How to Effectively Plan and Manage the Purchase of Packaging

PackMojo Assorted Custom Boxes


In today's digital era, where eCommerce reigns supreme, brands must leave a lasting impression on customers. Packaging is a powerful tool to reflect a brand's identity while safeguarding products during shipping.

This guide covers the end-to-end packaging purchase process, highlighting what to expect at every stage when making your first packaging purchase. Learn practical tips on time management when getting samples and understand the intricacies of lead times for production and shipping.

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The Importance of Early Planning

It is fundamental to start the packaging planning process early, especially for first-timers. This early start is crucial for ensuring sufficient time for sample creation and testing, ensuring that the final product meets expectations. Some of the associated reasons include:

  • Allowing ample time for sample creation and evaluation to assess feasibility, aesthetics, and functionality before production.
  • Enabling comprehensive testing and quality assurance to meet specifications, regulations, and customer expectations.
  • Mitigating risks of last-minute changes, delays, and quality compromises.
  • Ensuring a well-executed packaging solution, enhancing the product experience and increasing the likelihood of market success.
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Time Management for Artwork and Design

Proper time management is also crucial when it comes to the artwork and design aspect of packaging, as this process can be time-intensive. It is essential to plan ahead and allocate sufficient time for:

  • Sourcing and onboarding a skilled designer who understands your brand's vision and can translate it into compelling packaging artwork.
  • Ensuring that the artwork files are in the correct format and meet the printer's specifications to avoid delays or compatibility issues.
  • Addressing potential issues such as bleeds, missing fonts, low-resolution images, or other technical glitches that may arise during the design process.
  • Allowing for multiple rounds of revisions and feedback sessions to refine the artwork and ensure it aligns with your brand's identity and product requirements.
  • Coordinating with stakeholders, including the design team, marketing department, and production team, to streamline the review and approval process.
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Cost Efficiency in Shipping Options

Another strong element in favor of early planning is for your brand to explore and leverage cost-efficient shipping options. Last-minute needs often require the use of expensive air shipping, which can significantly increase transportation costs. In contrast, early planning allows brands to consider more economical alternatives, such as ocean freight.

Air Shipping

A mode of transportation that involves the use of aircraft to transport goods over long distances in a relatively short time frame, but at a higher cost. Air shipping lead times range from 1-3 weeks.

Ocean Freight

A more cost-effective mode of transportation that involves the use of ships or vessels to transport goods across oceans and seas, typically over longer distances and with longer transit times. Ocean shipping lead times range from 3-8 weeks.

Split Shipment

A shipping strategy where a single consignment is divided and transported using multiple modes of transportation, such as a combination of air and ocean freight. This is a recommended option if you're in need of some units of packaging first, while the remaining can be delivered via a slower shipping method.

Early planning facilitates the coordination of production timelines and shipping schedules, ensuring that the entire shipment can be transported via the more affordable ocean route. This proactive approach not only reduces shipping costs but also minimizes the carbon footprint associated with air transportation, aligning with your brand's sustainability goals.

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Overall Lead Times for Various Stages

(Only for inserts) How long to plan for structural design?

Estimated timeline: 1-2 weeks

If you need custom box inserts, this stage involves designing the physical structure of the insert. The structural design process typically takes 1 week once we have your products on hand. Please take into account the time it takes for your products to be sent to us.

How long to account for the sampling process?

Estimated timeline: 1-2 weeks (including delivery)

We strongly recommend getting samples if it's your first time ordering packaging, or if you're getting packaging for a new line of products. Physical samples of the packaging are created for review and approval, allowing you to assess fit, form, and functionality before confidently moving to full production.

What is the artwork preparation timeline?

Estimated timeline: 1 week (can be faster)

Clients must add their artwork (logos, graphics, text) onto the dieline template we provide during the sampling phase. How long this step takes depends on how quickly the production-approved artwork file is sent back to us.

How long does production take?

Estimated timeline: 2 weeks

Once the artwork is approved, we enter the full production stage, where the final products are manufactured in mass quantities.

How long does shipping take?

Estimated timeline: 1-3 weeks for air, 3-8 weeks for ocean

The mode of transportation chosen for shipping the finished packaging products will impact the overall lead time. Air freight is faster but more expensive, while ocean freight is more economical but requires a longer transit time.

Please note that these timelines are estimates and may vary depending on the complexity of the project, promptness of client communication, and other factors. We recommended consulting with our team for more specific lead time information tailored to your project's requirements.

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Overall Planning Recommendation

If your project involves creating and reviewing packaging samples before production, it is recommended to start the planning process 3-4 months in advance.

Starting 3-4 months in advance ensures sufficient time for each stage, including the creation and evaluation of samples, without the need for rushed or expensive shipping methods.

If you plan to proceed directly to production without requiring packaging samples, a 2-3 month lead time is still recommended. This timeframe allows you to take advantage of slower but more cost-efficient shipping options, such as ocean freight, without incurring additional expenses associated with rushed or expedited shipping methods.