Answer - It depends on the following:
- How soon you want the boxes?
- Do you want them printed?
- What style of box you want?
- How many you want?
How soon do you want the boxes?
If you need them tomorrow/today - Wholesalers of industrial packaging carry stock cartons and supply at short notice. The downside is you have to shop around for the size and style you want, and this can take up some time.
If you want to wait a day or so - manufacturers like Wise's Boxes can make plain shipper cartons made to size and quantity, the smaller the quantity the better.
5 or so days wait - made to size plain and flexographic printed shipper cartons, but there will be minimum order quantities of a few hundred cartons. These boxes are made on higher speed machines and the box price should be cheaper and are used by the bigger manufacturers
2 to three weeks - die cut cartons and/or lithographic print cartons, also made by the bigger manufacturers.
Do you want them Printed?
If you do, don't expect to get them quickly. Artwork needs to be prepared and for larger volumes, tooling made. If tooling is needed expect to outlay hundred to thousands of dollars.
What Style of box do you want?
The dimensions you want govern the style of carton available.
The style of carton governs the method of manufacturing.
This subject is a bit complex.
How many do you want?
This question determines who you can buy from as not every manufacturer wants to do all styles and quantities.
If the quantities you want are only a hundred or so or less then your options are limited. Bigger manufacturers have high speed machines and higher overheads, their price per carton should be lower but they will want higher quantities per order to meet their minimum profit requirements. Also they prefer to deal with customers who order higher volumes of cartons.
So if you are starting out, or do not need large volumes of cartons this leaves you with two choices.
One option is to deal with wholesalers of packaging. Many buyers do so because they receive a higher standard of customer service or a one stop shop style of service and are willing to pay the higher price a wholesaler will charge.
The other option is to deal with manufacturers like Wise's Boxes. These manufacturers want to deal with people like you. But, they also do not normally make all types of cartons. Wise's Boxes specialty is plain shipper style cartons made from brown corrugated cardboard.
I hope this post helps you.