2020 has definitely become the year of the subscription box, and it certainly looks like they are going to be sticking around into 2021 and beyond. If this is an area that you’re looking to get into as a business owner, one of the main concerns you probably have is about packaging. After all, packaging for subscription services is a huge part of the equation, and many people have no idea what goes into packaging and shipping for subscription services. 

Luckily, you have come to the right place. BoxGenie deals with subscription services all the time and is here to guide you through this new potential business venture. 

What Are Subscription Boxes?

If you haven’t yet heard about subscription boxes—where have you been? They have become all the rage in recent years and are booming even more recently due to COVID restrictions that affect brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, Forbes reports that subscription services have grown at a rate of over 890% since 2014. Talk about impressive numbers! As 2020 wraps up, it will be interesting to see what final numbers are reported in this industry due to a very interesting year. 

When it comes to types of subscription boxes, there are three main types: replenishment, curation, and access. Subscription services for replenishment make up about 32% of the market share and are designed to help consumers save time and money by simply sending them replacements of products that they use on a regular basis. 

Subscription services for curation make up about 55% of the market share and are designed to surprise consumers with product variety and introduce them to products that they may not normally buy on their own. Subscription services for access make up about 13% of the market share and are designed to provide consumers with exclusive access to products and VIP perks that are hard to find elsewhere. 

Are Subscription Boxes Here To Stay?

When subscription boxes first started taking off, many people assumed that it was just a short-lived fad rather than a transformation of how people use eCommerce. However, as these numbers continue to grow with no end in sight, it’s safe to say that subscription boxes are here to stay. In fact, the market has even gotten better as a result of more competition that drives companies to offer better deals and products to win over consumers to their service. 

As of late 2019, a survey found that 54% of consumers received at least one subscription box. This is an area that many people want to get into, which has led to a diverse selection of subscription box services being offered to consumers. 

What Types Of Things Come In Subscription Boxes?

But just how diverse are subscription boxes? As it turns out, they pretty much cover all the basic retail industries. Here are just a few examples of types of subscription boxes that consumers can sign up for:

  • Wine subscription
  • Coffee subscription
  • Hot sauce subscription
  • Cheese club subscription
  • Beauty subscription
  • Perfume subscription
  • Sock subscription
  • Candle subscription
  • Book subscription
  • House plant subscription
  • Dog subscription
  • Baby subscription

Clearly, there’s no limit to what you can offer through a subscription box! This is also a great way for niche markets to promote their brand and reach more consumers than would normally be possible in brick-and-mortar settings. 

What Is The Best Type Of Box For Subscription Services?

The subscription box industry is unique in and of itself, so does it require unique packaging solutions as well? As it turns out, some boxes are better-suited for subscription services than others. While packaging is important in every industry, it’s especially important for subscription services that only interact with consumers through their packaging and products rather than in-person. Basically, this means that the packaging has to be as impressive as the products. 

When it comes to the best type of box for subscription services, there are two main options: mailer boxes and shipping boxes. Mailer boxes may be what you initially think of when you picture your typical subscription box. Mailer boxes are heavy and durable enough to ship most items safely. Moreover, check out if corrugated boxes fit the bill.

That said, shipping boxes may be ideal for your subscription service if your products are heavier and require more insulation and protection throughout their journey. There are a variety of different size options available for both mailer boxes and shipping boxes so that you can find the perfect size. 

What Is The Best Printing Method For Subscription Boxes?

You obviously don’t want a boring brown cardboard box for your subscription box—so you’re going to need to do some printing. However, many people don’t know that there are actually three different printing methods that can be used on boxes, each with its own set of pros and cons. Thankfully, we here at BoxGenie are experts in printing on packaging, so we are here to help break it all down for you:

  • Flexographic printing: This type of printing involves the creation of a printing plate with the box’s design that then picks up the ink and is stamped onto the box. This printing method is good for simple boxes with extremely large orders, but often, the expenside of the printing plates isn’t worth it. 
  • Lithographic printing: This type of printing can provide higher-quality images with more colors and cleaner lines. Just note that this method is more expensive and isn’t really necessary within this market space. 
  • Digital printing: This type of printing doesn’t involve any special plates being made, so you can keep costs low while still being able to use whatever colors you’d like. Instead, the design is printed directly onto the box by using ink jets or lasers, making it low cost, quick to produce, and overall the most ideal option for subscription box packaging design. 

How To Design Amazing Custom Subscription Boxes?

Even though we have touched on some of the components of designing an amazing custom subscription box, it’s still a good idea to break it all down in one place so that you know exactly what you need to do to create the best options for your business venture. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re working on the design for your custom subscription box:

  • Incorporate fonts, colors, and patterns that you’re already using for your brand to keep everything uniform and engaging for the consumer. 
  • Think about what colors, images, and designs your customers will respond to. After all, they are looking forward to receiving this box—make it fun for them! 
  • Don’t forget about inner packaging components such as dividers, fillers, or even inserts to tailor your package. 
  • Consider opting for eco-friendly packaging options if this is something that your customers care about or something that fits into your brand image.
  • Consider consulting with a custom box designer who will be able to show you the ins and outs of this space while coming up with amazing designs and product options that are tailored to your specific business. BoxGenie, for instance, is one of the best and has been involved in the packaging realm for almost 50 years—so you definitely need them on your team! 

How To Best Ship Subscription Boxes

Now that we have packaging all figured out, we need to talk about shipping as the last piece of the puzzle. Shipping subscription boxes can be extremely costly if you don’t know what you’re doing. This is especially true if you’re trying to ship heavier items that may end up costing you a fortune in shipping costs if you’re not careful.

One shipping option for subscription boxes that’s definitely worth looking into is USPS’s cubic pricing. Also known as Commercial Plus Pricing, this option bases the price of shipping on the volume of the box rather than on the weight as is commonly done in standard shipping scenarios. 

That said, there is still a limit of 20 pounds for this option, and it also requires a high volume of packages to be cost-efficient. Either way, this is definitely something to keep in mind, if not for now, for later on when your business is booming! 

Final Thoughts On Subscription Box Design

By now, hopefully, you’re an expert on subscription box packaging design and are ready to get out there and start shipping out your own amazing boxes. However, if you still aren’t sure or have questions about how you can create the best packaging for your products and company overall, feel free to contact the experts at BoxGenie who are here to help guide you through the process and develop options that will wow every subscriber. 



  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/richardkestenbaum/2018/05/30/the-subscription-box-business-continues-to-grow-and-change/?sh=743f05032c3e
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/gregpetro/2019/04/12/why-subscription-boxes-are-here-to-stay/?sh=11fb10667037
  3. https://smallbiztrends.com/2019/10/subscription-box-statistics.html
  4. https://www.stamps.com/usps/cubic-pricing/

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