Posted on October 27, 2022 by Michael Boik

Top Three Ways to Navigate Long Packaging Lead Times

Often times, the key to running a business is the balance between managing short and long term timelines. Sometimes the immediate need matches the long term need, but when it does not, we are here to help you pivot in cases when you are up against the clock. Navigating lead times can be challenging. This is especially true now, in Q4 when packaging production timelines are often extended.

The key, of course, is as always, knowledge and expertise, which we can provide from having been in the game for over 15 years. While the best thing you can do is plan and order ahead, we do understand that circumstances arise, and sometimes you find yourself needing packaging in a pinch. These are the best options to navigate this situation.

Provide All of the Information

It may seem obvious, but it needs to be stated. The more information we have, the better we can help. For example, if you need the packaging delivered to the Pacific Northwest, compared to locally here in the Midwest, this is crucial information, as it will help us determine which plant we would seek to run production. Luckily, we have a variety of plants throughout the country. It also allows us to plan for transit time. We stay in tune with each plant’s potential lead times throughout the year, and are able to avoid placing an order at a plant that we know to be backed up on the schedule for the foreseeable future. It also helps to know potential launch dates and drop dead deliver by dates. Any special receiving requirements such as delivery appointments, liftgates etc. may also play a large role in the transit time.

It never hurts to be fully transparent. We often hear a refrain of something similar to, “We need the full order by December 7th, but would like at least 50 boxes sent to us by the end of November to get us by.” While the answer may be yes, maybe, or sometimes no, knowing these specific requests early on in the process is always the best chance at accommodating them.

Consider Alternative Graphic/Style Options

Are you insisting on wanting double sided white board? Are you set on needing a new graphic design instead of reordering an existing design? Consider your options and, as a follow up to the first point above, remember that we can help. We know that double sided white E Flute board will require a longer lead time than double kraft board. We know that a new graphic design requires print proof approvals and ink approvals that may add at least a week to a lead time compared to running production on an existing design.

Consider Alternative Structural Options

Similar to the above, there are certain custom options that are longer lead times than others. Internal packaging is perhaps the biggest one. When you factor in design time, sending product samples, sending design samples and ship testing, inserts and other internal packaging components are not a quick process, and we don’t believe in shortcuts when it comes to product protection. If you are in a time crunch, we recommend starting with just a box and some void fill, and you can always add the internal packaging later.

This also applies to other structural decisions. Perhaps you’ve been thinking of changing your mailer size or adding multiple sizes. Remember that these options require new print plates, if you’re printing. New cutting dies, print plates, structural and graphic approvals can all impact lead times negatively.


Our goal is not to discourage you from having what you want, but to walk you through all available options and what the timeline looks like for each. This way you can be the best informed of not only what pricing looks like across different scenarios, but also lead times. Maybe the best solution for you in 2023 is not the best solution for you in Q4 of 2022. We are standing by and ready to help. Contact us for a no cost, no obligation review of your packaging needs.


Please Contact Us Today

As always, if you have any questions, one of our branded packaging advisors is standing by to assist, with decades of experience behind them. Want to know more about custom packaging options? Please call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us via email at


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