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Stock vs custom sample cases – which is right for you?

Richard Coombes: Last Updated 16th February 2024
Posted In: Guides and Advice | Increase Sales xx 31623

Selecting a Sample Case

A guide to choosing the right presentation cases for your specific market or product

So you’ve decided that you and your sales team can benefit from using custom sample cases for your products in your presentations and sales pitches.

You can see that they will protect your samples. Organise them. Help your meetings run more smoothly. How they will show your customers you are a professional company that cares about your product. How they empower you and your sales team.

You can even see the potential for using them to psychologically influence your target customers.

Basically, you know all the benefits of using product sample cases.

5 proven methods to improve presentation of your samples
First impressions count - which is why the role of your sample cases can be critical in sales pitches

So you’re about to take the plunge. But wait. There are so many options. Different styles and brands. Materials. Colours. Even different types of handle. And this is before considering branding your cases.

How do you choose what type of sample case to use?

This article aims to set out your main options, allowing you to make an informed decision of the best option for your specific market, products and customers.

Quick Reference / Contents

01: Stock vs Custom Sample Cases

Defining custom and stock options

The first point to consider is whether to use stock, off the shelf cases, or a completely custom sample case.

But what is the difference?

Stock, or standard sample cases, are those that are manufactured in a range of specific sizes and colours, usually from a moulded plastic such as Polypropylene.

There are a number of manufacturers producing cases of this type, meaning there is a huge range of options to choose from.

Popular manufacturers and brands available include Hofbauer, W.Ag, Shell Case and Rose Plastic (amongst others).

The alternative is a custom built case. As the name would suggest, these cases are designed and built by a specialist manufacturer to your exact size and specification.

Although they tend to utilise a range of standard parts, there is still a wide range of options to customise the appearance and – if required – the level of protection afforded to your samples.

Two of the main types of custom sample cases available are the N Case and Smart Case range.

02: Common Case Options

The 7 hidden benefits of product sample cases

Regardless of whether you opt for stock or bespoke sample cases, there are a number of elements common to both.

The most common – and arguably important – is incorporating custom foam inserts. These not only organise and protect your samples but can also help to improve the visual appearance of the case.

Both custom and stock presentation cases can have foam inserts designed that are a perfect fit for the case.

Presentation cases with foam
Either stock or custom presentation cases can have foam added to improve appearance and protection

It is also possible to add branding to the exterior the cases in a number of ways, regardless of which type of case you choose to use (more details can be seen here).

The million dollar question however is which case is right for your business?

Which one will be a great fit for your products, will impress your clients and, ultimately, aid your sales efforts?

Well, without further ado, here are the main reasons you would choose a custom case over a standard one – or vice versa.

03: Custom Sample Cases

Reasons to use custom sample cases

There are five often cited reasons why you would choose a custom sample case. These are as follows:

  • If you need a custom size to avoid large gaps or condensing samples in your case
  • You have a particularly large item (or items) that need presenting
  • You require your samples cases to be especially durable
  • You are looking for very high-end aesthetics
  • You cannot find a stock case that truly reflects your brand identity (e.g. colour)

So are custom cases right for me?

As detailed above, perhaps the key benefit of a custom sample case is the size flexibility it offers.

This can be important if, due to the size of your range (either it is quite large or quite small), it does not fit into a standard sized case that well. This can lead to excessive amounts of empty space, or cramming your samples into a space that is too small.

Both of these situations can compromise the visual impact and usability of your case.

The same principal also applies if you have quite large sample products. Quite often, it can be difficult to find an off the shelf case that will accommodate these types of items comfortably.

Due to the lightweight nature of plastic presentation cases, a custom case will tend to be more durable, and last longer. This can be useful depending on the types of environment the case will be used in, or how carefully it will be handled.

Custom sample cases
Custom samples cases are an ideal choice for applications that require a more durable solution

However, the counterpoint to this is that the upfront cost – taking into account design and specialist manufacturing – will be higher. You must consider the lifetime cost before assuming one option will be cheaper than the other.

Finally, it can be argued that custom presentation cases offer a more luxury finish.

Whilst this is very much down to personal taste, the results from specifying custom sample cases can be particularly eye-catching. You also have greater control over features such as handles, catches, and even the colour of the cases themselves.

Are there any downsides to custom cases?

Custom cases will generally come with a higher upfront cost, simply due to the design time involved, and the nature of their manufacture. Although standard components can be used, a skilled production operative will still need to build the cases – a problem stock options do not face.

The nature of the case design and manufacturing process also means that custom cases can suffer from longer lead times too.

Finally, the construction of custom sample cases also means that usually, they are heavier. Whilst this makes more durable when combined with a heavy set of samples it can make the case unwieldy.

04: Stock Sample Cases

Reasons to utilise stock presentation cases

There are generally four reasons that you would choose to use standard or off the shelf presentation cases. These are:

  • Budget – stock cases are generally cheaper than custom cases
  • Time pressures – standard cases are usually available from stock so have shorter lead times
  • Weight is an issue – stock cases are significantly lighter and therefore easier to handle
  • You prefer the appearance of plastic cases – this is particularly common in manufacturing industries

How to see if you should use standard cases

There are two key drivers behind the decision to use standard presentation cases – budget and lead times.

As a general rule of thumb, off the shelf cases are more cost effective – cheaper – than custom built options. This is because there is no design time to factor in, or specialist manufacturing. They are simply purchased from a stock range.

The counter argument is that as they have a shorter lifespan however, they will need to be replaced more often. As such, you really need to work out how well the cases will be looked after, how they will be handled and then you can ascertain a likely “lifetime cost”.

Stock presentation cases
Stock presentation cases are limited in terms of size options, but are generally cheaper and available on very short lead times

Another benefit of bypassing the design and manufacturing stage is that the cases are available on much shorter lead times. So if you are desperate to get cases organised for a specific show or event, stock options are quicker to source.

A less often considered benefit is that due to their plastic construction, stock sample cases are lighter than bespoke alternatives. This may be useful if your samples are heavy, or the cases need to be handled a lot.

Finally, many people prefer the appearance of this type of case. There is a wide range of styles, colours (including transparent) and options available, meaning it is usually easy to match your brand identity.

When stock cases may not be suitable

Basically, the main disadvantage of stock sales demo cases is the fewer options for customisation.

You are generally limited to a standard range of colours (unless ordering exceptionally high volumes), and many argue that the overall aesthetics are of a lower quality than custom cases. This is very subjective, however.

Also, being limited to specific sizes can result in you needing to select specific samples to display (as an entire range may not fit), or for smaller collections of samples, the case is left with a large amount of empty space that negatively impacts the appearance.

Finally, the durability of this type of plastic case, including its various components such as hinges and catches, is generally lower. This may not be a problem if the case is well looked after, and is also mitigated by the lower cost of purchase and replacement too.

In Summary

Deciding on stock vs custom sample cases

Whilst this guide cannot tell you which type of sample case is right for your specific requirements, it has hopefully laid out the considerations that you must take into account.

It may be the case that there is one overriding factor that influences your decision. Maybe there are a number of features that are required, making the decision more complicated.

Regardless of the route, you decide to take, it is important to bear one thing in mind.

Whether you are planning on using stock, or custom presentation cases, either option will have a significant, tangible impact on your success when presenting your samples in sales meetings.

Further Reading...

About the Author

Richard Coombes

Richard Coombes

General Manager | GWP Protective

Having originally joined GWP Protective back in 2004, working on the factory floor, Richard now heads up the business as General Manager. [Read full bio…]

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