Sustainable Perspective

07 Apr 2016 Crate Joy’s “Subscription School” Interview with Salazar Packaging

great looking shippable boxesFrom the inception of our company in 2007, we have strived to be a leading resource to anyone interested in launching or improving a subscription box or other e-commerce platform, by providing the best packaging products and advice. So it is very natural that we would work with great companies like Cratejoy who have many of the same goals and serve the same market.

Recently I was asked to answer a few questions by an old friend Jesse Richardson, who runs Cratejoy’s highly acclaimed “Subscription School” program. Jesse and I first crossed paths many years ago when he was a co-founder and principal of Conscious Box, one of the pioneers and first great success stores in the subscription box space. With our combined experience, what resulted was a pretty in depth Q and A session, covering a lot of details that should prove valuable to anyone interested in packaging for e-commerce and specifically, subscription programs.

Check out this interview at:

We are confident you will find it worth reading and if you have any follow up questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700. You may also find the blog posts below helpful.

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09 Jul 2015 Mailer Envelope Options for Reducing Cost

Every form of mailer envelope plain or printedAs we often like to say, sometimes the best box for shipping a product is not a box at all. In some cases a mailer envelope will satisfy the need, at minimal cost per container, for shipping and for processing.

We offer a variety of stock (unprinted) and custom printed mailer envelope options including:

Plastic Mailer Envelope Options – still a favorite for some customers because of their light shipping weight and moisture resistance.

Unpadded – very popular for clothing and other soft goods. We have two different grades available and can be seen at this link. The minimum for custom printing is 25,000 envelopes.

Padded or “bubble lined” – ideal when the profile is low and a little protection is needed. Available (unprinted) stock sizes can be seen here and custom printing has a minimum of 25,000 envelopes.

Paper Mailer Envelope Options – the clear choice for most eco minded shippers and consumers.

Unpadded – available in white or Kraft, unprinted stock sizes and can also be custom printed in a VERY low, one case minimum. The low cost, low minimum branding option has quickly become a favorite for shipping tee shirts and other apparel.

Padded – Eight different unprinted sizes in stock but no longer available custom printed. Even though it is considered a green product (100% paper), the weight can make it costly to ship.

Rigid mailers – the perfect solution for mailing documents and other very low profile products. We have eight unprinted sizes in stock and the minimum for custom printing is 25,000 envelopes.

Paper/Poly Mailer Envelopes – these are not a stock item and not recyclable because the exterior is paper and the interior is plastic bubble, yet they are lightweight and preferred by people who want or need a paper exterior but also need some cushioning. These are available ONLY in custom printing with a minimum of 25,000.

Which mailer envelope is best for you?

We will be glad to review your application and help you determine that. The answer usually depends on what you are shipping, how you are shipping it and the order quantity. Some low cost solutions are only available in larger quantities, and of course, custom printing and branding can also be an important factor.

Please call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us at Globe Guard for unprinted stock products and Salazar for custom printed applications. Someone from our customer support team can help you decide which product is best for your specific needs.

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11 Jun 2015 Cost Estimates for Custom Printed E-commerce and Subscription Boxes

great looking shippable boxesWe receive a lot of inquiries and most of them are looking for a “ballpark” price for the custom printed mailer box they have in mind. Many callers are in the process of creating their business plan and/or price structure and understandably, want to know what their packaging is going to cost. Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions on this topic:

Can you send me your printed price list?

This is custom work; no two designs and customers are identical so there is no corresponding price list. Life and business would be easier if it were possible, but the info a price list would contain would likely be confusing and possibly inaccurate so we prefer to answer each inquiry individually.

Why don’t you have pricing for a “basic” print?

What is “basic” varies a great deal from one person to another. For example a “basic blue box with white lettering” is a reverse print flood coat and there is nothing “basic” about it. After launching hundreds of custom printed mailer boxes, we know designs tend to get more complex over time, not less. We will often use one standard color on a Kraft exterior as a base line to give people a starting point.

What is the minimum information you need for a price?

