How Much Does Custom Packaging Cost?

How much does custom packaging cost?

💡 5 Cost Considerations for Custom Packaging
Determining Materials & Structural Designs
Establishing your Artwork Design
Choosing the right Printing Process
Sourcing & Manufacturing
Planning for Logistics & Shipping

Your brand needs to stand out from the competition and provide an amazing customer experience for your brand to gain the exposure it deserves.

Often an overwhelming task, many businesses tend to ignore one of the best tools they have at their disposal to make this happen: custom packaging.

Custom packaging is a simple yet elegant way to create a brand narrative right off the bat.

Some of the common arguments against custom packaging center around how much custom packaging costs and how much it costs to design packaging.

Both these costs are actually not as high as you might initially think.

Custom packaging can end up being cheaper for your business in the long run!

Because your packaging is tailored to the product, it’s more efficient than trying to fit your product into generic packaging that just doesn’t quite do the job.

Higher volumes of packaging are cheaper and will ultimately save you money on shipping and production costs!

However, it’s difficult to put a definite price tag on custom packaging as the costs are highly dependent on your choices and needs.

Here we aim to lay out the factors that will affect the pricing of your custom packaging and help you determine the price range for your project!

Determining Materials & Structural Designs

The first thing to consider when evaluating the cost of custom packaging is the structure and materials you’ll need to produce your desired box.

There are a variety of materials to choose from which will largely impact your custom packaging costs.

Depending on your product launch plan, you may want to consider opting for more cost effective packaging.

Sometimes, opting for the highest quality packaging materials isn’t the best way to optimize your custom packaging

You need to distinguish between what you ‘want’ vs. what you ‘need’.

Think of it this way; you may want to have an original Picasso on your wall, but you don’t need it, a print will have the same effect.

So, if you’re running a smaller business, it’s best to find a custom packaging company that will optimize your costs and provide you with the minimum order you need!

There are many cost effective material options that will communicate your brand narrative just as well as the highest quality packaging will.

Your product will help you decide the shape and size of your custom box.

Once that’s decided, you’ll need to settle on a volume of custom packaging required.

Smaller boxes tend to be cheaper to produce and ship, but larger boxes can also be cost-effective depending on the minimum order.

Keep in mind; Minimum orders can be quite large for most custom packaging companies.


The safest option, corrugated, remains a popular material choice for custom packaging because of its durability and low cost.

They are easy to assemble, work for a large variety of products and are cost effective to produce, making them a more versatile option to consider for your material consideration.

Its thick corrugated texture offers support to heavier items while also offering optimal protection to your more fragile items.

Furthermore, Corrugated packaging offers a large variety of printing and finishing opportunities for you to consider.

This opens many doors for artwork designs and special printing capabilities that won’t necessarily break the bank too!

However, corrugated packaging may not be a necessity if your products are not very prone to breakage.

Especially smaller items, such as certain cosmetic items for example, could do just as well in a less protective packaging material.

Corrugated Packaging also offers a variety of structures you can consider. 

These include, but are not limited to; 

The structure is ultimately up to you and your product’s needs. Packaging specialists can help you determine the best structure and dimensions for your products to ensure a perfect fit. 

Looking to learn more about corrugated packaging? Check out our corrugated master guide

Source: Print Some

Folding Carton

Folding Carton is an excellent choice for those looking to save on cost and products that do not require a high level of support and protection.

Although this packaging choice may seems less than, it still offers structure to your products while offering a variety of other benefits including;

  • Versatile Printing & Finishing Capabilities
  • Lightweight
  • User friendly
  • Paperboard Options (Kraft & White)

If you’re looking to understand how much it costs to ship custom packaging, folding cartons are your best bet.

Bear in mind white paperboard tends to be a bit higher in cost than Kraft, so you’ll want to make a note of these cost differences when evaluating your custom packaging options.

Due to the bleaching and coating process White paperboard goes through, the price is slightly raised.

However, The coating process of white carton offers a surface for high quality printing and finishing that allows you to showcase your brand identity.

Although the cost difference isn’t very drastic, it’s important to keep this in mind when understanding the costs of custom packaging.

