You’ve recognized the need and researched the alternatives. Now, you’re trying to work out who is the best packaging material supplier for the job. With so many competing options out there, knowing exactly what to look for in a packaging supplier can be overwhelming. You need to focus on a few key areas to give yourself a broad overview of a supplier’s capabilities. Here are the four main factors that will help you choose the best packaging material supplier for your business:

Consider what needs your packaging supplier has to cater to

People sitting an planning meeting

This is the first thing you need to do as a business, before you even start looking at what packaging material suppliers are out there. If you don’t know what role packaging is going to play in your operation, it’s the same as running before you know how to walk! Decisions about packaging products quickly snowball into wider debates on cost versus quality, so it’s important that you make decisions on the basics first.

The fact is, packaging in 2019 doesn’t have a singular purpose; businesses choose their packaging materials to fulfill many different needs. It protects your product in transit, is a valuable marketing tool, encourages brand recognition, and improves product appearance. So, before you can find the best packaging material supplier for the job, you need to consider these important questions:

What is my budget?

What packaging materials specifically am I interested in?

Does my packaging need to have a protective function?

Do I want custom-branded options, such as custom tissue paper or custom boxes?

Having solid answers to these questions is the first step towards finding the best packaging material supplier for your business.

Compare the MOQs offered by suppliers

Warehouse with boxes piled high

For small businesses, MOQS (minimum order quantities) carry a lot of weight when it comes to who is the best packaging material supplier. This is especially the case for branded packaging items such as custom tissue paper, whose MOQs can be higher than for non-branded packaging materials.

Particularly if you are just starting out as a business, you don’t want the massive up-front cost and storage issues that eventuate from placing an order far bigger than your current needs. Instead, focus on seeking out packaging material suppliers with low MOQs. It’s a smaller investment, and also carries a lot less risk in the case of custom elements. Low MOQs also give you the option to experiment with seasonal packaging designs. However, you also want to make sure that this is scalable as your business grows! Bigger orders result in a lower cost per unit. So, it’s important that you pair with a supplier who can cater to this when the time comes.

Check whether suppliers offer sustainable packaging materials

Pine forest

Even if you don’t brand yourself as a ‘sustainable’ business, the eco-friendliness of a supplier’s packaging range still holds a lot of importance. Consumers have become very conscious of wasteful product packaging, especially in eCommerce. When concerns around plastic pollution are bigger than ever, a lack of effort in this area can hurt your brand. In this climate, businesses of every size have a responsibility to keep their environmental footprint as low as possible. To help you achieve this as a business, the best packaging material supplier is one with sustainable offerings!

Cost is usually the reason presented by both businesses and suppliers as to why they don’t use sustainable packaging products. However, most consumers are happy to bear this cost if it results in greener practices. McKinsey found that packaging materials were the ‘green premium’ they were most willing to pay extra for. So, it’s well worth making the effort to scout out suppliers who do offer renewable designs!

And last, but definitely not least:

Custom service mind map on chalkboard

A great price point doesn’t necessarily make for the best packaging material supplier for your business! If they are poor with communication, you are setting yourself up for a very stressful relationship. Customer service is a vital part of any successful business relationship. You need to have confidence that you are working with a supplier who is prompt in responding to any concerns you may have, whether that be about turnaround times or design changes.

It's important to take the time to check out what communication channels potential suppliers have available. Do they have a live chat function on their site for queries about their packaging materials? Do they have a free phone line so you can call them directly? Will you always be dealing with the same person? This helps to determine how easy a supplier will be to work with.

The Wrap Up:

Finding the  best packaging material supplier can be a frustrating process, especially when you aren’t sure what you should be looking for. Focusing on these key factors will help you to narrow down what your priorities are when it comes to your packaging needs. Your methods for packaging products are also likely to shift over time, so it’s important that you look both short-term and long-term when choosing a supplier. Remember: it’s a business relationship like any other, so the right relationship will help your business to thrive.

Happy wrapping!