Packaging for Subscription Boxes: How to Make Your Designs Stylish and Sustainable

Packaging for Subscription Boxes

Are you starting a subscription box service for your business? Way to go! In an age where convenience is king, the subscription industry is skyrocketing — it’s instant gratification and practicality all in one.

One of the most critical aspects of your subscription box service is packaging. It’s no secret that consumers increasingly want more eco-friendly products, which also goes for packaging. If you combine eye-catching custom branding with accessibility and sustainability, you’re on to a winner. 

Subscription-based businesses can be lucrative, but finessing the formula can be a challenge. Here’s your go-to guide to getting your packaging for subscription boxes right.

Related: Accessible Packaging and What It Means for Your Customers.

Where to Start with Custom Subscription Boxes

If you’re growing the eCommerce side of your business, you need to connect with customers via your subscription box design — it’s something that can make or break the success of your service.

Now that 40% of consumers think they have too many subscriptions, they’re cancelling left, right and centre. You need to think carefully about producing effective packaging for your subscription boxes and navigate any potential issues before they arise:

  • Sizing — Think about the size of your product and how you envisage it being delivered. If your items are small, postal boxes and mailers are your best bet to save on materials and additional packaging costs.
  • Budget — Creating custom subscription boxes is an investment. Set a budget for what you want to spend and decide on the right level of custom branding based on what you can afford. For example, branded stickers and tape add a branded edge to your packaging without breaking the bank.
  • Damage Control — Over 80% of eCommerce returns are due to damaged products. This is a risk for subscription boxes that might travel long distances to reach their destination. Look at appropriate void-fill options, and ensure your products fit nicely! Don’t stick with one size shipping box for all your orders — smaller orders with fewer items inside are more prone to becoming damaged.
  • Shipping Costs and Turnaround Times — Customers expect their subscription boxes to arrive on time. Remember that postal services charge on weight and box size, too, so choose the most well-fitting package for your products to cut costs. Prevent delays by ensuring your packaging supplier is quick on turnaround times for smaller orders or offers inventory management for extra storage space.
  • Design — 72% of consumers see packaging design as the most significant influence on their purchasing decisions. A stand-out custom subscription box can wrap up your rivals and encourage familiarity with your high-quality offerings.
  • Materials — Consumer demand for sustainable packaging shows no sign of stopping. Your packaging materials need to be eco-friendly to entice customers and bring new ones to your site. 

This might seem like a lot to consider, but with high consumer standards and demands for sustainability, a reliable packaging supplier like us can help you. There are a few different types of subscription box packaging available. Let’s take a look at a few options.

Get in touch with the UK’s plastic-free packaging experts! We can help you find the perfect packaging for your subscription service and advise you on sizing, design and materials.

Packaging for Subscription Boxes

Types of Sustainable Packaging for Subscription Services

You need the right packaging to suit your products, minimise shipping costs, and reduce packaging waste. It also needs to make deliveries simple and help customers dispose of your packaging responsibly.

There are three types of subscription box services you might choose to offer. The kind of packaging you need will depend on which type of subscription service you have, so consider how your target customer is likely to use your service:

Curation Subscription — This is where the customer seeks novelty with the contents of their subscription box, but the contents aren’t a complete surprise. Customers will likely have filled in a form with their preferences and hope to receive an item that gives them a little mystery to be excited about. We’re thinking of beauty, clothing and food brands here.

Replenishment Subscription — These items need to be replaced regularly, ranging from everyday commodities like coffee to more specialised products like vitamins and skin care products. Convenience and consistency rank most important here.

Access Subscription — This allows consumers to be first in line for perks or exclusive products before anyone else. Clothing brands commonly use access subscriptions for limited edition items or one-off design collaborations. 

Now we’ll get into some great sustainable subscription box packaging options to streamline your eCommerce service:


Postal Boxes

Packing and unpacking can be simple with hinged-lid postal boxes. They’re a timeless classic which you can bulk out with a bit of eco-friendly void fill or a custom insert. Our white or brown postal boxes are made from at least 80-100% recycled materials and can be recycled after use. 

Suitable for: apparel, accessories, cosmetics, luxury drinks and smaller items.

Self-Seal Postal Boxes

Featuring easy-to-use and unique peel-and-seal closure, self-seal postal boxes can be packed in under 20 seconds. This saves you valuable time, and your customer too. It makes their unboxing process easier and includes an eco-friendly message which lets your customers know how to dispose of the box responsibly. 100% recyclable and made from recycled content, self-seal boxes can also make the return process far easier, encouraging repeat business

Suitable for: apparel, accessories, cosmetics, books and smaller items.

Compostable Mailing Bags

From small mailing bags to larger sizes, our versatile compostable mailing bags are best for lightweight products. Created from natural materials (cornstarch, PBAT, PLA), these mailing bags are 100% biodegradable and inexpensive. Forget plastic packaging, this bag won’t last forever, and your consumers wouldn’t want it to. Even the environmentally friendly message is printed with sustainable, water-based inks. 

Suitable for: apparel and lightweight items.

