Why is it important to have a good supplier for shipping supplies?
There’s tons of suppliers in the market which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s great because you can always find someone else if you’re not satisfied with your current supplier. The bad news is that it becomes hard to navigate through so many suppliers to find the best ones. You may just end up going with the first few you find instead of finding the ones that can save you money.
At one point, I was purchasing bubble wrap rolls from a supplier at $80/roll. I used this supplier for about a year. I was happy with the price but a year later I found a supplier that could provide me the same rolls at $30/roll. Mind you, $80 was the standard price across most suppliers but I just happened to dig deep enough and secure some good pricing.
If I had known about the $30/roll supplier a year earlier, I could have potentially saved around $1,300 on bubble wrap alone.
Some of the most common items needed for shipping & packaging include:
- Corrugated Boxes
- Dunnage (Bubble wrap etc)
- Box Cutter
I’ve identified some great sources for shipping supplies. I’m separating sections for businesses and individuals because most bulk suppliers will require a business account. They also have MOQs (minimum order quantity) in place meaning they will only sell large quantities.
P.S. We’re not being paid/compensated by any of these sources in any way. I just want to share the best information for those looking. See our top picks below:
Where to buy Shipping Supplies: For Businesses
As an eCommerce business that ships orders to their customers, you probably go through a lot of shipping supplies. It’s a recurring expense and one that’s probably never going to go away unless you’re outsourcing fulfillment.
Because it’s a recurring expense, it’s important to have a reliable supplier that can provide items at affordable prices. It’s important to spend time finding a supplier and it’s better if you do this early on. Even small differences in pricing can add up over time and make an impact on the bottom line. Nobody likes to go hunting for suppliers once their business is already established and they have other things to worry about.
I have to mention Uline first because they are the all in one stop for all businesses. Even if you’re not an eCommerce business, they probably stock all your industrial needs. Uline is extremely popular and rightfully so because they sell high quality products with superior customer service. They are a multinational company with operations across the globe. In Canada alone, they stock over 37,500 unique products.
They supply all shipping supplies that a business can need.
This is a banner image taken directly from their website with an overview of all the categories they specialize in. Items range from storage to shipping to cleaning supplies and so many other items that are hard to think of.
I’ve noticed that sometimes their prices are higher than other suppliers but that’s the price you pay for convenience.
Once you’ve set up a business account with them, they bill you on invoice level. What this means is that you don’t have to pay right away as they extend generous payment terms.
Green Products (bonus but not related to shipping)
Uline has a section called “Green Products” which consist of “Environmentally-Friendly Products”. This category has many subcategories such as : Retail Bags, Industrial Bags, Janitorial Items, Facilities Maintenance, Cushioning and even Packing List Envelopes.
The coolest “Green” item I found on their website are these Recycled Hexagon Picnic Tables. Lol.
Yes, I know this item doesn’t have anything to do with shipping supplies but everyone needs a break from shipping. (:
Global Industrial is very similar to uline. They are in-fact each other’s largest competitors. They carry similar products but uline definitely has a bigger range of products. I’m keeping this section short because I don’t want to repeat everything I mentioned earlier. They really are very similar.
I’ve noticed that Global Industrial has better prices for most items but prices do change and it’s never a bad idea to compare before actually purchasing. Whenever I’m in the market for a product, I always use Global Industrial as a benchmark to ensure the price I’m paying is within range.
This is one of my favourite sources for buying supplies. The website is extremely simple making it easy to browse and find exactly what you’re looking for. One of the best parts about this is they have a category called eCommerce Suppliers where you can literally find everything you’re looking for including:
- Mailing Tubes
- Bubble Wrap
- Air Pillow
- Shipping Mailers
- Labels & Label Printers
One of the coolest items they have is “Bubble in a Box” which is literally a bubble roll put inside a box. Bubble bag usually takes up a lot of space considering you need to also find something to hold it in place and this does the job. See this picture below:
This can easily be fitted anywhere at your warehouse. The bubble bag is perforated at 12” making it easy to cut without needing a blade or cutting scissors.
They offer Free Next Day Delivery for orders over $500 in the GTA and neighbouring cities. They sell custom boxes as well and ball-park pricing is available on the website.
The Packaging Company
This is a great option if you’re looking for custom shipping supplies. You can provide them with a drawing and dimensions of what you want your package to look like and they’ll do the job to perfection. A lot of subscription box businesses use them because they provide great service and a fast turnaround time.
Btw, they also sell non-custom supplies. They have a section called “Best Sellers” and you can find all the supplies you need in that section. I’ve never used them but I know of a lot of business owners that do. I did a quick Google search and noticed they have a 4.6 star rating between 260 ratings. I think that’s pretty solid.
Chitchats (Kraft/Bubble Mailers)
This one isn’t an all in on source but is the best option if you’re purchasing Kraft or Bubble mailers. They also sell thermal label printers but the pricing is expensive for those. They have 2 eCommerce websites with different pricing based on where you’re located in Canada. See below:
For British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario:
For Atlantic Canada:
I do think they’re worth checking out.
Where to buy Shipping Supplies: For Individuals
I’m going to keep this short and sweet. If you’re an individual looking to buy packing supplies to send a package, you have a lot of options. Let’s talk about the different places you can get them.
I think Home Depot is one of the best places to get supplies. They have a great range of boxes as well as heavy duty boxes. The prices are really good. Besides boxes, you can also find packing material here such as tape, bubble wrap etc. Home Depots are located all across Canada and there’s probably one close to you.
Everyone knows about Staples. They’re great because they’re everywhere but I think Staples is on the more expensive side. One of the upsides is that they have cut-out boxes available specifically designed to ship certain items. Some of these cut-out options include boxes for tablets or cell phones and even packaging for fragile items.
Post Office (Canada Post)
This is my top pick for individuals. I’ll tell you why. Canada Post carries a lot of stuff. Whether you want to ship out an envelope or a microwave, you can find a box that fits. Just like Staples, they also have custom fit boxes.
Canada Post is convenient. If you’re going to Home Depot or Staples, you might have to ask around to find things and then go through aisles to locate them. That’s not a problem at Canada Post as you can see everything at the same time. You can even browse as you stand in line.
The best part is that you can package your items right there and have the post office ship the item for you too.
Just like Canada Post, UPS/FedEx/Purolator stores all deserve a spot at the top as they share the same benefits. I still put Canada Post above them because Canada Post has more options for Canadians. Most Canadians are also already familiar with Canada Post and as an individual are more likely to go there first for their shipping needs.