Amazon Granted Patent for Transformable Parcel Container

The U.S. Patent Office recently granted Amazon a patent for a perforated parcel shipping container that can transform into children’s toys and other objects, to be selected by the customer. The shapes include a dollhouse, a rocket, an airplane, a sword and shield, a tablet stand and more. Some designs feature the words “brand awareness,” indicating Amazon or third-party branding could be printed on the cardboard in order “to reinforce a positive brand association,” according to the patent. Cardboard waste is a common consumer concern, which has, in part, led to the creation of no-waste eCommerce schemes such as Terracycle’s Loop. The volume of cardboard used for shipping boxes is steadily increasing in the age of eCommerce. Packaging research firm Smithers Pira estimates the eCommerce industry uses roughly $20 billion in corrugated cardboard per year. It’s no surprise Amazon might want to create more positive feelings toward shipping boxes than a simple smile logo can provide. Making use of all this cardboard as toys and useful items could quell some consumer guilt, though it likely wouldn’t keep cardboard out of the waste stream for long. Beyond waste, the idea presents at least two revenue-generating opportunities. The first is from “brand awareness” sales — the brand names that could cover the sides of the planes and rockets, etc. The second could come, albeit less directly, through “collectability.” The patent indicates the concept of collectability could be created through a series of related individual toys, or by including one piece of a set needed to construct a single object.