Choosing The Right Custom Packaging Company

📦 6 Considerations Before Choosing the Right Custom Packaging Company
• Manufacturers vs Solution Providers
• Setting a Budget
• Comparing Material Quality
• Understanding Structural Design
• Volume Planning
• Planning for Logistics and Warehousing

So, you’ve decided to delve into custom packaging for your business!

Let’s look into services within the industry for you to consider before pursuing your custom packaging desires.

It’s important to understand exactly what services your company requires to execute your product launch effectively.

Here we aim to lay out important considerations when choosing a custom packaging company for your business.

Manufacturers vs Solution Providers


Where you manufacture your packaging matters!

Every manufacturer comes with their own sets of expertise, certifications and processes. 

But how do you make a well rounded decision for your specific packaging needs?

Example of expertise packaging.
Source: Behance

It’s important to compare and contrast the companies you employ for your custom packaging.

Taking a closer look at their certifications and processes they offer is an important part of choosing the correct manufacturer for your products.

Look at it this way; if one manufacturer offers a fast response time, high quality graphics and on time delivery and another manufacturer offers low error rates, sustainable efforts and is FSC certified, you’ll need to weigh out your options.

While having a fast response time may sound appealing, this is not always a positive thing when it comes to the quality and durability of your packaging.

You’d be more likely to spend less money and time if you chose the company with low error rates as you wouldn’t have to spend on producing new packaging if something goes wrong.

While this may take a little more time, the packaging will be engineered to fit your specifications much more accurately.

Most of your costs will come from the manufacturing side of producing custom packaging, as your dielines are printed on large sheets, rather than individually.

This means opting for a manufacturer with low error rates will be much more effective for your business.

example of well manufactured packaging
Source: Behance

Some of their price breakdowns include:

  • Setup fees – preparing the machines based on your box specifications.
  • Tooling – obtaining the correct components and machinery required to produce your project.
  • Quality control and error/waste prevention
  • Shipping and delivery

In addition to their certifications and offerings, determining whether you’d like to work with domestic or international manufacturing companies is another thing to keep in mind.

Deciding between domestic manufacturers and international will depend on the specifications of your project.

For example, if you’re looking to make a more sustainable effort with your packaging, you will more likely want to keep your manufacturing domestic to reduce your carbon emissions.

Furthermore, if you’re looking to get the most cost effective manufacturing, you’d probably outsource it internationally to get the best pricing possible.

Solution Providers

Keep in mind not all companies offer the same services. Manufacturers will typically only provide you with production services.

This means you’d also have to outsource structural engineers, artwork designers and whatever other services you’d need to make your packaging desires come to life.

Solution providers offer not only production services but partial or full project cycle management.

This means they have the ability to guide you through your packaging design process, manufacturing and logistics all in one place.

However, solution providers also come with some fall backs.

Quotation management and price optimization can be lacking in these services, as their priority is to get you exactly what you want rather than what you need.

Think of it this way; you may want the highest quality packaging with the highest quality prints. However, this may not always be the best way to optimize custom packaging.

For example; Rigid packaging is known as premium packaging. While this adds value to your products through it’s high quality printing capabilities, the same effect can be achieved with Folding Carton.

Folding Carton is more cost effective to manufacture, yet still offers you the highest quality printing and finishing capabilities.

It’s best to find a custom packaging company that can cover all the services you need. This way you have one team focused on your product launch, giving your product and packaging more brand unity throughout while optimizing all aspects of your product launch.

Example of successful product launch.
Source: The Dieline

Your business should have some knowledge of what your product launch plan will look like;

  • Your Timeline
  • What your project is for
  • How many units you need

If you don’t have a good idea of how your product launch plan will look, finding a packaging specialist to help guide you through the process of determining all the aspects of your product launch will be immensely beneficial for your branding.

Setting a Budget

The cost of packaging depends on a number of factors like structural engineering, the materials being used, the number of units to produce, and more.

Based on your project details, the packaging costs can change drastically, making it hard to give a definite price at first glance.

However, setting a maximum budget for your packaging project including; materials, designs, printing, logistics, shipping and warehousing, can help you make better decisions for your packaging project.

If you are working with a manufacturer directly, they will not optimize your budget, they will simply manufacture what you order.

However, solution providers will optimize the cost of materials, printing, finishing and structural design to fall into your desired price range. This doesn’t mean they’ll be giving you low quality products though.

