This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Custom packaging elevates your products and fosters brand recognition. In this competitive market, it can even be the thing to set you apart from your competition—increasing your brand value.
The best suppliers for custom boxes will have an array of design and customization options, a low price point, many types of containers, great UX design, and no, or at least limited, minimum order requirements.
We narrowed our list of close to 10 suppliers for custom shipping boxes to the best five. Based on our evaluations, the best sources for custom boxes are:
- BuyBoxes: Best overall for custom boxes
- Packola: Best for internal packaging products including tissue paper and stickers
- FedEx: Best for product variety
- Packlane: Best for its intuitive design studio
- The Packaging Company: Best for a one-stop shop
Best Sources for Custom Boxes Compared
Minimum Order Requirements
General Price Points
Custom Order Quantities
Extent of Container Options
BuyBoxes: Best Overall for Custom Boxes
BuyBoxes is our top pick for your custom box needs. It has a great selection of containers—from your standard corrugated boxes to donation bins (the only provider that beats this variety is FedEx). BuyBoxes also has a speedy production time (including shipping) of under 10 days—the fastest turnaround time among any of the providers we evaluated.
With its selection and quick turnaround, BuyBoxes earned a score of 4.56 out of 5, only getting docked for its site navigation and limited customer service availability.
BuyBoxes Pricing & Standout Features
Competitive, low-point pricing packages
Like Packola and FedEx, BuyBoxes offers a competitive, low price point for its custom goods. It also allows you to order any quantity of containers that you need, with quantities 1–4 counting as samples and the unit price decreasing as your quantities increase from there.
BuyBoxes also has the same pricing on its kraft (traditional brown) and white box options. Other providers, such as FedEx and The Packaging Company, consider white boxes a more premium material and require an upcharge.
Fast 10-day turnaround time, including shipping
BuyBoxes promises quick turnaround times and the same shipping rate as all the other providers on this list. It offers a low price point (competitive with FedEx shipping fees) and some exciting material and shipping deals.
Easy-to-use 3D Design Studio
BuyBoxes has a fantastic 3D design studio where you can see your designs’ three-dimensional renderings before placing your order (similar to Packola, another custom box provider). It provides templated designs to give you some inspiration for you to work with if you don’t know where to start.
However, BuyBoxes offers a slightly more limited variety of container options, missing things like food storage and jewelry boxes that you might find at The Packaging Company, for example. Overall, we are pretty satisfied with its container options, giving sellers flexibility in design, customization options, and size requirements.
Here’s a look at what BuyBoxes’ design studio looks like when you try to place an order:
What BuyBoxes Is Missing
- Few finishing and ink options for custom boxes: BuyBoxes has a much more rudimentary buffet of options with just a white or kraft finish and no ink choices, as opposed to FedEx, which offers different paper finishes and gloss options.
- Challenging site navigation: BuyBoxes’ site navigation is not as seamless as that of The Packaging Company or Packola, so it can be difficult to implement your designs.
- No 24/7 support: Compared to Packola and Packlane, which offer 24-hour chat services, BuyBoxes has limited customer service available via email and phone.
Packola: Best for Internal Packaging Products
Packola is another custom box and shipping supplies company that we loved, earning an overall score of 4.46 out of 5. It has various customizable products, including tissue papers, stickers, and other internal packaging elements. While you can find some interior packaging elements at The Packaging Company, Packola takes the cake for internal packaging product variety.
It also offers a great 3D design suite with components that allow you to design each panel of your box and see a three-dimensional rendering as you go. Moreover, Packola has positive customer reviews, an accommodating return policy, and a great selection of packaging products.
During our evaluation, Packola lost most of its points because of some dimension limitations and a lack of more extensive container options.
Packola Pricing & Standout Features
Flexible minimum order quantities
You will probably find that Packola has the most flexible pricing accommodations of any of the providers on this list. Like BuyBoxes, you can order quantities of 1–4 at a reasonable sample price from Packola. From there, you can order any quantity of boxes you want, with the unit price decreasing as your quantity grows.
Price-matching feature with return policy
Packola offers an excellent return policy and a unique price-matching feature. If anything with your order goes wrong or you are dissatisfied, Packola will make it right. It will also match the price to ensure you get the best rate if you find a better unit price. You can get all the help you want with both of these things, along with other concerns, using the 24/7 live chat feature on its website.
More packaging material other than custom boxes
Packola, like The Packaging Company, offers more than just boxes. You can get stickers, labels, tags, tissue paper, and more, all customized to your brand. Having these options makes Packola a great resource if you need to add custom filler to your bag or if you want to add other creative interior elements to your packaging.
Excellent 3D renderings of custom boxes
Additionally, along with Packlane, Packola has one of the best design suites on the market. With its 3D renderings, you can see your product’s appearance and make adjustments like you have a sample in front of you.
