How Much Does Custom Packaging Cost

December 18, 2018 by Erin Behan

How much will custom packaging cost? What factors affect the cost of customizing a shipping box or gift box? If you're thinking about ordering custom boxes and packaging for your business or event, you'll want to know how much to budget and how to get the best deal on your custom packaging needs. There are several factors to consider when asking the "how much" question.

custom box styles

What Type and Size Box Do I Need?
Before you start customizing your box, you'll need to pick the box itself. Do you need a roomy, strength-tested shipping box or an equally shippable tuck-flap mailing box? If you're looking for a lighter-weight box, is a fold-up box or a gable box appropriate? Different types of boxes have differing costs, and you'll want to pinpoint the just-right box for your needs. Boxes also come in a variety of finishes. Buying the wrong kind of box or getting a finish you don't need could increase costs unnecessarily.

You'll want to order the proper size. Generally speaking, the bigger the box, the more it's going to cost you — customization or not. It's important to know exactly what size box you need, taking into account any necessary inner packing materials. Keep in mind that the bigger the box, the more it will generally cost to ship, too.

How Many Boxes Do I Need?
Buying boxes in bulk tends to bring down the cost of each box, both on blank and custom-printed boxes, but only if you need all the boxes you're ordering. Although it may seem counterintuitive, "buying exactly the amount of boxes you need can save you money over buying in bulk," says Dwight Blaha, co-founder of Distinct Packaging and an ecommerce and shipping veteran.

Blaha suggests you consider the cost of storing or tossing the boxes you don't need and the money tied up in unused inventory when buying in bulk. In other words, getting a deal on 500 custom boxes doesn't do you much good if you only need 263.

Distinct Packaging is one of the few custom packaging sites to have no minimum order, which allows for maximum flexibility if you need just a few boxes or a very specific number of boxes, while still rewarding those who need hundreds or thousands of custom boxes with bulk discounts.

How Often Do My Box Design Needs Change?
For those who want the flexibility of changing their box design often, it's important to pick a printer that doesn't charge for creating and cutting dielines and one that can ship quickly without extra rush charges. At Distinct Packaging there are never extra fees for dielines or printing plates. "People just want the flexibility of being able to change their packaging frequently," Blaha says. "It could be changing sizes, or branding based on season."

custom packaging design software

How Much Work Does the Customization Take?
There are all kinds of ways to customize a shipping box, and it's important to add up all the costs, including labor, when comparing them, says Blaha. It might seem more inexpensive to buy a blank box and then buy a stamp to individually stamp each box, or slap on a custom label, but you also need to factor in labor cost and the potential inventory loss when your labeling or stamping goes awry. For instance, individually stamping each box can general significant waste when you mess up a box — whether via too much ink, too little ink, an off-center or smudged stamp, etc.

At Distinct Packaging, all customization can be done in an online tool that automatically takes care of bleed lines and other printing issues a non-designer might not think about when designing a box. While you can use Distinct Packaging's Design Assistant service (with its team of in-house designers who create the perfect packaging for you), you certainly don't have to. The Distinct Packaging tool shows a 3-D preview of the box that can be rotated so there's never any guesswork about what the final box will look like, and it includes a share button to instantly pass your work on to colleagues and friends for a second opinion.

What Else Will I Need to Brand My Box?
You'll also want to consider how much work it takes to source all your materials, which if you're not ordering a custom-printed box, could include stamp, ink, labels, custom shipping tape, etc. And you'll have to track and reorder as supplies run low.

"It can be frustrating because you have to get all these things from all these places, and they may not match quantity-wise, much like how hot dogs come in packs of ten, but buns come in eight," says Blaha.

These sort of frustrations are among the reasons Blaha says he's so excited about the custom printing options at Distinct Packaging: "One, custom-printed packaging is going to look a lot better, and two, it's a lot easier. Instead of, 'Awe man, this is such a pain,' you just load and ship."

How Much Printing Do I Want on My Boxes?
Some traditional printing outfits charge by the amount of color coverage on the box, while others charged based on how many colors are being printed. Still others, like Distinct Packaging don't charge more for color or coverage, leaving customers free to be as creative as they'd like. No matter where you source your custom box, there is usually an additional fee if you want to print both outside the box and on the inside.

How Fast Do I Need My Boxes Delivered?
Traditional printers tend to work with long lead times, often taking three to five weeks to print (and that's before the boxes are shipped). If you need your boxes fast, you'll either have to pay a rush fee or find a custom packaging solution that has quicker turnaround times. Distinct Packaging can turn around orders in 7 to 10 business days, "much quicker than your traditional printers and you won't pay any rush fees," says Blaha.

How Much Will It Cost to Ship My Boxes?
Shipping costs at Distinct Packaging are calculated based on the weight, size, and zip code of your order's destination. You will be able to see the cost of shipping when checking out and before your final purchase. Note that we integrate with UPS to ensure you receive the best price and service. If you have specific questions on shipping, or need estimates on high volumes, please contact us at

If you're looking to get custom printed boxes for your business or event, check out the easy-to-design, affordable options at Distinct Packaging.
Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.


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