For starters we need your box size. Just for the record, there is no medium, standard, or average box size. Since we make them to order, you have an opportunity to choose the best fit.

We also need to know your choice of Kraft (brown) or white board color (inside and outside) and how many colors you want to print inside and/or outside. Of course the quantity you plan to order at this time is also necessary. (Keep our 1,000 MOQ in mind.) For example, a great inquiry would be something like this: 2,000 boxes, printed one color on Kraft outside and two colors on white inside. What you print (logo, web address, etc.) at this point does not matter and has little impact on the price.

How accurate are your ballpark prices?

Our numbers are only as good as the information you provide to us, but in most cases we are within plus/minus 10%. When we estimate cost, we typically provide a range such as “between $1.20 to $1.30 per box” and unless your design specs change dramatically, we are usually within the range provided. There are few surprises at Salazar Packaging!

 What is NOT included?

The shipping cost is almost impossible to estimate until we know what we are shipping and where we are shipping it. The specific delivery requirements at the address provided can make a big difference in the shipping cost. The only other additional cost is the ONETIME print plate cost that typically runs between $400 and $600 per color. Plates are usually less for RSC style boxes at $200 to $300 per color.

What if I need a firm and final quote?

If you provide firm and final art, we can provide you with firm and final pricing. We have learned from experience that box or art descriptions, regardless of how detailed they are, do not tell us everything we have to know. We also have found that artwork tends to evolve and change as a project nears completion. It is our sincere desire to provide you with the most accurate information possible and that is much easier to accomplish when we can actually see your finished artwork.

Our goal is ALWAYS to deliver the best possible box at the lowest possible cost and we are great about providing you with options and alternatives so you are able to make an informed decision.

Please contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700. You can also see our branded packaging overview and examples of our work in our gallery. We looking forward to serving you and helping you create your new, branded packaging.

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01 Oct 2014 How to Reduce Shipping Weight and Cost

Corrugated Board FlutesAs a result of dramatically increased shipping rates and costs, many shippers today are looking for ways to reduce the overall package weight in an effort to reduce the shipping cost. Being over or under a particular weight (for example, one pound) can make a shipping cost difference of over two dollars per package. That is huge if you are shipping thousands of boxes per month.

After working with dozens of companies to accomplish lower shipping rates, we offer these possible solutions:

Using the best shipping container for your product

Here I often use clothing as an example because I don’t understand why anyone would want to use a box if they don’t have to. The fact is that most clothing and soft goods can ship in paper or plastic mailer envelopes, eliminating the box as well as the void fill or other ancillary packaging that may be required. Keep in mind, void fill not only adds purchase, inbound shipping and storage cost, but also adds weight.

E-flute board for clean, retail look, NOT weight reductionRight sizing can lead to big packaging cost and weight reductions

This may be the most obvious advice I provide but you would be surprised at how many shippers are using boxes that are too large because that size is a “stock” size for their supplier, or because they occasionally get a larger order that requires the larger shipping box. For example, our 7x7x2 die cut corrugated mailer box weighs 3.1 ounces. Our smaller 5x5x2 mailer weighs 2.1 ounces. Using a smaller, size appropriate corrugated box also results in inbound shipping cost and storage savings.

Weight reduction by using thinner board

If you would like to use a smaller flute board to make your boxes to make them look more retail and less industrial, that is a great idea, but in most cases it does NOT reduce the weight of the box.

We have been involved in many cost analysis and in almost all cases, there is no significant weight reduction. In some cases there could actually be an increase in weight when you go from C flute to B flute or even from B flute to E or F flute corrugated board. As the photo shows, even though the overall board thickness is reduced because flutes are smaller and thinner, there are more of them, resulting in approximately the same weight.

However, we have been able to deliver significant weight savings by modifying the construction of the board and using either thinner paper inside or outside or even a lighter medium. This can get rather complicated but suffice to say that we know how to accomplish the objective without compromising the container’s integrity or the graphics that are printed on it. Keep in mind that for some “non-standard” paper and board combinations, minimums may apply, but if you are shipping more than a few thousand boxes per month, you likely qualify for the lighter board combinations.

