Whether your small business operations involve delivering merchandise to clients, safeguarding important files, or relocating to a new office, boxes play an indispensable role.
However, the cost of these boxes and accompanying packing materials can steadily accumulate, often making a noticeable dent in your company’s profit margin.
As a means to counteract this expense, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide, spotlighting the most economical sources to purchase boxes and shipping supplies.
We’ve also peppered this guide with invaluable tips on how to procure free boxes for shipping and office use so as to amplify your savings even more!
What Type of Boxes Should I Use for Shipping?
The shipping box universe is quite diverse, offering a broad spectrum of shapes, sizes, and designs to cater to varying shipping requirements.
These range from your everyday square or rectangular corrugated cardboard box to specialized, custom-branded boxes that add a touch of personalization. Here’s a brief rundown of the most commonly employed varieties.
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- Poly Mailers – While not technically a “box,” poly mailers play a critical role in the shipping industry. These lightweight, cost-effective plastic bags are tailored to transport non-fragile items like apparel or products that are already securely packaged. In a business where shipping costs are predominantly dictated by weight, these featherlight alternatives prove quite advantageous.
- Corrugated Cardboard Boxes – Accepted by all courier services, corrugated cardboard boxes are a mainstay in shipping due to their versatility. These robust containers are an ideal solution for most products, including those susceptible to damage. Available in an assortment of shapes like square, telescopic tubes, and even triangular, you can find a cardboard box to fit any item.
- Custom and Branded Boxes – There’s nothing quite like delivering your product in a box that proudly showcases your logo and brand identity. This practice enhances the consumer’s unboxing experience and leaves a memorable imprint. Whether it’s a box custom-tailored to your product’s dimensions or one that’s decked out with your branding, the personal touch can go a long way.
- Specialized Moving Boxes – These boxes are engineered with a specific product type in mind, providing optimum protection. For instance, a box designed for dishware and glasses may incorporate slotted inserts for added safety, while boxes for flat-screen TVs and mirrors are made to fit their distinctive size requirements.
- Collapsible Boxes –Collapsible boxes are a space-saving solution, doing away with the need for surplus storage. Commonly used for electronics like laptops, these boxes can be conveniently flattened when not in use and assembled when needed.
- Insulated Shipping Boxes –These boxes are essentially a combination of a standard cardboard box and an inner container made of styrofoam or polyurethane. They are ideal for shipping items that require temperature control, such as food items for meal subscription kits or sensitive medical supplies.
10 Cheapest Places to Buy Shipping Boxes
Affordable shipping boxes are not as elusive as one might think. It’s about dedicating some time to conduct your research and identify companies that offer the most value for your money.
If you’re looking to save a few dollars, this guide lists ten of the very best places to buy boxes and small business shipping supplies cheap. Options include online and in-store retail.
|Offers a vast selection of shipping supplies, available for Prime members.
|25-pack of 9 x 6 x 4" white boxes for $21.99.
|Wholesale company offering same-day shipping with orders before 6:00 p.m.
|25-pack of 8 x 4 8" boxes for $0.56 per box when bought in bulk.
|Offers in-store and online purchases with free shipping for orders over $35.
|25-pack of 10 x 6 x 4 cardboard boxes for $17.70.
|Wide selection of box sizes in-store or online.
|8 x 4.75 x 11.75" box for 98 cents.
|Brick-and-mortar locations with affordable rates.
|Scotch brand 9.5 x 6 x 3.75" box for $1.79.
|E-commerce site with a store for eBay branded supplies.
|200 8.5 x 12" bubble padded mailers for $33.06.
|Specializes in selling shipping supplies at wholesale prices.
|10 x 10 x 10" boxes range from $18.75 to $31.50 for a set of 25.
|Offers expert advice and customizes a program to fit shipping needs.
|20 x 14 x 14" box costs $42.08 for a bundle of 20.
|Specializes in boxes and shipping supplies.
|25-pack of 8 x 8 x 8" cardboard boxes for $0.43 per box.
|Wide variety of products for sale, suited for moving and storage.
|Large moving box, 18 x 18 x 24" for $1.99 each.
