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Printful custom packaging
Beginner's handbook Marketing tips

Printful Custom Packaging: Why You Need It and How It Works

By on June 8th, 2021 Reading Time: 7 minutes

Before the pandemic, I enjoyed getting mail as much as the next person. Now? My morning trip to the mailbox is often the highlight of my day.

As overstated as that might sound, I think there’s something magical about receiving a package. In the age of instant gratification, the anticipation and surprise that accompany mail are hard to come by. 

First impressions count

As a business owner, you’ve definitely thought about how customers will use your product. But have you thought about the moment they receive it in the mail?

Let’s say they open up their mailbox and see a plain white package inside. That’s all good—they’ll just tear into it and get the item they’ve been eagerly awaiting.

Now, imagine they open the mailbox and are greeted by a bold, branded mailer! Instead of immediately ripping it open, they snap a pic of the packaging and post an Instagram Story. 

Inkwell threads mailer
Source: Printful customer Inkwell Threads

Now that’s a magical mail moment! Not only have you made your customer super excited, but you also get to connect with them and reach new audiences through their post.

Special delivery: Printful custom packaging

With Printful’s new custom packaging feature, you can make your mark before a customer even opens up your product. You’ll treat them to a full unboxing experience, and they’ll reward you with social media shares, repeat orders, and positive reviews. 

You can also use custom packaging as a way to make your orders more eco-friendly by picking biodegradable or reusable packaging. 

Without further ado, let’s get into how custom packaging works and ideas for where to source your packaging.

What is print-on-demand with custom packaging?

First things first. If you choose Printful print-on-demand (POD for short) with custom packaging, everything works the same as with traditional POD. You connect your online store to Printful, create products, push them to your store, and start selling.

Usually, when you get an order, we print your product and ship it out in a plain white poly mailer or cardboard box if the item needs extra protection. We call this packaging white-label because there’s no Printful branding anywhere. 

Printful white-label poly mailer

Now, you’ve got the option to take the “white” out of white-label and have orders encased in snazzy packaging that you pick out and send to us. The rest is business as usual: we print, package, and ship your products!

What custom packaging can you use with Printful? 

If you want to use custom packaging with Printful, you’ll have to order it in bulk from a supplier and send it to us.

At the moment, you can send in custom poly mailers and bubble mailers, but we’ll accept more packaging options in the future. 

Poly mailer with "hello" printed on it
Source: Unsplash

Which products can be shipped with custom packaging?

Currently, custom packaging is available for single-item orders that can be shipped in poly or bubble mailers. Products that require specific boxes to keep their quality intact during shipping can’t have custom packaging. These are:

  • Structured hats
  • Jewelry and keychains
  • Stationery and stickers
  • Wall art
  • Drinkware

What size mailers should I order and stock?

You can keep multiple sizes of mailers in stock based on the products you sell. 

If your packaging isn’t the right size for a particular product, is out of stock, or isn’t available at the location where your products are fulfilled, your orders will be sent out in our white-label packaging.

Here are our sizing recommendations:

10 × 7 in. (26 × 18 cm)
Products: baby bodysuits, beanies, bibs, bucket hats, face masks, kids t-shirts, phone cases, socks, swimwear, underwear, youth leggings, youth swimwear
14 × 10 in. (35 × 25 cm)
Products: aprons, drawstring bags, dresses, fanny packs, flip flops, kids jackets, kids long sleeve t-shirts, leggings, pillow cases, shirts, tops, shorts, tote bags, towels, youth joggers
17 × 13 in. (43 × 32 cm)
Products: blankets, hoodies, jackets, sweatshirts, kids hoodies, laptop cases, sweatpants
22 × 18 in. (55 × 45 cm)
Products: backpacks, bean bag covers
30 × 22 in. (77 × 55 cm)
Products: duffle bags, pillows

Where can custom packaged orders be sent from?

It’s smart to keep your packaging close to where your customers are based. Custom packaging can be stored at the following fulfillment centers:

  • USA—Charlotte, NC (both facilities)
  • Canada—Toronto, Ontario
  • Europe—Riga, Latvia (both facilities), Barcelona, Spain

You can store custom packaging at multiple fulfillment centers. 

Map of Printful warehouses where you can stock custom packaging

Please note that we don’t offer custom packaging at our partner facilities in Australia and Japan, as well as backup facilities.

How much does custom packaging cost?

The picking fee for each order with custom packaging is $0.50 / €0.45, plus a minimum of $25 / €22 in monthly storage fees. For more on storage fees, head to our custom packaging page.

How do you set up custom packaging on Printful?

  1. Submit your custom packaging for approval

To add custom packaging to your single-item orders, you’ll need to submit the packaging to us for approval first. In the submission, provide a photo and the dimensions of your packaging. 

  1. Sit tight for 1–4 business days while we review your submission
  2. Get your packaging approved by us
  3. Send in your custom packaging

When your packaging is approved, go to your Dashboard and submit a shipment. Then download, print, and add shipping labels to your boxes or pallets to help us identify your items and stock them correctly.

Once we receive your shipment and stock it, we’ll send you an email or a notification on your Printful Dashboard. From then on, we’ll use your custom packaging for your single-product orders if they’re fulfilled in the same facility where your packaging is in stock.  

For a more detailed tutorial on setting up custom packaging, check out this video:

Pick your packaging

Now that you know how to set up Printful custom packaging, let’s get into the exciting part: selecting your mailers.

