Finding packaging sources has gotten a lot easier thanks to the internet. However, finding the right packaging company is still not easy. You might be surprised to know that there are thousands of packaging manufacturers in California alone and tens of thousands nationwide. Every manufacturer has a certain focus and target market. Whether you are in need of large quantities of packaging, short runs, basic packaging, luxury packaging, contemporary cutting edge, or more traditional, there is a manufacturer out there to suit your needs. You may have to contact a lot of companies before you find the right one for you.
Obviously searching the internet is a good start to finding the right packaging company. However, these packaging manufacturers typically riddle their websites with technical or industry terms rather than the terms regular people would use to search. So, if you don’t know the proper term for the packaging, do your best to describe it in your search engine of choice, being sure to append the state or province you are located in.
Next, make a list of the companies you think can help you and write down their contact info.
When you find a packaging company to call on, do you know who you are speaking to? If you call a manufacturer, chances are that you are speaking with a sales person that represents only that company. If you call a brokerage, then you are speaking with, well, a broker. Sometime it’s hard to distinguish between the two, but it is an important distinction to make. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Contacting a Packaging Company – What Should You Say?
- Can you produce [packaging type]? – Email them an image if you don’t know what to call it.
- What is your minimum order and/or start-up cost? – Every packaging company has their “sweet spot” where their price is best within a certain range of volume. Anything above or below that range usually yields a less than ideal price per unit of packaging. Typically, large packaging companies prefer to deal with other large companies who require large volumes of packaging. Likewise, there are small packaging companies that specialize in small volumes. So don’t worry if your volume is small, it’s just a question of finding the right size company for you. You’ll usually be able to tell how large the packaging company is from the size of their minimum volume requirements and start-up costs. For example, if “Company A” has large minimums and hefty start-up costs, they are probably a large company. Likewise if “Company B” has small minimums and low start-up costs, they will be a small company. If the company you call on has volume requirements that don’t fit yours, ask them to refer you to a company that better suits your needs, if they can.
- What is your lead time? – This lead time only refers to the time it takes to produce your packaging after you sign a purchase order and make a deposit. Here is an article for further reading showing the bigger picture of lead time.
- Where is this packaging being produced? – Freight cost will be a big consideration.
- What material do you recommend for this type of packaging? Make sure to mention the weight and fragility of your product.
- Can you please quote me on this type of packaging at [approximate size] [some volume]? – Remember, 10,000 units of one SKU is not necessarily the same as 2,000 units of 5 SKUs, so be specific about this. Here is a more detailed explanation of this right here.
- When can I expect a quote? – Quotes can take anywhere from a few days to over a week. Don’t let slow quotes be an indication of interest in your business, some companies are just very busy or simply have slow quoting departments. It’s not necessarily a reflection on their customer service or quality output (but it might be)
Ask the next few companies these same questions, BUT, dictate to them the materials, style, size and volume as the first company you contacted so that you can compare apples to apples when the quotes come in. If they suggest other sizes or materials to you that better suits their shop, this simply means they do care about you as a customer and they want to put their best foot forward. So I would request that you get two quotes from them, one with the consistent materials that the previous companies will be quoting you (for proper comparison purposes) and one with the specs that they suggest.
I have a short article here that has some additional information that may be helpful concerning questions to ask your prospective packaging vendor.
Comparing Packaging Price Quotes
Accurately comparing price quotes will be invaluable for finding the right packaging vendor. I have written an article on this very subject, right here.
Did the quote take as long as they said it would take? If they took longer, one of two things could be occurring:
- they may be in a busy season which happens to companies who cater to the fall shopping season
- they are low staffed and don’t consider your quote as truly valued.
A good company, that functions well, knows how long it will take for a quote and should get it to you very close to when they say they will.
Are they responsive? Good companies will respond quickly. Even if they cannot answer your questions or fulfill your requests immediately, they should, at least, respond quickly with an acknowledgement. An unresponsive company will keep things from you such as telling you there was a problem with your order, or a delay, or they underestimated your project and are shrugging you off. If they are slow to respond, but do answer all your questions, then give them time to follow through, they may just be super busy.
Finding the Right Packaging Company – The Final Evaluation
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down, ask for samples of their work to help you make your final decisions. Quality can vary considerably from one packaging company to another, so make sure to examine the packaging samples carefully.
CLICK HERE for Part 3 ———-> How to Buy Packaging Part 3 – Working with Your Packaging Vendor