Whether you’re shipping products to customers, storing files, or moving, your small business needs boxes. The cost of boxes and packing materials can add up, however, making them an expense that cuts into your bottom line.
This go-to guide contains our top picks for the cheapest place to buy boxes and shipping supplies. We also have some tips on finding free boxes for shipments and office use to help you save even more money.
What Type of Boxes Should I Use for Shipping?
Shipping boxes come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations. That includes everything from the standard square or rectangular corrugated cardboard box to specialized and custom-branded boxes. Here is a shortlist of the most popular.
Poly Mailers – Poly mailers aren’t exactly a “box.” They are lightweight, inexpensive plastic bags designed to ship non-fragile items, such as clothing and products already enclosed in their own packaging. Since shipping costs are determined by weight, lighter is better.
Corrugated Cardboard Boxes – All couriers accept cardboard boxes for shipments, which makes them the most popular option. Cardboard boxes are sturdy containers for most products, including fragile items. They can be found in many shapes, including square, telescopic tubes, and even triangular.
Custom and Branded Boxes – Delivering a product in a box that reflects your logo and brand identity certainly has its advantages. Customers are likely to remember the unboxing experience if you add a branded touch. You can also have custom boxes made in a specific size to match your product.
Specialized Moving Boxes – Specialized moving boxes are designed to accommodate a particular product type. For example, dishware and glasses require slotted inserts inside the box, while flat-screen TVs and mirrors need boxes that fit their unique size requirements.
Collapsible Boxes – Collapsible boxes come in handy because they eliminate the need for storage space. You often see this type of box used with laptops and other electronics.
Insulated Shipping Boxes – Insulated shipping boxes combine a cardboard box and a styrofoam or polyurethane inner container. They are perfect for shipping food, such as meal subscription kits, or medical supplies.
10 Cheapest Places to Buy Shipping Boxes
Cheap shipping boxes aren’t hard to find. It’s just a matter of doing your research for the companies where you can save the most money. If you’re looking to save a few dollars, this guide lists ten of the very best places to buy boxes and small business shipping supplies cheap. Options include online and in-store retail.
1. Amazon Shipping Supplies
Online ordering from Amazon is one of the most popular online shopping companies for several reasons: free two-day shipping for Amazon Prime members, tons of vendors to buy from, and customer reviews on every product, just to name. a few.
Amazon carries all kinds of shipping boxes and supplies, including everything from poly mailers to packaging tape to boxes. A search on the term “shipping supplies” yields over 6,000 results.
Amazon price examples include a 25-pack of 9 x 6 x 4″ white corrugated cardboard boxes for $21.99, with additional savings if the purchaser chooses the available coupon. A 15-pack of “Amazon Basics” moving boxes size 16 x 10 x 10″ is $28.66, and a set of 10 18 x 15 x 14″ “Bankers Box” file storage boxes will run you $34.99.
Uline is a wholesale company with 38,500 shipping and packing supplies to choose from covering several categories. The company ships from 12 warehouses across North America with same-day shipping if you order before 6:00 p.m. Over 99% of the time, the customer receives the order in one business day.
If you buy in bulk, Uline can be more than 50% less expensive than Amazon. For example, if you buy a pack of 25 8 x 4 8″ boxes, we pay just $0.56 per box. You can also order in volumes of 100, 250, 500, and 1,000 plus.
Locations across the country make Walmart a convenient place to purchase boxes and other shipping supplies for a low price. You can also order at Walmart.com for delivery to your door or pick up at your local store.
Prices are reasonable, too. A 25-pack of corrugated cardboard boxes 10 x 6 x 4 is $17.70 per case. A pack of 10 x 13″ 100 poly mailer bags runs $7.99. Free shipping is also available for orders over $35.
Shoppers can find a broad selection of sizes in-store or online at Lowes.com. A couple of examples: An 8 x 4.75 x 11.75″ recycled cardboard moving box sells for 98 cents per box, while a Lowe’s branded medium TV or picture box size 36 x 21 x 6.5″ is $17.98. It comes with four protective corners and a foam bag.
