Stock Packaging vs. Custom Packaging: What’s The Difference?


You’ve created an amazing product. Now it’s time to get it into the hands of eager customers. 

You’ve made countless decisions already, but now is the moment of truth. It’s time to decide on something that could make or break your customer’s first impression about your products.

Should you choose stock packaging or custom packaging

It’s a difficult decision to make. Especially when you consider that:

  • In a Dotcom Distribution study, over 60% of those surveyed said that gift-like packaging gets them excited about what they ordered.
  • 40% of these online shoppers said they would be more likely to purchase from a retailer again if the retailer used premium packaging.

By understanding the differences and the pros and cons of stock and custom packaging, you’ll be able to confidently make this decision and give your product the best possible impression on your customers. 

Here’s what you need to know before you decide on either stock packaging vs custom packaging

What is Stock Packaging?

Stock packaging is pre-made, generic packaging that has little to no customization to its size, color, shape or finishing. Stock packaging can be produced inexpensively in bulk quantities, although it is limited to standardized box sizes, colors and styles that do not reflect a brand’s unique messaging or identity.

what is stock packaging

Stock packaging is readily available packaging that’s easy to access and use right away. It’s often the default choice from shipping warehouses. Stock packaging, as its name implies, comes “as is” with little to no customization available. Since it’s not designed specific to your needs, it will have a basic and generic look and feel to it. 

You’d want to use stock packaging if you urgently need to get your product into consumers’ hands and you’re not concerned about the impression your packaging will have on your customers.

Stock packaging is fast, freely available and comes in different sizes and shapes (all of which are very broad and not specifically tailored to your product). It’s also economical, so if you’re looking for ways to save money, stock packaging just might be your solution.

What is Custom Packaging?

Custom packaging is packaging that is uniquely tailored from scratch around a company’s specific needs, instead of using a standard or pre-made box or package that a product might fit inside. The custom packaging process includes modifying a package’s shape, size, style, colors, material, varnish and other specifications. 

when to use custom packaging over stock packaging

Custom packaging is essentially everything that isn’t stock packaging.

Imagine that your product has a unique size or shape. You may want retail packaging that’s specifically designed to highlight the product’s shape and house the product snuggly and securely. Custom packaging can help you do just that.

In fact, if all you want is a plain white box, although it sounds broad and generic, you’d be surprised to learn how few suppliers of stock packaging actually have the exact box dimensions you need.

Custom packaging is also available in a wide range of shapes and sizes and you can customize nearly every facet of it – and not just in terms of the design, but also added printed effects that make your brand and product truly stand out and leave a lasting impression.

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Even if you don’t want all the “bells and whistles” that custom packaging can offer – customizations like matte or gloss lamination, foil stamping, embossing or debossing or spot UV  – it may still be a good idea to opt for custom packaging.

Just search for “unboxing” on YouTube and you’ll see how much people obsess over beautiful custom packaging. In a recent Dotcom Distribution study, 50% said gift-like or branded packaging makes them more likely to recommend a brand to others.

Suffice it to say, custom packaging is an easy way to spike interest in your products and build excitement around your brand.  

Stock Packaging vs. Custom Packaging: When To Use Each One

stock packaging vs custom packaging pros cons each

With all these pros and cons for stock packaging vs. custom packaging, you may find it difficult to truly narrow down when you’d want to use each type of packaging.

To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of instances where one option is likely better than the other. 

You should use stock packaging when: 

  • You want to test out different marketing options and don’t want the expense and time of custom printing until you’re ready for it.
  • You’re a startup on a tight budget and are looking for an economical way to conduct market tests or do other promotions.
  • You’re faced with production shortages and need to get the available product out the door ASAP. 
  • You’re preparing trade show samples to be given out to attendees.

As you can see, the name of the game with stock packaging is that it’s quick, cheap, easy to obtain and almost certainly available. 

You should use custom packaging when: 

  • You have a luxury product and you want to create a sophisticated look.
  • You want to take full advantage of custom box design or shape options for your product.
  • You want users to unbox your product on social media and share their reactions
  • You need or want packaging that’s unique and beyond the ordinary and you’re prepared to pay more for nearly limitless customization options.
  • You have a large volume of printed packaging needed and you want every facet of your packaging production to be tailored to your specific needs. 
  • You have a subscription box service or an ecommerce type of service and you want to highlight your product in a unique way.

Stock packaging may be cheap, fast and easy, but you lose a lot of things you may not have even considered when you choose to go with out-of-the-box packaging.

With custom packaging, you open up a whole world of design and personalization benefits. There are flexible printing techniques and tools that you can utilize to deliver an impressive customer experience. Every angle of the package, and even the material itself can be printed, embossed, highlighted, glossed and so much more in order to make it stand out from the competition. 

The Bottom Line on Stock Packaging vs. Custom Packaging

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As you can see, the “debate” on stock packaging vs. custom packaging is really not much of a debate at all. When you consider the stark differences between what stock packaging brings to the table, and what you can have with custom packaging – there really are times when one is a better option than the other. 

When it comes to choosing custom packaging, it’s vitally important to do it right. At Refine Packaging, we have years of experience creating custom packaging for all types of products, sizes and configurations.

The world of custom packaging can be confusing and overwhelming for a first time product designer, and even if it isn’t your first product design rodeo, it’s still nice to have a knowledgeable team of experts on your side to help guide you and provide advice.

Whether you already have an idea in mind or you’d like suggestions, our team of artists is trained in a variety of styles and mediums, and can maneuver easily across different graphic styles to create a look that accurately captures your idea and your product in one complete design.

The team at Refine Packaging is eager to help you take the next step with your custom packaging and walk you through the process so that you can have packaging that perfectly exemplifies and embodies the best features of your product and your brand.

Contact us today for a free, no obligation quote on your custom packaging needs and we’ll work with you to create a look and a package that brings together the very best of your brand personality, social appeal, and quality product design to create a look that is unmistakably your own. 

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