Weight reduction by container design

We have done much work in this area reducing the overall board usage (square inches minus scrap) significantly by using an Eco Mailer Box design or Indestructo design but neither of those are guaranteed to reduce the weight of the finished box. Front lock versus top tuck, dust flaps versus no dust flaps, can all impact shipping weight if it is done properly. (See related posts at the end of this post)

Remember that the container being used still has to keep the product safe as it ships from point A to point B and that probably none of these options are a stand-alone solution. No two shipping and packing applications are identical so we will review the overall application to determine the best way to reduce the desired weight. In many cases, substantial weight reductions are best made possible by using a combination of box manufacturing techniques.

Contact Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 for a no cost, no obligation review of your needs.

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02 Jul 2014 How to Reduce Stretch Film and Pallet Unitization Costs – Part I

Machine Film-EconomyGuest post by Debbie Nottelmann

With resin and stretch film prices continuing to go up, and companies looking to increase profitability, the question becomes “how do I cut my costs in stretch film and still not compromise my loads?” There are a number of things to consider.

“Real” stretch film cost?

Many companies and buyers tend to focus on roll cost which in most cases tells them very little about the actual unit cost to wrap one pallet. We will cover the most accurate way to perform that comparison and cost analysis in part two of this series, but first we have to look at the way film is being used and HOW you are wrapping your load. There are many factors that help determine the efficiency and ultimate cost of the pallet wrapping film being purchased and utilized.

Equipment Impact on Stretch Film Costs

We typically like to begin a review by finding out the capabilities of the pallet wrapping equipment being used, and its condition. For nominal costs, gears can be upgraded to higher stretch; giving you more pallets wrapped per roll. Talk to your machine operator and ask them if they have any problems. They will be happy to tell you! For instance, nicked up metal or rubber rollers can tear the film, causing it to break, so operators will turn down the tension to compensate (resulting in less yield and less secure loads). Operators get “creative” to get the job done and this may be costing you money. This issue is nothing that fine sandpaper on the metal rollers cannot correct. If the rollers are chewed up and slashed, you may need to purchase new rollers. Make note of how many wraps are being put on the top and bottom of your load. This can be found on the panel of your equipment. Many times the operator uses subjective opinion on how many times to wrap, and that may not be what is needed for your application.

Pallet Stretch Wrapping Application

While many think all loads are the same that is rarely the case. When attempting to determine the best film for a specific customer application, we usually start out by finding out the following information:

1) How heavy is your average load? Heavier loads require more force to load from the film; with some films being soft, and others that have resin blends that put considerable force on the load.

2) Is your load nice and square with little in the way of puncture hazards; a bit irregular with 3” variations throughout the load; or is it quite irregular with up to 6” puncture hazards? This has an influence on determining what type of film is needed for your load.

3) Another consideration is whether the loads are shipping out mostly less than truckload, or mostly full truckloads. This is important because you may be over wrapping your pallets for full truck load shipments. After all, where is the load going to go? Full truck loads minimize the shifting that a load can do.

The key is to approach this with an open mind. Just because you’ve always done it this way, does not mean it is the most cost efficient today. With resin technology continuing to evolve, there are better ways to do the same thing for less cost.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about your pallet wrapping needs. For more information, email us at:

Editor’s note: Debbie Nottelmann has literally decades of experience and is considered a packaging industry expert in the area of pallet unitization and stretch film technology. It is our pleasure to have her sharing her wealth of knowledge with our ISP readers.  

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21 Mar 2014 Litho Labels – Another Salazar Packaging Custom Solution for Exceptional Printed Boxes

black flood coat withs suitable for framing graphicsWe are widely known for the beautiful custom printed boxes we help our customers create. We have become very proficient at utilizing the standard flexographic print process to its maximum potential to produce unique, eye catching and colorful results. However, what happens when flexographic print process is not enough? What do we do when the customer wants something that is completely out of the ordinary? That is when a little known process called litho labeling can deliver results not possible on a standard flexographic press.

