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Weighing the Pros and Cons of Custom Shipping Boxes


You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and that's especially true with packaging and shipping products. Customized shipping boxes can make all the difference in terms of branding, customer satisfaction, and order fulfillment efficiency. They aren’t without potential drawbacks, though; implementation, assembly, and cost all need to be factored into the decision-making process. Is going the custom route worth it? 

Read on as we explore the intricacies of custom shipping boxes and weigh the pros and cons of implementing them in your business' fulfillment process.

What are Custom Shipping Boxes?

There are several aspects of shipping boxes you can customize, such as box dimensions, color, and cardboard type. Businesses often make these special selections based on the product they're selling. For instance, shipping boxes that have custom sizing are often necessary for items that are large or oddly shaped.

Companies may also opt for custom colors or printed designs to match their brand identity. It all comes down to what the business is trying to communicate and how it wants its product represented when it arrives at customers' doorsteps.

Customized Shipping Boxes vs. Regular Corrugated Cardboard Shipping Boxes

There's an important differentiation to be made between customized shipping boxes and the average corrugated cardboard shipping box. While both protect items during transport, the main difference lies in the initial visual presentation to the customer. Customized shipping boxes can come with internal features such as dividers and cutouts, as well as special external designs to accommodate a specific product or brand identity.

On the other hand, a regular corrugated box is usually plain and can only be identified by stock size marks on the outside. Regular slotted box dimensions are standardized (common sizes include 4" x 4" and 8" x 8") while customized shipping boxes can be made based on a specific item's size.

Pros of Custom Shipping Boxes

Deciding to use custom-designed or specially-sized mailer boxes to ship products can be beneficial for many reasons. Here are three of the biggest advantages:

Custom Shipping Boxes are an Excellent Branding Opportunity

Brands can use custom shipping boxes as a means of showcasing their unique brand identity. Exterior prints, stickers, and even packing tape are all simple but effective ways to set your mailer boxes apart from the ones consumers are used to receiving. 

Having a unique and attractive packaging design also helps create an unboxing experience that recipients are sure to remember. It’s all about presentation; just like how good first impressions matter in brick-and-mortar retail stores, shipping boxes can contribute to the initial feelings someone has towards an ecommerce business’ brand or product. While premium boxes come at an added cost, many successful brands could attest that including branding on shipping boxes and not just product packaging is worth it for the experience it creates. 

Custom Shipping Boxes Help Protect Your Products

Designing custom shipping boxes gives you control over the quality and thickness of cardboard used. Higher-quality materials usually absorb shock and movement and protect against moisture better than standard-issue boxes. You can also opt to further strengthen your shipping box with cardboard inserts that separate items and hold them into place. This will minimize the risk of damage during transit while reducing the practical need for extra dunnage - although you’re free to add it for aesthetic purposes.



The great thing about cardboard is that it’s versatile enough to accommodate virtually any product or design concept. If your products come in fragile packaging, you might use this to your advantage by creating shipping boxes with slots that keep the products in place and facing upwards to show the label. The custom inserts would not only ensure precious cargo remains safe during transit but also present your products in an organized manner when customers receive and open the box. 

Custom Shipping Boxes Can Optimize Space and Costs

Standard shipping boxes come in generic sizes that don’t always fit products well. There’s often extra space either heightwise or lengthwise, which increases shipping costs under the dimensional weight pricing system large carriers like UPS, USPS, and FedEx use. Oversized boxes also require more dunnage and storage space, further increasing costs.

Custom shipping boxes that are made to fit your products perfectly eliminate wastage to ensure you’re only paying for what you need – no more and no less. 

Cons of Custom Shipping Boxes

While using custom shipping boxes can be great in certain aspects, there are other factors to think about when deciding to use them or not. Be sure to consider these points before making a decision:

Custom Shipping Boxes Can Cost More

While this isn't always the case, custom shipping boxes tend to be more expensive than their regular counterparts. The extra work involved in printing designs and making the boxes to specific sizes adds to production costs and can result in a higher price per box. 