1. Amazon Shipping Supplies
Online ordering from Amazon is one of the most popular online shopping companies for several reasons: free two-day shipping for Amazon Prime members, tons of vendors to buy from, and customer reviews on every product, just to name. a few.
Amazon carries all kinds of shipping boxes and supplies, including everything from poly mailers to packaging tape to boxes. A search on the term “shipping supplies” yields over 6,000 results.
Amazon price examples include a 25-pack of 9 x 6 x 4″ white corrugated cardboard boxes for $21.99, with additional savings if the purchaser chooses the available coupon.
A 15-pack of “Amazon Basics” moving boxes size 16 x 10 x 10″ is $28.66, and a set of 10 18 x 15 x 14″ “Bankers Box” file storage boxes will run you $34.99.
Uline is a wholesale company with 38,500 shipping and packing supplies to choose from covering several categories.
The company ships from 12 warehouses across North America with same-day shipping if you order before 6:00 p.m. Over 99% of the time, the customer receives the order in one business day.
If you buy in bulk, Uline can be more than 50% less expensive than Amazon. For example, if you buy a pack of 25 8 x 4 8″ boxes, we pay just $0.56 per box. You can also order in volumes of 100, 250, 500, and 1,000 plus.
Locations across the country make Walmart a convenient place to purchase boxes and other shipping supplies for a low price.
You can also order at Walmart.com for delivery to your door or pick up at your local store.
Prices are reasonable, too. A 25-pack of corrugated cardboard boxes 10 x 6 x 4 is $17.70 per case. A pack of 10 x 13″ 100 poly mailer bags runs $7.99. Free shipping is also available for orders over $35.
Shoppers can find a broad selection of sizes in-store or online at Lowes.com. A couple of examples: An 8 x 4.75 x 11.75″ recycled cardboard moving box sells for 98 cents per box, while a Lowe’s branded medium TV or picture box size 36 x 21 x 6.5″ is $17.98. It comes with four protective corners and a foam bag.
Target may not be the first company that comes to mind when you think of boxes and shipping supplies, but don’t be misled.
They have brick-and-mortar locations across the country and offer products at affordable rates. Plus, many consumers prefer the shopping experience to that of Walmart.
As to prices, a Scotch brand 9.5 x 6 x 3.75″ moving or storage box is $1.79. A pack of Scotch brand 125 sq. ft. cushion bubble wrap is $26.99. And you can get a roll of Scotch heavy-duty shipping tape with a dispenser for $3.29.
6. eBay Shipping Supplies
Online auction and e-commerce site eBay has a shipping supply store that sells eBay branded supplies. While it provides a welcome option for eBay sellers short on shipping supplies, it may not be the best choice where the price is concerned.
For instance, a set of 100 6.5 x 9.25″ padded bubble mailer envelopes will run you $31.21. Twenty-five 12 x 10 x 8″ cardboard boxes are $31.74.
To find more affordable supplies requires some search. You can take the long route, starting with “Business & Industrial” in the main menu, and work your way from there.
However, typing “shipping supplies” in the search field takes you directly to the “Packaging & Shipping” section, where you can find everything you need, from poly mailers to bubble wrap to boxes and more.
Here, 200 8.5 x 12″ Kraft bubble padded shipping mailers are just $33.06. A 50-pack of 4 x 3 x 2″ corrugated delivery boxes is $28.90 (that’s less than 58 cents each). You won’t find the eBay logo on the box, but it will save money on the purchase!
You could argue that the best place to buy boxes, packaging, and shipping supplies is from a store specializing in those products. Packagingsupplies.com is just that, an e-commerce site that sells packaging supplies and shipping supplies at wholesale prices.
One unique feature is a search engine where you enter the box dimensions, and it finds options for you. A search for 10 x 10 x 10″ box, for example, returns a half-dozen products ranging in price from $18.75 to $31.50 for a set of 25.