The Limitations of the Direct Print Flexographic Process

You can get more info from the first listed “related posts” below but flexographic corrugated printing is a “direct print” process. We apply the ink directly onto the corrugated board utilizing flexible print plates.

Corrugated board is an industrial grade paper, NOT a fine printing paper as you might see on a brochure or even on a paper board box. The board surface and porosity of corrugated paper is going to differ from that of fine paper, making it impossible to create identical results. This is most obvious on color consistency, especially on dark, high ink percentage colors.

In addition, for each color that is going to be printed a flexographic press requires an individual print plate that typically costs between $400 and $600 per color. That makes 4, 5 or more color work very expensive in terms of initial costs, especially if you need for example, packaging for multiple colors, flavors or products.

litho label box with photo quality imagesThe Litho Label Process

The litho label process is completely different because it is NOT direct. We print customer copy using an offset lithography process onto fine “litho” paper which is later laminated to corrugated board, before the board is cut or converted into boxes.

This permits truer colors, multiple shades and even different types of varnishes and finishes. Sharp vibrant colors become easy and photo quality images are possible. This can make art much more effective in terms of pop and sparkle for retail and/or premium shipper applications.

What is the down side of litho labels?  Quite frankly because of the multiple step process, they can be quite expensive, especially on short runs. While we routinely run 1,000 minimums on our flexographic print jobs, we rarely can consider a litho run of less than 5,000 and it really becomes much more affordable at 10,000 or 20,000. Several factors come into play including box/label size but we can quickly help you determine if litho labels are a viable option for you.

Ideal for POP counter top displaysCombining Litho Labels and Direct Flexographic Print

Litho labels are not an all or nothing graphics option. Another, less expensive creative approach is a partial or spot label that can be very effective, especially when it is combined with direct print on the same box. This provides great flexibility and terrific appearance at the lowest possible cost when constant information can be direct printed and product specific labels showing off styles or color photos can be added to help shoppers distinguish product on the shelf.

Please contact us at Salazar Packaging for a confidential application analysis to determine the best way to help you accomplish your branding and cost objectives.

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07 Feb 2014 What’s Your Price for Custom Printed Boxes?

QuestionIt is a common web inquiry or the opening question by someone calling our office. I often joke that is much like walking in a shoe store and asking for their price for a pair of shoes or entering a car dealer and asking how much a car will cost. Life would be far simpler if it was that easy and that quick.

The fact is that in order to give you an accurate price with no surprises at the end, we do have to ask a number of seemingly detailed questions. The process is also designed to give the inquirer a better idea of the options available to them. An appreciative “oh, you can do that” or “I want that” makes it all worthwhile. A perfect example is inside printing. Most people do not realize that printing on the inside of a box is even possible and surprisingly affordable.

The factors that determine the price of a custom printed box:

Box style – do you need an RSC (regular slotted container) or FOL (full overlap) design? Or do you want more of a presentation box like a die cut mailer with a hinged lid that opens up like a cigar box? If a die cut mailer is what you need, there are several styles available for you. (see last “related post” link below)

Board grade – though most of our RSC boxes are 32ECT and most of our mailers are made of 32B board, the variety of boards we offer is much larger. Micro flutes (E and F) are much more popular now as customers work to create boxes that are as decorative as they are functional.

Board Color – board is available in brown (natural Kraft) and white and we can create any inside combination you may want. Kraft out and white in? No problem. White inside and out? Again, we can deliver.

Printing – this is the part we love because it enables customers to create their very own look. In many cases art has not been fully developed and that is OK. All we really need to know initially is how many colors, and inside and/or outside?

Quantity – More than any other single factor, the size of the order most influences the price of the boxes. Our minimum on most boxes is 1,000, but customers are usually surprised when they see how much less expensive a run of 2,000 boxes can be.

Is  Buying Custom Printed Boxes Overly Complicated?

Not at all but it is detailed if you want to do it right. Perhaps that is why so many box suppliers recommend against it. They simply don’t want to mess with it because it is time consuming and honestly, they don’t trust themselves or their companies to do it correctly.

