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Subscription box design: Packaging tips for success

Dale Cullen
Dale Cullen | 5 min read

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In recent years the subscription box market has boomed. However not all new companies will be successful.

In this competitive market, packaging and subscription box design are key to how you present your product and your brand.

We've all been there. It’s a boring Monday. The rain is drizzling down from a grey, overcast sky. But suddenly the doorbell rings. It’s your monthly subscription box, yeah!

For those of us who receive subscription deliveries, it can feel like a regular basket-sized treat arriving at your door.

But with competition emerging in all areas: from book subscription boxes to food and coffee subscriptions, you need to make your package is the one that stands out.

stars & sage eco mailer boxWhat is a subscription box? 

In its simplest form, a subscription box is a regular packaged delivery that arrives at your door; usually monthly, but some are weekly or every fortnight. Paid for, well...by subscription. 

There are subscription boxes for men or women, and even one's dedicated to gin and beers. It seems every angle, has been covered. Or has it?

Have a unique subscription box idea 

For some, the key is to find a unique idea that will bring subscription box success.

With much of the world coming to a basic standstill in 2020; the popularity of subscription packages has only increased. With many people being of the mindset that if you can’t get to the shops, then why not bring the shops to your door?

In fact, subscription delivery companies are now one of the most popular business models in e-commerce. They are relatively easy businesses to create too.

If you come up with an original idea that fills a gap in the market; your business can be flying in no time. 

How to grow your Subscription Box business    

Coming up with a unique subscription box idea is exactly what helped Spanish knitting company:

We are Knitters

We are knitters are making knitting cool again. Like it wasn’t already right?! 

This Spanish company came up with a unique idea to send out knitting packages for those looking to tinker with the knitting needles. 

Whether you’re a novice or an expert, the box is delivered with everything you need, to try your hand at crocheting or knitting.

 Printed on each delivery box is the slogan, “All the happiness in a box,” proving that for We are Knitters, success is about delivering an experience to the door of their customers.

With over 600k customers in 40 countries, We are knitters are becoming a global brand. Highlighting more than ever, that the subscription box market, really is about catching the right trend. If you have a unique idea that is marketable, then you have a chance at global success. 

Read more about We are Knitters

we are knitters subscription boxesSurmile

Another unique idea came from Surmile, who create subscription boxes for children aged 0-10 years. An area of the subscription box market that was previously untapped. 

Each box contains a personalised selection of children’s books and toys. As well as fashion items, accessories and childcare products from over 100 different brands.

But it wasn’t only a unique idea that brought Surmile success. 

Surmile have also stressed the importance of packaging when it comes to the subscription box industry. 

Packaging is very important in our business since the Surmile box is the customer's first impression of the brand and of our service when they receive it at home.” 

Surmile turned to Packhelp for their subscription box design. Designing unique delivery boxes with the Surmile logo proudly printed. 

Packhelp’s boxes are the first impression a customer gets of Surmile. Imagine the happiness on a child’s face when they receive their Surmile box filled with goodies. If the box was boring or tattered, it would devalue the whole experience.

The design of the box becomes a big part of the overall experience. It has to look great to fulfil its role. 

Looking to start your own delivery company? Choose your box here.

Surmile Subscription BoxSurmile

Getting your Subscription Box design right 

For Subscription box companies there is no shop window. There’s only packaging to display their product. So the box really is everything. That is certainly the case for some of Packhelp’s clients.

Lemonade Box

Lemonade Box is a cool, health and beauty subscription box company that only set up shop in 2019, but are already seeing success. They prioritise the health and well-being of women and provide a range of fun and fruity cosmetics, that allow women to pamper themselves at home. 

Founded by Kyra and Priya, Lemonade Box aims to support women in their mental wellbeing, as well as physical. 

For Lemonade Box their branded, Packhelp delivery boxes are an integral part of their brand.

Their boxes have become a unique part of the overall unboxing experience and are every bit as important a part of Lemon Box’s subscription, as the products inside. 

Lemonade Box chose Packhelp’s full-colour mailer boxes to hold their goodies and designed the logo and artwork themselves using Packhelp’s easy-to-use online editor. 

This allowed them to create packaging that was unique. A box that represented everything their brand was trying to say.

Do what Lemonade Box did and design your own subscription box

lemonade box custom packagingSubscription box design and social media

Social media plays a huge role in the marketing of products and services these days. A customer taking photographs of their favourite restaurant or product can be as good an endorsement of that brand as a spoken-word recommendation or glowing review.

When it comes to packaging and subscription box design, a box that is colourful, cute or flashy enough to stand-out, can sometimes even overshadow the products themselves.  

As Liz Cadman of My Subscription Addiction put it: 

“Customers are often inclined to share gorgeous boxes and packaging on their social channels, so it's extra important for subscription box companies to make sure their boxes look great open and closed.”

If the box looks great, customers are far more likely to share their own pictures of it on social media, resulting in free publicity for your business.

 Is a subscription box service is a good business opportunity? 

Choose a Subscription Box Design that will stand out

Jon Clark of monthly coffee subscription Nomadcoffeeclub, thinks packaging is an essential part of the unboxing experience when it comes to subscription packages. 

For Jon, the idea is to create packaging that allows for a memorable experience when it comes to unboxing. An experience that differs from the banality of opening a regular parcel, which arrives in a dull, brown cardboard box. 

“Customers are more and more accustomed to receiving packages in the mail. Most come packaged in a stale brown box with little character or memorable characteristics.”

The presentation of your packaging is what pushes your customer into wanting to buy that package from you on a regular basis. 

After all, many of the products that appear inside a subscription box, could be sourced by the buyer themselves. What they are paying for is the experience. The design of your subscription box is a huge part of that unboxing experience. 

Knowing the market and predicting the trends will of course help as well.

Subscription box owners discuss the future of the market

nomad coffee club subscription box packhelpSubscription box sizes

The size of the packaging of your delivery box is also going to be a factor. If the box is too big it might make the overall product look sparse and not worth the money. 

Likewise, if you have a box that needs to fit through a letter-box, then you will need to choose a mailer-box for your subscription box design.

The box you choose will need to be selected based on its purpose. You will need to think about the role you expect your packaging to perform. Is that role only to look good, or will the box need to be sturdy enough to offer protection to goods as well?

If your products are breakable, will your design need to include packaging filler such as tissue paper or branded packing paper

Learn more about packaging filler

If your box has contents of a similar size, it makes sense to use a box format that doesn’t require extra packaging. 

Likewise, if the box is going to carry a wide range of differently sized products, then opt for a box that is larger. That way your box’s size (and therefore the representation of your brand) is always consistent, even if the products inside are changing.  

Conclusion

There are many factors to take into account when starting your own subscription box company. The design of your box is only one of the areas to consider, but it is an important one. You will also need the right idea and the right work ethic. 

If you’ve assessed the risks and done your research, then there's no reason your idea couldn’t be the next delivery box service appearing at our doors. The right packaging is just the start.

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