Hughes Enterprises

Petco Packaging Success Story

Distributing pet supplies without unnecessary costs or delays

Dog balancing a ball on its head surrounded by packages

Petco, one of the nation’s leading sellers of pet foods, supplies and services was seeking a value-add partner to support its e-commerce distribution throughout the U.S. Recent changes in dim weight regulations created increasing burdens on retailers to use right-size containers, not to mention pressures from customers using social media to reduce packaging waste while maintaining product integrity.

To stay competitive in the rapidly evolving e-commerce landscape, Petco knew they needed to update their operations with right-size cartons and a more streamlined distribution system.

Men loading a delivery truck with large packages


Around 2014, freight companies like UPS and FedEx adjusted their business models to sell space on their trucks instead of charging for weight. Gone were the days of buying standard-sized boxes in bulk and filling the gaps with air pillows. With the continued growth of e-commerce, shipping had become an issue of real estate, and companies were asking themselves how to make it all fit.

Right-fit packaging

For retailers like Petco that sell a wide product mix, continuing dim weight rate increases created significant obstacles. Imagine, for example, a customer who purchases a puppy starter kit, including food and water bowls, a collar and a carrier. Each item has a very distinct shape making it increasingly difficult to find the right carton size.

National distribution and the Amazon effect

To make matters more challenging, Petco had customers across the nation, so operating out of a central distribution center was not a viable option. With Amazon setting the e-commerce standard for free, two-day shipping, Petco was feeling the pressure to get products to customers as quickly and affordably as possible.

Package ready to be shipped going down a packing line in distribution center


Petco approached the team at Hughes Enterprises to come up with a creative solution to a multi-pronged problem. They needed a full, frustration-free packaging solution that would get products to customers quickly with items in-tact and using the minimum packing materials possible.

Finding the right fit

Our packaging consultants worked alongside the e-commerce manager at Petco to configure strategic parcel sizes and packing materials to address Petco’s most popular product mixes. We helped identify areas where Petco could limit their dunnage use while still keeping products safe during transit.

Creating a distribution network

Together, we created in-house distribution centers at four key Petco retail locations across the country. This helped Petco roll out a more unified pricing structure for shipping nationwide and reduce delivery turnaround times.

Monthly strategic teleconferences

With more widespread distribution came the need for more hands-on training. Fortunately, as a member of Packaging Distributors of America (PDA), Hughes was able to virtually deliver support across Petco’s core locations while providing a level of attention and value-add at the local level that would translate to their overall bottom line.

People and dog peering into a box


  • Today, Petco uses PDA’s customized e-procurement system to order, track and manage its packaging spend.
  • In-market technical support from Hughes Enterprises helps to minimize equipment downtime across locations from what used to be a matter of days to a matter of hours.
  • Local PDA reps have successfully suggested and tested multiple new packaging products prior to rolling them out across Petco’s distribution centers.
  • Petco is able to better palletize their end-products, allowing them to load and transport more on a given truck while reducing package weight.
  • More streamlined, strategic packaging helps to minimize dunnage and freight costs while maintaining package integrity.

In the end, Petco has a better, more streamlined e-commerce fulfillment process that meets the needs of the company and the customers they serve. When they have strategic packaging questions, whether for logistics or maintaining brand integrity, they know they have a trusted partner in Hughes Enterprises.

“Hughes has been a great partner in our growth throughout the years. Hughes is always looking for ways to provide us new and cost-effective ideas that will help us provide a great customer experience.” – Petco E-Commerce Manager

If you would like to learn more about our shipping and packaging solutions, contact the experienced consultants at Hughes Enterprises today.

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