Subscription box services have exploded in popularity across the UK and the US in the last few years. These services exist across a huge range of target audiences and product categories, but all exhibit a variation on the same business model. Customers sign up and pay a monthly price to receive a box containing various products in the post.

Sometimes customers know exactly what they’re getting and other times they won’t know anything more than the type of product they’ve signed up for, but all subscription box businesses thrive off the sense of excitement that we all get from receiving a box full of good stuff in the post.

For a subscription box business to be successful there are few different things to consider. Finding the right target audience, nailing your marketing efforts and choosing the right products to include are all essential, but you also need to pay attention to the packaging.

More than any other ‘ecommerce’ business models (where customers view your services and pay you money online) subscription box services make the packaging a part of the brand. The presentation of the box itself is key to creating a favourable impression of your brand and building up the anticipation that your customers will feel when they receive the box.

On top of the aesthetics of the box, there are also the practicalities to consider. Your box should be able to fit all your products in comfortably, at the same time as being efficient enough to minimise your postage costs. If you’re giving away a product of a similar size each month - a book, for example - choosing the right packaging shouldn’t be too hard. But if you’re sending out a dozen different beauty products the sizing has the potential to vary considerably, in which place you’ll need to plan more carefully from the start.

Packaging your products safely

So how do you go about choosing the right box size for your subscription products? If you’re going to be sending out products that are the same or very similar in size each month then you can get their measurements and work out the sizes from there. We’ll discuss the type of box you should consider shortly, as this will also affect how you arrange your products within the packaging and, therefore, the precise dimensions you need.

If the size of your products is more variable, your subscription box needs to be designed with the largest possible shipments in mind. While you could theoretically change the size of your box every month, this is much more work and will mean the price of the boxes will change each month, which cuts into one of the main benefits of subscription boxes: the steady, predictable income. If you design with the biggest products in mind and use protective packaging for smaller shipments, you’ll be much better off.

Protective packaging is anything that goes inside the box itself with your products to keep them packed tight and safe in transit. We sell bubble wrap, tissue paper and void fill, which are all potential options. If presentation is the priority then tissue paper is probably your best option, but bubble wrap and polystyrene void filler are much better if you need to protect the products from damage.

Designing the perfect subscription box

There are many different styles of cardboard boxes available for packaging, but not all of them are suitable for subscription boxes. A standard single wall 0201 might be perfect for a one-off online shopping delivery, but all the tape required to hold it together really isn’t great for presentation and doesn’t leave you with much space for your branding.

We would recommend 0427 boxes for your subscription packages, which have already been used for subscription boxes to great effect by one of our customers, My Ebony Box (pictured below). This style of box is a die cut box, which means the net is cut out of a sheet of cardboard by a die, creating a box that can be constructed by slotting it together without the need for tape. Needless to say, this vastly improves the presentation of the box itself and gives you much more flexibility with the branding.

My Ebony Box 0427 subscription box packaging with label

As you can see from My Ebony Box’s example above, there’s a lot that you can do with an 0427 box to make it your own. We sell 0427 boxes in 4 different colours - brown, blue, black and white - which you can then customise with printing or labels that show off your brand.

Turning interest into loyalty

The key to any successful subscription box business is to be able to attract new customers and turn them into loyal brand ambassadors who not only keep coming back for more, but also recommend your services to their friends and social networks. The best way to inspire this brand loyalty is to offer your customers exceptional value.

You should be offering them fantastic products, presented in a fantastic way, that provide customers with an overall service that’s well worth the money they’re paying you each month. While the products will often be at the heart of this value, your subscription box packaging can do a lot of work to improve the overall reception of your service.

No matter how much customers are paying for the products inside their boxes, the packaging itself can give the impression of a high quality, high value service. Ultimately, your packaging should raise excitement about the products within and show that you are committed to delivering a professional, valuable service. If the packaging is great then people are also more likely to share pictures of the box itself, rather than just removing the products, which can be a great advert for your brand across ubiquitous social media sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to post about your brand with a positive endorsement.

If you’re starting a subscription box service or you’re interested in revamping your package, Boxtopia can help. Visit our die cut box and 0427 box pages to see some of the different sizes that we have on offer, or get in touch with us directly for more information about our packaging products.


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Author: Rowena Perrott

Rowena Perrott is the General Manager at Boxtopia and has over 30 years’ experience in sales. She works with businesses of all sizes across any industry to find the best packaging supplies for their needs.

Open as usual
Despite the current circumstances with COVID-19, Boxtopia remains open for a business as usual for the time being. We are able to deliver bespoke boxes to anywhere in the country. For more information on our response to this emerging situation, please visit our business update.