Should the Size of the Packaging Company Matter to Me?
I would say, arguably, yes.
A good rule of thumb:
Choose a packaging company that matches the size of your company.
So, if your company is small, choose a small packaging company to do business with. Likewise, if you work for a billion dollar company, it is often best to find a billion dollar packaging company to work with.
Will Using a Packaging Broker Make My Packaging More Expensive?
A typical packaging broker is an individual that has a wealth of knowledge about the packaging industry. They generally have a considerable number of personal connections and business relationships with all types of packaging businesses.
They basically act as your personal packaging assistant; possessing all the necessary knowledge you may lack. Of course, you have to pay for their expertise.
One common misconception that I’ve heard throughout the years is that buying packaging through packaging brokers will cost more because they are middlemen. The fact is, that is simply not true; the price you pay for packaging is affected by other factors.
The reason that packaging brokers are not (necessarily) more expensive is because the packaging industry thrives off of B2B (business to business) connections and relationships. Everyone in the packaging industry knows the value of sharing the piece of the pie in order to get your business. If packaging brokers were always more expensive across the board, they wouldn’t last very long in this industry that has such tight margins.
What are Corrugated Boxes?
Corrugated boxes are commonly known by most people as “brown cardboard boxes”. We see them everyday. They are made of 3 sheets of heavy brown paper called containerboard. A wavy sheet called the medium is sandwiched by 2 flat sheets called linerboard.
Corrugated boxes are commonly printed on directly using a flexographic printing (“flexo” for short).
If full-color image graphics are needed, then it is common to have a lithograph printed label laminated to the brown exterior. For a good example of this, look at flat screen TV boxes. They are corrugated boxes with a very fancy and colorful label laminated to the outside of the box. This is often referred to as “litho-laminated”.
What is the Minimum Amount I Need to Order for Custom Packaging?
Each type of packaging will generally have different order minimums. But those minimums are also affected by each unique manufacturer – how they are set up internally (i.e. type of machinery they use), and how large of a company they are.
Boxes (folding cartons, rigid boxes) tend to be the most accommodating, with as little as 1 unit custom printed and up to however many you need.
Flexible packaging (bags, stand-up pouches) will require a minimum order of 3000 meters per roll, generally equalling 25,000 units. Some companies will do 5000 in rollstock form but won’t convert it into pouches or bags for you.
Custom bottles have high minimums, possibly 50,000 to 150,000 units.
Labels could be 1000 units minimum for digitally printed, but 10,000 units minimum for most conventional printing
How Long Does it Take to Manufacture Custom Packaging?
The longest lead time I’ve heard of for manufacturing packaging has been 8 weeks.
Folding carton boxes lead times are 2-4 weeks.
Short run folding cartons 3-7 days.
Pouches and other small flexible packaging 3-6 weeks.
Large sacks or bags 7-8 weeks.
Rigid set-up boxes 4-6 weeks.
Bottles and caps (custom) 6-8 weeks.
Bakery/ food bags 3-4 weeks.
Permanent displays (POP) 6-8 weeks.
Corrugated displays 2-3 weeks.
NOTE: These are approximate lead times after proofs are approved. Does not include transit time.
What Exactly are Tooling Fees?
Tooling fees are the one-time cost of making your packaging a particular custom shape and size. These tools are often dies and printing plates. If you change anything after the dies or printing plates are made, you may need to purchase another set of tooling (this also pertains to future repeat orders of the same packaging unit).
Are Tooling Fees the Same as Set-Up Costs?
No, set-up costs are to “set-up” the machinery to your specific specifications required to complete your custom packaging.
Set-up fees utilize man-power. A skilled worker with specialized knowledge is required to “set-up” the machinery for your job.
Sometimes the particular specifications for your packaging can be recorded into the machine, saved in memory and recalled later when you reorder. This way you’ll only have to pay a one-time set-up cost.
Where are Packaging Manufacturers Located?
They are everywhere! The most abundant amount of manufacturers I’ve found are in Southern California.
As well as having a huge amount of local manufacturers, the port of Los Angeles is enormous and imports packaging from around the world.
Generally, finding a manufacturer closest to you will save on the cost of freight (shipping). Shipping can be very expensive and is typically not an expense one immediately thinks about when buying custom packaging.
What Kinds of Packaging are Imported?
Certain types of glass containers and bottles are not made in the US but in Asian countries like China and Taiwan.
Large woven poly bags are also a type of packaging that is imported.
Plastic food cups are imported from Asian countries but also from South America.
Most other types of packaging can be made in the US and Canada.
What Can I Do if Something Goes Wrong with My Custom Packaging?
Report it immediately and do not use the packaging until it is resolved with the manufacturer.
Manufactures will respond quickly with an error on their part and launch an immediate investigation.
If you accept a discount and can still use the packaging, then great. If you cannot use it at all, reject the entire order and either ask for a replacement or cancel the order completely. If you reject the entire order, do not use any of the packaging! I’ve seen this before where someone will reject the whole order, demand a refund but still use the packaging.
****WHICH MEANS THAT IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO GIVE YOURSELF AS MUCH LEAD TIME AS POSSIBLE IN CASE THINGS LIKE THIS OCCUR.