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Now, Amazon fights 'wrap rage'

For nearly two years, Amazon has been trying to get manufacturers to adopt "frustration-free packaging" that gets rid of plastic cases and air-bubble wrap — major irritants for consumers and one of Amazon's biggest sources of customer complaints.

business Updated: Sep 08, 2010 22:56 IST

For nearly two years, Amazon has been trying to get manufacturers to adopt "frustration-free packaging" that gets rid of plastic cases and air-bubble wrap — major irritants for consumers and one of Amazon's biggest sources of customer complaints.

But only about 600 of the millions of products Amazon sells come in frustration-free versions. Amazon introduced frustration-free packaging in November 2008 to minimise what Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive, called “wrap rage.”

Plastic clamshells make products look good in stores and to help prevent theft by being difficult to open surreptitiously — neither concerns of Amazon. So it worked with manufacturers to design cardboard packages — recycled and recyclable (read environment-friendly) — that contained the products and could be shipped straight to consumers.

Amazon is also taking the angry customer feedback on old-school packages directly to the product makers.

Compared to the traditional versions, frustration-free products have earned on average a 73 per cent reduction in negative feedback on the Amazon site.

Electronics major Philips recently changed the packaging on its Essence electronic toothbrush when the company saw the feedback.

“It wasn't necessarily that the product was the issue, it was the unpack experience — you've got to get scissors or knives,” said Stephen Cheung, senior consumer marketing manager for Philips Oral Healthcare.

Duracell, which offers a frustration-free 28-pack on Amazon, had “been getting rave reviews from consumers about the packs on Amazon,” said Bob Jacobs, its marketing director.

“It's such a win-win proposal,” said Nadia Shouraboura, Amazon's vice president for global fulfillment. “We don't expect a miracle in a week, but I think over time it's going to happen."