The Best Ways to Reduce Packaging Costs: Thinking Outside the Box


If you’re looking for ways to reduce packaging costs while increasing profits, you’re in luck. There are several ways to help trim the costs of packaging without sacrificing quality

Millions and millions of packages are shipped each year and wasteful packaging puts an extra burden on our already strained waste management and recycling systems. 

Let’s take a closer look at ways that you can reduce packaging costs while still staying true to your brand, providing a unique experience to your customers, and increasing your profit margins.

Which Factors Cause Higher Packaging Costs?

The cost of materials isn’t the only thing that adds to packaging expenses. Most notably, the things that contribute to high packaging costs include: 

  1. Inadequate material storage and poor design of packaging lines: When packing materials are poorly stored, they can cause a domino effect that gums up the processing, shipping, fulfillment and much more. 
  2. Long packaging processing times: The longer it takes to process the packaging, the more the costs add up. Even automating some of the packaging process by sourcing your packaging fulfillment to an experienced company can help you save money by putting your packaging design in the hands of experts who know how to create packages that take these points into consideration. Check out our top packaging design tips and inspiration to get a better idea of what to consider during the design process.
  3. Paying extra for box dimensions rather than product dimensions: Why pay for packaging when you don’t maximize the use of the space you’re given? Oftentimes, in a rush to get a product shipped, brands will pay for the box dimensions instead of the package dimensions, adding considerable costs to their order fulfillment. Instead, pay only for exactly what your products need. Compared to standardized packaging options, custom boxes save you money by eliminating the waste and cost of unnecessary space.
  4. Packaging materials that provide inefficient support and allow the product to be damaged: For example, if your product will be transported through harsh weather conditions, is the packaging designed to stand the onslaught of rain, snow, heat or even pests? 

Increasing Efficiency by Improving the Storage of Packaging Materials 

packaging material foam peanuts

Of course, as your business and product line grow, so too will the amount of packaging materials you need. Fortunately, there are a variety of materials available and countless variations within each type of material. The organization of this material and proper grouping of like items together can help trim costs and speed up efficiency. 

In addition, packaging materials that are not used as frequently can be grouped together on the chance that those items are needed from time to time. 

By streamlining similar products together in your inventory, you will naturally create a ripple effect across the entire business — reducing the administrative workload and improving (re)order fulfillment as well

Read our definitive guide to custom boxes and branded packaging to learn more about what types of materials to choose for your specific needs. 

Ask Yourself These Key Questions as You Work to Optimize Your Packaging

As you streamline your inventory and processes, this is also a great time to look at your current product packaging and consider ways in which it could be further optimized. For example: 

  • What type of package do you need?
  • What kind of environment/weather conditions will the package be exposed to? 
  • With that in mind, what kind of materials can I use to protect my product?
  • How can I be creative with the materials I’ve chosen for my packaging? 
  • What kinds of quality standards does my packaging have to meet in order to provide the most protection and stability during its transit to the customer? 

Shop Popular Products

Looking at New Technologies: The Evolution of Packaging

Sometimes in order to reduce packaging costs, you have to look to the future. 

Today’s packaging spans an entire spectrum of technology to fit all sorts of design and packing needs. You’ll be amazed at the creativity and the structural stability and protective assets of  today’s packaging evolutions.

With that being said, there has never been a better time to go online and look at new advances in packaging material. Every product is different. There truly is no “one size fits all” approach that works with packaging

For example, you may find that you can reduce the design of your product boxes to use less packaging material. Even something as seemingly insignificant as a 10% reduction could lead to big savings over time.  

Other options could include using green (recyclable) packaging that customers can reuse to ship other items, or eliminating the use of labels by printing directly onto the package. You can even change the shape of the product slightly to allow it to be packed more densely and efficiently. 

The Secret to Saving Money with Design

save money design packaging costs

In addition to the structure and processing of your packaging (and the materials within it), you should also consider ways that you can save money on your packaging’s design. One of the best ways to do that is to use one or two colors instead of a full 4-color palette. If you want to include more colors, consider using gradients or shades of gray. This will give your product that attractive, eye-catching look without a huge investment in different color choices. It’s a small step, but one that can lead to significant savings. 

In addition, changing from traditional printing to digital printing can also save a great deal of money. This is particularly true for small to medium runs of products. It also prevents an excess build-up of inventory and can turn out to be more affordable for businesses than if they invested in a larger batch run. This varies from product to product, however, which is why it’s a good idea to consult with packaging professionals in terms of ways where you can save costs without skimping on design and branding. 

Analyze Every Step of Your Packaging Process

A great deal of time and effort often goes into evaluating production processes and enhancing them. As a result, production is streamlined, but hits a bottleneck at the often overlooked (and admittedly less glamorous) world of packaging and fulfillment

Instead of investing even more in small steps to improve production, which may have limited return on investment, look for ways to improve on the packaging process. Here again, it may be worth reaching out to a company that specializes in the packaging process. 

Not only do they use the latest equipment, but they can provide advice on a variety of packaging materials best suited to ensure that the package arrives safely to its destination. Don’t forget to consider ways to improve your shipping strategy as well. Any saved shipping costs will only compound the savings you earn by reducing your packaging costs.

Customers Can (And Will) Judge a Product By Its Packaging

custom branded packaging presentation

Although packaging is often the least thought of part of the fulfillment process, it is vitally important — now, more than ever. Not only does your packaging need to attract the customer’s attention and provide them with a pleasant experience, but it also carries the weight of your brand on its shoulders. 

Cheap, disorganized packaging unfortunately lends itself to whatever is packaged inside. Customers will immediately think that the product is likewise cheap and poor quality if the packaging is sub-standard. Although every customer is different, one thing that all customers have in common is that they like to be pleasantly surprised and impressed

For example, reusable packaging commands a more high-end price point, but nevertheless makes customers feel as if they (and your brand) are doing their part to help support the planet and minimize waste. Small things like this can make a big impression.

The Bottom Line on Reducing Costs While Creating Positive Branding Experiences

Today’s product packaging has to do a great deal more heavy lifting than it ever had to do in the past. These days, a simple cardboard box won’t cut it. Today’s packaging has to be evocative and effective, high-quality and attractive. It’s a tall order to fill, but with the right company behind your product packaging, your brand can and will do amazing things. 

To learn more about how Refine Packaging can help you, contact us to learn more about our comprehensive packaging and design solutions. From small batch processing to large productions, our combination of advanced technology, eco-friendly packaging processes and knowledgeable team of experts is at your service and ready to help you create packaging that truly speaks to your customer and reflects your brand with uncompromising quality and attention to detail. 

Ready to think outside the box? Let's get started!

Get in touch with a custom packaging specialist now for a free consultation and instant price quote.

blue colored shape
blue colored shape
blue colored wave shape