Custom printing is so very gratifying for us and our customers. We occasionally receive a note from a customer about their plain/unprinted boxes but we routinely get emails and phone calls from customers who LOVE their new custom printed boxes. It is great to know how excited and pleased they are and the amount of time and detail it took to get there, is quickly forgotten. Two things to remember:

Custom printed boxes are much more affordable than you probably think.

Custom printed boxes are more impressive than you can imagine.      

The key is to have the right partner and we believe we are. Please do not hesitate to contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 if you have any questions or would like to discuss your project.

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17 Dec 2013 Sustainable Packaging Outlook for 2014

2014At a recent green conference where I served on a panel of green packaging “experts” the inevitable question was asked – is green dead? More specifically, the person asking was questioning the importance of green packaging for business.

I responded the way I always do, green is not dead, it has however, evolved and matured. Not matured the way a market matures and becomes saturated or consumed to capacity. I wish that was the case, but matured the way we grow up beyond idealistic, often youthful perspectives and impatient expectations, to appreciate a broader and longer term objective. Perhaps looking at sustainability with more brain and logic, rather than heart and emotion? Maybe with less “cause” and more “because” it simply makes sense.

Green Packaging Street “Cred”

We have been selling green products to green minded customers for almost seven years. Our efforts have helped us enjoy relationships with some of the oldest and largest green companies, as well as with some of the newest and smallest. We have been the subject of countless articles, included in several books and even been recognized by our US Congress for our work. Last week we were even gratefully featured in an article in  (fill in search box with SALAZAR for a peek at the article). I share these facts not to brag, but to confirm that we have been doing this for a while and enjoyed some measure of success in spite of the ups and downs of an ever changing green market.

Advice From the Trenches

What we share with anyone who asks is that today if the best or only feature of your product and service is the fact that it is green, you will probably have a difficult time making the transition away from a green market that in the past has sometimes been mistakenly focused on guilt, shame or solely green motives, “Save the earth one BLANK at a time!”

The driving forces today are about time tested features including quality, service, and yes, price. The internet we all love has managed to make everything a commodity, so offering 100% organic baby clothes or 100% soy candles is not enough. Let’s face it, is there anything that is a greater commodity than a simple corrugated shipping box which is one of our core products? Creating that “image of difference” between us the multitudes on the internet doing something similar to what we do is the challenge. Delivering on that promise is imperative in order to secure that most important repeat customer.

What to Expect in 2014

Green versus Cost – The economy is neither as good as some try to convince us or as bad as others would like us to believe. However, until this age of uncertainty passes, if ever, the green benefits of every product will continue to be compared to the product’s cost benefits by careful consumers. It has to save money for the buyer even if it is a long payback. Do not expect anyone to pay a premium for green unless they see a bottom line benefit that goes well beyond the good feeling of doing good.

Green is a “Brand” too! – Branding has gone far beyond an easily recognized logo or graphics. It communicates “who we are” and “who” most of our customers are, is green.

Recycled Content Products – Utilizing products that can be EASILY recycled will continue being in demand and along with that, products that have a high recycled content. Companies will continue to be more responsible creating a market for the recycled content they are encouraging others to generate.

Reusable Packaging – Many companies who wanted to utilize reusable containers, simply could not afford the sizable, initial investment that is often necessary. Now with a slightly better economic outlook, I believe some of those interested companies will commit and save a lot of money in the long run.

“Back to Basics” – There will always be interest (and there should be) in innovative new products and materials. Recent history has taught us that many of those innovations are not affordable, not easily manufactured in large scale, or simply not practical. I expect 2014 to be a year when most will focus on REDUCTION as they continue to develop and experiment with thinner materials and designs that dramatically reduce the amount of packaging being used.

Perhaps there are no new and exciting revelations in the above information but I think time will prove this to be a good course for all of us to follow. It is indeed an exciting time to be selling green products to a green market because logic has overcome emotion and people are making, positive, long term changes in the way they operate their homes and businesses. That can’t be bad, can it?