There are many ways to optimize without sacrificing the quality you want. Some of these aspects include;

Example of saving money using a cardboard piggy bank.
Source: Sawhub
  • Finding the right structural design
  • Creating dielines that reduce weight or material usage
  • optimizing cost effective packaging materials

All these reductions help to find an affordable box that prioritizes your product and brand needs as well as your budget.

Read more about cost efficient custom packaging

Comparing Material Quality

Comparing and contrasting what materials manufacturers and solution providers offer for your product packaging is another crucial aspect to choosing the right packaging company for your business.

As briefly discussed, achieving a high quality feel doesn’t always mean you have to opt for the highest quality materials.

It’s important to compare material options suggested by manufacturers and solution providers because this heavily plays into the quality of your final product.

Packaging specialists will offer you guidance on material optimization. This means they will guide you through picking the right material for your products based on your branding and product specifications.

For example;

Do you want to communicate that your brand is sustainable but don’t have the budget to opt for high end eco-friendly packaging?

Packaging specialists will likely advise that opting for Kraft paperboard is cost effective, durable and 100% eco-friendly while offering high quality printing and finishing capabilities.

Read more on choosing the right materials for your packaging.

Furthermore, packaging specialists will advise you on any extra packaging materials depending on your product needs. This may include;

Understanding Structural Design

The great thing about custom packaging is that it is 100% tailored to your product. This means minimum room for product damage and maximum room for brand exposure.

Through structural engineering, packaging specialists will optimize your costs through tailoring your packaging sizes and designs.

For example; do you ever order a small item off of Amazon, only for it to arrive in a giant box? The item is practically swimming in paper and plastic for no apparent reason.

Structural engineering avoids using unnecessary amounts of materials to optimize your budget.

This means measuring your product to fit into your custom packaging with the least amount of materials possible, while still offering your product the protection and support it needs.

Example of Structural Engineering
Source: Behance

Taking the time to realize what you “need” from your box instead of what you “want” is essential.

Having those extra details may cost you 15% or more than what you expect, so keep this in mind.

Choosing foolproof structures and focusing on exceptional artwork design is a smart option if you’re not prepared to pay large amounts of money for complex custom packaging.

Furthermore, having a good idea of the price range for each packaging material will help to make a well rounded decision.

Read more on how much custom packaging costs.

Volume Planning

Volume planning involves details such as the order quantity, your product launch plan (your timeline) and set up costs.

The project details and the decisions made for your product packaging are vital to determining the costs and in turn helps you make an informed decision on which packaging company to choose.

Keep in mind that most custom packaging companies will offer a large minimum order due to the set up costs of production.

So, if you are a smaller sized business you may want to opt for companies that have a lower minimum order rate to accommodate your needs more effectively.

Source: The Dieline

Before sourcing your custom packaging, you should have a good idea of how many units you’ll need for your products.

Packaging Specialists can help you determine the optimal order quantity for your products to optimize your costs more effectively.

As previously mentioned, your dielines are printed on huge sheets rather than individually which means optimizing as much space on these sheets will minimize your set up costs.

Volume planning is important to determining which company can best optimize your specifications based on your order quantity, timeline and set up costs.

Planning for Logistics and Warehousing

The final step before pursuing your custom packaging desires is having a shipping and warehousing plan for your final product packaging.

Using Logistics services to help you with your shipping and warehousing options will ensure your custom packaging is well accommodated and arrives in time for your product launch.

Through using logistics services, you’re able to track your packaging and receive any updates regarding;

  • Location
  • Issues
  • Delays
  • Reroutes

If you are using a combination of shipping methods, you will be able to estimate the arrival time and transfers from one site to another.

Solution providers can help you plan your logistics and warehousing process as they offer partial or fully project management services.

Manufacturers will not help you with this side of the process. If you choose to go directly to a manufacturer it’s up to you to ensure your product packaging lands where you need it to be.

Source: Behance

Similar to how transportation has different routes to getting from point A to point B, logistics assist in planning the most efficient packaging methods and routes that are inexpensive and punctual for your product launch.

Your timeline and due dates will be a big influence on deciding what mode of transportation to use.

Depending on where your business is located and your manufacturer’s location, some options will be more efficient than others.

If your time constraints are strict, air shipment or ground transportation may be the most reliable (of course, this also depends on the distance between your business and manufacturer).

If your timeline is loose and flexible, sea shipment will be the most cost-effective solution.

The route and transportation method you choose not only saves you time but also avoids any uncertainties with regards to your product packaging.

It is best to find a company that can cover all the grounds discussed above to ensure your custom packaging journey runs smoothly.