Target may not be the first company that comes to mind when you think of boxes and shipping supplies, but don’t be misled. They have brick-and-mortar locations across the country and offer products at affordable rates. Plus, many consumers prefer the shopping experience to that of Walmart.
As to prices, a Scotch brand 9.5 x 6 x 3.75″ moving or storage box is $1.79. A pack of Scotch brand 125 sq. ft. cushion bubble wrap is $26.99. And you can get a roll of Scotch heavy-duty shipping tape with a dispenser for $3.29.
6. eBay Shipping Supplies
Online auction and e-commerce site eBay has a shipping supply store that sells eBay branded supplies. While it provides a welcome option for eBay sellers short on shipping supplies, it may not be the best choice where the price is concerned. For instance, a set of 100 6.5 x 9.25″ padded bubble mailer envelopes will run you $31.21. Twenty-five 12 x 10 x 8″ cardboard boxes are $31.74.
To find more affordable supplies requires some search. You can take the long route, starting with “Business & Industrial” in the main menu, and work your way from there. However, typing “shipping supplies” in the search field takes you directly to the “Packaging & Shipping” section, where you can find everything you need, from poly mailers to bubble wrap to boxes and more.
Here, 200 8.5 x 12″ Kraft bubble padded shipping mailers are just $33.06. A 50-pack of 4 x 3 x 2″ corrugated delivery boxes is $28.90 (that’s less than 58 cents each). You won’t find the eBay logo on the box, but it will save money on the purchase!
You could argue that the best place to buy boxes, packaging, and shipping supplies is from a store specializing in those products. Packagingsupplies.com is just that, an e-commerce site that sells packaging supplies and shipping supplies at wholesale prices.
One unique feature is a search engine where you enter the box dimensions, and it finds options for you. A search for 10 x 10 x 10″ box, for example, returns a half-dozen products ranging in price from $18.75 to $31.50 for a set of 25. Click “shipping supplies” from the menu, and you get more than 40 categories of products —everything from shipping envelopes to packing peanuts to hazmat products. Packagingsupplies.com is ideally suited for high-volume shippers.
The office supply store Staples distinguishes itself by offering expert advice to help you accomplish your shipping and packaging goals, and customizes a program to fit your needs. You can also find a wide selection of necessary products (bubble wrap, boxes, and other shipping supplies) and get access to material handling equipment, including pallet jacks, hand trucks, and carts. Staples Rewards members get free shipping and delivery with no minimum.
As to packaging, a 20 x 14 x 14″ box costs $42.08 for a bundle of 20. Four rolls of Scotch heavy-duty packing tape is $25.99. Staples brand 12″ x 100′ bubble wrap costs $18.99.
9. The Boxery
The Boxery is another e-commerce store specializing in boxes and shipping supplies. Just to give you an idea of pricing, a 25-pack of 8 x 8 x 8″ cardboard boxes is 43 cents per box, while a 25-pack of 14 x 14 x 14″ boxes is $1.22 each. You can purchase in quantities of 25, 50, 100, 250, and 1,000 plus.
U-Haul has a wide variety of products for sale. Their boxes are branded, so they are better suited for moving and storage than shipping to customers. The company offers in-store purchases or online ordering with delivery.
Examples of products you can find include a glass pack kit for $10.95, a TV packing kit for $54.70, and large moving boxes, 18 x 18 x 24″ for $1.99 each.
Companies That Provide Free Boxes for Shipping
Even the cheapest boxes cost something, so it’s always beneficial to find free boxes for shipping when possible. FedEx, USPS, DHL, and UPS all offer free shipping supplies to their customers. Saving even $1 on a free box versus buying your own adds up when you ship hundreds of products per month.
FedEx has a range of ready-to-use, self-sealing packaging in a choice of shapes and sizes available free of charge when you give your shipments to FedEx.