Click “shipping supplies” from the menu, and you get more than 40 categories of products —everything from shipping envelopes to packing peanuts to hazmat products. Packagingsupplies.com is ideally suited for high-volume shippers.
The office supply store Staples distinguishes itself by offering expert advice to help you accomplish your shipping and packaging goals, and customizes a program to fit your needs.
You can also find a wide selection of necessary products (bubble wrap, boxes, and other shipping supplies) and get access to material handling equipment, including pallet jacks, hand trucks, and carts. Staples Rewards members get free shipping and delivery with no minimum.
As to packaging, a 20 x 14 x 14″ box costs $42.08 for a bundle of 20. Four rolls of Scotch heavy-duty packing tape is $25.99. Staples brand 12″ x 100′ bubble wrap costs $18.99.
9. The Boxery
The Boxery is another e-commerce store specializing in boxes and shipping supplies. Just to give you an idea of pricing, a 25-pack of 8 x 8 x 8″ cardboard boxes is 43 cents per box, while a 25-pack of 14 x 14 x 14″ boxes is $1.22 each. You can purchase in quantities of 25, 50, 100, 250, and 1,000 plus.
U-Haul has a wide variety of products for sale. Their boxes are branded, so they are better suited for moving and storage than shipping to customers. The company offers in-store purchases or online ordering with delivery.
Examples of products you can find include a glass pack kit for $10.95, a TV packing kit for $54.70, and large moving boxes, 18 x 18 x 24″ for $1.99 each.
Companies That Provide Free Boxes for Shipping
Even when purchased at the most economical rates, boxes do come with a cost, so finding free shipping boxes is always a win. Major delivery service providers such as FedEx, USPS, DHL, and UPS offer free shipping supplies to their customers.
The savings accrued from such offerings can be substantial, especially when you consider the scale of shipping hundreds of products every month.
FedEx provides a variety of ready-to-use, self-sealing packaging, available in multiple shapes and sizes, completely free of charge. This offer stands when you entrust your shipments to FedEx, effectively reducing the overall cost of your delivery process.
USPS provides a wide array of free shipping supplies, easily accessible at your local post office or through the USPS website. They offer free bulk shipping supplies in sets of 10 or 25 for several items.
Their offerings include various mailing options such as Priority Mail boxes, Priority Mail Express, and more.
DHL offers a suite of free shipping supplies that include shipping labels, envelopes, mailers, waybills, padded pouches, tube mailers, boxes, and more. These supplies can be ordered directly from their website at DHL.com.
UPS provides free shipping supplies including express envelopes, shipping forms, stickers, pouches, and even some HAZMAT supplies. You can easily acquire these at the nearest UPS store or by placing an order from the UPS website.
Environmental Considerations in Packaging
In today’s eco-conscious market, incorporating environmental considerations into packaging choices is not just a moral obligation but also a business strategy that resonates with a growing segment of consumers. Small businesses have the unique opportunity to lead the way in sustainable practices, starting with their packaging.
One of the key elements of environmentally friendly packaging is the use of sustainable materials. Recycled cardboard and biodegradable packing peanuts are excellent examples. These materials break down more easily in the environment, reducing long-term waste. Additionally, using recycled materials can often be cost-effective.
Reducing Packaging Waste
Another aspect is the minimization of waste. This involves evaluating the necessity of each component of your packaging. Can a smaller box be used? Are there eco-friendly alternatives to bubble wrap? Businesses can adopt minimalistic packaging designs that use fewer materials and are more compact, thereby also reducing shipping costs.
Educating your customers about the recyclability and compostability of your packaging can be an added value. Including instructions on how to recycle or dispose of packaging materials responsibly can enhance your brand’s reputation as an environmentally conscious entity.
Local Sourcing Advantages
Local sourcing of packaging materials offers several benefits, both environmentally and economically.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Sourcing boxes and packaging materials from local suppliers drastically cuts down on the transportation required, thereby reducing the carbon footprint associated with long-distance shipping.