Here’s a look at what Packola’s design studio looks like when you try to place an order:
What Packola Is Missing
- No basic box finish: Of the custom box sources we explore in this guide, Packola is one of the few that does not offer a kraft box finish and requires you to use a higher-end material for your box.
- Lacks specialized box designs: Unlike The Packaging Company and FedEx, Packola lacks some of the more niche shipping container options like food storage or tubular containers.
FedEx: Best for Product Variety
With its intuitive website, custom order sizes and box dimensions, and low order minimums, FedEx’s custom box program is excellent. What really makes FedEx stand out, however, is its product variety. Not only does it have a plethora of container types to choose from (including wine and beer carriers, for example), but you can customize the material and gloss finish for maximum options.
In addition, FedEx has a competitively low price point and allows you to decorate every face of your box (from the inside out). With all these features, FedEx earned a 4.43 out of 5, losing points in areas around customer service and carrier restrictions.
If you choose to use FedEx’s custom box services, you must use FedEx as your shipping carrier for all shipments using those boxes.
FedEx Pricing & Standout Features
Customizable price points, sample orders available
For pricing, FedEx keeps things customizable. It allows you to order a single sample unit before you make a full order. This is great if you want to see what your custom design will look like before you pull the trigger on larger quantities. Additionally, it allows you to specify custom order quantities rather than requiring any set quantities—as long as you meet the minimum order quantity of 10, with unit prices decreasing as you increase your order volume.
Overall, FedEx offers a competitive, low price point and will be able to provide you with the exact quantities you need for your business. All that, and it says you will get your boxes in under two weeks.
Most extensive custom box options
Of our options here, FedEx offers some of the most extensive container options. From wine cases to event containers to your standard corrugated cardboard boxes—FedEx has anything you could need, even for niche scenarios. Additionally, FedEx allows you to customize the material on your box (kraft or white), the types of finish (glossy or matte), and your exact size and quantity.
No additional charge for custom box designs
As with all of our options, FedEx lets you use your own brand images or create a design via its design studio. It even has pre-made patterns and designs that you can use free of charge. FedEx also does not tack on a plate charge for your designs, so you can make your box as intricate as possible without worrying about driving up the price.
Plate Charge: The costs associated with printing a design or other element onto a label, box, or other material. The size of the material printed on, the size of the plate cylinder, and the amount of ink used all determine the final plate cost.
Here’s a look at what FedEx’s design suite looks like when you try to place an order:
What FedEx Is Missing
- Exclusive shipping carrier: You must ship your FedEx boxes via FedEx; it is the only provider on our list with a carrier restriction.
- Expensive sample orders: FedEx charges a pretty penny for its samples. While all suppliers upcharge a single sample product, FedEx’s sample cost is much higher than the other options we explore here.
- Pretty high minimum order requirement: Unlike Packola and BuyBoxes, FedEx places its order minimum at 10, which is not fully custom.
Packlane: Best for Its Intuitive Design Studio
If having an intuitive and rich design suite is a priority, Packlane is the best custom box supplier for you. While many of the providers on this list have great design suites, we found Packlane’s to be the most intuitive and user-friendly. Packlane also has in-house shipping label printing via Shiplane and an easy-to-use site.
It did, however, lose some points for its container variety and size options. We also found Packlane to be on a slightly higher price point than any of our other options. With all that it has on the table, Packlane earned a 3.84 out of 5 for its final score.
Packlane Pricing & Standout Features
Special service and discounts for wholesale orders
While its price point isn’t as low as BuyBoxes, Packola, or FedEx, Packlane provides high-quality goods. And like our other options, Packlane’s unit price decreases as you increase your order volume.
Packlane also offers a special service for bulk orders (over 2,000 units). Through the “Volume Discount” option, Packlane will write you a custom quote with a steep discount when you place an order for over 2,000 units. For orders smaller than 2,000, a price will automatically be generated on the site.
Intuitive design suite
Packlane offers the most intuitive design suite of any of our options. Like BuyBoxes and Packola, it is 3D, giving you a real-life rendering of your product before placing an order. However, its interface (which has great customer reviews) is easier to use than the other options—it is intuitive, updates in real time, and features exciting design elements where you can add text and images and create custom dielines for your orders.
Here’s a look at what Packlane’s design suite looks like when you try to place an order:
What Packlane Is Missing
- Lacks custom order quantities: In general, Packlane’s shortcomings come from its options. Unlike BuyBoxes, FedEx, and Packola, Packlane does not offer custom order quantities, and its minimum order quantity is set at 10.
- Size restrictions: Packlane restricts you to a limited list of set dimensions (FedEx lets you create custom sizes).
