Whos Best For Shipping Supplies? Uline vs Alternatives

Buyers GuideEcommerceFulfillmentRunning a Business

Shipping supplies come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, and a number of online shipping supply dealers carry a wide selection. We looked at the most popular options and rising stars and decided to review Uline, Packaging Supplies, Shipping Supply, and eSupplyStore. These cover the range of options in terms of selection, pricing, shipping, and customer service.

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We choseUlineas the best source for shipping supplies for small businesses because they have the best selection, good base pricing with generous volume discounts, 8 nationwide warehouses to ensure the fastest possible shipping, and highly praised customer service.

Best Shipping Supplies: Uline vs. Alternatives

Largest selection of shipping supplies. Best online search.

Wide assortment of shipping supplies. Good online search.

Basic selection of packaging supplies. Most difficult to search.

Wide assortment of shipping supplies. Good online search.

Cheapest bubble wrap, pricey peanuts

Shipping Cost (test order detailed below)

Ulinehas the best selection of shipping supplies, plus carries anything you could possibly need to run a shipping operation and warehouse. Of our 4 contenders, the Uline website was the easiest to use, followed by Shipping Supply and eShipping Store, with Packaging Supplies antiquated website taking last place for website ease-of-use.

Of the 4, Uline carries the largest variety of boxes, mailers, envelopes, and fill materials. The Uline websites search by dimension feature makes it very easy to navigate the huge selection and find exactly what youre looking for. Uline also has the mostcustom branding options, including labels, retail bags, tissue paper and packing tape that you can special order with your company logo or other branding. This is ideal if you want to create abranded unboxing experienceor launch a subscription box company. Of our 4, only Shipping Supply also offers customized labels, but none offerscustom-printed shipping boxes.

As far as pricing goes, Uline is neither the cheapest nor most expensive, however, it has 8 nationwide warehouses, so chances are theres a Uline within 1-2 shipping days from your location. That helps cut down on shipping costs plus speeds up delivery times compared to our other contenders. In fact, most orders arrive in just 1 day to many US locations.

Uline is the only shipping supplies dealer to offer 24/7 customer support, and if you order in volume they assign you a service rep who can negotiate even lower prices for you. In researching reviews of Uline, even those who complained of receiving damaged or incorrect orders spoke highly of the customer service, saying they were personable and helpful, which has been our experience, too.

All 4 or our top shipping supplies sources sell boxes, envelopes, bubble mailers, tape, labels, peanuts, bubble wrap, and plenty more. Of the 4, Uline has the best selection, with Shipping Supply being a close runner-up. Both offer many different styles of boxes and packing materials as well as a vast array of warehouse supplies.

Uline:Uline has the best selection of boxes and packing materials, including specialty polyurethane and polyethylene foam, which the others dont offer. You can find jewelry and apparel boxes, as well as shopping bags and other retail store supplies. You can addcustom brandingto labels, packing tape, and tissue paper, unlike the other contenders, with the exception of Shipping Supply, which offers custom printed labels only. Uline also sells warehouse equipment, including shelving, scales, tables, and carts.

Of our 4, Uline has the most professional and user-friendly website, hands-down. Its easy to navigate and has a very useful search by dimension feature, shown below:

Just type in the measurements of a box you need and it will pull up all boxes of that size. Along with standard medium and heavyweight boxes, they have lightweight boxes (if you want a more economical option), fold-up mailers, side-loading boxes, insulated boxesand more.

eSupply Store:eSupplyStore covers all the basics as well as warehouse equipment and fixtures. They offer boxes in over 600 dimensions, so if you have to find something very specific, your best bet might be eSupplyStore.

Packaging Supplies:Packaging Supplies covers all the basics: boxes, mailers, supplies and filling materials. While they have many dimensions of boxes, theres no easy way to sort through them or quickly search for a specific size on their website.

Shipping Supply:Like Uline, Shipping Supply has a wide selection of boxes and shipping supplies as well as warehouse equipment and furnishings and offers a selection ofcustom labels. It also has a handy search by dimension feature, though its not as streamlined as Ulines search.