The post office has lots of free shipping supplies, which you can get at your local post office or online at the USPS website. Free bulk shipping supplies are available in packs of 10 or 25 for many items. Mailing options include Priority Mail boxes, Priority Mail Express, and more.
Free DHL shipping supplies include shipping labels, envelopes, mailers, waybills, padded pouches, tube mailers, boxes, and more. Order online at DHL.com.
UPS offers free shipping supplies in the form of express envelopes, shipping forms, stickers, pouches, and even some HAZMAT supplies. You can get them at the nearest UPS store or by ordering from the UPS website.
Where can I get used boxes for free?
You can find free used shipping boxes in several ways. While you need to be discerning regarding their condition—you don’t want to ship a customer an item in a badly damaged box—the potential savings of used boxes to cut packaging supply costs is worth the time and effort. Start your search with these six options:
Nextdoor – Nextdoor.com is a private social network for your neighborhood. It allows you to connect with everyone in your area about extra boxes. Post your box needs in the “For Sale & Free” section.
Craigslist – Craigslist lets you search for moving boxes. Post a request in the “wanted” section asking for free boxes.
OfferUp – OfferUp is a free iOS and Android app that lets you connect with people who give away boxes or sell them cheaply. Study any photos of the boxes offered before buying. Otherwise, you may end up with useless boxes.
Facebook – Facebook Marketplace is a free market for items of all kinds. A quick search could be helpful for anyone who wants to find a shipping box. Facebook Community Groups can also be a great resource.
Liquor stores – These are an obvious choice for boxes, especially if you need to move or store glassware. Ask when they receive shipments of bottles, as each store will vary.
Retail Stores – Dollar Tree, Petsmart, Costco, or even local grocery stores are all excellent places to get boxes. Some stores will often let you cart off as many as you can carry. Check with the management on their shipment days to get the best selection.
Call friends and family – It’s never a bad idea to call up people you know, especially anyone who has moved recently. They will happily let you take them off their hands.
Where is the cheapest place to buy shipping boxes?
Of all the places to buy boxes and shipping supplies, Amazon may be the cheapest. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can get free 2-day shipping and delivery. Plus, Amazon has an endless selection of boxes and packaging items, enabling you to comparison shop to find the best price. Also, each item has reviews, which can help you make smarter purchase decisions.
What is the cheapest packaging material?
The cheapest packaging material is that which costs you nothing. You can use crumpled or shredded newsprint, tissue paper, or strips of cardboard. Packing peanuts are probably the cheapest packaging material you can buy. Uline offers a seven cubic foot bag for $17.00, for example.
Can I make my own box for shipping?
There are many box sizes and shapes to fit almost any item, but what happens if you don’t have one suitable for the oddly shaped item you want to send? It’s perfectly fine to make your own box for shipping. All you need are some sharp scissors, strong glue or staples, thick tape, a marker, and enough cardboard. Start by working out how big you need it to be and use the marker to draw a template. Then, cut, fold, and glue or staple it all together before adding tape to secure the edges.
Does eBay provide free shipping supplies?
eBay does not offer free boxes, but if you have an eBay store, you get a shipping coupon from $25 to $150 every quarter that you can use to buy eBay branded supplies.
What is the least expensive way to ship a package?
Delivery services, such as UPS and FedEx, offer plenty of shipping options, but shipping costs can get expensive. Depending on size and weight, USPS is the least costly way to ship a package. (Keep in mind, the post office also gives you free shipping supplies.)
USPS allows you to send lightweight envelopes and packages up to 13 ounces using its first-class mail services. Prices start at $3.80 for the lightest packages. That beats FedEx and UPS flat-rate pricing by several dollars. Your delivery will arrive in one to three business days. Priority mail prices start at $7.50 for anything mailed in the United States weighing under 70 pounds. However, you will need to turn to UPS or FedEx for large packages, such as furniture and appliances.
This article, “Cheapest Places to Buy Boxes for Your Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends