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How to make custom packaging affordable for your brand

inke packaging — February 18, 2021

Picture this: You’re packing order for one of your new customers. You’re excited, you’ve got your amazing product in your hands, and you’re lovingly placing it into… a plain cardboard box. Hmm. It’s probably not your first choice.

But custom packaging is out of my budget! You say. We’ll let you in on a secret – custom packaging doesn’t have to break the bank. Think of it as investing in your brand from the first impression up. It can have a lasting positive impact on your revenue, too. Did you know 40% of consumers are likely to become repeat customers of a retailer that uses premium packaging to ship orders?

So, how can you integrate custom packaging into your business’s budget?


Order in bulk

The more, the merrier… right? If you’re looking to invest in your packaging, naturally, the more you order, the more you will save per unit. This is just simple production fundamentals as the more of your packaging we can produce per run, the further we can offset costs. Smaller orders won’t have the margins to provide this, unfortunately.

Another thing to keep in mind here is with digital printing, you can print multiple designs across the same order at no extra cost, meaning you could combine future orders into one (so long as it is the same size and material option) to achieve a better purchase rate.

  • For example, if you were to purchase 2000 units, you could split this order into 4 designs of 500 units each!
  • We’ll let you purchase up to 5 designs across every order at no additional cost.

Consider your options

Another consideration you can make to help minimise the cost of your order is to select your printing options with cost in mind strategically. Naturally, Kraft is the cheapest option in our mailer boxes range as this is a natural corrugated board with no additional linings. It’s cheaper to produce from a manufacturer’s perspective. In contrast, boards such as White or LUX coat add slight cost increases, as the additional materials required to produce the finished product slightly increase the overall purchasing rate.

Other small adjustments like opting for your design to be single-sided printing can add up when purchasing in bulk. Remember that when purchasing single-sided printing, you are free to choose to apply your design to either the inside or outside at no extra cost; it’s completely up to you!

However (if it is suitable to your budget), since you are investing in custom packaging, committing to double-sided printing can really pay off in the long run in terms of customers unboxing experience and added brand exposure!

Get familiar with our design suggestions per product option to help you understand what will work for your brand and make an order that suits your brand and budget accordingly.


Choose the right size

If cost is the number one consideration from your end, then we would certainly recommend opting for one of the standard sizes listed on our online store. These are all preset options, part of our daily production schedules, which means that there are no set up costs passed on to you, allowing you to order small and swap between sizes without paying a premium.

Otherwise, if opting for a custom size, these are subject to set up costs (depending on your quantity) as they require individual cutting formes, which can be anywhere in the vicinity of $1-3k depending on the size of your packaging as an additional (once-off) fee on your first order.

It’s important to note this setup cost only needs to be paid once. After the initial purchase, you’ll only need to pay for the cost of the packaging like our standard sizes online. If you have room for this in your budget and the custom size will work better for you long term, we would suggest this viable option.

For custom sized orders under 1000 units purchased using our custom packaging tool, these are produced using a laser cutting process, so whilst it eliminates the need for a setup cost, it is a slower method of production, ultimately incurring a higher per-unit cost and not passing on any future savings as a forme would offer.


Offset the costs

This may sound obvious; however, an easy way to make custom packaging more affordable is to absorb or offset the costs into your business model.

Increase the value of your unboxing experience by charging for your gift boxes – for example, purchase your custom box for $4 a unit; then list it as a special add-on item on your website for $10. This option is especially effective if your product is likely to be bought as a gift.

Alternatively, increase your prices by a minimal amount across the board to offer the custom packaging as standard to all of your customers. The introduction of custom packaging will increase your brand's perceived value and status in the eyes of consumers, which will justify any rise in cost as a result.

Take, for example, one of our favourite local brands, Dimple Contacts, who did exactly this.

“For a startup, branded packaging is always more expensive than generic, especially at lower order volumes. It was essential for us to stand out, so we factored the cost into our margins when we started doing our financial models. This way, we knew that if we could make it work at smaller volumes, it could only improve as we scaled up.“


Remember the return on investment

While it may not be apparent after you’ve clicked the purchase button on your first order, swapping your packaging for a custom design is a sure-fire way to grow your business.

Branded packaging creates an unboxing experience for your customer upon delivery, amping up the anticipation for their order. This box, whether seen by the neighbours on the front step or by your customer’s entire social media feed, acts as a form of free advertising long after it’s left your hands.

Custom boxes also create a great first impression, fostering customer loyalty and generating a positive reputation for your brand among new and existing consumers – over 60% of consumers say that brands seem more high-end when their items ship in branded packaging.

So whether this is your first time investing in custom packaging for your brand, or you’ve previously had overseas suppliers and are looking to future-proof your supply chain by moving local, it’s important to note, producing custom packaging here in Australia may not be as cheap as you originally thought a ‘box’ might cost.

There are ways to work around this, and with orders starting from just 10 units, if better suited to your needs, it could be worth considering. Our suggestion? Start small and gradually increase your order volume over time based on customer feedback and organic growth.

For some lasting inspiration, here’s a case study from one of our customers who did exactly that, starting small and scaling to a full warehouse operation within months.

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