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Nestable plastic pallets suit retail

06 November 2013

Nestable plastic pallets offer clear advantages over wooden pallets for optimising order picking in the retail environment, says Jim Hardisty, managing director of Goplasticpallets.com.

Many sophisticated retail supply chains use roll cage systems for order picking. In this instance, the shipping method is a roll cage, which is loaded in the warehouse and rolled onto outbound delivery trucks and down the aisles of retail stores for efficient stock replenishment.

Lesser sophisticated retail supply chains that do not have the systems in place to operate roll cages are still using one-way wooden pallets for order picking, rather than reusable nestable plastic pallets which can offer significant cost savings for retailers and eliminate numerous safety hazards.

Take, for example, our APB1208 LSO nestable pallet: This lightweight pallet with dimensions of 1200 x 800mm, weighs in at just 5.6kg – a huge 7kg less than the lightest wooden pallet – making it much easier to move manually, and much safer too since there are no nails, splinters or risk of loose component parts. 

A rim around the perimeter of the APB1208 LSO pallet helps secure goods in place, so that once orders have been picked in the warehouse, fork lift trucks can load the pallets onto delivery trucks in one smooth and simple process, without concern for goods shifting and getting damaged.



Storage space in retail outlets comes at a premium. Stacks of empty wooden pallets can look unsightly but more importantly can take up valuable floor space. Nestable plastic pallets however manage the use of this space far more efficiently. Once goods have been offloaded and taken to the shop floor, the empty pallets are much easier to store as they nest neatly inside each other.

For safety reasons, it is generally advised not to stack wooden pallets more than 15 pallets high. With nestable plastic pallets it is possible to stack more than twice as many – an enormous 40 pallets in a 2.4 metre stack.

Nestable plastic pallets are already being used to help optimise order picking in Europe, where retailers are experiencing cost savings twofold.

Although the unit cost of a nestable plastic pallet (approximately 7.60 GBP) is more than a one-way wooden pallet (approximately 2.70 GBP), since they can be reused, they rapidly become profitable after eight to 10 rotations. In fact, it is not uncommon for a nestable plastic pallet to be used in a retail environment for up to 50 rotations – quickly generating a good return on investment. 

Lower fuel bills are also achievable with nestable plastic pallets. The ability to nest 40 empty pallets in a single stack means that a single trailer can hold 1,320 nestable pallets, which requires fewer journeys to return the pallets to the warehouse and savings of hundreds, and sometimes thousands of pounds at the pump. 


In retail logistics it is important to ensure a high availability of pallets, however wooden varieties often require frequent repairs. Over time nails can work loose and breakages in the pallet structure can make them unsafe for use. Defective wooden pallets must then be sent for repair, which leads to high downtimes and in the worst case, redundant pallets that are beyond repair. 

Nestable plastic pallets are more robust than wooden pallets and many of our models are available from stock for next day delivery to any location in the UK.

Although the environmental performance of wood versus plastic is a hugely debated topic, choosing our APB1208 LSO nestable pallet is an environmentally sound decision in more ways than one. 

Firstly retailers can reduce their carbon footprint by using the APB1208 LSO, as previously mentioned, nestable plastic pallets require fewer return journeys at the end of the supply chain. 

Secondly the APB1208 LSO pallet is manufactured from recycled high density polyethylene (HDPE) and at the end of its working life the plastic material can be reclaimed and reground to produce lower grade plastic products, for example, waste recycling bins.