What size box do you need for your subscription box?

blog getting started packaging Apr 03, 2022


One question I often get from people who are starting a subscription box is, “What size box do I need?” I answer this question a lot inside my coaching membership, Launch Your Box, and on my How to Start a Subscription Box with Sarah Williams Facebook page. 

Since this is such a popular question, I’m sharing all you need to consider when deciding what size box will work best for your subscription box. 


Plan what will go in your subscription box.

The first thing you need to do, of course, is figure out what’s going in your box. This means planning not just one month but looking at several months at a time. 

This is where going through my 6 in 60 Workshop comes in handy. During this FREE workshop, I guide you through curating six months’ worth of boxes for your ideal customer. 



Ideally, you want to choose a box size that can be used for most months. I say most months because occasionally you might have something that is a wonky size (bigger or smaller than usual or just simply an awkward shape) and you’ll have to use alternative packaging that month. 


Decide what your common subscription box size will be. 

When you’re getting started, you probably don’t have all of your products. This creates a challenge when it comes to figuring out what your common size will be. Don’t worry. There is an easy solution. 


Find similar items around your house. 

I did this when I was starting my subscription box - and it’s something I still do often. 

If you know you are going to put a tumbler in a box, it’s almost certain you have a tumbler somewhere in your kitchen. The same with purses, jewelry, clothing, food items, etc. You’ll use these similar items to get some measurements for your box. 



Lay those items out on a table. 

Once you’ve gathered the items, lay them out on a table. Compact them into the smallest area you can. I like to use painter's tape on the table to lay out what size box I would need for a planned group of items. Do the same thing for multiple months. 


Start measuring. 

Take measurements of each layout and write them down. When you do this, you’ll find common sizing. Yes, your layouts may all be different sizes, but you’ll know the minimum size you would need for all the items to fit. 



For example, I know I have to have a box that is four inches tall in order for a tumbler to fit inside. So my standard box now has to be four inches tall no matter what I put in there. This might mean I need to use some filler a few months out of the year when I don’t have items large enough to fill that box. It also means I won’t be stuck with boxes my tumblers won’t fit in when I am including one in that month’s box. 


Get familiar with standard box sizes. 

When you’re starting out, it’s important to get familiar with standard box sizes. For this example, my measurements show I need an 11x9x4 box to fit my items.



If I’m using a custom box from a company like Packlane, I can choose whatever size I need. But if I’m using a basic box from a company like Amazon or Uline, I need to look at standard box sizes. For my example, I would need to choose the 12x9x4 box from Uline.  



Decide how many boxes to buy. 

When I was getting started with my subscription box, I could only afford to buy boxes one or two months at a time. So I would try to find a box that would fit those two months’ boxes and order them. My box size changed throughout the year, which was not a problem because I wasn’t buying in bulk. 

I started out using plain boxes and that is what I recommend. In this blog post I share tips about how to take a basic box and customize it to fit your brand. I personalized my basic boxes with a custom stamp.



As I started to grow and scale, I found two sizes that worked for ALL of my boxes. That meant I could buy custom boxes in bulk - thousands at a time - and get a much better price per box because of my large order. This is another way you will become more profitable as you grow. 

Don’t purchase a large order of custom boxes in the beginning. Wait a few months and make sure the size you think you want is correct. Ordering a large quantity of custom boxes that end up being the wrong size is an expensive lesson to learn! 



Thinking outside of the subscription box. 

Remember, not all subscriptions have to come in a box. If you have a subscription with soft goods like apparel, using a 10x13 or 14x19 poly mailer is a great alternative at a fraction of the cost. 

Learn more about when a subscription box doesn’t need to come in a box in this blog post



New subscription box owners always have lots of questions about packaging. Now that you know the ins and outs of deciding what size box you need, you might be ready to think about what else goes into your packaging. 

Grab my FREE Packaging Cheat Sheet for more tips and links to my favorite packaging resources and vendors! 

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 that 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!
  • One Box at a Time: Inside my book One Box at a Time, I show you the steps you need to follow to start and launch your subscription box. To turn your dream into reality. This book is filled with proven teachings, valuable resources, best practices, and action steps for you to take.


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