calculator with small packages on a spreadsheet

Cost-Effective Packaging Options for Small Businesses

As a small business owner, margins are tight. As much as you’d love to create a brilliantly designed custom package to proudly showcase your brand…it just seems TOO EXPENSIVE. 

Complete Packaging Solutions in Brookville, Indiana gives you cost-effective packaging options for your small business, as well as a few helpful tips.

Have a Plan in Advance

To plan accurately, you’ll need to know the following: 

  • Timeline
  • Measurements
  • Design specifications (your branding)
  • Shipping method 
  • Warehousing method

A professional packaging company can walk you through it all and help you to answer critical questions. Like…

How much time do you have?

Several factors impact your timeline — namely, the material and structure of your package. Heavier, complex packaging takes longer to produce (and increases shipping costs).


Heavy, corrugated, rigid box packaging takes 20-30 days to produce and tends to be quite expensive. If you need fast turn-around times, opt for a less dense material.

Try a folded carton!

Compared to corrugated box packaging, folded cartons aren’t just eco-friendly and low cost, they offer plenty of finishing options to display your unique brand.

How Much Should Custom Packaging Really Cost You? 

Between 1-3% of your total revenue. This gives you a lot of wiggle room to do what you want with your package design. Your budget needs to account for time as well.

Ask yourself:

“Okay. How long will it actually take to complete fulfillment?” 

Time is money. Packaging materials directly impact your bottom line.

What Type of Cost-Effective Packaging Should You Be Using?

Don’t get too caught up on individual unit costs. One package might be four cents less than the other; but is it the right type? Is it lightweight enough to ship for a good rate?

A custom packaging company can help you make the right choice. But how do you find the right fit?

Find the Right Packaging Company

NEVER settle for the absolute cheapest option. You’ll likely get the worst results. The company you choose to work with will impact how much you’ll pay, the extent of design options available within your budget, and more. 

Finding an affordable packaging company that offers (a.) plenty of design options, (b.) various printing methods, and (c.) a thorough development processes. 

According to experts in the packaging industry, one of the major trends will be for flexible packaging process designs, where customers get more transparency and freedom to alter their package designs as they see fit. 

A great packaging company will work with you to find the perfect design that meets all of your needs. 

Calculate What’s in Your Budget

Find out how much you’re willing to spend, then create packaging that is within your budget.

Establish price estimates for

  • Material choice
  • Design services
  • Printing and finishing
  • Shipping and logistics

Related Post: The Fast Guide to E-Commerce Packaging!

Choose the Most Cost-Effective Packaging Material 

Cheap packaging options: 

  • Polythene bags 
  • Paper bags 
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Gusseted cellophane bags
  • Plastic boxes 
  • Envelopes and bubble mailers

There are plenty of additional packaging options to boost your product’s appeal while staying well under budget

Branded tissue paper: It’s a cheap and effective way to accentuate your customer’s unboxing experience while providing a little extra product protection. 

Note inserts: It’s a cost-effective way to go the extra mile with your package. Note inserts can be a thank you letter or a business card printed in bulk. 

Custom mailer boxes: Custom mailer boxes are some of the cheapest packaging options available, often made with nifty enhancements like dust flaps. 

Logo stickers: Going with a simple sticker with your logo on it can be all you need to stand out and make an impression on your customer without breaking the bank. 

Custom tape: Colored or patterned tape is a cool way to elevate your package’s design with minimal cost. 

Paperboard boxes: Shipping boxes aren’t as strong as corrugated ones, but are far cheaper, lightweight, and perfect for smaller items. 

Poly mailer bags: These are dirt-cheap, showcase the product to customers, and are commonly used for smaller retail items, like HDMI cords. 

Padded envelopes: Plastic or paper on the outside with padded bubble wrap inside gives your product extra protection and insulation. Again, did we mention that it’s cheap? 

Select the Structure and Design of Your Package 

At this point, you will choose your die-line, identify where your package will fold, or what grooves it will have in order to fit specific products or accessories. 

The smaller the package, the lower the cost. Work with a designer to make sure you’re maximizing your space. Are your items fragile? They’ll likely need extra protection with padded inserts and protective spaces. 

Related Post: The Small Business Guide to Seasonal Packaging

A minimalist design is your best choice (even without a tight budget).

You can get a stylish package design with your brand’s logo, colors, and fonts without paying a premium.

Your design options will depend on the manufacturer you’re working with.

It’s also highly recommended that you print within CMYK and NOT PMS color to keep costs relatively low. 

Get the Right Finish 

The right finish or coating can add a tactile, sensory element to your box that gives it an edge above competitors. Being able to feel the package is part of an unboxing experience that gets associated with your business’s brand. 

How do you do it?

With the right laminate finish!

Not only does this protect your package, but it also works with light to create a unique user experience. Leveraging contrasting coatings and finishes, like foil stamping or lamination, provides an alluring look in any lighting condition. 

Consider these coatings: 

  • Gloss laminates 
  • Matte laminates 
  • Aluminum foil laminates 
  • Polyester laminates
  • Transfer metalized laminates

Prototype, Proof, and Evaluate 

Most custom packaging design companies offer detailed prototyping of your package.

At Complete Packaging Solutions, we pay meticulous attention to the details of your package, to ensure there are no blemishes, typos or color bleeds before launch. 

For the sake of quality assurance, we print a tangible, finished package as a final review. This is done to make sure no hidden or hard-to-see mistakes were missed in the virtual mockup. 

A little extra time dedicated to proofing and product testing is done to prevent you from paying hundreds of dollars to fix the design, layout, or structure of your final package. 

Get Cost-Effective Custom Packaging Solutions for Your Business

Let the experts at Complete Packaging Solutions help you pick the perfect package for your product and your industry. Contact us for a quote today at (765) 547-1300.