Source: AK Graphics

In terms of structure, your options are nearly endless. Because folding carton is such a flexible packaging material, manufacturers can shape your packaging into basically any size and shape you want! 

Folding Carton allows for very high quality prints, this is positively reflected onto your brand and products too.

Although Folding Carton is your cost effective option, it still allows for a luxurious high end feel through its printing and finishing capabilities and of course your branding! 


Rigid is for those looking to spend a little extra on their packaging.

If you’re looking for something high-end and sturdy, rigid boxes are the best option for you.

They are often used with luxury products to add a premium feel to packaging and an elevated customer experience.

However, Custom Rigid Boxes are the priciest!

To put it simply, rigid packaging consists of the highest quality, thick paperboard and it’s final construction is done by hand. 

Rather than printing a simple dieline that allows you to fold your packaging accordingly, rigid packaging is constructed by glueing each edge and surface together.

With that being said, your structure options are therefore also somewhat limited based on your budget. 

The price differences of rigid packaging structures can be quite drastic depending on how complex or simple the structural design is. 

This type of packaging is most popular for;

Source: BP & O

While rigid packaging is the most costly, the same luxurious feel can be accomplished with Folding Carton’s versatile printing and finishing capabilities.

Opting for materials that offer the same high quality feel as rigid packaging can be more cost effective and will optimize your budget much better.

Simply Put; spending less on your materials will allow you to embellish your packaging much more, especially when you’re on a budget!

Establishing your Artwork Design

Many brands, both established and new, aren’t entirely sure how much it costs to design packaging.

It can be a little mysterious, especially if you aren’t familiar with the industry.

But the process for creating custom packaging is largely dependent on, well….you!

Now that you’ve determined your materials and structure, the next big step is exploring exactly what will be displayed on the packaging itself. 

You’ll first have to identify what kinds of products you’re selling.

This could include;

  • Food
  • Cosmetics
  • Electronics
  • or anything really!

As discussed previously, the type of packaging you are looking for has a large influence on its cost.

You might need cosmetic boxes, large electronic boxes or retail boxes, or another type of box that could influence the cost of designing and shipping your desired packaging.

The artwork design also has an impact on your production costs for custom packaging. 

This will also highly depend on the printing method you choose, which we will get to a little bit later in this post. 

Source: Dribbble

Your artwork design needs to emulate and communicate your brand narrative while being appealing to your target market. The more intricate your design is, the more it will cost to produce. 

This doesn’t mean you have to opt for minimalism for your packaging though. 

Your artwork design costs will be more dependent on the finishes you require to bring your box to life. 

These could include elements such as;

Using these finishes to embellish and complete your artwork design can add to your costs because of the processes needed to create these artistic touches. 

For example; embossing/debossing requires a custom die to create the desired effect. 

These elements are not necessary to creating  effective packaging designs, but they do make a large impact on the look and feel of your product packaging. 

You can opt for simple or complex artwork designs that do not include special finishes to lower your custom packaging costs. 

However, the cost of your artwork design will be highly dependent on your printing method. 

Once you have an idea of what the custom packaging should look like, you should be able to get a better estimate of what your custom packaging costs will entail.

Choosing the right Printing Process

One of the main reasons companies choose to opt for custom packaging, is the capability of printing your own branding straight onto your product packaging.

There are three main options available for printing on custom packaging;

  • Digital printing: Mostly used for smaller orders and on the pricier side, designs are directly applied to the box.
  • Litho label printing: As the name suggests, the design becomes a label attached to the box rather than directly printed on the box. It’s higher resolution and offers a sleeker finish, but is also on the pricier side.
  • Flexographic printing: Designs are stamped onto the box directly (similar to digital printing) using a printing plate. This does tend to add up, as each plate can get costly. It only accommodates one color, so it’s best to use this for larger orders.

How much the packaging costs will depend on which printing path you choose.

For the most part smaller-medium size businesses will opt for digital printing because it offers a good price for small quantity orders. 

It’s also time efficient and offers endless design opportunities.

Digital printing does best for small simple designs. For complex designs, flexographic printing is recommended for its quality. 

Flexographic printing can be quite costly, but the quality difference is drastic. 

