This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Custom packaging is a great opportunity to elevate your products and foster brand recognition. In this competitive market, it can even be the thing to set you apart from your competition. The best custom box suppliers will have an array of design and customization options, a low price point, many different types of containers, great UX design, and no, or at least limited, minimum order requirements.
Based on our evaluation, 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
How We Evaluated Custom Box Suppliers
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.
35% of Overall Score
We looked for interior and exterior printing options, container variety, size options, and overall breadth of design features.
20% of Overall Score
We looked at ease of site navigation, customer service, and return and refund accommodations.
20% of Overall Score
We looked at overall quality, value for money, and user reviews.
BuyBoxes: Best Overall for Custom Boxes
BuyBoxes is our top pick for your custom box needs. As with FedEx, BuyBoxes has a great selection of containers for you to choose from—from your standard corrugated boxes to donation bins. It also has a speedy production time and can get your orders produced and shipped in under 10 days—the fastest turnaround time of any of our providers. With all this to offer, BuyBoxes earned a score of 4.56 out of 5, getting docked mainly for its site navigation and limited customer service availability.
BuyBoxes Pricing & Features
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 one to four counting as samples and the unit price decreasing as your quantities increase from there. BuyBoxes has the same price 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.
Another one of BuyBoxes great features is its shipping. It promises under 10-day turnaround times and the same shipping rate as all the other providers on this list. All in all, BuyBoxes offers a low price point, competitive with FedEx and BuyBoxes, as well as some exciting material and shipping deals.
As with Packola, BuyBoxes has a fantastic 3D design studio where you can see three-dimensional renderings of your designs before you place your order. It provides templated designs, so if you don’t know where to start, it has some inspiration ready for you to work with. 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.
What BuyBoxes Is Missing
BuyBoxes has a much more rudimentary buffet of options with just a white or kraft finish and no ink choices, as opposed to FedEx, for example, which offers different paper finishes and gloss options. Additionally, the BuyBoxes site navigation is not as seamless as that of The Packaging Company or Packola, so it can be difficult to implement your designs. Further, where Packola and Packlane have 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 a great variety of customizable products, including tissue papers, stickers, and other internal packaging elements. While you can find some internal packaging elements at The Packaging Company, Packola takes the cake for internal packaging product variety.
Packola also offers a great 3D design suite with elements that allow you to design each panel of your box and see a three-dimensional rendering as you go. Additionally, Packola has positive customer reviews, an accommodating return policy, and a great selection of packaging products.
Packola lost most of its points for some dimension limitations and a lack of more extensive container options.
Packola Pricing & Features
You will probably find Packola has the most flexible pricing accommodations of any of the providers on this list. Unlike any of our other providers, you can order quantities of one to four at a reasonable sample price from Packola. From there, you can order any amount of boxes that you want, with the unit price decreasing as your quantity grows.
Additionally, it offers a great return policy and a unique price-matching feature. Basically, if anything with your order goes wrong or you are dissatisfied, Packola will make it right. If you find a better unit price, Packola will also match the price to ensure you get the best rate. You can get all the help you want with both of these things with the 24/7 live chat feature on its website.
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. This makes it 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.
Additionally, along with Packlane, Packola has one of the best design suites on the market. With its 3D renderings, you can really see what your product will look like and make adjustments like you have a sample right in front of you.
What Packola Is Missing
Of the 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. Additionally, 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
FedEx is another top choice for custom boxes. With its intuitive website, custom order sizes and box dimensions, and low order minimum, FedEx’s custom box program is excellent. What really makes FedEx stand out, however, is its product variety. Not only do they have a plethora of container types to choose from (including wine and beer carriers, for example), you can also 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 carrier for all shipments using those boxes.
FedEx Pricing & Features
For pricing, FedEx keeps things customizable. For example, it allows you to specify custom order quantities rather than requiring any set quantities. Additionally, FedEx 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. From there, FedEx offers a 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.
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.
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.
What FedEx Is Missing
First, you must ship your FedEx boxes via FedEx; it is the only provider on our list with a carrier restriction. It also 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. Additionally, unlike Packola and BuyBoxes, FedEx places its order minimum at 10, which, while low, is not fully custom.
Packlane: Best for Its Intuitive Design Studio
Packlane is another option for your custom box needs, especially if you value an intuitive and rich design suite. 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. Additionally, Packlane is 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 & Features
While its price point isn’t as low as BuyBoxes, Packola, or FedEx, Packlane provides high-quality goods. Additionally, as with 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,” when you place an order for over 2,000 units, Packlane will write you a custom quote with a steep discount. For orders smaller than 2,000, a price will automatically be generated on the site.
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, it’s 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.
As mentioned before, Packlane also offers in-house shipping software through Shiplane. Here, you can create and print shipping labels with up to 80% off USPS ground shipping rates.
What Packlane Is Missing
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. Additionally, it restricts you to a limited list of set dimensions (FedEx lets you create custom sizes). There are also fewer container options than you might find at The Packaging Company or FedEx. Additionally, 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 last option on our list is The Packaging Company. 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 to this, it has a premium design studio with tons of color, container, design, and material options. Where The Packaging Company lost some points was its price point, lack of custom order quantities, and user reviews. It earned a 3.54 out of 5.
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 & Features
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. I would suggest Packola if you want smaller, more affordable boxes.
Additionally, 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.
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. Additionally, its design suite is rich with options—from colors to finishes to materials—making it easy to create exactly what you want.
What the Packaging Company Is Missing
The shortcomings of The Packaging Company fall mainly on its pricing and poor customer reviews. Reviewers often complain of long shipping times and a less-than-helpful customer service department. Additionally, The Packaging Company does not allow for custom dimensions, and it has a high minimum order threshold (unlike Packola and BuyBoxes).
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, we think BuyBoxes is the best choice for your custom shipping supplies needs. You can learn more and start designing your custom boxes by visiting its website today.
You might also like…
Our 10-step guide for starting a retail business