Custom Shipping Boxes are Complex

Custom boxes for shipping can be as complicated as you want them to be, but they’re always non-standard. If you design a box with multiple inserts for products or an unusual folding process, it’s likely to complicate assembly and add to labor costs. Depending on your current team and facility’s capabilities, complex boxes also have the potential to slow down the order fulfillment process and impact the number of orders you’re sending out per day. This could then further impact customer satisfaction as buyers wait longer to receive their purchases. One of the easiest ways to achieve the best of both worlds - using custom shipping boxes while keeping order turnaround times low - is by outsourcing to an experienced fulfillment partner like a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) provider. 

Custom Shipping Boxes are Time-Consuming

Designing custom shipping boxes can be a time-consuming process. It may take multiple days, weeks, or even months to decide what you want. It's considered best practice to order a sample before going all in on a given design, which only adds to the timeline.

Since customized shipping boxes are made-to-order, they can take more time to supply. Your business will have to wait to receive the boxes from your supplier before using them for orders, which may not be feasible if you have high monthly order volumes and tight turnaround times that your supplier can’t keep up with.

The Final Verdict: Are Custom Shipping Boxes Worth It?

Custom shipping boxes are an option for any ecommerce business, but their complexity might not be right for everyone. Whether going this route is right for you depends on the circumstances at hand. Budget, product type, business goals, and available resources should all be taken into account during the decision-making process. Brands typically choose to use custom shipping boxes when the pros are more significant than the cons, or if they have existing warehousing strategies in place to handle the extra work they can create.

In some cases, a custom box design or size might just make more sense. Subscription packages are a great example of this; the subscription box itself serves as a preview of the products contained within while contributing to the unboxing experience. Custom boxes can also be valuable in cases where a specially-sized box might mean the difference between an item arriving in pristine condition and being damaged during transit. 

Want All the Pros of Custom Shipping Boxes But None of the Cons? Work With a 3PL

Only you can decide if the benefits of custom shipping boxes are worth it for your business. But with the right 3PL partner by your side, you can be sure that whatever decision you make will be expertly implemented.

The support of an ecommerce fulfillment partner can be particularly valuable when it comes to assembling custom shipping boxes and fulfilling subscription box orders, as warehouses with the right software systems in place are able to manage multiple sizes and variations of boxes more efficiently. That increased speed has the potential to further benefit your bottom line through decreased labor costs.

Shipfusion's frictionless third-party logistics solutions empower growing ecommerce businesses to scale their operations. Our services are purpose-built to save time, money, and effort, while our dedicated Account Managers act as an extension of your team. When you work with us, you get personalized customer service and reliable technology — all backed by a commitment to helping you succeed in ecommerce. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you make the most of your fulfillment operations, including using custom shipping boxes.

Shipping boxes are standard, especially for retailers that mail orders to customers. But to compete with other businesses, you must make your packaging unique. That's where custom shipping boxes come into play.

In today's post, you'll learn what makes custom shipping boxes necessary for order fulfillment and how to create your own. 

What Are Shipping Boxes?

Branded Shipping Boxes by Curly Cue Design Studio

Shipping boxes are outer packaging you use to ship products to customers — though they have other uses. They're made from corrugated cardboard, a material thick enough to absorb the impact caused by transport. 

More importantly, shipping boxes can withstand a lot of product weight. As to how much, it will depend on several factors. It's better to ask your printing partner to be sure.

They come in various styles with the snap-lock bottom being one of the most common. Shipping boxes come in standard sizes, but some printing companies will let you specify the dimensions.

Why Use Custom Shipping Boxes?

Aside from making it easier to mail products to customers, custom shipping boxes have other benefits.

Build Brand Identity

Companies that use plain shipping boxes aren't able to build their brand identity. Within custom shipping boxes, you can expose customers to your business name, logo, and other branding elements. 

Not only will this help them become more familiar with your company, but it will also make you look more established. Both of these will help you earn their trust and loyalty.

Target Specific Groups

You can create designs that will appeal to your target audience. For example, a classy, minimalist design might work better if you cater to sophisticated crowds. 

Using custom boxes also lets you insert messages that appeal to your customers. Talk about what makes your products suitable for them. You can also introduce other items they might find interesting.

Improve Unboxing Experience

You can't underestimate what a great unboxing experience can do for shoppers. The correct shipping box will leave customers impressed. You want to create excitement over your products before they open their boxes.

That's not something a nondescript box can do. There are box companies that will let you print inside the box. So you can leave messages there.

