The Best Tips on How to Make a Packing List
Last modified on October 18th, 2021
If you’re reading this, you’re probably very interested in perfecting the unboxing experience for your customers (we don’t blame you).
The feelings of curiosity and excitement you have while using Subbly are most likely similar to what the customer feels as they open up their subscription box.
Surely, from the subscriber’s point of view, the process of browsing and picking the best subscription box is extremely exciting.
But, undoubtedly, there’s something magical in the unboxing, unpacking, and unwrapping part of your customer’s journey. Now imagine that at the first glance at your box, he or she sighs in disappointment, instead of delight.
What makes the perfect unpacking experience so perfect?
First, let’s all agree that the unpacking experience can reduce your churn rate and simply make the customer happy in general (which is the goal of all our efforts).
Besides the design and packaging itself, the choice of products included within the package makes all the difference.
So, having a reliable packing list, information card, or list of contents (call it what you like) is something you shouldn’t forget about.
We personally enjoy how BeautyCon BFF made their unboxing process user-friendly in this Winter edition:
Ok…but what exactly is a packing list?
Packing lists inform your customer what is in the box. These custom inserts often include the value (price) of the items inside the package, with reasons of why the products were chosen to be there in the first place.
Depending on your niche, it may contain other information as well.
Altogether, packing lists are an essential part of subscription box businesses and, consequently, the entire unboxing experience we mentioned earlier.
Tips on how to make a great packing list
As you already learned, there are two ways to do things in every subscription business: a lousy way and the Subbly way.
Does it really pay off to improve every single part of your subscription offer?
Yes, it does. People notice the effort when something is created with care, attention, and intelligence. If your wish is to build a deep-rooted subscription empire, stick with us and our service.
Besides the names and main characteristics of the products within the package, there are certain elements in a packing list that make them even better:
- Useful information
Go beyond the mere listing of products and actually describe them in more detail. The points you can cover here are special precautions (if any), information on the manufacturer, or any other specifics of the products.
Do the products in the box require a tutorial on how to use them properly?? If so, then add that too. You may also wish to consider adding a fun fact or trivia, or even some founder comments if you so choose.
Watch how Wet Shave Club works through their own packing list process, as they include a step-by-step guide to using their own products:
You could also take a peek at this Trunk Club comprehensive packing list with additional instructions and information:
- Spreading a message or a theme
Is there an interesting theme behind your offer? Or a specific message you’d like to share with your customers?
No matter the niche, think of the possibilities to distribute a theme throughout your boxes around an idea you’d love to share. Think of this as another way to connect with your subscribers even further.
It would also be nice to add a seasonal theme (look at the important dates or ongoing holidays). Feel free to explore your creativity and merge your theme with current occasions.
Although it’s not the most visually-appealing, look at how Mac & Mia created a very long and personal packing description (first picture) with a nice activity, a game (second photo – gif), perfectly in line with their niche (kids clothing):
- A peek behind the scenes –
Why did you choose the products within your customers’ package? Share a little bit of your experience as someone who created the particular box and its offer.
What is your story? Don’t worry, you don’t have to go into too much detail here, it’s not a diary. But consider sharing some of your story behind the subscription box offer specifically.
The more transparent you are with your customer, the more trust they will develop towards you and your business.
- Transparent prices –
So far we’ve learned that it’s good to add purely practical information onto your packing list, such as individual prices.
But, someone could surely ask this question: if your subscribers already know the final price of the box (seriously, they payed for it), why should you display the price of every product inside?
You might be surprised at how the psychological element in customer communication (both written and spoken) makes a difference between an ‘okay’ and a ‘wow’ business.
Showing the prices of all products on the list will help your subscriber feel in control, well-informed, and that the purchase is justified.
See how Table Top Monthly does it right (and everything else, when it comes to a packing list design):
An exception from the ‘rule’: There’s no need to display the individual prices if your box is filled with samples or an abundance of small items. Consider a way to group them altogether and show the price this way, though.
- Useful information
- Nice design
Subbly approves of a smart, simple design for a packing list, aligned with your general company brand of course. In the example below, the font choice alone does wonders to the company’s branding style – example: RagTagBox :
- Calls to action
Remember, every part of your subscription package is an opportunity for you to connect with your customer. When the solid connection is made, a long-term relationship becomes possible.
After you’ve added some calls to action, social media information, and similar onto the boxes and/or products themselves, you can also add them to the packing list. (To learn which social channels are the best for a subscription business, head over here).
Speaking of creative marketing, consider adding some promotional info to your packing list: is there a rewards program you’re offering? Or an interesting VIP discount? Take a look at what Illumicrate does below!
A great packing list’s appearance
Once you’ve covered the content and additional upgrades of your subscription box packing list, the next step is to customize it. It is important that the list contains nicely-structured info, but its appearance also matters too. Some aspects you should consider include:
- The size
- The format
- The branding
- The creative touch
We already focused on design and branding, but it’s now time to go deeper. The reason behind this is: as an integral part of your subscription box, the packing list’s appearance has to be aligned and nicely incorporated.
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Here are some tips on what your packing list design and format should look like:
- Choose the size wisely:
Observe the size of your entire box and the size of the products inside. Chances are the products inside are generally small. So, make sure that your packing list is not too large.
Check out the postcard sized packing list in the Thread and Flourish box (yes, postcard sized, big enough in most cases. Look at the quantity of text that’s fitted in there!):
Speaking of Thread and Flourish, see how they included a personal story (remember tip no. 3) in their information too:
- Choose the format even more wisely:
The most common format for this kind of list is either a brochure or classic pamphlet. Feel free to play with formats in order to find what suits your box the best. Speaking of which, Canva has some nice format suggestions that you could use as an idea.
Loot Crate is always an inspiration for subscription box businesses as well. In their Mass Effect Limited Edition box, they included a well formatted packing list, with a handy quick synopsis of all items. What about the design!? Perfect.
- Mind the branding:
When thinking about the best way to show off your branding powers in your packing list, think about these factors –
- Your message/core theme or idea
- Your audience and its taste and style
- Your box size and material, plus other technical aspects of the box itself
- Your marketing – how to subtly promote your business through design and branding — and how to stay different, memorable, and noticeable.
A nice example of a brand that connects well with its audience is Le Tote clothing subscription box (whose approach is actually interesting – you can return the clothes and get new ones).
They provided some tips on how and when to use their products and nicely showcased their products with pictures.
- Add a pinch of creativity:
What about the packing list that resembles the classical travel packing lists? Or a list that looks strikingly similar to a typical list of tasks in your calendar or a organizer? Or something third, completely unusual?
Purely practical tips
Making packing lists is not a really complicated task.
But, make sure that the design of your packing list is crisp and submitted for editing, with final checks made at least a couple of days before packing. Just in case.
Additionally, when it comes to final preparations for printing, it’s smart to provide a wide enough margin on your packing list.
Consider an additional margin (bleed) too, because it will ensure that your lovely design and content stays intact, despite all the cutting and sizing at the print shop.
What is bleed?
In short, it’s an additional area you can add to the edge of your page. During cutting, some undesirable margins or white lines can appear and by including bleeds, you’ll prevent that from happening.
Last but not least, be careful when picking the right designer and print shop that will bring your packing lists (and other material) to life.
There, now you’re a real packing list know-it-all, go get ‘em!
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