Wholesale Packaging: A Guide to the B2B Packaging Industry

Nick Mirev
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    Packaging is used for almost all products sold in retail and eCommerce stores. That’s why virtually all businesses work directly or indirectly with the packaging industry. It’s no surprise that sales of packaging supplies are often B2B and rarely D2C. In this article, we’ll share more about the wholesale packaging industry, the trends in the field, and some tips for wholesale packaging suppliers. This post is part of our packaging-related series. Make sure to also check our articles on packaging tips and how to ship a package.

    Key takeaway: B2B sales are the main drivers of the packaging industry. Nevertheless, end users might still purchase packaging supplies and other types of stationery. The packaging industry is among the biggest markets in the world.
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    The Retail and Wholesale Packaging Market

    Separate research groups value the global packaging industry differently. One thing is for sure, the global packaging market size is more than 1 trillion USD. It’s expected to continue growing in the upcoming years. The main drivers of growth are developing markets such as Africa and Southeast Asia. Manufacturing industries in these countries will require more and more packaging for the goods they produce.

    Sustainability is another factor that has helped the retail and wholesale packaging industry grow. More businesses focus on recyclable packaging and eco-friendly packaging solutions as they strive to reduce their ecological footprint.

    There are a lot of innovations in the packaging industry as well. Internet of packaging (sometimes called intelligent packaging) is a good example. It refers to making packaging materials like boxes suitable to be read by warehouse scanning technology like RFID or QR. This makes it possible to automate processes such as registration and tracking. It also streamlines the warehousing and packaging process.

    Contract packaging is one of the trends in the wholesale packaging industry. It includes outsourcing the whole packaging process to a third party. That way businesses can focus on manufacturing the products while the packaging is handled by another company. Although contract packaging increases the cost of goods sold, it doesn’t require large investments in packaging machinery and equipment. Some businesses partner with 3PL companies that also offer contract packaging services. This means the packaging, shipping, and handling are fully outsourced.

    Food packaging holds a major share in the industry. That’s why most manufacturers aim their research and development efforts at solutions related to food packaging. 

    Tips for Wholesale Packaging Distributors

    If you run a packaging distribution business, the following tips might help you grow your enterprise.

    1. Invest in automation. Businesses are looking for ways to reduce labor costs. One of the ways to do so is through automation. Software solutions like BlueCart help wholesalers streamline various processes, improve efficiency, and boost their relationships with their customers. If you delay investments in automation, you will fall behind the competition. Other important wholesale business software include wholesale inventory management solutions, wholesale ordering software, and ERP for wholesalers.
    2. Offer flexibility. The online revolution has led to the creation of countless small online stores. These businesses are slowly replace brick-and-mortar retailers. They need suppliers of eCommerce packaging solutions. However, they often don’t have high turnovers and require small amounts of packaging supplies. You can offer lower minimum order quantities(MOQ) to businesses in their first year. This will likely turn them into long-term partners.
    3. Scale and expand. Wholesale packaging distributors can expand their business to include other services such as contract packaging or logistics services. Although suppliers usually act as intermediaries between manufacturers and clients, they can offer customizations and other services for businesses that need sustainable packaging solutions.
    4. Innovate and adapt. The markets are constantly changing. That’s why distributors of packaging materials and supplies need to adapt to the demand. Trends such as active packaging aimed at prolonging the shelf life of food products are here to stay. Thus, make sure to regularly gather information and feedback from your customers.
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    Pros and Cons of Buying Wholesale Packaging

    Disadvantages of Buying Wholesale Packaging

    Whether you want to purchase wholesale food packaging or branded eCommerce packaging for your online store, the large upfront costs can be a challenge for small businesses. Furthermore, packaging is often bulky and can take up a lot of storage space. That means it's recommended to work with wholesale packaging distributors once your business has enough turnover.

    Benefits of Buying Wholesale Packaging

    1. Lower price. Naturally, when you buy wholesale, the price per unit is lower compared to purchasing small quantities. This is the main reason why companies will partner with wholesalers. 
    2. Convenience. If your business sells a wide range of products of different sizes, it might be much easier to work with suppliers that can offer a variety of packaging solutions.
    3. Automation. Distributors know the importance of streamlining processes. That’s why they can provide their customers with automation solutions that reduce operational work.
    4. Variety of products and customization. Custom packaging design is becoming increasingly important. That’s something that manufacturers and wholesalers can offer. Furthermore, these suppliers also have a variety of options to choose from. Whether you need sustainable eCommerce packaging or takeaway food containers, distributors can deliver them.
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    Frequently Asked Questions about Wholesale Packaging

    Although packaging is something we see and deal with on a daily basis, you might still have questions regarding the B2B packaging industry. Below we have answered some of the commonly asked questions about retail and wholesale packaging.

    Can You Purchase Custom Packaging Wholesale?

    Yes. Various wholesalers and manufacturers offer wholesale packaging made with custom designs. As can be expected, the price of these custom-designed options can be higher compared to regular packaging options.

    Nowadays, the packaging of the product is an important part of the overall experience. Unboxing is a satisfying moment for every consumer. That’s why the easiest way to increase the value of the products you sell is to invest in custom and improved packaging. Even though that increases the packaging costs, it’s important for marketing and can increase sales.

    How to Become a Packaging Wholesaler?

    Becoming a wholesale packaging supplier can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. After registering your company and getting your wholesale license, one of the first major tasks is to establish partnerships with manufacturers of packaging supplies. In order to find customers, you first need to have an extensive catalog of packaging solutions. You can check out our full guide on how to become a wholesaler.

    What Types of Packaging Supplies Are Sold Wholesale?

    Suppliers offer a wide range of packaging materials. All solutions needed by businesses can be found in the catalogs of wholesale packaging distributors. Here are the most popular categories.

    • Boxes. They come in various sizes and are usually made of three-layered cardboard. Mono carton boxes are also a popular choice for companies that are looking for a less durable but cheaper alternative to cardboard. Food service businesses also purchase wholesale plastic containers and other boxes that can be used to store and transport food.
    • Paper. Paper is one of the most widely used materials in the packaging industry. As companies switch from polyethylene and other plastics to biodegradable alternatives, paper has increased in popularity. Paper can be used to package various products, including food and beverages. It’s also used as a void fill in packaging.
    • Bags. Plastic and laminated bags are among the most commonly purchased wholesale packaging solutions. Their popularity has declined in recent years as they are among the main polluters.
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