more accurately, a variation of, of a cube that gets sent out the door. So regardless of what shape you have, that's something we can have with, we actually have an inserts page on our website where you can put in the cubic dimensions of that product. And then we will create in real time the optimal dimension of the tray. And the box that you would need to ship out, you can brand it, customize it, have it sent wherever you need. We actually even do just because this, this can be a sensitive topic for some folks. We actually even provide samples to make sure that it does have perfect fit so that you don't just, you know, order, you know, 500 or 5,000 or 50,000 boxes out the gate because you think this will have best fit. Just get a sample like we, our sampling process to be completely honest, is, is one of the best things that we can offer because, it's 20 bucks for a sample. You get a refund when you place a full order. So it's, I mean, it's free samples. And the only reason why it's 20 bucks is to keep out the riffraff. It's not like we make money on a $20 sample. Like, it's like, you know, we, we have structural engineers that are anywhere from like 90 to $120 an hour, making sure that it's like best fit. But our business model understands that, you know, when you place an order, we'll we'll actually make money on that and it'll, it'll take care of, of our, it'll take care of our team from there. But yeah, don't, don't be afraid to come to us and approach us if you have something that's a do say it again. That was . That was awesome that you, what was the shape that you mentioned? A dodecahedron. Yeah, ado. So if you have a dodecahedron come see Arka. We'll, we'll take care of you

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And it's great to hear that you are using FSC certified materials. What about for paper. Yeah, that's where I was going next. What about things like plastic and cellophane wraps and things like popcorn inserts and that what kinda materials are you using there? Because there's obviously a big movement away from plastic now. Is that something that you, you deal with at all? I mean, or is that something that's done in the warehouse or how, how

Phillip Akhzar:

No, no. Yeah, totally. So when it comes to , wrapping and protection. We stay away from plastic entirely. A, a honeycomb paper mailer or a honeycomb wrap. This is all paper. These are all paper, paper products, excuse me. Corrugated inserts for protection. Big believers in that. It also helps if you ship through Amazon FBA and some other fulfillment companies do this as well. They'll charge you, like if you have a glass product,

Tom Raftery:

Hmm.

Phillip Akhzar:

it needs to be wrapped and protected, period. They're not gonna ship that. That is extra material and extra labor costs, you're always gonna get dinged for that. We did a certification with Amazon about two years ago to be considered like one of their preferred vendors for Amazon FBA, where we did a PFP, FFP, and SIOC certification. That's Prep Free Packaging, Frustration Free Packaging, and SIOC Ships In Its own Container. So if you have a product like let's say like a, a mug, it's strangely enough, I don't know, we're all buying mugs. It's like one of the most popular products that breaks. You could put that inside of this corrugated insert tray, which goes directly in the box. No, no need for additional inner inner wrapping or outer packaging. It shipped in its own container like the label states. So, that's, that's, we're biggest fans of that. Now, to move on to , let's say a poly mailer. Sure, we'll still provide poly mailers. Not everybody can afford to go eco-friendly, and that's okay. I don't wanna discourage people from saying I need to have, you know, a, a thick wallet out the gate to be able to pay for some sort of like bioplastic.'cause we do offer that as well. But we've recognized that something that more mature companies want to be able to approach a bit more easily when they've, when they've gone a little bit further along, they've had product market fit. Don't be ashamed, anyone listening out there. And if, and if you don't wanna do poly mailer, go to USPS, if you're living in the states, you get packaging for free. Like it's literally just the cost of a label. Do that. It's fine. Buy stickers from us if you want, and have like your logo on there, or like branded tape, we can provide that as well. But you don't need to go straight to branded packaging. So if you wanna somehow skip the cheaper poly mailers from the beginning, if you wanna leapfrog that, maybe just start with free packaging from the post post office. But once you do get there, and if you can afford it we do have bioplastics, we do have compostable material. But if I'm gonna be completely honest, my favorite is actually plastic, but in the form of 100% PCR. So Post-Consumer Recycled material, meaning that that plastic is at the end of its lifecycle. It has to go, it has to go to landfill. At the end of the day, it's going there no matter what. These are getting produced and they're going there because every single plastic item that it was tied to water bottles, other poly mailers, whatever, have been broke, broken down, and created into these PCR mailers. They're asking to be used one last time before they get sent to the grave. That's a bit of a hot take. Some people are going to say that's not as you know, cute kitschy or as fashionable as compostable mailers. But if you have a compostable mailer, you have the responsibility to make sure that it gets composted. Do you think your end user's gonna do that? Are they all gonna do that? Probably not. A majority don't. Regardless of what soapbox they sit on talking about sustainability efforts and the the desire to purchase eco-friendly. A PCR mailer is eco-friendly in the sense that it's done. It, it needs to go. It is officially trash, so use it one last time. I'm, I'm a big advocate of that. They're also reasonably priced as well, but at the end of the day, we give options. You know, it's capitalist market. If you want a plastic mailer, if you want a honeycomb craft mailer, which I actually really like. If you want compostable bioplastic, we've got that too. But we also have PCR and don't sleep on P C R if you're listening to this.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Okay. And you mentioned, you know, ordering 500 or 5,000 or 50,000. What kind of size can you scale to?

