Packaging blogs are a great way to get inspiration from the very beginning of your packaging process. Some of my favorites are:
Neenah Paper - if you want to start diving into the world of fancy paper but don’t know where to start, you can order “sample packs” of Neenah paper to start understanding differences in texture, weight, and colors.
How to Buy Packaging - A very comprehensive look at all things packaging.
Pakible - Helps with the sourcing of packaging projects (for a fee) so you can focus on your product or packaging design.
99Designs - By entering information about your project, designers can submit designs for your packaging needs
Lumi’s blog - lots of great information on how small and medium sized businesses can start branding their packaging with relatively low MOQs. They also have a bunch of free, downloadable dielines so you can start designing your packaging for a variety of standard sizes.
We found this post from Richard Baird extremely helpful and in-depth, especially when you’re looking to understand the ins and outs of designing packaging.
What about Uline?
Uline is the behemoth in the packaging industry, offering hundreds of box sizes and every conceivable logistics need with same day shipping. But you pay for convenience — and by relying on Uline from the early stages of your business instead of using an alternative, you can find yourself quickly spending thousands of dollars extra a month than you have to.
Here’s a comparison of online vendors (with no MOQs) for a typical stock corrugated box to give some perspective on the range of prices.
Check out our 5 Best Alternatives to Uline post to learn more about ways to avoid the high prices and ubiquity of Uline.
Recommended Custom Packaging Vendors
These vendors can help you get any type of branded packaging that you need. You will need to supply them with designs — so this is only a good option if you have a designer or design experience. There will be MOQs however, depending on the project — so it’s best to check early on whether or not you meet the requirements.
Lumi - A great source for all things custom packaging, with an online interface that helps add transparency to the process. Be forewarned — you pay for the ease-of-use, and how helpful they are guiding you through the process.
Levine Box - Local solution (northeast area) but a low cost option for custom branded boxes as well as a wide variety of utility shipping products at competitive prices.
Stephen Gould - the world’s largest independent custom product and packaging solutions provider in the United States. They can do any type of packaging imaginable.
Packlane - great interface for custom boxes and easy to use. Best option if you don’t have much design skill but want a great looking product quickly. Comes at a cost.
Packwire - Similar to Packlane — an easy to use box design tool.
Your best bet is to buy anything standard from the same company you buy your outer boxes from to cut down on shipping fees. Most/all will have a variety of filler options.
For custom printed tissue paper:
Digiwrap - easy to use and great if you don’t have much design experience. Pricing can be high - especially in lower quantities.
No Issue - easy to use and great if you don’t have much design experience. Less expensive than Digiwrap.
Nashville Wraps - The source for custom printed tissue paper in the US — though requires a large MOQ and some design work — but pricing is significantly lower. Best to scale up to rather than start with.
UPrinting - every possible option for printing custom labels, stickers, etc
Sticker Mule - easy to use, low-cost option
- UPrinting - easy to use and low cost option
Tape Jungle - easy-to-use interface for custom paper tape
Sticker Mule - good for low quantities or to proof a design without much up-front cost
For boutique options, in our experience, we’ve had the best luck going with local vendors. As you’re investing money and time in your packaging, it’s nice to have a dedicated rep or someone who can talk you through your options.
How do you find a good local vendors? Ask around! If you see local products where you’re particularly impressed with their packaging, email them and see if they’ll let you know who their supplier is. We learned about Aldine, a NYC-based boutique packaging vendor, by asking a friend who had particularly impressive business cards.
If local vendors aren’t an option, we’ve heard great things about Mama’s Sauce. Even if you’re not buying custom boutique packaging, their case studies are fun to scroll through just to see all the creative things folks have done with packaging.
If you take the time and follow some basic tips, you can gain a lot of value out of packaging and set your brand apart from the competition.