Packaging Cost: What Are My Options and How To Reduce it?


Packaging is the first element to get affected by cost-cutting measures simply because business owners don’t realize that customizing a branded packaging can be affordable.

Your packaging box is fully customized to what your product is, therefore, the specifications of your packaging should also be considered while planning for the product.

What is the Cost of Producing a Fully Customized Packaging?

There is no straight answer to this question. Each packaging type has its own components that affect the overall cost of packaging.

Some of these components are design and prototype work, materials, tooling, set up fees, testing, labor, volume, freight and shipping.

Many business owners are experiencing challenges when it comes to properly branding their products because they don’t plan the way they package their merchandise.

Below are ball-park figures that will help you when forecasting the costs of your box packaging.

Paperboard Boxes

Among the rest of the packaging options, paperboard (folding carton packaging) are the least costly.

Average Cost of Standard Paperboard Box Structures (Straight & Reverse Tuck End)

Volume ClassificationVolumeAverage Costs
Prototype1 – 10$40 – $150
Small Runs500 – 1000$1.50 – $4 per piece
Long Runs5000 – 20000$0.30 – $0.56 per piece
Source: How To Buy Packaging

*The average pricing details above is for the following specifications: 4 X 4 X 4, custom print (CMYK), AQ Coating, 24PT

Corrugated Boxes

There are three types of corrugated boxes: single-wall, double-wall and triple wall corrugated type.

It is, however, more popularly classified as flutes (F-flute, E-flute, B-flute, C-flute etc…) 

Pricing estimates for boxes that can carry e-commerce/subscription type products: 

Volume ClassificationUnits (Volume)Average Costs
Prototype1 – 10$55 – $100
Small Runs500 – 1000$3.85 – $4.25 per piece
Long Runs5000 – 20000$2.00 – $2.50 per piece
Source: How To Buy Packaging

*The average pricing details above are for boxes with the following specifications: 13 X 10 X 4.5, Tab Roll End, Full Flood CMYK Printing, E-Flute.

Rigid (High End) Boxes

Rigid (set-up) packaging boxes are commonly used to convey a premium brand due to its sleek style, maximum durability and structural design capabilities. 

Volume ClassificationUnits (Volume)Average Costs
Prototype1 – 10$150 – $5000
Small Runs500 – 1000$7.50 – $20 per piece
Long Rns5000 – 20000$4.00 – $10 per piece
Source: How To Buy Packaging

*The average pricing details above are for boxes with the following specifications: 12 x 6 x 4 in Hinged Magnetic Box, Greyboard, CMYK printing, Matte/Gloss Coating

Additional Costs & Options

Aside from the common packaging types we have mentioned above, you can also add inserts or opt for a multi-packaging solution.

These additional options can affect the pricing of your packaging but they are essential if you want to make your packaging stand out.

Protective Inserts

The main function of packaging inserts are to prevent your products from moving around inside the box and absorb both external and internal shocks. 

Depending on the complexity of your insert, you can either incur an additional 20%-100%.

Multi-Packaging Solution

Multi-packaging solution agencies such as Pakfactory offers a range of services including design, packaging, prototyping, printing, labels, wide-format graphics, fulfillment etc..

Instead of hiring different manufacturers or service providers, you only need to find one that best fits your needs and requirements.

Working with a single agency will not only save you time and money but will also ensure that mistakes are minimized.

Shipping (express, sea shipping)

Your packaging cost can be influenced by shipping fees and shipping timeframes.

You have to decide whether you want express shipping or sea shipping. Express shipping is typically more expensive due to faster delivery.

If you have a long timeline for your packaging, however, sea shipment may be a better choice to reduce cost (especially for high quantity). 

Location of Manufacturer

The location in which you are getting your packaging produced can also factor in the cost of your packaging.

If you are within the North America region, you may want to find local manufacturers to save on shipping. This, however, doesn’t always mean you’ll save.

Getting your boxes produced overseas might actually provide a better cost-structure based on economies of scale, efficiency, flexibility and turnaround time.

It is always better to compare prices based on your specific project.

Packaging Cost Reduction

Now that you have an idea about how much your product packaging may cost, let’s discuss ways on how to minimize them and get the most out of your budget! 

1. Minimize Dimensions As Much As Possible

By minimizing your dimensions, you are not only cutting material costs, you are also making sure that your product fits perfectly preventing damages during transit.

Most importantly, you prevent yourself from wasting additional material on your packaging!

2. Choose Standard Structures and Focus on Your Artwork

Don’t fully customize the structure of your packaging if you’re not prepared to pay a large amount of money.

You can choose standard structures and make your product packaging stand out by using eye-catching artwork and effective brand messaging.

3. Make sure you have enough time and are aware of your turnaround time

This will prevent you from needing to use express shipment and accruing extra costs. The last thing you want is to rush your project and create more problems along the way. 

4. Plan for your packaging while you are planning for your product

If your product’s shape or size end up increasing the cost of your packaging, it will be hard to go back and make drastic changes.

Therefore, if you want to avoid having to adjust the quality of your packaging to save cost, you have to plan your packaging while you’re planning your product.

5. Create a Prototype

Especially if you have a very large order, it is recommended that you do a custom sample and CTP Proofing stage. This will allow you to confirm both the structure and printing for final production.

Having a good idea of your budget and the costs for the different types of packaging options allows you to make better decisions on what is required for your project.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below! 

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