Phillip Akhzar:

I mean, look, we have some 3PLs that are, that have like 50 locations, some 3PLs by way of WMS that have 150 locations. Scale's massive. It's really untapped. It, it doesn't matter. Like, it, it really doesn't matter. I, I think the more difficult question for a lot of manufacturers is what can you scale down to? Like what's your minimum order of quality? That's always the, that's always the the gate that some, some, some providers have where they're like, sorry, you need to order 25,000 of this thing. That can be a problem. That can be a problem, especially when you're considering that over 90% of e-comm is doing less than 5 million a year. 70% is doing less than 1 million a year. Like the, the, the e-comm world is not Amazon. It's, it's every other mom and pop online store, whether they're on Shopify or like an Etsy seller, like that's, that's, that's e-com. Realistically speaking. So what they want to do is to be able to say, can I get 25 fully branded boxes? And you can, you can through us you can actually get one through us if you wanted to. So I would, I would emphasize the flexibility that we have for like, low minimum order quantities versus, versus higher, 'cause higher. Anyone can do higher. Everyone wants to do higher. Manufacturers are just jumping at the opportunities to take a big order. They will ignore you if you have a small order though, so, we won't ignore you. So feel free to reach out. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

And you mentioned branded as well, so is it possible to have my own branding on, on these boxes?

Phillip Akhzar:

Absolutely. You can get one fully branded that it goes back to what I was saying about samples. You can get 'em for 20 bucks and you get a full refund when you order 10. And I hope you do not just because you know, like we'll give you your money back. I hope you do.'cause that means you're gonna grow with us and we can grow with you. Great.

Tom Raftery:

Cool, cool, cool. And where to next for you guys? You know, we, what do you see as Where's the market going for these kind of things?

Phillip Akhzar:

I mean, you know, we've got the, the, the suite of packaging options that we're providing. I think our biggest march right now, I know our biggest march right now is towards the 3PLs and the warehouses because we're, we're just, we're just going further upstream, right? You have the direct to consumer merchants that can come to us directly and purchase the packaging. As they scale that typically goes to a 3PL. And the 3PL is getting, getting their information from the WMS. So the 3PL and WMS partnerships are gonna be big because they're one to many plays. And if you can change, if you can change their habits, they're gonna pass on those habits to the merchant. Whereas if you go, if you're always focusing on the merchant, and maybe I'm giving away trade secrets here, but if you're focusing just on the merchant They're not alone. Like unless they're fulfilling in their warehouse, they don't have that freedom. Some, some of the 3PLs they work with won't accept branded packaging. Some of the 3PLS they work with won't accept some sort of like protection. They'll say, we need to charge you for this. So if we can implement best practices on a warehouse level everything will be cheaper. Like everything will be less expensive because we've removed the inefficiency.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Do you have any customer success stories you can point to?