We compared the prices of our 4 contenders across a variety of common shipping supplies such as padded envelopes, boxes and mailers, and packing materials. Theres no clear cheapest-across-the-board winner when it comes to shipping supplies, so its a good idea to price-shop to find the cheapest supplier for your specific needs.

Heres how our 4 contenders stack up in a price comparison of 5 common shipping supplies.

Uline:Uline is middle of the road on box prices, but they have the cheapest bagged peanuts of our 4.

However, if you buy in volume, Uline offers generous volume discounts and ships from 8 nationwide locations, which can make them the cheapest supplier with the fastest delivery, depending on your needs.

eSupply Store:eSupplyStores Prices are on the lower end across the board except for our 14x14x10 box and peanuts, where they are the most expensive of the 4. They do have the cheapest bubble wrap of our 4 contenders.

Packaging Supplies:Packaging Supplies has the lowest box prices out of the gate and very low-cost bubble wrap, bet the second-most-expensive peanuts. Shipping is actual UPS rates which can be significantly higher than others depending on where youre shipping to. In our test order, it was the second-highest of our 4 and negates their box pricing advantages.

Shipping Supply:Shipping Supply has the highest or nearly the highest prices on all test items except bubble mailers. On these, they are the second-to-cheapest.

Shipping costs add up fast with bulky shipping supplies. If you order in small batches, shipping can easily double your costs since these orders ship via UPS or FedEx ground. If you ship regularly, you can save money on shipping supplies over time if you order in bulk to take advantage of freight discounts vs regular ground shipping.

All 4 provide real-time shipping estimates online before you ever enter your payment information or complete your sale, so you always know what youre paying up-front. Heres a look at our shipping costs on a test order.

Uline:Uline has 8 nationwide locations so most deliveries take just 1-2 days to arrive. Plus, having that many locations makes its shipping the cheapest in our side-by-side comparison.

eSupply Store:eSupplyStores real-time rates came back with the priciest shipping on our test order. Its located in Nebraska, so if youre there or in a surrounding state, your shipping would be cheaper and faster.

Packaging Supplies:Packaging Supplies has the second-costliest shipping of our 4 contenders. Packaging Supplies also has several locations nationwide to cut down on shipping time and costs but didnt beat Uline.

Shipping Supply:Shipping Supply is based in Wisconsin, but still had cheaper shipping rates than either eSupplyStor
e or Packaging Supplies, which have warehouses closer to our location. They still dont beat Uline.

Everything with Uline is easy, including returns. All 4 contenders accept returns, but you will pay the return shipping unless they made a shipping error on your order. Because shipping supplies can be rather bulky, returns can cost more than your actual order, so keep that in mind when considering a return.

Uline:Returns are accepted within 30 days for full refund. RMA required.

eSupply Store:Returns are accepted within 30 days for full refund. RMA required. Returns not accepted for special Free Shipping promo items.

Packaging Supplies:Returns are accepted within 30 days, refund less 20% restock fee.

Shipping Supply:Returns are accepted within 10 days for full refund. RMA required.

Each of our 4 contenders offers both phone and email support, but Ulines 24/7 customer service blows the competition away if you need fast answers at any time.

Email/Online: Form or regular email, plus Live Chat

Online reviews rate Ulines customer support, shipping accuracy and delivery times very highly.

Email/Online: Form or regular email, plus Live Chat

Between the wide selection, sleek website and praised customer service, we feel youre likely to have the best shopping experience onUlinefor packaging supplies. The cheaper and faster shipping options are the icing on the cake. But, if you need specific products, you can find cheaper shipping supplies with different suppliers, so always price-shop for your specific needs.

Plus, if youre geographically close to one versus the others, actual shipping rates can make them the cheapest option.

Where do you get your shipping supplies from? Uline or another supplier? Wed love to hear who works best for you in the comments below.

Krista Fabregas is a staff writer at Fit Small Business and editor of the Ecommerce Section. Krista launched her first ecommerce site in 2001, and soon grew to operate two niche B2B and B2C sites, a 10K square foot warehouse, and staff of nine. Combined, her sites sold more than $1.5M annually for several years. Krista now shares her hand-on experience with others looking to expand into online sales. When not helping small business owners launch and grow efficient ecommerce operations, Krista enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction, and riding horses and motorcycles in her hometown of Houston.

