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Bespoke Boxes: What You Need To Know

In this article, we’ll be looking at bespoke boxes – by which we mean boxes manufactured to a precise size for a particular purpose, rather than a standard sized box available from stock.  Many customers ask us what the minimum order quantities for bespoke cardboard boxes are, and what factors affect this number.  And it isn’t a simple question to answer, as there are different answers for different styles of box.

Having this knowledge before making your order can help save you money.  You might even find that a bespoke box isn’t the best packaging solution for you, in which case standard sized stock boxes are usually a great alternative.

Because although it is possible to manufacture bespoke sizes of cardboard box in almost any quantity, the cost of production is usually unsustainable at very low volumes.

So let’s take a look to see if a bespoke cardboard box is likely to be the best solution for your specific business needs.

Should I be using bespoke cardboard boxes? 

It might seem surprising, but we often find that people start looking at the huge variety of options without first analysing their own needs and capabilities. But by making just a few things clear for your particular needs, you can quickly decide if a bespoke box is feasible and economic for you, rather than using a standard cardboard box that can be easily custom printed with your own logo or promotion.

Here’s a list of a few important questions that should be considered when thinking about the most appropriate packaging solution for your product(s):

  • How many parcels do you dispatch a day? This will tell you how many boxes you should buy, and how often, to avoid using too much storage space and investing too much of your cash in packaging before you need it. 
  • What budget have you allocated? We’ll talk later about the minimum investment required for bespoke versus stock boxes, but the basic point here is that your budget is a critical consideration when deciding your options.
  • Do you have warehouse space to store your bespoke cardboard boxes? If not, then you may be better buying standard cardboard boxes in small and regular quantities or alternatively looking for a stock and serve agreement if you really need a bespoke box size for your business.
  • What are the key features of your own product, both size and material? Your product will be the key factor when deciding between a standard solution or bespoke packaging.
  • Is there an existing solution on the market for my product that can be used? There is very often something easily available that will do the job well without going down the route of bespoke packaging.
  • Do the available standard solutions meet your branding needs?  For instance are the quality, colour and print customization options available on the market what you really need to show your product at its best when it arrives at the customer?

Once these questions have been answered, we can see whether bespoke boxes are the right packaging solution for you. Then we can explain how much the minimum cost would be to produce the amount that you need, as well as the minimum quantity to start a cardboard box production run.  DS Smith ePack, is in a great position to help you with this, as we are the official online shop of DS Smith, one of the largest box manufacturers in Europe.

What is the minimum order quantity to produce bespoke cardboard boxes? 

In this section, we’ll be looking at minimum order quantity and important factors that influence it. Because there isn’t simply a ‘one size fits all approach’.

Corrugated cardboard

As we’ve already said, there is a minimum order quantity needed to begin production of bespoke cardboard boxes, with a key factor being box dimension and style.  These two factors determine the size of the sheet of cardboard needed to make the box.

In general, the bigger the box, the lower the minimum order quantity. Here are three example estimates for some classic box styles:

  • Both single wall cardboard boxes and double wall cardboard boxes in the classic “FEFCO 0201” style generally start at a minimum of 1500 units. Large sized boxes that easily fill a pallet can start at a minimum of 500 units.
  • Our postage boxes (“FEFCO 0427” style for example) generally start at a minimum order quantity of 1000 for a DinA3 size box. Much smaller sizes (for beauty products for example) might start at a minimum of 2500 units.
  • Cardboard wrap mailers, like our book wrap mailers, have minimum order quantities of between 1500 and 3000 units, depending on the dimensions.

Other complexities, like printing or adhesive tapes for closing, can also influence minimum order quantities.  Our customer service team can help you through all these decisions, but already you can see it is complex to go the bespoke route.

What is the initial investment required for bespoke boxes?

If you are sure that you need a bespoke box, and you are comfortable with the minimum order quantity, you then need to think about the upfront investment for a bespoke box.  Unless you are buying standard flatpack shipping box styles like single wall cardboard boxes or double wall cardboard boxes, you will need to buy a tool for die-cutting the box to the right size and style.  This can cost from £350 to £850 (depending on the tool dimensions and machine that will make the box).

Branded bespoke box

If you also want reasonably large quantities of printed boxes for logos or promotions, you will also need to buy flexo printing plates. Each colour needs its own printing plate and can cost from £150 to £450.

In summary, for a bespoke die-cut cardboard box printed in two colours, you might well need an upfront investment of £1000.  If you re-order often, then this investment can be absorbed over large quantities of boxes, but for small quantities, it can be a heavy cost.

So for small volumes, you can see why we often recommend that customers buy a standard box from our wide range of stock solutions, and use our excellent custom digital print service to personalize the boxes. Read one of our real-life example here.

Are bespoke cardboard boxes the best packaging solution for you?

So, could bespoke cardboard boxes help you? For some customers, they can be the right solution, and for larger volumes they can certainly give very good value.

Let our experienced customer service team help you decide!  Just send us your contact details, and one of our e-commerce packaging experts will contact you to find your best and most cost-effective packaging solution.


2020-03-04T15:08:27+00:00March 4th, 2020|Categories: Branded Packaging, Packaging Basics|Tags: , |

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