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Small Shipping Boxes – What you Need to Know to Get the Best Price

Updated on February 12, 2010

Small shipping Boxes are everywhere; you encounter them every day.  You receive them in the mail, you look for them when you need to ship out something from eBay, some businesses ship out thousands of them every day; small shipping boxes are big business!  That’s why there are many retailers out there that are selling small corrugated boxes.  On top of all that, they have a great margin so these businesses are making great money.  So it’s important know how to get the best price on small shipping boxes.

As you may have noticed by now there are a ton of retailers on the web.  Each one has their own website set up and is trying to get your business.  First instinct is to shoot for the top search result or maybe to check out one of the ads. Doing this is good research and you are going to want have this information, so while it’s not a bad idea, there are few things you should do first.

First, you’ll want to determine the size of the shipping box you’ll need.  If you’re shipping out one or two items, I wouldn’t worry too much about the size of the box; you’re not going to save any substantial money.  However, if you’re shipping many items you’re going to want to find cheap shipping boxes as even a few pennies per box will save money; a lot of money in fact.  If you’re shipping out a bunch of similar sized items take the dimensions and multiply them by 1.5.  This will ensure that you have enough room in your shipping box and that it’s not too small.  Don’t worry about the extra space as you can fill it with the appropriate packing material, whether it’s bubble wrap, air pillows or just plain newspaper.  I say 1.5 because you want to have the extra space but you don’t want too much extra space.  In 2008, Consumer Reports did a study of how much damage a large shipping box does to the environment when you only need a small one.  It turns out that many companies ship their items in oversized boxes to save money (when you can use the same size box for many items you can get a better price per box).

Now that you’ve got your package size, you’ll want to determine the number of boxes you’ll need.  To get really cheap shipping boxes, you’re going to have to order in bulk.  Many box wholesalers will sell boxes in lots of anywhere from 25 to 500.  Obviously, the more boxes you buy the better the price, but you don’t want to have too many excess boxes, it defeats the purpose of saving money. 

Now depending on the item you’ll want to consider the type of shipping box you want.  Unfortunately, the delivery systems  aren’t too careful about packages and beat them around a bit.  If you’re item is fragile or even if you’re a little concerned about it getting damaged, you’ll want to use a corrugated shipping box.  The corrugation is basically a layer of cardboard that zig-zags back and forth and provides rigid support to the box thereby protecting its integrity.  Another consideration is whether or not you’ll want to purchase recycled shipping boxes.  The recycled boxes are made from varying percentages of recycled material and are every bit as good as the original.  This option is best if you have a genuine concern for being environmentally conscience and it makes a great marketing opportunity as more and more people are putting emphasis on green business practices.  This option may cost a few cents more but may win you more business in the long run so it may save you even more money.  If you’re going the green route, you should look into environmentally friendly packaging.  Using biodegradable corn starch peanuts or air pillows is much better than Styrofoam.  The final consideration is to look at alternative packages such as padded envelopes or mailing tubes as a substitute for small shipping boxes.  These can both generate cost savings and increase customer satisfaction.

Like I mentioned above, in order to find the best prices you’ll have to shop around a little at the retailer’s websites.  Many of the big name companies (like ULINE, USBox) deal in volume and can give you better deals; however, there are an increasing number of wholesaler’s getting set up online that will be able to be retailer’s prices.  With a little bit of research, you should be able to find where to get the best deal on small shipping packages.

Other Shipping and Packaging Resources

Clear Plastic Mailing Tubes - an excellent article that talks about the benefits of using a clear plastic mailing tube and how it can improve your marketing efforts.

Poster Mailing Tubes - this article talks about sending and storing valuable documents and posters and how poster mailing tubes are a tremendous help.


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