Paper Tubes or Folding Cartons?

Paper Tubes or Folding Cartons? This is a headache that many brand owners and retailers may come across when deciding on a retail packaging box for the products.

Like any other type of packaging, the basic functions of paper tubes and folding cartons are to house, protect and display the products. In lots of cases both packaging could be an alternative to the other.

Then how to choose between the two?
It is of importance to get a clear picture of the possible benefits and costs of both types so that you can make a wise packaging decision that suits them best.

Definitely the decisive factor when choosing a packaging is, first of all, the costs and the budget reserved for packaging. If you have a very limited packaging budget, then the decision may be much easier to be made as folding cartons are usually much cheaper if simply looking at the unit cost.

But the unit price of packaging is only one basic aspect of packaging costs. There are a couple of other costs you may overlook such as tooling costs, shipping costs. To get a clear picture of both packaging forms, let us jump into the full analysis below.

1. Set-up Costs

First of all, set-up cost. Either paper tubes or folding cartons require tooling (or more exactly a set-up process including tooling, printing prep. work, production) for every single custom project. With tooling, the machines are designated to tailor the cardboard tubes or folding cartons to required specifications and measurements.

Normally set-up costs of paper tubes are more than that of folding cartons. So to get an equally desired competitive unit price, the order minimum of paper tubes could be much higher than that of folding cartons.

2. Unit Production Cost

Secondly, from a production perspective, folding cartons involve much more machines. The mass production process is now highly mechanized and few laborers are needed.
Paper tubes, however, require much more labor work and a longer lead time, which means the unit production cost of paperboard tubes is much expensive.
3. Shipping Costs
Thirdly, shipping costs. In this day and age, astronomical shipping rates are the pain for both manufacturing and retail sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic across the world.
In this regard, folding cartons far outperform paper tubes. This is because folding cartons could be packed and shipped in flat while paper tubes are spirally wound to be kind of “set-up”, which would occupy much more space in shipping, either by air, by sea, or by land (in a truck). The skyrocketing shipping costs could easily blow away the entire project.

3. Shipping Costs

Thirdly, shipping costs. In this day and age, astronomical shipping rates are the pain for both manufacturing and retail sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic across the world.
In this regard, folding cartons far outperform paper tubes. This is because folding cartons could be packed and shipped in flat while paper tubes are spirally wound to be kind of “set-up”, which would occupy much more space in shipping, either by air, by sea, or by land (in a truck). The skyrocketing shipping costs could easily blow away the entire project.

4. Warehouse Costs

Fourthly, warehouse costs or storage costs.
As paper tubes are already set up, they need much more storage space. Some customers would like to place a bulk order to get a better price, but storage space turns out to be another issue. It is difficult for them to find so much storage space for the extra cardboard tubes they have ordered in advance.

On the contrary, folding cartons are stored in flat. Only before being used, they would be set up. In this case, folding cartons would have much less pressure in storage and warehousing. So, if ordering the same quantity of paper tubes and folding cartons, you need to pay much more warehouse costs for paper tubes.

5. Hidden Costs by Damaged Products

Fifthly, the possible hidden costs incurred due to damaged products.
If comparing the sturdiness and durability of both packaging forms, paper tubes do a much better job than folding cartons. This would ensure your products survive the harsh shipping and handling environment.
In contrast, folding cartons may not provide enough security for products, especially if the products are fragile cosmetics jars, glass CBD oil dropper bottles, glass candle vessels, etc. Imagine the products arrive at customers’ doors in damaged conditions. This would require a re-sending or a full refund, which would eat up all your profits, and also deliver a very bad shopping experience. What’s worse, many damaged orders would lead to a low rating for the online store and a very bad impression on your brands.

6. Potentially Extra Costs of Labors

This cost could be much more than what you may have expected. Paper tubes are already set up and prepared for product packaging. It requires no extra manual assembly.
Conversely, folding cartons would require an extra set-up and assembly process so that they would be prepared for product packaging. This extra step not only costs money but also time. When the sales grow drastically, you may need extra labor to help with sales order processing. Extra labor work and processing time all means money and costs.

7. Added Value for Brands

Usually, a product packaged in a paper cylinder box is considered more classy in customers’ eyes if compared to that in a regular color folding carton. With a tube package, customers may have the first impression that the brand is high-end and the product is premium quality.
A value-added retail packaging is truly important for sales growth, marketing, and branding in the long run.

8. Sustainability

Either folding carton or paper tube is made of paperboard, cardboard, chipboard. They are both eco-friendly and seemingly waste-free. Nevertheless, if going further, cardboard tubes are more weighty in terms of recyclability and carbon footprint.

We tend to throw away a folding carton after unpacking the box if the purchase is packaged in a folding carton. More often, however, we would usually recycle cardboard tubes. There are so many ways out there the cardboard tube package could be reused, such as organizing office supplies or cables & cords.
With repeated use of old tube package, you are reducing the waste that is supposed to go to the landfills. By using cardboard cylinder tubes, you are reducing the carbon footprint for your brand and showing customers your sustainability efforts.

9. Packaging Trends

Packaging worlds change quickly with the development of materials, production techniques, and fashion trends. So one prevailing type of packaging box may be no longer popular in another period.
Probably both paper tubes and folding cartons suit your products. And it makes sense to pick the productive folding carton.
What if your competitors are using paper tubes? The answer is clear. Go with the flow and stay in fashion. Even though the margin may get smaller with this change, it is worthwhile in the long term.

Conclusion

The above 9 aspects may be insignificant if taken into consideration alone. But making a packaging decision always requires comprehensive thinking and looking around a little bit – consulting your packaging supplier and graphic designers, have brainstorming with your teams.
After thorough research and discussion, you would be able to pick the most suitable packaging option possible.

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