How Much Should I Budget for Custom Printed Boxes?

Posted by Bob Janik on Sep 13, 2018 4:48:41 PM


The first thing to understand about custom e-commerce and subscription boxes is that they don’t come with standard pricing.

Custom boxes require custom pricing.

That sounds expensive, and it can be. On the other hand, the right custom box (and custom box provider) can actually save you money.

How Custom Boxes Can Save You Money:

A bad box can be a costly mistake. What if it allows your product to be damaged? What if you have to buy more material to make the interior of your box safe for your product, instead of just investing in custom protective packaging off the bat? What about lost revenue from customers who send back your broken product and then don’t re-order?

These are some of the hidden (or not so hidden) costs of poor packaging choices made in the name of saving money.

How to Budget for Custom Packaging:

These are a couple good rules of thumb to keep in mind when you begin setting aside a budget outline for your custom packaging -- both for custom printed boxes and other aspects of custom packaging.

Rule #1:

Start the budgeting process early. If you’re just getting your business off the ground, finding ways to save money is important.

Explore all your alternatives by talking to a dependable, expert packaging supplier.

Rule 2:

Tell your supplier everything you know. The more your box maker knows, the more accurate the estimate.

These are some of the important considerations:

  • Size of the box. This means the real dimensions—length, width and height—not small, medium or large.
  • Kraft material or white (inside and outside).
  • Number of colors to print inside, outside, or both.
  • Quantity of boxes to make.

Even with all these factors accounted for, you’ll almost certainly get a cost range instead of a fixed cost per box. A firm cost has to wait for final artwork.

Rule 3:

Tell your box maker everything else you know and ask about what you don’t know. Get down to the nitty gritty. Getting the details right can make a big difference in cost. These are a few of the “weedy” things you should think about:

  • Box material. It’s not just Kraft vs. white. It's how the material is constructed. Explore all the possibilities.

  • Box type. Think about whether you want folding cartons, rigid set-up boxes or corrugated boxes. They differ in price, so you probably want the one that will do the best job for the lowest cost.

  • Ink choice and coverage. Do you prefer water-based inks for environmental reasons? If you want a glossy look, you’ll want to consider coatings. How much ink coverage do you need? Can you achieve the look you want with fewer colors?

So, What’s the Bottom Line?

It depends on everything discussed above, but you can get a fairly good idea. Here’s what you can expect, on average, depending on the complexity of the packaging and the volume of the run:

Folding Cartons:

    • Prototype: $300.00
    • Tooling: $525.00
  • Price per unit:
    • 500-1,000: $1.15-$1.75
    • 50,000-100,000: $0.08-0.15

Corrugated Boxes:

    • Prototype: $625.00
    • Tooling: $1,050.00
  • Price per unit:
    • 500-1,000: $5.00-$6.00
    • 50,000-100,000: $1.10-$1.15

Rigid Set-up Boxes:

    • Prototype: 2,625.00
    • Prototype: $600.00
    • Production run: $850.00
  • Price per unit:
    • 500-1,000: $5.00-$10.00
    • 2,500-100,000: $5.00

Remember, these are only average costs and can vary considerably.

To get the best, most accurate price for your specific packaging, talk to a reputable packaging and shipping supply provider. To learn more, give Bob a call!

Topics: Types of Packaging, Unboxing, Shipping, Brand Packaging