If you’re super crafty and want to embellish your own custom packaging and send it to us, you’re welcome to. Just be sure that your mailers are durable, water-resistant, and will keep your products safe in transit. 

This option is best if you just get a small number of orders and want complete control over how your packaging looks. Otherwise, DIY packaging might turn into a full-time job!

I’ve rounded up 4 companies that can make the mailers for you, and included key info like:

  • minimum order
  • price per mailer
  • material
  • customization options
  • fulfillment and shipping

Take this as a starting point, and dig deeper into the ones that sound best to you.

Sticker Mule

Sticker Mule custom packaging, box, and tape
Source: Sticker Mule via Unsplash

Disclaimer: Printful might earn a commission from signups or purchases completed via the link below. Read more.

In addition to stickers, magnets, and other fun trinkets, Sticker Mule sells customizable poly and bubble mailers. Since poly mailers are a more popular option, I’ll break down the options and costs for those.

Minimum order

10 mailers

Price per mailer

Sticker Mule is one of the more affordable options for mailers, plus you won’t have to pay for shipping. They also offer good deals if you order larger quantities. 

Here’s one example for 10 × 13 in. mailers:

  • 50 mailers = $1.58 per mailer
  • 1,000 mailers = $0.83 per mailer

Material

Recyclable, low-density polyethylene

Customization 

Sticker Mule allows you to print on one side of the mailer. Choose your packaging size, upload a full-color image, check out, and Sticker Mule prepares a preview within a few hours. You’ll be able to submit feedback online until you’re happy with the design and then finalize your order.

Fulfillment and shipping

4-day turnaround time and free international shipping.

Arka

Arka custom packaging
Source: Arka

Arka offers sleek, high-quality poly mailers. Their stand-out feature? You can print on both sides for a wrap-around design that fully reflects your brand. 

Minimum order

100 mailers

Price per mailer

$0.57 to $1.50 per unit depending on mailer size and the amount you order. 

With Arka, you’ll also need to pay for shipping, so the overall unit price will be higher than for companies that offer free shipping.

Material

Polyethylene with recycled content

Customization 

You can choose to print on one or both sides of the bag. You upload your design, and they’ll help you tweak it before the order’s finalized. You can also request a quote for a more personalized approach, like extra design elements, custom sizing, or larger volumes. 

Fulfillment and shipping

Average production time is 4–8 weeks, and they offer paid international shipping. 

PackHelp

PackHelp Bio Mailer
Source: PackHelp

PackHelp is based in the EU and is a great choice if you want to stock custom packaging in our Riga or Barcelona facilities. They have a variety of mailer options, but the two fully customizable options are the Classic Poly Mailer and Bio Poly Mailer.

Minimum order

100 mailers

Price per mailer

Ranges from €0.50 to €1.30, depending on size and quantity. PackHelp offers free shipping on orders over €300.

Material

The Classic Poly Mailers are made of low-density polyethylene foil, while the Bio Poly Mailers are made from compostable starch-based resin. 

Customization 

PackHelp has a built-in design tool that allows you to not only upload a design and preview it on a mailer mockup, but also add extra elements like your logo, text, and clipart. You can also design and print on the back of the mailer for an extra fee. 

The Bio Poly Mailer also has a range of sustainability features like “compostable” and “solvent-based ink” that you can showcase with pre-made icons. Pretty nifty if you want to tell your customers why you chose this packaging!

Fulfillment and shipping

Production time takes 2–3 weeks, plus another 3–5 days for shipping to the EU. PackHelp does ship internationally, but you’ll have to get in touch with them for a quote rather than ordering through their website.

RePack

RePack diagram
Source: RePack

RePack offers fully reusable packaging that cuts down on the waste generated by online shopping. If your customers value sustainability, and you’re looking to reduce single-use packaging, this could be a good option for you! 

How it works: you buy mailers from RePack, send them to us, and we use them for your single-item orders. But instead of going in the trash or recycling bin, the mailer can be sent back to RePack for free by your customer (who receives return instructions) and reused again. 

Minimum order

100 reusable packages, or you can try their sample kit for $29

Price per mailer

$3.50 for their smallest size, $4.25 for the largest. You buy the mailers in sets of 100, but you can also get in touch with RePack for volume discounts. 

This option is clearly pricier than single-use mailers, but RePack is a full service which includes the onboarding process, mailer cleaning, prepaid global returns, and more. You can also include the cost of reusable packaging in your product price so you don’t lose profit.  

Material

Recycled polypropylene made from post-consumer waste

Customization

RePack’s mailers have a minimalist design in a range of colors, from plain white to bright yellow. This paired-down look means that the mailers can be reused worldwide by all companies working with RePack. 

Fulfillment and shipping

RePack’s bags are ready to order straight away and don’t require extra production time. Shipping can take up to two weeks, and they currently ship to the US, Canada, and Europe. The reusable packages can be shipped to and returned from anywhere in the world, though!

Give your customers the full package

I hope that you’re now ready and inspired to give your customers a unique unboxing experience. Whether you’re into a colorful, fully-branded approach or something understated that’s kinder to the planet, I’m sure that you’ll be able to find the perfect fit for your business.

Head over to our custom packaging page to learn more or get started. And while I wait for my latest mail delivery, leave a comment below about a package that made your day!

Hannah is a Content Marketing Specialist who loves playing with language to make even the driest ecommerce topics (like shipping) interesting. Using her degree in literary studies, she pays attention to details, be they in sentence structure or marketing trends.

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