The Anatomy of Subscription Box Packaging

Brittney Beermann | December 7, 2020

From Start to Scale


You never forget your first product launch! The excitement and anticipation consumes you until you get that very first order. You happily fill the box with products you’ve spent months designing and ship it to your new best friend! As your business continues to grow, you start to realize how difficult it has become to package and ship hundreds of boxes a week on your own. Maybe you’ve received a few too many complaints of damaged products. Or, you’ve simply added so many new products that you feel surrounded by inventory. The reality is, you’ve outgrown the garage. You need to revamp your packaging. You need a partner to help you scale!

A subscription box does more than just ship your product. You have to start with good packaging design. This can play a crucial role in protecting the items in shipment. It can also be utilized as a marketing tool. How the product is packed out may also aid in the unboxing experience. A 1-2-3 step regimen can have a custom insert that illustrates the perfect “how-to.” 

Having a subscription box fulfillment partner can take much of the stress off your plate while still being able to deliver on your promises. Some of the best partners offer custom packaging design, secure product inventory, procurement of additional packing materials and pick & pack to exact customer needs. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to designing, packing and shipping your subscription box. 


One Stop Subscription Box Solution 

Sized Right 

It can be difficult to find a one-size-fits-all subscription box. First, you must evaluate the size and average number of products you’ll be shipping. Your box should be able to fit your largest item with room for additional products or necessary packing material. Sizing is determined based on the Length, Width & Depth of the interior of the box: 

Length refers to the longest dimension, which is measured along the front panel. 

Width is typically the next longest dimension, measured along the side panel. 

Depth is also sometimes referred to as the height of the box. 

Products should fit snugly and nested together to avoid shifting and damage in shipment. You may need a few boxes sizes to accommodate various product configurations.


Material World

The material you choose for your subscription box can not only determine the overall look and feel of your packaging, but also the strength. Most manufacturers will offer E-flute or B-flute as these thicknesses allow for a smoother finish and hold up well in shipment.

You can also select from a variety of finish options including Gloss, which gives a premium high-sheen look and feel, Matte or Kraft. 


A Pop of Color 

Traditional print methods such as flexographic and lithographic printing are just not feasible for all custom packaging projects. Luckily, digital print methods allow for high quality, detail graphics to be printed directly on the box. Try various material and print styles to achieve the best look for your brand. Utilize the inside and outside of the packaging to communicate to your audience and stand out in a sea of plain brown boxes. 


Dress to Impress

Give the ultimate unboxing experience with custom add-ons that take your packaging to the next level. Custom inserts not only secure your product in place but also add to the overall presentation. Printed tissue paper sealed with a custom sticker gives customers the feeling that this box was made just for them. By adding these simple and cost effective add-ons, your subscription box will outshine the competition. 


Don’t Forget Lead Times!

Make sure you allow for various supplier lead times when curating your box. Aside from the individual product lead times, packaging manufacturers may need up to 14 days to produce, procure, pack and ship. Expediting comes with a cost! Plan ahead for your launch date with a well thought out timeline and add in a few extra days just in case!


Pick & Pack

Fulfilling orders is one of the most exciting steps in the process! Products should be nested together to avoid moving around and potentially getting damaged. Each box is packed to your specifications ensuring the customer receives only the best from your brand. Whether all of your orders are alike or each order contains unique products, a SKU list should accompany each box until it has been quality checked for perfection and is ready to seal shut. 


Sealed to Perfection

Most subscription boxes will ship in its original outer mailer. It’s no secret that these boxes can take a beating in transit so aside from product protection inside the box, it’s important to ensure they actually STAY inside the box! 

Utilizing one of these sealing methods will leave you feeling confident that your products will arrive safe and secured: 

  1. Clear Wafer Seals – perfect for lightweight packages
  2. Clear Packing Tape – a better option for heavier boxes
  3. Kleenstick Adhesive – strong hold, maintains outer appearance 


Sent with Love

Finally, the subscription boxes are individually labeled to arrive at each customer’s doorstep in a timely manner. Transit times will vary, but luckily with a partner such as SubPack, which is located in the Midwest, transit times are greatly improved vs shipping from the east and west coast. That means your customers receive their uniquely curated box guaranteed to exceed expectations. 


Launch Your Subscription Box in Style

The subscription and ecommerce market continues to grow at least 20-30% every year! Brands are shipping everything from t-shirts to high-end cosmetics for an affordable monthly fee and if they can do it, so can you! Don’t go at it alone though! Seek out the ideal packaging and fulfillment partner that has the knowledge of how to launch a quality box with impressive packaging and a memorable unboxing experience. Choose someone who is willing to go above and beyond for your brand, keeping your vision in mind. Make sure your box is designed for the product and can withstand various shipping methods. Following these 8 essential steps when creating and fulfilling your subscription box packaging is the only way to launch successfully! 


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