Why Your Susbscription Service Needs Custom Boxes

August 14, 2018 by Erin Behan

Whether you're new to the subscription business model or you're refining your subscription-based business, you're likely faced with the conundrum of having to package and ship products while keeping costs to a minimum. Don't let an eye on the bottom line tempt you to skimp on custom packaging.

After all, subscription boxes are big business in the U.S., and the market is growing, according to a 2018 McKinsey report, which found that the e-commerce subscription market has grown by more than 100 percent a year over the past five years.

The study identified curation subscriptions, that is subscriptions which "seek to surprise and delight by providing new items or highly personalized experiences in categories such as apparel, beauty, and food" as "by far the most popular."

What that means for your subscription box company, especially if it falls into the curation category: You’re facing stiff competition, and establishing your brand presence is key. One of your main sources of brand identity in a subscription-based business is custom packaging.

subscription custom mailer box

What Custom Packaging Can Do for Your Subscription Business
Packaging can make or break a subscription box business. Just take a look at the top five subscription box services, according to the McKinsey report: Amazon Subscribe & Save, Dollar Shave Club, Ipsy, Blue Apron, and BirchBox. Each of these highly branded entities use custom mailers of some sort, with all but beauty subscription service Ipsy, which opts for eye-catching pink metallic bubble mailers, using custom boxes with their brand identity prominently displayed.

In its packaging and shipping tutorial, the all-in-one subscription ecommerce platform Cratejoy doesn’t even consider sending goods out in anything but a custom box (or mailer). The site advises that "if done correctly, your physical packaging can be key to improving customer experience, and even help drive down churn. It's on your packaging that you control your brand; it's a visual storyboard that should both excite the customer and work to your benefit, spelling out calls to actions for the customer and adding value to the unboxing experience."

What custom packaging gives your brand isn't always tangible—how do you measure the feeling someone gets when they pick the box up off their porch or open it?—but it's arguably one of the most important parts of the ecommerce customer experience.

The efufillment service Shipmonk puts it this way: "Today's customers expect not just a positive buying experience but also a positive unboxing experience. So the appearance of your box—first on the outside, then what’s on the inside—is even of greater importance because it’s part of your brand. You need each and every package to be visually appealing and for the packing materials to be pleasing to the eye."

How to Source Affordable Custom Packaging for Your Subscription Business
Choose an outer shipping box. When you're ready to invest in custom packaging for your business, you need to establish what type of box you need. Will a roomy, strength-tested shipping box work best for your needs or do you prefer an equally shippable tuck-flap mailing box, a top choice for subscription box services? Perhaps you want something different and your product works in a pizza-sized shipping box.

Choose to use an inner box (or not). Those looking for a lighter-weight gift box or who want an inner box in addition to one for shipping, should consider a paperboard box, such as a fold-up box or a gable box. Different types of boxes have differing costs, and finding the box you need is the first step in establishing cost.

Choose a finish. Boxes also come in a variety of finishes, from standard kraft brown to high-gloss white. Buying a box with a fancy finish you don't need could increase costs unnecessarily. That said, a high-gloss finish might perfectly show off your box's bright colors and be worth the extra price.

Choose a size. In general, the bigger the box, the more it's going to cost you — customization or not. It's important to know exactly what size box you need, taking into account any necessary inner packing materials. Keep in mind that the bigger the box, the more it will generally cost to ship, too. The best thing you can do is to test boxes of various size by arranging your products and packing materials inside and then opening them just like a customer would to judge the experience.

For more on finding the right type and size box for you at the right price, see How Much Does Custom Packaging Cost?

subscription kraft mailer box

Where to Source Custom Packaging for Your Subscription Business
Once you've got the type, finish, and size worked out, you need to find a place to buy your custom packaging. Distinct Packaging delivers high-quality packaging at competitive prices, with one big advantage for small- and medium-sized subscription businesses: no minimum print orders. Whether you need 10 boxes or 10,000, you get access to the same features of Distinct Packaging:
Online design tool with 3-D preview that updates as you design
Ability to design in the tool or offline using your preferred design software
Instant pricing updates as you change finish, print area, and quantity
Option to print both outside and inside for most products
Responsive customer service by phone (877) 464-195 or email support@distinctpackaging.com
Special requests may be made online using Request a Quote
Order ship within 10 business days of being placed

Get started at Distinct Packaging today.
Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.


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