The Dual Role of Subscription Box Packaging

3 min read
November 16, 2017

Subscription Box Packaging: Two Sides of the Coin

The subscription box industry is booming. Based on one of two business models, subscription box companies either replenish a consumer’s existing product stock (such as Dollar Shave Club) or help consumers discover new products altogether (such as Birchbox). Regardless of which model a subscription box company chooses, their success is dependent on providing a delightful product experience, great customer service, and continuously refreshing and growing their subscriber base. What role does e-commerce packaging play in the success of these businesses? Effective subscription box packaging plays two roles: product protector and brand ambassador.

Protect Your Product

As with any eCommerce product, your subscription box will be shipped and may make quite a journey before finally arriving at your subscriber’s doorstep. Whether you perform your own kitting and fulfillment or you outsource to a 3rd party, your boxes will leave pack-out and enter distribution and delivery which can involve warehouses, mail distribution centers, delivery trucks, and many hand-offs between. They may be stacked, thrown, tossed, knocked and bumped along the way - it’s best to ensure your packaging will hold up!

Graze Box
The Graze Box's custom insert protects their product in transit and delivers a great experience.

Common subscription mailer box styles include the roll-end front tuck (with or without dust flaps), and the roll end tuck top. These styles work well to protect your product and deliver a positive unboxing experience. Whichever style is right for your business, you’ll want to test your packaging to ensure it can deliver your product undamaged. Damaged products = unsatisfied customers, which can have a huge impact on subscription box businesses.

If your packaging isn’t living up to its promise of protection, work with a packaging designer to choose a more protective material, better void fill, or a more appropriate box design to fit your particular needs.

Promote Your Brand

In the world of eCommerce, your packaging is often the only physical connection that a consumer will have with your brand. Not only does this mean it needs to be a great representation of who you are as a company, but it also needs to delight and engage your customer - it is, after all, replacing the in-store retail experience (along with your online presence).

          Fantastapack Subscription Boxes
These subscription boxes deliver a powerful unboxing experience. Courtesy of

Word travels fast over social media, YouTube unboxing videos, and online reviews. A great packaging design featured in your advertising can quickly spread awareness and attract potential new subscribers.

Packaging that leverages the benefits of digital printing can also add huge value to the unboxing experience through personalization. Many subscription box companies offer products based on the concept of mass customization - curated specifically for each subscriber. Why not personalize the packaging as well? Imagine including a subscriber’s name in a message printed directly on the inside of the box, printing personalized coupons, discount codes, or special offers - all tailored specifically to the recipient. Digital print frees you from purchasing print plates and allows each box to be completely unique.

Packaging can now be a part of the marketing strategy for subscription box as well as other eCommerce companies.

What the Future Holds for this Growing Industry

Technology has empowered consumers to shop differently, and subscription boxes are just one of many ways that the retail landscape has evolved as a result. Is it a trend? Some say that the market for these boxes is heading toward maturation and may soon begin to consolidate as major brands enter the space. Brands who are able to successfully leverage subscription boxes as just one source of revenue in a mix will be in a great position to respond to changing consumer habits as they continue to unfold.

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