Unveiling the Power of Custom Boxes: A Comprehensive Guide by In The Bag

In today's competitive marketplace, standing out from the crowd is a key component for any brand. One effective way to m

Unveiling the Power of Custom Boxes: A Comprehensive Guide by In The Bag

In today's competitive marketplace, standing out from the crowd is a key component for any brand. One effective way to make a lasting impression is through custom packaging. In this comprehensive guide presented by In The Bag, we will delve into the world of custom boxes, exploring different box types, benefits, and practical implementation. The right custom box can elevate the status of your product and brand, and have a lasting impact on your customers.

Box styles

There are many different styles of boxes that basically fall into 3 categories: 

  1. Folding cartons
  2. Rigid/Set-up boxes
  3. Corrugated boxes

Folding Cartons

Folding cartons are simply made of cardboard that is printed, cut, and then folded and glued. These cartons are shipped flat to a company who then inserts their own product for retail consumption. A folding carton can be anything from a cereal or cookie box, to boxes that house cosmetics or skincare products, or small household or gift items. 

Folding cartons are produced by printing directly onto a piece of flat (not corrugated) cardboard. The most standard options are recycled kraft, clay coated (partly recycled) white board, which is usually white or kraft on the flipside, or premium white (SBS) board. There are many style options, the most common of which are:

  • STE (Straight Tuck End) or RTE (Reverse Tuck End): Like a box of playing cards, or perfume, or tea, these boxes ship flat but pop opens and assembles easily. Just close the bottom flap, insert product, and tuck the top to close.
  • Hymes (or “Auto”) bottom with tuck-top: One step up from RTE/STE, the “Hymes” bottom is glued, so that when it pops open, it locks. This allows the packager to simply insert product, and tuck the top to close.
  • BEERS – style: 1 piece - 4 corner, 1 piece – 6 corner, or 2 piece lid and bottom. Pop open, fill, and close. No assembly required.
  • Other styles include; 1 or 2 piece Simplex (double-wall) box, Gable box (with handle), Pillow box, etc.

Why choose a folding box?

The folding box requires 2 or 3 high-speed processes: Printing, die-cutting, and if necessary, gluing. Each of these processes requires a degree of set-up and waste, but run quickly and efficiently once optimum speed is reached. In other words, it is the most cost-efficient, premium-printed packaging solution at high volumes (10,000 units or more). 

Another benefit is the ability to print a number of different designs on one sheet, so if your product comes in 3 or 4 different formats, styles, or flavours, they can all be combined efficiently without adding costly additional steps and tooling.

Rigid or Set-up Boxes

Rigid boxes are made with thicker cardboard that is wrapped seamlessly with paper for a much more luxurious look and feel.  While folding cartons are generally disposable, rigid boxes are designed to be kept, and are meant for housing products of higher value. Unlike folding cartons, printing, cutting, lamination, embossing, or foil-stamping, are rarely done on the cardboard itself, rather on the external paper which wraps around the box. These boxes generally come at a higher cost due to the use of premium materials, and slower, more meticulous techniques that generate a cleaner, more visually striking package. Rigid boxes can be customized into a variety of different styles such as:

  • 2-piece Telescoping lid: In this traditional style, the lid slides over the base of the box. 
  • 2-piece sleeve box: Whether Matchbox-style or Drawer-style, the base of this box slides out from within.
  • 3-piece shoulder/wall box: This box has a traditional base and lid, but the additional feature of inner wall allows the lid to come down and sit flush with the base for one seamless finish.  
  • 1-piece book-style box: Rigid base glued inside of a 3 panel exterior that mimics the appearance of a hard-cover book.
  • 1-piece magnetic-closure box: Conceptually similar to the book-style, this box has and extended front panel that folds over the front and seals magnetically. These boxes are the most versatile of the bunch in that the inner base can be rigid or folding for more practical shipping and storage. 
  • Other styles include variations of the above in various geometric shapes, custom dividers, custom-shaped foam, or velvety flocking that elevate brand status, and enhance unboxing experience. 

Why choose a rigid box?

Rigid boxes offer a more upscale and polished look than folding cartons. They can be customized with a variety of finishes from glossy to matte, silky soft-touch, or textured. Premium details like foil-stamping, embossing, Spot UV, built-in ribbon, and others are what turn a simple product package into a box your customer will keep, reuse, and proudly display.

In the digital age, of consumers who post their “unboxing” on social media, the right package makes your product the focal point in capturing viewer interest, and as such, draw exponential attention.

Corrugated Boxes:

Corrugated cardboard is produced by sandwiching a fluted corrugated sheet between two flat pieces of cardboard. This type of cardboard serves as a cushion between the product and external properties. Corrugated cardboard has historically served as the base material for shipping boxes. Corrugated boxes are sturdy, sustainable, easily recyclable, and the best option for protecting products during shipping. While there are many variations, the majority of boxes produced for retail packaging are RSC shippers and E-commerce Mailers.

Regular Slotted Containers (RSC) can be custom-made and printed in relatively small quantities because they can be printed and formed with minimal set-up, and require no cutting dies. This is why the RSC has been the staple for shipping cartons for more than a century. Standard materials are Brown Kraft or Oyster White, can be easily folded and sealed with tape for fast, easy packing. Custom-printed tape is sometimes used for added branding.

E-commerce Mailers. A mailer is generally a 1-piece box made of corrugated cardboard, which can be easily assembled to serve the dual purpose of shipping carton and product package. Mailers are produced from the same robust corrugated cardboard with a slightly more upscale look and form. Mailer boxes are made by taking a sheet of corrugated cardboard and running them through a die-cutting machine. The “Die” is a large block of wood furnished with blades that can best be described as a “cookie cutter” for cardboard. Creating a custom die can be costly the first time, but can be reused over and over again. The process of printing and cutting these boxes is more complicated than a RSC, which can result in a much higher unit price, particularly in small quantities. 

Why choose a corrugated box?

Corrugated boxes protect your product in shipping and storage. They can be easily printed directly on cardboard, and used in conjunction with branded tape, tissue, or stickers to elevate your package from ‘simply functional’ to ‘highly impactful’. 

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