Understanding packaging order minimums, box and bottle vendors, printing methods and what’s possible at each minimum order level for packages for your product
Step one: Give me a call.
I’ve spent SO much time researching all of this so you don’t have to. I’ve gone to tradeshows, walked miles and miles of the Vegas convention center through the packaging robots and laundry detergent bottle filler machines to find things that would work for the cannabis industry. The cannabis packaging child resistant requirements are so new, there isn’t a product for everything, so we need to get creative sometimes. Ask me for help!
Step two: just Googling like a mofo
I often like to use Google Image Search, and even Pinterest, because it’s sometimes faster to see what you’re looking for than to read about it. Use terms like “child resistant preroll packaging” and see what comes up. Or sometimes you need to use terms the packaging industry uses “CRC flexible packaging” means child resistant closure, and flexible packaging means bags and pouches. (If you don’t have a clue on what you need, then a consultation with a packaging expert might be the best use of your time. You focus on what you do best, and let me help you with the packaging stuff.)
Step three: get on the phone
The packaging industry and vendors for boxes, bottles, and other packaging tends to be very old fashioned, so often, one just needs to call them to ask if they have any child resistant packaging options that would fit your needs as a cannabis business. They don’t often do online sales. You call a salesperson, talk about what you might need, and they get you some options in one or two business days and call you back. I mean, some of them still fax sales sheets. There are some online vendors specific to the cannabis industry, but the selection is limited, and pricing tends to be very high.
Major hurdle 1: order minimums.
If the packaging vendor say “20,000 MOQ” this might not be for you. Their minimum order quantity is something they set for products – mostly because smaller than that amounts wouldn’t make sense for them financially.
The smaller the quantity, the larger the price per item usually.
Most printers have stock versions available. Sometimes they can sell you a smaller amount of the thing they have in the warehouse.
Let’s pretend we are ordering a glass bottle for a tincture.
Rule of thumb around order minimums:
Fully custom brand new shape of bottle or jar will require a massive order amount
For custom packaging created for you where it’s something brand new, like let’s say the tincture bottle is in the shape of a butterfly and has a child resistant cap. That is essentially a brand new product for the packaging people to develop.
The minimums are at least 20,000, if not 100,000. The costs for a packaging company to make the molds and r&d for creating something completely custom are hefty, so they need to be sure you’d order enough to make it worth their while.
Custom color on an existing shape thing will require tens of thousands as the order minimum
Typically these would also be in the 20,000 range. Say you want a bottle that they stock in black or white, but you want it with purple glitter instead. They have to mix that color in a big vat of the material. So again, they won’t do it if all you want is a few hundred, since the startup costs are higher – somebody’s gotta clean up the vat after it was used for purple glitter. And you know what they say about glitter…
Custom printing on an existing shape thing 500-5000 order minimum quantities
Now we’re talking. These kinds of minimums tend to be more in the few thousands. And more doable for a small business order. If the material is digital printing friendly, they CAN even do a few hundred. Why do boxes need to be printed in 5,000 or more quantities? Why is printing on glass not available for smaller quantities?
Because they’re still often done with offset printing or silkscreen type of printing if printing on glass. So for a box, they have to set up the printing press for your product, and run it. If it’s a tiny run, it’s again not worth their time to stop the machines, reset, setup your thing, run a test, stop, check the colors, and then run the machine for a minute to do a small batch.
And for printing on glass, they need to make tools with your design on them in order to do that. So the initial labor costs, and manual labor, is a lot.
Ordering blank stock bottles and slapping a label on it – order minimums 5-500
This is the playing field most of us start at. You can order a pretty stock bottle, and gorgeous labels and go to town. The order will be less expensive per piece the more pieces you order, buying packaging in bulk makes sense. But if you’re just starting out, you might not have the space to store everything or the budget to order thousands of dollars of worth of product.
To recap: ordering packaging isn’t as simple as you might think.
Ordering packaging can be frustrating if you don’t understand the lingo. And it is an expensive arena to make mistakes, those errors can be costly.
There’s a reason why packaging designers are a profession. Sourcing and ordering packaging is no joke. So if you’re feeling confused and don’t know where to start, bring in the pros, let me help you. I’ve done the mistakes and learning so you don’t have to.
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