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The Complete Guide: Which Custom Packaging is Right for You?

Written By: Leslie Taylor | Article Date: December 23, 2020

Packaging is more than just something that contains your products. It’s more than an eye-catching design that stands out from the shelves. It does more than protect your products in storage and shipping. Custom packaging is all these things and more. Those who are new to packaging often overlook this important aspect until the very last minute

A study shares that up to 80% of consumers do not repurchase from a company if they are not satisfied with the initial experience. As the first thing that customers encounter, custom packaging requires strategic planning even during the start of the product development process.

If you’re interested in custom packaging, then you already know its importance in growing your brand and business. If you are in the initial stages of development, this helpful guide will establish your basic packaging needs and get you started on a packaging strategy. We’ll help you choose what type of custom packaging is right for your product by looking at key factors that impact this important decision.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you start making any decisions about custom packaging, start by answering these important questions. Taking into consideration your product, how you sell, and how you’ll bring your merchandise to customers will help you decide what kind of packaging you need.

What’s Your Product?

It’s a simple question that makes all the difference in your packaging size, shape, and material.

How big and heavy is your product? Is it solid or liquid? Durable or fragile?

One of the many benefits of custom packaging is you can tailor-fit the specs to match your product. Whether it’s food or cosmetics, supplies, or specialty goods, the right packaging should keep your product safe, make it easy to use, and prevent potential damage.

How Will You Sell Your Product?

It makes a big difference whether your product will be available in stores or online and shipped to your customers.

If you need to display your items in a boutique or supermarket, you’ll want it easy and compact yet eye-catching enough to attract attention among other competitors. Delivering directly to your consumers also requires durable packaging to keep your products secure in transit.

What Will You Include On Your Packaging?

This not only covers design but also key information you want to convey to customers. Will the custom box focus solely on branding? Should you include usage instructions on the packaging or on the product itself? Are there ingredients or materials your customers should know about before they make the purchase? This last question helps you determine the layers of packaging you’ll need.

Start with Packaging Essentials

Which Custom Packaging Is Right for You?

Custom Labels

Custom Labels

» Great for primary branding
» Ingredients and usage instructions
» Safety and warning information

Custom Boxes

Custom Boxes

» Acts as secondary packaging
» Boosts e-commerce unboxing experience
» Protects products during shipping

Custom Pouches

Custom Pouches

» Maintains freshness
» Versatile for almost any items
» Suits multiple-use products

Now that you know the key packaging elements your product requires; you can finally choose what type of packaging to customize. There are dozens to choose from, some more elaborate than others, but you can begin with the essentials to build your packaging strategy.

Custom Labels

It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about custom packaging, but these little custom labels are considered primary packaging. Labels come in immediate contact with the product. From beer bottles to scented candles, medicine containers to shipping tags, labels are everywhere.

            Custom labels can be used for:

  • Branding on the product itself
  • Product usage instructions
  • Ingredients and nutrition information
  • Safety and warning information
  • Shipping and fulfillment data

Custom Labels
Custom Labels

Custom Boxes

This is the most popular type of custom packaging. The versatility, design capabilities, and durability of custom boxes make them suitable for almost any type of merchandise. The most common box categories are product boxes, mailer boxes, and shipping boxes.

Product boxes can be used to store items and boost shelf impact and presentation. From baked goods, clothes, or liquor, these boxes can be customized to the exact measurements you need. You can also print your brand story or share other information on the product box.

If you’re delivering directly to customers, branded mailer boxes and shipping boxes are a more durable option.

            Custom boxes are widely used for:

  • Bundled product offerings
  • Items that need secondary packaging (food, cosmetics, etc.)
  • Boosting your e-commerce unboxing experience
  • Protecting products during shipping

Custom Boxes

Custom Pouches

If you need something adaptable and secure for liquids or perishable items, custom pouches are a great option. They’re affordable and made of high-quality materials to keep products fresh. These often come in two (2) types: flat, suitable for single-use items, and stand-up, which expands to accommodate the volume.

