Top Tips for Subscription Box Packaging

In every business, packaging is an essential. But there’s one type of business where it’s one of the most important elements for success – a subscription box.

The packaging for subscription boxes helps build a connection between your brand and the customer. It helps protect the valuable products, so that they arrive safely at every door. And it’s a marketing tool – a shareable asset that can help bring extra eyes to your brand.

Just like people expect to pay for the experience in a retail store, they expect to receive premium packaging as part of their subscription. So, how can you make the most of your subscription boxes? Here are our top tips for custom subscription box packaging.

What is a subscription box?

A subscription box is a service where customers pay an ongoing price for a regular supply of products. The most common frequency is monthly, but there may also be bi-monthly and quarterly options. There are lots of reasons that a customer might enjoy a subscription box service, including:


Subscription boxes are a great way for a customer to try a variety of products. These might all come from the same brand or be a combination of many different brands.


If a customer is loyal to a particular product, it can help them a lot to have a regular supply delivered. This means they are always stocked up and can avoid annoying trips to the store.

blue and white cardboard box


Many customers prefer to subscribe to products as they know how much they will pay and how often. There is also added value to many subscription boxes – such as $100 worth of product for a lower cost.


From local retail stores to online shopping, customers have access to any product, any time. But, the element of surprise means many prefer to subscribe to a brand. It’s like receiving a gift from yourself every month – and a big part of the fun is in the unboxing experience.

What kinds of businesses make subscription boxes?

The possibilities for a subscription box are almost endless – which means most businesses have an opportunity to start one. But, there are a couple of common rules for success:

  • Build a box around an industry theme – such as fitness, food, garden or beauty
  • Or around a certain type of product – such as candles, coffee and tea, cosmetics or health foods

There are three main types of subscription boxes to choose from as well.

1. The variety box – this is a curated selection of products that changes with each box. Even though the box has variety, it shouldn’t feel random. These boxes work best with a connecting theme – like an industry or product type.

2. The regular supply box – this works well for products that are consumable which means they run out. Examples include vitamins, skincare, garden fertiliser, pet food, candles, coffee and tea, fresh food and meal plans.

3. The loyalty box – this is a box received as part of a loyalty membership. It typically includes product samples for your customer to try. It creates an incentive to spend more at a certain brand, to increase your membership level and receive better rewards.

What is the best packaging for subscription boxes?

For us, the best packaging for subscription boxes is corrugated cardboard. It’s fast to manufacture, easy to design and doesn’t create excessive waste for your customer. There are lots of corrugated box styles to choose from – but there are three that we think make the best packaging for a subscription box.

1. Mailer Boxes

Mailer boxes, or die cut boxes, are one of the most popular choices for a subscription box. They are easy for staff to assemble and pack, plus they present neatly to the end customer. Mailer boxes work best with a small selection of products.

2. RSC Boxes

Many subscription services already use RSC boxes for their supply chain – like food delivery services and wine bottle subscriptions. These boxes are great for stacking products, so they work well when you have a large volume to send. They also have plenty of space for extra packing elements, such as ice packs for food or dividers for wine bottles.

cardboard box on its side with pink and white design

3. Folder Style Boxes

Folder style boxes are by no means the most obvious choice, but that doesn’t make them the wrong choice. For certain types of products, they are an effective packaging solution. For example, a bookstore who offer a monthly book club subscription or a décor store that send bi-monthly art prints, frames or mirrors.

At the end of the day, you should base your packaging around your products. If you need advice – contact our team and we can talk you through the process from start to finish.

How to avoid unnecessary extras

Another reason we believe corrugated boxes are the best choice for a subscription service is they are an all-in-one solution. Many packaging suppliers will offer you a range of products – like packaging boxes, stickers, tissue paper and message cards – to complete your subscription box packaging. But, with a clever box design; we can help you cut it all down to one.

For example, designing a custom mailer box with branding and logos, internal printing for a thank-you message and custom-cut inserts to house your products turns all the above products into one single box.

Of course, these elements will come at a more premium cost than the box alone, but it also helps to minimise packing time for your staff who simply slot products into place and attach delivery stickers.

How do I make my subscription box stand out?

Like we said earlier, a huge part of the experience of subscription boxes is the box itself. That means investing in quality packaging is one of the best ways to build loyal customers and help your box to stand out. Here are our top tips.

Use custom designed packaging inserts

Not only will custom-cut inserts keep your products safe in transit, they are a very attractive way to display the products to your customer. They also make your box look full, which creates a sense of value for the customer. Customers are not easily fooled though, so use this trick to enhance the look of your product, rather than disguise the value.

open cardboard box with products inside and brochures on either side

Make smart use of colour printing

If a customer receives a plain, brown package for their subscription box – they might feel like the value just isn’t there. Even though brown Kraft paper can be dressed up with printed designs, we recommend going all-in with colour printing.

We use flexographic printing at Echo Cartons. It’s a simple method, but one with great results. One of the lesser known advantages to this method is it can do a rich colour print in just one go. If you’re not sure what colours are best for your box – read our blog on colour psychology for a few tips and tricks.

Consider an extra message with internal printing

Many businesses like to add in an extra card to say ‘thanks for ordering’ or include social profiles and a request to share their goodies. With internal printing, you can skip the extra supplier and add the message direct onto your box.

half open green and white cardboard box with message written inside

Choose an eco-friendly packaging supplier

It’s no secret that subscription boxes create waste, but there are options to minimise your impact. First, corrugated cardboard is a fully recyclable material which is easy for your customers to dispose of carefully. You can even go a step further with recycled boxes. We recycle 100% of our manufacturing offcuts at Echo Cartons, turning them into recycled cardboard to make new boxes.

We have made a commitment to sustainable manufacturing too. We are taking real steps to improve our manufacturing – like running our factory on solar power and using electric forklifts.

Change up the box design every so often

Like we said earlier, a lot of the appeal of a subscription box comes from the excitement and surprise of opening one. By changing up small elements of your design – like a new graphic or internal message – you can keep that sense of delight alive for customers with every delivery.

Echo Cartons are specialists in short runs, so we can help you with small orders that stay cost-effective. We also offer fast 5-day lead times – which means you can change up your box design and still keep those regular orders on track.

Get started with custom subscription box packaging

With more than two decades of experience in corrugated box manufacturing, Echo Cartons are industry experts. You can find all kinds of great packaging advice on the blog. If you have another question, simply contact our team. Or if you’re ready to kickstart a packaging order – you can request a quote.

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