- Less variety of custom box options: There are also fewer container options than you might find at The Packaging Company or FedEx.
- Long turnaround time: Packlane’s shipping window can take as long as 21 days unless you pay a rush fee. Consider BuyBoxes for faster shipping.
The Packaging Company: Best for a One-stop Shop
The Packaging Company is much more than just a custom box website; it also carries standard (non-custom) supplies, janitorial supplies, and other things that you might need for your store. In addition, it has a premium design studio with tons of color, container, design, and material options.
Overall, The Packaging Company earned a 3.54 out of 5 in our evaluation. It lost some points because of its price point, lack of custom order quantities, and user reviews.
The Packaging Company was our top pick in our guide for buying standard shipping supplies. If you need just the standard goods, it is a fantastic option.
The Packaging Company Pricing & Standout Features
Mid-range price point
The Packaging Company has a mid-range price point. It also has a pretty high order minimum—50 units—making it a less desirable option for smaller enterprises. We suggest Packola if you want smaller and more affordable boxes.
One-stop shop for retailers
While its pricing is not as competitive as some of our other resources, The Packaging Company does have a lot to offer. It has an extensive variety of custom containers that you can choose from, as well as other non-shipping-related products that you might need for your business. In this way, The Packaging Company really is a one-stop shop.
Plenty of customization options for boxes
Its design suite is rich with options—from colors to finishes to materials—making it easy to create exactly what you want.
Here’s how ordering from The Packaging Company’s website looks:
What The Packaging Company Is Missing
- Paid design upgrades: The Packaging Company has upcharges for most of its design features, so be sure to watch the price tag as you continue to add elements. For a flatter pricing structure, try FedEx.
- Custom sizing for boxes is not available: The Packaging Company does not allow for custom dimensions, and it has a high minimum order threshold (unlike Packola and BuyBoxes).
- Poor customer reviews: Reviewers often complain of long shipping times and a less-than-helpful customer service department.
How We Evaluated Suppliers for Custom Boxes
When evaluating the best custom box suppliers, we looked for features and criteria that would make your life easier, save you money, and give you the best possible end product. We took a look at everything from design features to site navigation, customer service, and pricing information—anything that could give us a better picture of the company and the services it provides.
Overall, our top scorer was BuyBoxes, with an impressive 4.56 out of 5. With its competitive price point, rich customization features, and fast turnaround times, BuyBoxes is a fantastic resource for your custom boxes.
Here is a breakdown of our scoring criteria for the best custom box companies:
25% of Overall Score
We looked at minimum order requirements, custom order quantities, and general price points. FedEx, Packola, and BuyBoxes earned perfect scores in this criterion.
35% of Overall Score
We looked for interior and exterior printing options, container variety, size options, and overall breadth of design features. The Packaging Company and FedEx earned the highest scores in this category, followed closely by BuyBoxes.
20% of Overall Score
We looked at ease of site navigation, customer service, and return and refund accommodations. Packlane and Packola led the suppliers in this criterion, followed closely by BuyBoxes and The Packaging Company.
20% of Overall Score
We looked at overall quality, value for money, and user reviews. BuyBoxes, Packola, and Packlane got our votes.
Custom Shipping Boxes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why should I consider ordering custom boxes for my retail business?
Aside from protecting your parcels during shipping, custom packaging solidifies your brand’s identity, subsequently increasing awareness and value. Overall, it also provides a great unboxing experience for your customers.
What custom shipping boxes should I use?
That would depend on the products you ship and your business goals.
If budget is a concern, start with a few pieces of custom boxes to test the waters, monitor your overhead costs, and see how customers react to it. You can keep it as part of your fulfillment operations once you have the budget or if your customers send positive feedback.
Meanwhile, if you want to invest in unboxing experiences, custom boxes build anticipation and excitement over your product. Conversely, it also can serve as part of your social proof (or social influence) once customers post their unboxing experience in social media or reviews.
How do I design custom boxes?
You have two ways to design custom boxes—hire a designer or do it yourself. The custom box suppliers we have featured in our best sources for custom boxes buyer’s guide all have built-in design suites which we have tested and found to be intuitive and user-friendly for non-designers.
Choosing the best custom box company for your business is a big decision. Price, product selection, design features, customer service, and many other factors all play a role in your decision. With the guide above, you can make an informed decision about the best custom box supplier for your business.
Based on our criteria and expert evaluation, BuyBoxes is the best choice when it comes to custom shipping boxes. You can learn more and start designing your custom boxes by visiting its website today.
You May Also Like…
- Learn how to start a retail business or an online store
- Read our guide to choosing cost-effective retail packaging materials
- See the best places to buy shipping supplies
- If you are in search of a fulfillment service, read up on fulfillment strategies and then check out our article on the best fulfillment services