            Custom pouches are perfect for:

  • Products you can display with hang holes and zippers
  • Liquids and gels
  • Multiple-use products (coffee, grains, pet food)
  • Industrial products

Custom Labels
Custom Pouches

Choose Your Packaging Materials

Based on your preferred packaging, you can begin customizing in various materials and coatings that suit your product’s design, storage, and shipping requirements. Here are the most popular packaging materials:


This is a flexible material that’s perfect for custom product boxes and in-store displays. Cardstock often comes in a variety of thickness options, from lightweight 14 pt. cardstock that’s ideal for smaller items up to thick 24 pt. cardstock you can use for multiple or heavier products.

            Cardstock offers these distinct benefits:

  • Smooth, absorbent surface for high-quality printing
  • Protective coating options (gloss, matte, high-gloss UV)
  • Special printing capabilities (spot UV, foil stamping, embossing)
  • Easy to fold for different box styles

Custom Packaging Cardstock Material
Learn more about different types of paper and cardstock:
Paper Choices Made Easy—Everything You Need to Know

Corrugated Cardboard

This is the thickest material for custom shipping boxes and mailer boxes. It’s made for heavier items to withstand shipping and handling. Corrugated board thickness is classified in flutes from A to F and varies depending on what your packaging supplier offers. In general, the thicker the flute, the more durable the packaging (F-flute being the thinnest and B/C flute the thickest).

            Here are more pros to corrugated material:

  • Cushioning qualities for heavy products
  • Highly affordable solution for packaging
  • Eco-friendly and recyclable
  • Great printing and graphic capabilities

Custom Packaging Cardstock Material
You can learn more about the benefits of corrugated packaging with these articles:
Shipping Boxes: Why Use Them for Packing?
Corrugated Box – The Master Guide

High Barrier Film

This material is widely used for custom pouches. High barrier films are made with a combination of flexible plastics, aluminum, paper, and coating that makes these pouches one of the most versatile packaging solutions for any product.

            Here are the key characteristics of custom pouch high barrier material:

  • Maintains freshness
  • Extends your products shelf life
  • Puncture-resistant
  • Protects from moisture, oxygen, and unwanted odors

            High-barrier films in custom pouches are perfect for these products:

Custom Pouches as Packaging

Label Stocks

Before you print custom labels, bear in mind that different materials are more suited for certain applications. How your product will be used will help you choose the right material for the job. Below are the most popular types of label materials:

White premium sticker paper is the most popular paper label for indoor applications. Made of smooth, semi-gloss, pressure-sensitive adhesive. You can add lamination for extra protection.

Biaxially-oriented polypropylene or (BOPP) is perfect for products exposed to oil, moisture, and refrigeration. It comes in clear, solid white, and metallic material options.

White vinyl is the thickest and most durable sticker material available. Waterproof and made with UV-resistant gloss laminate. Printing companies highly recommend white vinyl for products that require outdoor exposure.

Take Packaging Up a Notch

After choosing your basic packaging essentials, you can add special touches for more seamless branding. Packaging slips and materials are an easy and affordable way to elevate your entire product presentation.

Print custom hang tags to add a decorative touch to bottled items, clothes, and other merchandise. They make great gift tags for holiday packaging or product information tags. Add custom tissue paper inside product boxes or mailer boxes for a luxurious, gift-like unboxing experience.

Printing custom boxes are not the only way you can stand out during shipping. Try branded water-activated tape that keeps boxes and envelopes sealed during transit. Bag toppers or header cards are also a quick solution to products stored in poly bags, while packaging sleeves can be wrapped around any product for instant branding.


Now that we covered the basics of custom packaging, you can now start with packaging design and customization. There’s a wide selection of packaging styles to choose from, but it’s important to choose what works for your product, process, and budget.

Want more packaging tips? Our top packaging do’s and don’ts can help you save money in the long run.

Get started on custom packaging for your business. You can even design your custom box online, along with other packaging materials.

At NextDayFlyers, we’re committed to helping you bring your packaging ideas to life. With our customization options, high-quality materials, and decades of online printing experience, we can print custom packaging your products deserve.