Phillip Akhzar:

Sure. So one of the companies that we're working with right now is a company called Printful. They do on demand apparel, on demand products, and they've moved towards 100% PCR in their warehouses, and we've helped enable that starting in their, I'm mispronouncing this Mississauga. Location in Canada. But they're starting in Canada and they're moving towards all their other facilities to be 100% PCR. And I love that they've been able to avoid the noise when it comes to compostable or some other fashionable material. They understand. Like, they're running it real. And I'm not trying to put down people who do purchase compostable at the end of the day. I'm just trying to applaud people who stay away from the noise. They do their research. And they understand that this is the best solution. So for them, they're moving towards sustainability. We have, we have folks like ShipBob that are working towards carbon neutral, carbon neutral warehouses, which is awesome. I love, I love seeing people doing not just carbon offset, because that's a whole other ball game in itself, but understanding the benefits of just like lowering your carbon footprint. Yes, it's fashionable, but this is one of those use cases. I think that being fashionable is actually kind of cool. And it's actually doing some good because it's driven, it's actually driven by money, which is fine. It shouldn't be pejorative just because it's money focused. It's, it's all directionally correct. It's for the betterment of the environment. Cool. Great. And it's also getting you more customers. Like that's a, that's a win-win. So I'm excited to see that especially when previously companies like Printful were just using plastic, plastic, plastic. Virgin plastic, maybe sometimes recycled plastic. But to go to PCR, that's awesome. Not just for their bags, but for their boxes too. Like it's a full, the, the boxes are at the end of their lifeline as well. And if they're craft, they can actually be compostable too. So that's, that's actually pretty awesome. So I'm, I'm the biggest advocate of paper. It's the oldest material out there. It's not made of like corn starch or some sort of like bio innovation. It's paper and paper's great. It's, it's, it's still one of the most eco-friendly protective materials. There's flexibility around customization. You can brand it you can recycle it, you can compost it, it can biodegrade in some cases if it's craft unbleached. And so the versatility there is just as unique as it, as it always was. I think there's just been a lot of distraction through, you know, the funding of other materials that have dissuaded people from just using the, the original material. Just use paper. It's great.

Tom Raftery:

Sure, sure, sure, sure. We're coming towards the end of the podcast now, Phillip, is there any question I haven't asked that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to think about?

Phillip Akhzar:

Just remember that, and I say this pretty much every opportunity I can, just remember that this is a process one, so like, iterate, come sample with us. Like I want to invite everyone here to sample with us, even if you go in another direction. And use another provider. Just sample with us. Like we like it 'cause we get to learn about your business and what you're working on and how we can be better providers of a service that includes making sure that your product, your baby, ends up in, in the hands of a happy customer. And we were some part of that. That's freaking awesome. Like I do get excited about that. We're not, we're not you know, everyone here is not crazy about like paper and plastic. We're, we're crazy about other businesses. Like we are working with, as a B2B we're working with other business owners. That's fun 'cause we're business owners. As I'm sure it's part of the reason why you enjoy what you do, Tom, like you're talking to business owners and you get to hear their stories and we like hearing their stories, but iterate. That's probably one of the biggest ones. And if you have the opportunity to, so if you have the opportunity to sample do it. Take your, take your time. If you can start early. We have a lot of folks that introduce themselves. And they kind of, they, they procrast like, don't procrastinate. They procrastinate and then they come to us and it's, and it's, it's, it's an emergency and they need something right away. Don't do that. So, so just reminding everyone don't do that. Sometimes you can't control it. I understand like things come up, you gotta do what you gotta do and we will support you. But if you have the time sample, like en en, enjoy it. Enjoy the process. Is, is, is all I can say there for sure.

Tom Raftery:

Cool. Cool, cool.