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I must say one of the things Uline does very well is their online website. I work for Pacific Packaging Products, we are the largest independent packaging distributor and New England and one of the largest in the United States. Were not only a packaging distributor: Pacific is a master convertor and manufacturer, that prints, die cuts, fabricates, slits and sheets virtually all types of packaging material, enabling Pacific customers to get exactly what they want in flexible quantities. If you have any questions or would like a quote on any product (especially if your buying from Uline) you can contact me hank you.

Well take a look at your site. Always interested in seeing who offers what and specialty packaging is one thing we love here! Cheers, Krista

I have found them to be significantly cheaper than other companies like Uline, but the quality is still there. I think they manufacture their products, so that would make sense. We are located in California and we get our products the next day! Free shipping too- which is much better than other companies Ive found. The only problem weve ever had was one time we received products that looked pretty beat and damaged in transit. I called their customer service and they sent out my replacements that day!

Hi Sarah thanks for dropping in! Prices from royalmailers are slightly higher in lower quantities, but the free shipping is likely to make up for that.

Ive been using Uline for 10+ years and I hate them. I started way back when they offered free shipping for orders above $300 and I was able to keep that even when they changed their policy. Sounds great right?

One, their customer service sucks. Over and over and over Im contacted them about larger orders and how I simply cannot have an 18 wheeler Con Way freight truck deliver to my location. They tell me 1)theres nothing they can do 2)Con Way doesnt use big trucks (they DO and always have when Ive used them) or 3)I can simply pay a surcharge for UPS. When I told them their web site doesnt show a surcharge, it shows the full price (typically several hundred dollars on large orders) they snarkily implied it wasnt their problem. When I have bitten the bullet and had the shipment via Con way I typically have numerous items damaged and I have to deal with reporting it back to Uline.

And last but not least for me, Uline is owned by a right wing family that supports Trump. It was right there in their last catalog. Since Im assuming you folks dont want a political rant Ill stop there. But buyers should know who theyre giving their money to a family that supports Trump.

These arent my only gripes with Uline, but theyre the easiest to explain.

I wish I could find a company that had comparable prices. I use Jiffy Rigi Mailers and the cheapest Ive found so far compared to Uline is bisonoffice.com which has free shipping, but their prices are about $15 to $20 more expensive per item purchased in bulk. That can mean about $100 on a typical order. I would love to stop using Uline, but Ive yet to find a company to replace them with.

I order from Uline monthly. Anywhere from $200-$700. My shipping has been between $70-$150. I agree ULINE has the best quality. For me it arrives in 2 days and usually Im ordering when I run out of something so I need it ASAP.

So because shipping usually cost the same for one or 20 things I order more. I purchase the larger boxes so everything comes freight. ULINE has the best customer service. I actually have a Rep coming down next week to meet with me and see if she can better serve my company.

Try Rylex Packaging Supply, they have 10% off this month. Code SAV10. They have a large amount of products in stock and ship items really fast like Uline. They have fulfillment warehouse in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania and California. Pricing is comparable and or less on many items. The quality of the boxes is very good, not those cheap flimsy ones.

Always a good idea for shippers to have several suppliers on the list to compare pricing and find unique packaging. Thanks for reading and commenting! Cheers, Krista

I agree! Cant beat free freight on $300 or more. And how about the free gifts? I filled half my Christmas list some years with their NFL hoodies!

I have worked with a number of companies for boxes online. I find Uline is STILL the go-to place for pre-made boxes at small quantities. If youre ordering 1000+ boxes, it makes sense to start looking into custom printed or custom boxes altogether, since your price per unit will end up being very similar to what Uline is offering.

Through my experience and research online I found only 2 companies that offer good value from North America. One is Pakfactory.com if youre looking for fully custom made boxes (you can do embossing, hot stamping, you name it!). The other is Packlane.com for great prices on the 3 box styles they carry (corrugated shipping box). Their website is just bomb for trying out designs. Pakfactory on the other hand goes with a different approach and offers the best service Ive seen from a packaging company online. Anyway thats my 2 cents.

Thanks for dropping in. We actually have a guide about custom box printing were publishing soon, and we also found Packlane to be the best!

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