Stock packaging and custom packaging (or some combination of the two) are generally the two options available for packaging a product. But what is the difference between the two?
Stock packaging is basically “ready-made, generic packaging” that one could affix a label to. Stock packaging is produced very inexpensively in massive quantities and generally comes in limited, standardized sizes and styles. However, many companies use stock packaging exclusively, as it wouldn’t make financial sense to have their packaging custom made. We see many examples of this in retail stores. Bottles of sauces, vitamin jars, beverage bottles, protein powders, can foods etc. these are all examples stock packaging with a custom printed label.
Only gigantic companies like Johnson and Johnson would have, for example, their bottles custom made.
Then there’s custom packaging. Whether you are storing, transporting or displaying the product, custom packaging is specifically and uniquely tailor made to fit a product perfectly. It is designed by a packaging structural engineer and it requires specially made tooling that basically serves as a sort of “packaging DNA” used in the various machinery that makes your packaging. Examples of this tooling are cutting dies and printing plates.
This process is more expensive than stock packaging because it requires a significant amount of planning and designing before hand. A prototype is usually required to be made and approved as well as production set-up (which you pay for) and the previously mentioned tooling. See this article on how a box is made for more info. Also, the level of customer service during all stages of the buying process for custom packaging is significantly higher compared to stock packaging.
Custom packaging companies also have a “minimum start up cost”, which means that you will be charged a minimum price just to get the machinery running, even if you were to only order one unit of packaging. These manufacturers will also have a minimum volume requirement included in the start-up costs that help the whole process make sense for all parties involved. For example, a packaging manufacturer might have a start-up cost of $2500 that includes a minimum of 1000 units of packaging.
With the exception of stock items such as bottles, tins, jars, containers etc. which are all ideal for retail usage, stock packaging is generally recognized as a packaging alternative, that “gets the job done”. This approach allows for cheaper packaging that “more or less” fits the product.
Typical reasons for using stock packaging generally revolve around temporary or timely packaging needs centered on small volumes:
- Start-ups with Limited Budget
- Test Marketing Situations
- Production Shortages
- Trade Show Samples
- Subscription Boxes
- Shipping Boxes Used by Online Stores
Stock Packaging and Custom Packaging – Pros and Cons
Stock packaging is certainly less expensive when buying in small quantities as compared to custom packaging. It is also much faster to acquire stock packaging over custom. It is a viable strategy for anyone who considers custom packaging to be too much of an investment for their purposes.
Well designed custom packaging should “catch the eye” over the competition while communicating the right message about the product, which should translate into increased sales. And since custom packaging typically provides a better fit for your product than stock packaging, there should be less excess material waste. This “excess material” involves the packaging itself as well as any fill packaging used to compensate for the ill-fitting stock packaging. Better fitting packaging means more product per pallet can be shipped which lowers your shipping costs.
Generally speaking, custom packaging is not for the faint of heart, or light of wallet. It is a longer, more involved process that requires a larger commitment and investment than stock packaging. Custom packaging should give your product a more refined and professional appearance on store shelves and can actually be comparable to stock packaging prices once you are ordering considerably high volumes. However, even with the obvious advantages of the speed and initial low-cost of stock packaging, good custom packaging can give your product the edge it needs over the competition.
What do you think? Do you use custom packaging or stock packaging, and why? Let me know, comment below.
And thanks for reading.