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When to Buy Packaging Supplies Locally vs Online

When to buy packaging supplies online versus locally

Understanding when to buy packaging supplies locally vs online can save established and upstart businesses thousands of dollars annually. Product weights, shipping charges, and availability should determine where to buy packaging supplies.

Answering a few questions prior to making a purchase can make a significant difference in the bottom line. The questions below should be used as a starting point to begin a search in finding the right supplies at the right price.

  1. What Product(s) are being bought

Knowing what products are going to be purchased is an important part of understanding where to buy supplies. Many packaging products are considered commodities and inexpensive. Heavy inexpensive items can cost more for shipping than the materials costs.

Boxes are a great example of this. Boxes are relatively inexpensive packaging products, but shipping costs are expensive due to the size and weight. They are an excellent item to buy locally if buying small to medium amounts of supplies.

Even when buying boxes in larger quantities it is smart to stay regional if possible. Purchasing as close to your location as possible can reduce costs 20% or more. Any heavy packaging products with relatively low costs should be bought locally. Examples of this include boxes, Kraft paper, butcher paper, chipboard products, etc.

Other more expensive packaging products can be heavy, but shipping costs do not dramatically affect overall costs. Products to consider shopping online for include: machinery, specialty plastic films, bottles, containers, and custom-designed products.

  1. How Much Product is needed

Knowing what amounts are being purchased can dramatically change where to buy supplies. Smaller quantities of easy-to-find products are almost always better to buy locally. Stretch wrap rolls are a great example of this. If one roll is needed, buying local if available can save time and money.

Larger order volumes can change where to look for products. Both local and online companies should be considered when buying larger volumes of products. Larger volumes of pallet quantities or more often qualify for free freight costs and make purchasing online more cost-effective.

  1. Are the products custom

Custom products can at times be difficult to find locally. Unless fortunate enough to live near a manufacturer, an online supplier will be the best option for purchase. Custom products can require many additional resources as well.

Most manufacturers do not sell directly to end-users. They use a network of distributors to sell their products. The distributors can offer a wide range of assistance when looking for custom products.

Some distributors offer design services for packaging print. Others focus on the overall package design. Experienced and specialized distributors can assist in connecting all the dots for custom products


When looking for packaging products it is always a good idea to look locally first. Heavier, inexpensive products are great to buy locally and save on shipping costs.

Shopping local for smaller quantities of products can save time and shipping costs. For larger quantities of products, it is worthwhile to check both locally and online. Larger quantities can qualify for free shipping and make sense to order online.

Custom made products are almost always easier to find online. Finding the right manufacturer or distributor locally can be difficult and exhaustive. Searching online to find the right assistance can make life much easier.

There is nothing wrong with buying packaging products online or locally as long as it benefits your company and your products. Understanding where to look when buying products can help save money and frustration in the long run.


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