We hope you have a wonderful and profitable 2014!

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30 Aug 2013 Escape Monthly – New Subscription Box program with a great twist and unique packaging!

Inside reverse print on white die cut mailerWe have been very fortunate to work with a number of great subscription box programs and the most recent one, is unique in that they offer destination inspired themes, full size product samples and each month, every subscriber is eligible to win a trip valued up to $2,000! This is not your average subscription commerce box and I invite you to visit their web site and learn more about their very neat program.

 Subscription Boxes Printed Inside and Out

The people at Escape Monthly wanted to minimize the amount of packaging and the cost, while maximizing the visual impact, so they selected a design that we could print inside AND outside the box. In addition, their box is reverse printed with only one color on a white background, minimizing print plate costs and making the print job much easier and affordable than it appears to be.

One color reverse printed on white die cut mailerYou can see by the photos, the end result is a box design that looks great and is sure to be remembered by their subscribers.

Subscription Boxes R Us?

Not quite but we do a lot of them. We strive to give each one a unique look and feel, utilizing a variety of packaging materials and different shipping box designs. For box within a box programs, we offer custom folding cartons in different board types, grades and designs. We can also help you design rigid boxes that require no tooling and enable you to use an endless variety of colors, papers, and textures.

If you are in need of a shipping box that makes a statement and is remembered, call us at 630-551-1700 or contact Salazar Packaging for a free, no cost and confidential review of your needs.

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06 Aug 2013 Yuzen’s Subscription Program’s New Packaging is a Sustainable and Branding Hit!

Yuzen's 3 new rigid bioxesHere is a one question, multiple choice quiz for you, regarding custom printed secondary packaging:

Great, branded secondary packaging __________

A.  Makes a positive and memorable impression
B.  Reflects the quality of the product it contains or the program it represents
C.  Encourages reuse and discourages disposal
D.  Utilizes as much recycled content as possible and is easily recycled
E.  All of the above

The obvious answer is E, all of the above, but many would question how can anyone expect any packaging to satisfy all of those distinct and various needs? Ask the nice and creative people at Yuzen who have more than accomplished each point above.

Rigid Boxes Provide Flexibility for Yuzen

Congratulations to the team at who took our suggestion of using rigid boxes and ran with it, creating several different looks by using different paper wraps on the same rigid box. I think most would agree each look is different but unmistakably Yuzen. It can be difficult to use a variety of colors and designs to represent one single brand but the subtle colors and images selected by the Yuzen team accomplish it without sacrificing their identity.

BTW, even though the goal at this time is to maintain the same rigid box size, rigid boxes can be changed dimensionally without expensive tooling or cutting dies. That is huge in a subscription marketing program where sample sizes vary from month to month and a larger (or smaller) rigid box can be advantageous.

New Yuzen rigid box in new custom printed mailerWhat Makes this Packaging Green?

If we agree the three R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle) are the best guidelines when it comes to determining what type of packaging is best for the environment, then the new Yuzen Packaging is three for three.

The rigid box and the pizza box style mailer Yuzen selected are both designed to use the least amount of materials possible. (reduce) The rigid packaging is designed to be attractive making it very likely to be repurposed. (reuse) The mailer box is manufactured with our 100% recycled corrugated board and the rigid box is typically 80 to 90% recycled content. (recycle) If either component is disposed of, that can easily be accomplished in any process that accepts recycled paper waste where it will be repulped and used to make new packaging materials.

Effective Branded Packaging – Unforgettable Good Looks

Aren’t two of the main reasons to promote your brand to impress and be remembered? I think most would agree on that basis, this new Yuzen Packaging is wildly successful.

Our customers appreciate what we help them achieve and we take a great deal of pride knowing that we helped to create some of the best looking packaging you see in the subscription market, or several other markets where looks matter.

We are one of the few companies capable of designing and manufacturing rigid boxes, paperboard cartons and corrugated shipping containers of all types. Add our paper tube packaging and our numerous mailer envelope options and there is probably few applications we cannot help you handle. When in doubt, please contact us to discuss your specific application.

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