How Much Does Custom Packaging Cost?

Brittney Beermann | September 24, 2020

Have you ever heard the saying “real luxury is customization”? 

When you add the word “custom” to any product line, luxury may come to mind… but so could the word “costly”. Customized packaging can mean just about anything – custom size, custom print, custom design. However don’t let these factors discourage you from rocking your own unique packaging! You can have beautiful packaging with high-end detail without a high-end price tag. 

Custom packaging can be used for a variety of reasons including shipping boxes, retail packaging, branded & promotional packaging, gift boxes, ecommerce packaging and more, but how much does custom packaging cost? Chances are you already have an idea of your ideal packaging so we’ve outlined several contributing factors to give you a better idea of what your unique packaging may cost. 


How is the cost estimated? 

There are 6 key components that determine the cost of your packaging: 

Style or Design

First you’ll need to choose a style of box. If you’re a subscription box company, chances are you’ll opt for a Front Tuck Mailer. If you are an online marketplace, such as Amazon, a standard RSC Shipper may make the most sense. 

The style of packaging you choose can affect pricing simply by the complexity of the design. Some companies offer stock designs that are widely used across most industries. Although occasionally, you’ll need a designer to create a completely custom design just for you. Standard catalog items may cost less as there is no up-front tooling investment or development, however the good news is “standard” packaging is anything but standard. Although more simplified and readily available, there are still a variety of ways you can customize these common styles. Xceed offers over 34 styles, all with unique customization options. These products are categorized into 4 main product categories including Subscription Boxes & Mailers, Shipping Boxes, Beverage Holders and POP Displays & Signage. 

When to go custom over common? If your product is fragile or perishable you may consider specialized packaging for more complicated applications. Examples of this would include specific die cut packaging, insulated packaging and reinforced double wall packaging. 

Material & Finish 

The material of your packaging can make or break it (literally!). Flexible packaging such as envelope mailers work great for smaller, low quantity, non-fragile items. Corrugated material  is much sturdier and is widely used for shipping various items such as cosmetics, wine bottles, sporting equipment and more. 

While choosing a material for your packaging should be based on the durability and protection of your products, the overall look and feel should also meet your expectations. With corrugated packaging, the finish of the board determines the overall look. A high gloss finish may be used for a more premium appearance, a matte finish gives a more simplistic look & feel and a natural kraft finish is perfect for your “greener” products that promote sustainability.  All of these elements are factored into the overall cost of your packaging. 


In the print world, “custom” can be a daunting term. With traditional print methods such as flexographic and lithographic printing, your costs are based on the number of colors. Up-front investments of printing plates can be upwards of $1000 or more and minimum order quantities are relatively high. Digital printing for corrugated packaging has been a huge game changer in terms of investments and overall cost. Printing plates have been eliminated, MOQs are as low as 1, and you can change graphics as often as you’d like. Nowadays, all you need to determine is inside or outside print, or better yet both! The difference in cost is mere pennies per unit compared to the several hundreds of dollars in printing plates. 


Sizing is everything when determining the right packaging. A box that holds lipstick will cost significantly less than a box that holds shoes, however the options to customize are still available at any size. If you offer a wide array or products, we suggest purchasing a few common sizes that work for all (or most) of your products. Your largest size box will need to fit your largest product but having a medium or small to fit several smaller items is always a good idea. 


Price per quantity is always a confusing topic when it comes to packaging. The price per each for 1 box may seem high compared to the price per each for 100 or 1000 boxes. That’s because a 1 quantity order takes the brunt of manufacturing costs. For 1000 quantity orders, those manufacturing costs are spread across 1000 units. Deciding on the right order quantity can be challenging. Packaging shouldn’t sit in inventory for several months only to be scrapped when you want to change your look, but nowadays you have the flexibility to order exactly what you need, when you need it. 

Custom Add-Ons

The final factor when costing your packaging is the necessary add-ons such as a custom insert, packing bubbles and partitions for extra security in shipping or tissue paper, crinkle paper, stickers and custom tape for added flare. While these add-ons aren’t necessary, that can provide additional branding opportunities and a better customer experience when unboxing. 

Here’s a quick pricing comparison for the same size box with various material options, print options and quantities needed. You can see how pricing fluctuates based on the design you want. Overall, still quite affordable!


You may be wondering, is it worth it? 

Opening the box is the first interaction customers have with your products. This moment should be just as much of an experience as using the product. However, while it is necessary to put extra thought and time into your packaging, it shouldn’t break the bank. Skip the high investment costs of printing plates. Choose an affordable material and finish that fits the style of your brand. Go with a stock design when you can. With these helpful tips to designing your perfect packaging, we know you’ll create the right box at the right price and more importantly, create a memorable moment attracting customers to your products again and again. 


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