Supporting Local Economy
Purchasing locally not only helps reduce environmental impact but also supports the local economy. It fosters community growth and can build valuable, mutually beneficial relationships between your business and local suppliers.
Faster Procurement and Flexibility
Local sourcing often means faster procurement times and greater flexibility in supply chain management. In case of last-minute needs or adjustments in order requirements, local suppliers can often respond more quickly than distant ones.
E-commerce Specific Packaging Tips
For e-commerce businesses, packaging plays a crucial role not only in product protection but also in customer experience and brand perception.
One unique aspect of e-commerce is the frequency of returns. Designing packaging that is easy to open and reseal can make the return process more convenient for customers, enhancing their overall experience with your brand.
Lightweight and Durable Options
Reducing shipping costs is a major concern for e-commerce businesses. Using lightweight yet durable packaging materials can help keep these costs down. Materials such as corrugated bubble wrap or air pillows offer protection without adding much weight.
Personalization and Branding
E-commerce businesses have a unique opportunity to use their packaging as a branding tool. Customized packaging that reflects your brand’s personality and values can create a memorable unboxing experience, encouraging customer loyalty and social media sharing.
Optimizing the size of your packaging is another important consideration. Custom-sized boxes mean less need for additional packing materials and can lower shipping costs. Automated box-sizing technology can be a worthwhile investment for businesses with a high volume of shipments.
Where can I get used boxes for free?
Several sources offer free used shipping boxes, albeit with the caveat that you need to be discerning regarding their condition – you certainly wouldn’t want to dispatch a product in a severely damaged box.
Nevertheless, the potential cost savings that used boxes present make them a worthy consideration. Here are six options to start your search:
- Nextdoor – Nextdoor.com is an exclusive social networking platform for your neighborhood. It serves as a forum to engage with your neighbors regarding your need for extra boxes. Simply post your requirements in the “For Sale & Free” section.
- Craigslist – Craigslist allows you to search for moving boxes. Just put up a request in the “wanted” section asking for free boxes.
- OfferUp – OfferUp is a free mobile app on iOS and Android that enables connections with people giving away boxes or selling them at a minimal price. It’s crucial to closely inspect any accompanying photos of the boxes on offer to avoid ending up with unusable boxes.
- Facebook – The Facebook Marketplace is a free trading platform for items of all kinds. A simple search here could yield fruitful results for anyone in need of a shipping box. Also, Facebook Community Groups can serve as an excellent resource.
- Liquor stores – Liquor stores are a great source for boxes, especially for the purpose of moving or storing glassware. Check with them about their shipment schedules, as these can vary by store.
- Retail Stores – Stores like Dollar Tree, Petsmart, Costco, and even your local grocery stores often have boxes they’re willing to give away. Inquire about their shipment schedules to ensure the best selection.
- Call friends and family – It’s always worth reaching out to your social circle, particularly those who’ve recently moved. They’ll likely be more than happy to help you by offloading their used boxes.
Where is the cheapest place to buy shipping boxes?
Amongst the various sources to purchase boxes and shipping supplies, Amazon could arguably be the most cost-effective. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you get the additional perk of free 2-day shipping and delivery, adding to the savings.
The platform’s vast catalogue of boxes and packaging items ensures that you can compare multiple options in terms of size, price, and durability to find the one that suits your needs best.
Also, customer reviews on each item can serve as a guiding light, helping you make more informed, value-for-money purchase decisions, thereby maximizing your savings.
What is the cheapest packaging material?
The most economical packaging material is one that costs you nothing. Repurposing available materials such as crumpled or shredded newsprint, tissue paper, or strips of cardboard can serve as effective, cost-free packing materials.
If purchasing is the only option, packing peanuts tend to be one of the most budget-friendly choices. For instance, Uline offers a substantial seven cubic foot bag for just $17.00.
It’s worth noting that the packaging material you choose should strike a balance between cost-efficiency and the ability to adequately protect your items during transit.
Can I make my own box for shipping?
