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Packaging 101: A Glossary of Common Packaging Industry Terms

Even if you’re an ecommerce novice, it helps to talk like an old pro.

Common Packaging Industry Terms


If you’re a small business owner looking to get your ecommerce operation off the ground, you’ve got to know the lingo. From flute corrugation to tooling, knowing how to talk to vendors in their own language will ensure that you’re getting just what you need to cost-effectively protect and ship your customers’ purchases.

While this may seem daunting for new kids on the block, Paper Mart has you covered. Brush up on these common packaging definitions, and you’ll be ready to go head to head with industry pros any day of the week.


Glossary of Box Packaging Terminology

Box Blank — A flat cardboard piece cut and scored, ready to be joined with other pieces to make a box.

Box Style — A category that can be used as a helpful descriptor regardless of box size or construction.

Carton — Any box style that can fold and ship flat, used mostly to house retail goods.

Color Mockup — A full-color rendering of a given product’s packaging, created for promotional purposes. Color mockups enable the customer or seller to inspect and perfect every inch of the package design before it’s sent out.

Co-Packer — A company specifically hired to manufacture and package products for a business partner.

Corrugated Fiberboard — An industry term for cardboard boxes.

Custom Packaging — Non-stock packaging designed for specific needs or to feature business branding.

Die — A type of tooling that allows for customized branding of packaging products.

Digital Printer — An industrial scale press with the ability to print in multiple colors simultaneously. Ideal for custom packaging.

Direct Print — A type of printing that penetrates the surface of packaging, rather than a label or laminate that goes on top of packaging.

Flute Corrugation — The wave-like shapes that comprise part of corrugated board’s overall construction.

Fulfillment Center — A facility where products are picked, packed, and shipped after customer purchase.

Lead Time — The amount of time necessary for certain stages within a supply chain to be fulfilled, such as packaging production or product delivery.

Master Packs — A type of packaging designed to ship retail products to stores in shelf-ready packaging, typically made of corrugated fiberboard.

PDQ Display — “Pretty Darn Quick” displays designed for store employees to unpack and shelf merchandise quickly and efficiently.

POP Display — “Point of Purchase” displays designed to promote products with stylish signage near the checkout line.

SKU — “Stock Keeping Unit,” generally refers to different packaging versions of related products.

Small Run — A limited order of packaging, the minimum amount of which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Tooling — Physical material that helps to make custom packaging, such as a die or mold.

Virgin Board — Brown board that has not been bleached white or dyed another color.

Web — An unbroken sheet of paper or paperboard.

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