Twist Wrap Book Boxes

Twist Wrap Book Boxes are a great low-cost packaging choice for subscription boxes, with customisable options. Clever multi-depth creases mean these boxes are faster to pack, allowing you to find a snug fit for your products without using excess void fill or tape. Plus, you can ship your products in the highest quality packaging available without a guilty conscience, since everything in this product range is 100% recyclable and made from 100% recycled contents.

Suitable for: Small items: cosmetics, jewellery, books and accessories.



Rebel Spirit Gift Boxes

Options for Customising Your Subscription Boxes

It’s a fact — well-designed packaging can persuade customers to choose you over one of your competitors. Consumers judge what your product is like simply from the packaging, which is why a customised subscription box design can drive sales. 

Fully bespoke packaging might not be suitable if you have a limited budget or you’re simply trialling your service. If that’s the case, there are plenty of budget-friendly branding packaging options for you.

Related: Boxing Clever: How to Package Your Products on a Budget

Corrugated Postal Boxers & Mailers

One of our most popular types of custom subscription boxes are our printed postal boxes and mailers. They’re all made from recycled content and are 100% recyclable, thanks to our use of vegetable and water based inks. When you’re considering your subscription box design, letterbox sized mailing boxes ensure your customer will definitely receive your product — even if they’re not in. Satisfied customers mean they’ll continue their subscription with you — knowing that each month or week their products will arrive safely and securely.  



Custom Stickers

You don’t need to plaster your brand all over your packaging to convey the message. Custom stickers are a cost-effective option that allow you to put your stamp on your subscription boxes. They’re tamper-proof and are suitable for minimal packaging designs with a touch of class.


Printed Sleeves for Boxes

Printed sleeves are an excellent option for budget-sensitive subscription boxes. They’re immensely versatile, allowing for multiple designs to be tried and tested with a variety of different-sized postal boxes and mailers. Easily repackable, returnable and recyclable — what’s not to like?

Interested in custom printed sleeves? You can order branded eCommerce packs online with minimum orders starting from 50 units!


Custom Printed Boxes

Custom subscription box designs can showcase your brand to your desired audience. At Packaging Supplies, we use water-based inks which are 100% non-toxic and environmentally friendly. With a range of custom sizing options, our in-house design team can also help you finalise your subscription box packaging.

Another way to be more cost-effective with your custom packaging is to select a printing method suitable for your budget:

Flexographic Printing is a cost-effective and popular printing method to customise corrugated packaging. Using a relief polymer-print stereo taken directly from the artwork, it’s soaked in water-based biodegradable ink and stamped on the packaging material. 

Digital Printing means you can get going right away with no start-up costs. With the opportunity to go back and edit designs digitally, personalisation and adjustments can be easily made. 

Lithographic Printing uses individual printing plates for each colour, producing a vibrant, high-definition finish. Litho printing is more expensive than other options, but it can give subscription boxes a more premium, luxury feel.

Did you know? You can get free packaging samples as standard with our custom packaging service.

Branded ecommerce packs - AHOY

Benefits of Customising Subscription Boxes

Many companies consider custom packaging when their subscriber base has grown, and they have enough revenue to invest. But what are the main benefits of customising your subscription boxes? Let’s take a look.

Custom subscription box designs make the unboxing experience more enjoyable for the consumers — especially if it’s a curation subscription. The appeal lies in the exclusivity of a curated box and being able to explore its contents. Customers can go out and buy competitor products easily. It’s partly your responsibility to make them feel special, so they’ll repeat their subscription. In addition, strong visuals are important in the social media world, an essential channel to promote subscription boxes online.

Are your subscription boxes Instagram-ready?

High-quality, customised subscription boxes tell your customer: “hey, I put the effort in” which makes for a much more memorable brand experience. There are loads of subscription boxes out there, so double down on your unique brand image. You wouldn’t want consumers to confuse you with another company. With a unique brand comes customer trust and familiarity, which, in turn, encourages new and repeat business. 

Related: Can Good Packaging Increase Sales?

A Few Tips: Packaging for Subscription Boxes

Reducing postal costs should be a priority for any eCommerce business, so picking the right packaging is essential. Here is a summary of a few tips to follow when you’re finalising your subscription box designs:

  1. Pick the right size subscription box to save on shipping costs and minimise damage to your products.
  2. Reduce packaging waste to be planet-positive and appeal to eco-conscious consumers.
  3. Make the delivery process simple by choosing subscription boxes that fit through post boxes.
  4. Include unboxing instructions for better accessibility and let customers know how to dispose of your packaging responsibly.
  5. Showcase your branding and messaging with custom subscription boxes to create a memorable and shareable experience (it’s free marketing!).  

Now you have all you need to start your sustainable (and stylish!) subscription box journey. Start wowing your customer base,  driving sales to your eCommerce store or business. 

Related: Why You Should Choose Eco-Friendly eCommerce Packaging

Looking for Custom Printed Packaging for Subscription Boxes?

Packaging supplies have been in the packaging industry for 40 years, so we know what we’re talking about. We’re pioneers of plastic-free packaging, and we’re certified carbon neutral, offsetting any emissions we make. We use eco-friendly printing methods and offer a flexible, dependable service. With low minimum order quantities and a lightning-fast turnaround time, come to us for your eco-friendly subscription box packaging. 

Get a free, no-obligation quote for custom subscription boxes in 48 hours.