5 Questions to Ask Your Packaging Supplier
There is a certain beauty knowing the e-commerce business model can exist without brick and mortar. The flip side is that you need a way to get your products out in the world. Shipping is a must. Your packaging can be an afterthought, or it can be a part of your overarching brand presence.
There are dozens of packaging suppliers to choose from. But if packaging is going to be an important part of your customer experience, you need to make sure you choose the right one for your business. While you’re out shopping for the right supplier, consider asking these questions.
1. What is your minimum order?
If you’re ordering thousands of boxes each month, this may not be a question you should worry about. But, if you are like most e-commerce companies, order quantities fluctuate month to month. It’s in your best interest to know how low you can go. (And how how high also! Can they accommodate potential growth?)
2. What is your lead time?
It goes without saying, but the timing on your order will be an important thing to consider when you’re planning an e-commerce business. You will find turnaround time varies anywhere from 7 days to 14 weeks. Packaging that is being shipped from China will obviously add a huge chunk of time. While you’re asking about lead time, also see if rush production is an option. We all have those moments of panic and it’s good to know who can handle this type of request
3. Are you the manufacturer or a distributor?
This is a question most people don’t think to ask. But asking this simple question can give you a huge insight into what your experience will be like. A manufacturer will be on hand during the entire production process of your boxes. They have the ability to check on your order at any point and because they aren’t a reseller, they can keep prices lower.
Plus, if there’s a problem with your order, a box manufacturer is in a better position to reprint and fix the problem- and will usually do so without question since it’s their printer.
4. Do you offer water-based inks?
Things are changing in the world of printing. Studies have shown that UV-curable inks on the outside of packaging can migrate through the box and into products contained within. Brands around the world are switching over to safer ink, especially in the food, baby and cosmetic industries. Water-based ink is food-safe, odorless and non-toxic. Something to consider if any of your products will be consumed. Read more about water-based inks here.
5. Do you have designers and structural engineers on staff??
Unless you feel 100% confident in packaging design, this is a good question to ask. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will use their designers, but it’s nice to know someone has your back. Packaging designers know what will print well and what won’t. They can also collaborate with you to provide feedback if you’re looking for a little help.
Bonus points for having structural engineers. They are well versed in packaging design and will provide fresh insight relevant to your brand. Companies who have engineers on staff can create custom inserts and develop innovative packaging around your specific products.
Once you get the answers to all your questions, ask yourself one more. Will they take care of you? Whoever you choose will be an important part of your e-commerce business. Ultimately, this is a partnership. You need to know you can count on them.