Flexographic printing allows high quality printing of your artwork designs. While the price difference between digital and flexographic printing is quite drastic, you’ll be able to save if you choose to print high volume orders. 

It is recommended to use flexographic printing for high quantity orders because the set up costs for printing will be much lower per unit. 

While it may seem tempting to opt for digital printing to pinch a couple of pennies, it can reflect badly on your brand, in turn causing a loss in profit. 

Therefore, it is best to opt for higher quality prints to get the most out of your custom packaging costs. 

Sourcing & Manufacturing

Another consideration when you’re trying to estimate how much custom boxes cost is how you are obtaining the custom packaging itself.

Are you working directly with a manufacturer or working with a custom packaging service to source the boxes?

Choosing the right custom packaging company will in turn determine your packaging success. 

If you are working with a manufacturer, bear in mind that they will simply execute your packaging design as you say it should be.

They won’t be able to provide substantial advice on design, warehousing and shipping as such.

This will be up to you to outsource, which can end up being much more costly as you may need to employ a variety of services in order to ensure you get your hands on the custom packaging on time.

Source: Twin Pines

Working with a custom packaging company that has packaging specialists and solution providers may be more beneficial in your case.

This enables you to leverage their experience and create a strategic design that keeps shipping costs down through cost optimization while staying true to your brand narrative.

Furthermore, if you’re just starting out with custom packaging, solution providers offer part or full project cycle management, which can be very helpful.

Especially if you’re just learning the ins and outs of the packaging industry.

Planning for Logistics & Shipping

When considering how much custom boxes cost, shipping and logistics need to be a key consideration in your budget.

Your packaging design is somewhat dependent on your shipping method, as the weight and dimensions play a large role in your shipping costs.

Once you have some rough figures, you can then estimate how much it costs to ship packaging through different transport modes.

Furthermore, keep in mind that you may need to outsource services to ensure your logistics are planned out accordingly with your product launch.

Especially if you choose to go with manufacturers instead of full project cycle providers, your logistics are up to you to figure out.

This could potentially mean higher final costs.

Air Shipping

Air freight tends to be a common choice for international deliveries since it’s the most time efficient.

Air carriers generally charge based on the item’s weight and the amount or volume of shipped items.

The weight is calculated by the weight of the item itself or the item’s dimensional weight (i.e., the packaging and item combined), whichever is heavier.

Source: Antech

Keep in mind that Air Shipping may not be necessary depending on where your manufacturer is located.

You may want to opt for one of the other shipping methods mentioned below to ensure your packaging doesn’t break the bank.

Water Shipping

Water shipping is an alternative for heavy shipments (over 500 kg) as it’s more cost-effective than air freight.

Charges are based on the volume of goods, as opposed to weight.

However, keep in mind that this might not be the most time efficient shipping method.

So, if you’re in a time crunch for your product launch, although cost effective, may not be the best way to optimize your custom packaging Logistics.

Ground Shipping

Ground shipping tends to be the most popular delivery method of choice, but it comes with challenges.

The dimensional weight of the item is an important part of determining the shipping price.

If you’re trying to work out how much it costs to ship packaging, you will need to think about your custom boxes’ weight and design and how that fits with ground shipping rates.

Ground shipping is very dependent on the dimensions of your packaging as the shipments may need to be split up.

Think of it this way; if you’ve got 500 oddly shaped boxes that do not have much capability of being stacked, you may need more than one shipping van/truck to have your packaging shipped to you.

This also plays into your costs for custom packaging as you may be paying more for ground shipment than you anticipated.

Keep in mind; ground shipping is only an option if the manufacturer is fairly close to you, otherwise you may need to opt for Air or Water Shipping instead.

To estimate how much it costs to design packaging and how much custom boxes cost in general, your shipping and logistics play a large role in raising your end costs.

While you may think you’re getting a steal with your custom designs and packaging, your logistics may change your mind very quickly.

Source: Ikonic

It’s essential to think about custom packaging weight when estimating costs and the volume of custom packaging being created to choose the right type of box and printing for your budget.

If you aren’t sure about how much it costs to design packaging and how much it costs to ship packaging, you can request a quote to get an exact estimate for your packaging needs.

Contact us today at Pakfactory, and we’ll be able to help!