Subscription Box Packaging Basics

blog getting started packaging Jun 29, 2020

 

Packaging is one of my favorite parts of my subscription box! 

Of course, I love what is inside the box. I spend a lot of time curating an amazing experience for my subscribers each month. But… there’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to packaging, too! 

Think about it. Your box is the first thing subscribers see each month. It acts as “the face” of your business since you can’t hand deliver boxes to all of your subscribers. The box itself is the beginning of your subscriber’s experience each month. It’s worth taking the time and effort to make it special.

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I know, there are so many things to keep in order when you’re starting a subscription box. Packaging can be one of the most fun - and most stressful - to figure out. 

Deciding on packaging should be fun. And it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Y’all know I’m all about taking the overwhelm out of starting and launching a subscription box. If you haven’t listened to my podcast episode all about packaging, find it here

Let’s go through some subscription box packaging basics you need to know.

 

 

The power of a basic box      

When you’re getting started with your subscription box, you don’t have the revenue coming in to allow you to invest in a beautiful custom box.  

I started all my subscriptions with basic packaging. I truly believe a basic box is a great place to start. Using plain boxes instead of a custom option saves you a ton of money, especially when you have smaller numbers of subscribers and can’t order large amounts. 

 

Dressing up a basic box. 

Does a basic box mean a plain box or a boring box? Not at all! Take that basic box and dress it up! Add your branding to a basic box by using: 

 

  • Stamps - works best on brown craft boxes. 
  • Stickers. 
  • Custom tape.
  • Custom label.

 

When I was getting started, I used a plain brown craft box and invested in a stamp with my logo on it. I simply stamped the logo onto every box. 

That simple stamp elevated an ordinary box and made it mine. It represented my brand and let my subscribers know something special from me had arrived. I ordered the stamp on Etsy and purchased a large inkpad for a total investment of less than $100. I stamped many, many boxes just that way! 

Spruce up a basic white or brown box with a custom label or cute custom tape. A lot of custom box companies have extras you can buy. They can be printed with your logo or in fun patterns that match your brand. Most make custom stickers too!

 

Tips to basic box success. 

Be careful not to spend so much money “dressing up” your box that you end up spending nearly as much as you would on a custom box. Choose effective, economical options to add your branding to a basic box. 

When you’re buying a mailer box - one that opens on the front and lifts up - there are two types. One has interlocking tabs and the other does not. Choose the type with the interlocking tabs. Otherwise, you’ll need to use a bunch of extra tape sealing the sides of your box. This looks tacky and you’ll find yourself spending more money on tape. 

Check out this blog post for more on dressing up a basic box. 

 

 

When it’s time for a custom box. 

I know how tempting it is to want a custom box for your subscription from the beginning. I really recommend NOT investing in custom boxes until you’ve built up your subscriber base. I didn’t order custom boxes until I had 100 subscribers. 

I want you to think of your custom box as a billboard for your business. As that beautiful box travels around the country to the doorsteps of your subscribers, it’s being seen by a LOT of people. 

Any box, basic or custom, needs to communicate your brand messaging. Make sure your logo is clear, include a tagline and your website. But… be careful not to overwhelm your box. Use too many words or graphics and your message will be lost. 

 

Creating a custom box is a process. 

You have choices when it comes to designing your custom box. You can work with a box designer or you can design it yourself and upload the design to the company’s website. 

Again, remember to consider your box as part of your marketing efforts. Make sure any box you design is an effective billboard for your business. 

There are ways to save money when using custom boxes. It’s all about quantity. When you buy custom boxes in bulk, you get a significant discount. Packlane offers a great discount on orders of 2000 boxes or more. 

 

Consider a semi-custom option.

There is another option that is less of an investment than a fully custom box. Consider a logo brown or white box. You can get a 3-color logo printed on the side of a brown or white box relatively inexpensively. Check out Packlane’s Brandable box option. 

 

Don’t forget about what goes inside your box.     

Packaging your subscription box doesn’t stop with the box itself. Inside the box, there are a few things to consider and many ways to uplevel your subscriber’s experience.   

It’s very important to me that the box feels full. I want to fill up my boxes - the last thing I want when a subscriber opens my box is for it to look or feel empty. 

 

Choosing a filler.

But what if the items you so carefully chose don’t fill your box completely? Or if an item is fragile and needs to be cushioned during shipping? You’ll need to use some type of filler. Choose from: 

 

  • Air pillows
  • Shreds
  • Tissue paper
  • Packing peanuts

 

I have a love/hate relationship with shreds. Yes, they can protect items from damage. Yes, they fill up empty space in a box. And yes, you can even get shreds in your brand colors for a really cohesive look. 

Shreds also make a mess when the box is opened. And they can leave “shred dust” on the items inside the box, making them appear dusty or dirty. So… if you decide to go with shreds, just understand the pros and the cons. 

I love the way some Launch Your Box members use tissue paper in their subscription boxes. Tissue paper keeps your items together so they don’t shift during shipping. It’s also a great way to combat “shred dust” - simply wrap the items in tissue paper and place them on top of a layer of shreds. The box appears full, the items are protected, and… no shred dust! You can even design custom tissue or simply choose tissue paper in your brand colors!

 

Don’t underestimate the power of an insert.

Including an insert in your box adds to the perceived value and uplevels your subscriber’s experience. An insert allows you to continue your branding, highlight the products in the box, and include your inspiration. 

Your insert acts as a guide to the contents of the box and allows you to add your signature for that personal touch. Find more on subscription box inserts here.

 

 

Does my subscription have to be in a box?  

What if I told you that your subscription doesn’t have to come in a box? 

My t-shirt subscription ships in a custom poly mailer. I call it the T-Shirt Club because it’s technically not a subscription box. 

Why would you choose a poly mailer over a box? Simple, you can save a ton of money. If I pack my t-shirts in a box, the package then weighs more than a pound. In a poly mailer, it’s less than a pound. That slight difference in weight makes a HUGE difference in shipping cost. And since I designed a super cute, custom poly mailer, I’m still providing my subscribers with an on-brand, instantly recognizable package that arrives on their doorsteps each month. 

When you’re starting out, do what I did and find some cute poly mailers on Amazon. I found some that matched my brand color and those were perfect until my subscriber numbers grew. I gathered a list of my subscription box must-haves available from Amazon here

When I was ready, I designed custom poly mailers. Again, with poly mailers, the cost per mailer goes way down if you order in bulk. 

Consider poly mailers if you’re shipping soft goods like t-shirts. 

 

Download my quick reference guide all about packaging here.

 

 

When it comes to choosing packaging for your subscription box, have fun with it! Remember to use what you can afford, up-leveling your packaging as you grow. Once you are ready for custom packaging, save costs by ordering in bulk. And never forget, your subscription box is a traveling billboard for your business. Make every element count! 

-Sarah

 

Learn from me:

  • Subscription Box Blueprint eBook: This $10 ebook covers logistics from product selection to packaging to shipping. Plus a 90-day launch plan and bonus ‘Instant Scripts’ for your social media.
  • Launch Your Box: My complete training program walks you step by step through how to start, launch, and grow your subscription box business.
  • Launch Your Box Podcast: I share tons of practical tips and strategies to help you start, launch, and grow your subscription box business. You’ll also hear from industry experts and current Launch Your Box members who are crushing it - get ready to get inspired!  

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