Think out of the package: Recommending package types for e-commerce shipments
Manifold of product attributes such as dimensions, weight, fragility and liquid content determine the package type used by e-commerce companies to ship products. Sub-optimal package types lead to damaged shipments, incurring huge damage related costs and adversely impacting the company's reputation for safe delivery. Items can be shipped in more protective packages to reduce damage costs, however this increases the shipment costs due to expensive packaging and higher transportation costs. In this work, we propose a multi-stage approach that trades-offsbetween shipment and damage costs for each product, and accurately assigns the optimal package type using a scalable, computationally efficient linear time algorithm. A simple binary search algorithm is presented to determine the hyper-parameter that balances between the shipment and damage costs. Our approach when applied to choosing package type for Amazon shipments, leads to significant cost savings of tens of millions of dollars in emerging marketplaces, by decreasing both the overall shipment cost and the number of in-transit damages. Our algorithm is live and deployed in the production system, where package types for more than 130,000 products have been modified based on the model's recommendation, realizing a reduction in damage rate of 24%. Overall, the proposed approach has also helped reduce the carbon footprint.