The Difference Between Boxes and Cartons

Shipping and receiving specialist packs a box for a customer.

When it comes to product packaging, we often use the terms box and carton interchangeably. However, there are quite a few differences between the two and major benefits to using both in your product packaging. Fortunately, we know quite a bit about boxes and custom printed folding cartons. In this post, we’ll share our knowledge by defining what a box and a carton are and listing the benefits of using each.

Article Updated June 29, 2023

What is a Box?

In product packaging terms, a box uses thick material like corrugated cardboard to ship items or hold several individual items. Boxes are typically folded and sealed with packing tape, though some boxes can also seal with a front tuck.

Benefits of Using Boxes

1. Boxes Protect Your Product

The main benefit of using a box is to protect your product once it ships. Corrugated cardboard is extremely strong and capable of supporting heavy items. Therefore, it is the most common choice for companies that distribute their products nationally. It is beneficial to ship heavy, valuable, and fragile items in corrugated cardboard boxes.

2. Boxes Can Showcase Your Branding

Though many brands opt for plain, unbranded boxes, many other companies order custom-printed boxes that include their logo and branding. If you’ve ever ordered a meal plan kit from HelloFresh, you’re familiar with their bright green and white logo printed on the outside of the box. Considering packages pass through many different hands before reaching their final destination, your logo is likely to be seen by a wide variety of people. That’s a lot of brand exposure!

Read more: 5 Tips for Amazing E-Commerce Packaging

3. Boxes Are Reusable

Corrugated cardboard boxes actually have a wide variety of uses besides shipping products. Many people use cardboard boxes to pack their belongings when moving, wrap presents, ship their own products, and even for gardening! While plastic shipping materials like mailers have their place, cardboard boxes are an excellent choice simply for their versatility.

Woman looking in box confused.

What is a Carton?

A carton is typically made from a thinner material than boxes, like paperboard. They are used as outer packaging for several types of products, such as cosmetics and supplements. 

Read more: 7 Types of Folding Cartons

Benefits of Using Custom-Printed Folding Cartons

1. Protecting Your Product

When products are distributed to retail stores, the outer packaging helps prevent damage to the product itself. Items that are sensitive to UV rays, like essential oils, CBD oils, and coffee, benefit from the extra layer of protection of a carton. Once the product is displayed, the outer packaging keeps working to protect the product. It protects it from UV rays if placed close to windows. It can also protect it from shoppers frequently picking up the product to examine it. Folding cartons also help perishable products stay fresher.

2. They Display Additional Product Information

For products with many regulations, a carton can show required information you may not have room for on the product itself. As a result, small items like tincture bottles and makeup tubes often need that additional real estate to display ingredient lists, manufacturing information, directions for us, and more. If you’re struggling to fit all the necessary information directly on your product label, you may want to add a carton to your packaging.

3. A Carton Can Add Interest to Product Packaging

Custom-printed cartons can add a wow factor to your product packaging. Protecting your product and displaying required information are both very important, but high-quality packaging design is another matter entirely. A beautifully designed carton can make the difference between a potential customer completely ignoring your product and grabbing your product from the shelf immediately.

Three folding cartons displaying interesting packaging design

Types of Custom-Printed Cartons

Folding cartons come in many different varieties. We have a wide range of carton types to choose from. Check out our options below!

Gloss Laminate Cartons

Gloss laminate is very shiny and durable. They are eye-catching and have great shelf appeal. Cosmetics products and supplement products look great in gloss laminate cartons. A gloss laminate carton pairs very well with a gloss laminate label

Matte Laminate Cartons

A carton with a matte laminate has a sophisticated, non-glare look and are an excellent choice for artisan products. You can write on or stamp matte laminate cartons with additional product information, like batch codes, as long as you use permanent ink. CBD products look great in matte laminate cartons. They also pair well with matte laminate labels.

Soft Touch Matte Laminate Cartons

Soft Touch Matte laminate gives a folding carton a luxurious and soft feel. Though they feel like velvet to the touch, cartons using a soft touch matte laminate are very durable and scuff-proof. Luxury soap and skincare products are perfect candidates for soft touch matte laminate cartons, especially when paired with a soft touch matte laminate label.

Linen Laminate Cartons

Cartons with linen laminate are beautifully textured. It gives your product packaging a bespoke look while still protecting your product inside. Linen laminate is perfect for artisan products like coffee or tea.

Leather Laminate Cartons

Leather laminate cartons are incredibly unique. Adding an interesting look and texture to any product packaging, leather laminate also protects the product within. Leather laminate cartons are a perfect choice for men’s products, and look even better when paired with a leather laminate label.


Boxes and cartons are both incredibly important in the product packaging world. Both help keep your products safe and showcase your branding. We pride ourselves on making the best custom-printed cartons for many different industries and would love to help your company make incredible packaging for your products. Give us a call today to see how we can help!

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