Separate Yourself From Competitors

Your custom box can differentiate you from your competitors. Use your boxes to show everyone why they won't regret trusting your brand. Make your brand unforgettable with a distinct box design and ad copy.

Try introducing your customers to your company's initiatives. If you're an eco-friendly business, for example, you can state that in your shipping boxes.

How to Customize Shipping Boxes

Shipping Boxes by Pretty Girl Bangles

Follow these steps to customizing shipping boxes to create packaging you'll be happy to call your own.

Choose a Box Type

There are several types of shipping boxes to choose from. Standard shipping boxes are the most common, but you can also use mailer boxes if you need something smaller. Mailer boxes also have a distinct look, making them ideal for subscription services.

You can also use economy shipping boxes. These are just as sturdy as standard boxes. The main difference is that you get fewer options when it comes to the type of corrugated board used. One advantage of using economy shipping boxes is that they're more affordable.

Find the Right Materials

Most shipping boxes are made from corrugated boards. However, there are different types of corrugated boards. 

For instance, you can select kraft as your material. These are the brown cardboard boxes most people think of when talking about shipping boxes. It's an excellent option for eco-friendly companies because of kraft's organic look. 

Standard and premium white are other options. You'll want to use these if your design requires accurate colors.

Measure Your Products

It's a good idea to lay your products on a table, stack them together, and measure them to get a general idea of how big your boxes need to be. Try different configurations to see which one is the most efficient.

Remember that the size and weight of your boxes will affect shipping costs. You want to keep them as light and compact as possible. In addition, packing your boxes tight will keep your products safe since there's less room for them to move around. 

Consider Box Fillers

Packaging fillers will dampen any accidental blow your shipping boxes receive during transport. If you have concerns over product safety, try to find filler materials like custom tissue paper to keep products from rattling inside your boxes.

Custom Tissue Paper by Karolitarte

There are other box filler products available in the market. However, some aren't environmentally friendly which might disappoint some customers. Do some research to see which box fillers are suitable for your business.

Create a Design

The best way to create a shipping box design would be through an in-house designer. You can simply describe what you want your box to look like and your designer can handle everything else. 

Someone with experience designing packaging materials would be ideal since they should already be familiar with industry terminologies and requirements. You can also hire freelancers to make the designs for you.

Note: PackM has a Design Tool feature that lets you create shipping box designs online for free. 

Get a Quote

Once ready, you can look for an online printing company that does shipping boxes. Let it know how many boxes you need to get a quote.

Fortunately, there are printing companies that do real-time quotes through a built-in calculator. This makes it easier to understand how much your custom boxes will cost.


Review the Design

Submit your design and have someone in the company review your design. This is an important step. It'll make sure that your boxes turn out exactly the way you want them to. 

The printing company will make sure your design complies with bleed lines and other technical requirements. You can ask the printing company for templates if they have them.

Custom Shipping Box Design Tips

Gift Boxes by Raven Gift Co.

Here are a few things you'll want to remember when designing shipping boxes for the first time.


Think hard about your company branding. You'll want something that people will easily remember. It should also impart your message. Don't forget to include your branding elements.


The fonts and font sizes you use are also important. Some businesses get carried away to the point that people cannot read what's on their boxes. Try to keep it simple and legible.

Color Scheme

Don't be afraid to use colors. You can experiment with color schemes to make your shipping boxes stand out. You can't go wrong with using your company colors.


You can add images to make your boxes more interesting. A flattering picture of your products will do. But you can be as creative as you want. Using illustrations is another option.

Shipping Box Alternatives

Poly Mailers by Summers Threads

You don't have to use shipping boxes to mail products to customers, especially if they only order small quantities.

Poly mailers are good for sending a couple of items to customers. These are plastic envelopes that can keep products safe from the elements during shipping. 

You can also use bubble mailers to ship items. These work like poly mailers but have built-in bubble wrap to keep their content safe.


Custom shipping boxes let companies protect their products during transport and make their branding memorable. When customizing boxes, you'll want to: 

  • Choose the right box type and materials
  • Figure out what size your boxes should be
  • Think about using box fillers or not
  • Create your design
  • Get a quote and have your design reviewed

If you'd like to learn more about shipping boxes for businesses, talk to a PackM representative. Give us a call or get in touch via live chat. You can also email us at sales@packm.com

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Custom Shipping Boxes

Guide to Custom Shipping Boxes


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