When you have an item with unique dimensions and can’t find a commercially available box that fits, making your own box for shipping can be a smart solution.
This DIY approach requires a few basic supplies: sharp scissors, robust glue or staples, sturdy tape, a marker, and a piece of cardboard large enough for your needs. Start by measuring the item you need to ship and draw a template on the cardboard.
Proceed to cut, fold, and glue or staple it into shape, and then reinforce the edges with tape. This method can save you money, while also allowing you to create a box perfectly suited to your item.
Here’s a quick guide:
Does eBay provide free shipping supplies?
While eBay doesn’t directly provide free boxes, they offer a significant benefit to their store owners. If you run an eBay store, you receive a shipping coupon each quarter.
This coupon, which can range from $25 to $150, can be used to buy eBay branded shipping supplies. This perk essentially translates into a discount on your shipping supplies, helping to reduce your operational costs.
What is the least expensive way to ship a package?
With multiple delivery services like UPS and FedEx offering various shipping options, it can be challenging to find the most cost-effective method.
Factoring in size and weight, USPS often turns out to be the least costly way to ship a package. Not to forget, the post office also supplies free shipping materials, providing further cost savings.
USPS’s first-class mail services are a budget-friendly choice for shipping lightweight envelopes and packages up to 13 ounces. Prices commence at a mere $3.80 for the lightest packages. This pricing significantly undercuts FedEx and UPS’s flat-rate pricing, making USPS an attractive option for small shipments.
Delivery times are typically between one to three business days. For domestic shipments weighing under 70 pounds, Priority Mail begins at $7.50. However, for larger packages such as furniture and appliances, UPS or FedEx would be the preferred choice.
Conclusion: Navigating the World of Shipping Boxes and Supplies
Cost-Effective Procurement: A Vital Business Strategy Shipping boxes and supplies, seemingly mundane, are crucial for business operations like merchandise delivery, document safety, and office relocations. Their collective cost, however, can impact a company’s profit margins, underscoring the need for strategies that balance quality packaging with cost savings.
Exploring Types and Uses of Shipping Boxes
- Diverse Options: From poly mailers for non-fragile items to corrugated cardboard boxes for a variety of products.
- Customization: Branded boxes for a unique unboxing experience.
- Specialized Designs: Including slotted inserts and tailored dimensions for delicate items.
- Innovative Solutions: Collapsible and insulated boxes for specific needs.
Top Cost-Effective Places to Purchase We’ve identified ten sources offering value for money:
- Online Retailers: Amazon’s vast selection and Prime benefits.
- Wholesale Providers: Uline’s bulk purchase discounts.
- Retail Giants: Walmart, Lowe’s, and Target for physical and online purchases.
- Specialized Suppliers: The Boxery, Packagingsupplies.com, and Staples for specific needs and expert advice.
- Moving and Storage Solutions: U-Haul and eBay Shipping Supplies.
Accessing Free Shipping Boxes Methods to obtain free boxes can lead to significant cost savings:
- Platforms: Nextdoor, Craigslist, OfferUp, and Facebook Groups.
- Local Stores: Liquor and retail stores with surplus boxes.
- Networks: Friends and family.
- Delivery Service Providers: FedEx, USPS, DHL, and UPS offer free supplies.
Packaging Materials: Cost-Effective and DIY Options
- Repurposing Materials: Newsprint, tissue paper, or cardboard strips.
- Purchased Materials: Packing peanuts from suppliers like Uline.
- Balance: Combining cost-efficiency with protection.
DIY Shipping Boxes: An Innovative Approach Craft custom boxes using simple tools and cardboard to fit unique product dimensions, offering protection and cost savings.
eBay’s Shipping Coupon for Store Owners eBay offers a quarterly coupon ranging from $25 to $150 for eBay store owners, aiding in the purchase of branded shipping supplies and reducing costs for e-commerce businesses.
In this guide, we’ve navigated through the varied landscape of shipping boxes and supplies, providing insights and practical solutions for small businesses to manage their shipping needs effectively and efficiently.