Phillip Akhzar:

Oh, and one last thing one last thing. Packaging, especially branded packaging. If you're listening to this, I have to triple underline this. It's a marketing spend, guys branded packaging, packaging configuration, meaning how they're going through the journey of layering, of opening up the package and getting your product. You can call it the unboxing experience. All of that is a marketing spend. They're going to talk about you, they're going to review you, and they're going to share the experience on socials as a result of that marketing spend or lack thereof that you invested or didn't invest in your packaging. It is the one thing that you send to your customer that has a 100% open rate, hopefully if it, if it, if, if someone didn't steal it from the porch. And by the way, quick side comment. Sometimes people get concerned about branded packaging getting stolen'cause it's so visible on the porch. Just do in inside branded, you can, you can just, you know, leave the outside blank and brand the inside. Just by the way, quick, quick side comment, but guys, it's a marketing spend, so invest in it. It is your billboard. It is, they're not, if they're not stepping into a store, you're bringing the store to them. So spend on it like they, like your average user is, is spending 11% of the product costs on packaging cost actually, excuse me, product price on packaging cost.'cause you might make something, no offense to those of you that source overseas for something that costs 5 cents that would mean you're spending a penny on boxes. That's not what I'm saying. If you're sending it for like 30 bucks you should be spending like, you know, two to two to $4 on your package. Which might sound crazy, but just watch what happens. It, you know, we're coming up on peak season. I'm not sure Tom, when this is gonna get released, but like, Black Friday, Cyber Monday is around the corner, at least pilot the investment in this marketing spend for the holidays. See what happens. And allow that to drive the decision making that you have around investing in packaging for next year. But pilot it and experiment this holiday season. See? See that it doesn't pay back in dividends. I dare you. So if you're listening, I dare you to spend on this. See what happens. I promise everyone's gonna be happier.

Tom Raftery:

To your point, and I'm gonna sound like a ridiculous apple fanboy here, but I was at an event not so long ago where people were discussing design, and the speaker said, okay, everybody, raise your hands. If you bought an Apple device you know, three quarters in the hands went up in the room and he said, now keep your hands up if you still have the original package, that that device came in and almost all the hands stayed up. And it's because the, the boxes, the packaging that Apple ships their devices in. they're, they're phenomenally engineered. They're, they're, they're, they're beautiful and they're incredibly sustainable. There's minimal plastic. And, and they said recently they're getting rid of all plastic, but still minimum plastic, all paper. They, you know, you, you, you struggle to open them in a good way because they're, they're so tight, you know? So yeah, it, I, I think App Apple are making your point for you . So,

Phillip Akhzar:

Good. I'm glad. Thank you, Apple. Appreciate it.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, Phillip that's been fascinating. If people would like to know more about yourself or any of the things we talked about in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them? apple.com

Phillip Akhzar:

Ar yeah. apple.com. Go to apple.com and it'll, it'll spell it out all out for you. No, it'll be A R K A. Dot com. So arka.com. And you know, we have a live chat. We have support@arka.com. If you want to chat with me founder to founder hit me up on LinkedIn. I'm sure my name is gonna come up after this Phillip Akhzar but check out the site, see if there's something you like and ask us a question. If there's something that you don't see that you need we'll, we'll figure it out together and we'll make a recommendation to a partner if it's something we can't help you with. We just want to see all succeed. We pride ourselves in being thought leaders in this space, an authority on this space, and the experts. So if we can help you out we're happy to pay it forward 'cause it'll, it'll all come back to us. It's happened before, it'll continue happening. Highly recommend you do that

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic.

Phillip Akhzar:

thanks for having me, Tom.

Tom Raftery:

Thanks for coming on the podcast today.

Phillip Akhzar:

Awesome. Thank you.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, thank you all for tuning in to this episode of the Digital Supply Chain Podcast with me, Tom Raftery. Each week, over 3, 000 supply chain professionals listen to this show. If you or your organization want to connect with this dedicated audience, consider becoming a sponsor. You can opt for exclusive episode branding where you choose our guests or a personalized 30 second mid roll ad. It's a unique opportunity to reach industry experts and influencers. For more details, hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn or drop me an email to tomraftery at outlook. com. Together, let's shape the future of the digital supply chain. Thanks. Catch you all next time.

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