Remember that moment of anticipation when you’re holding an unwrapped birthday present in your hands? You’re trying to figure out what is inside by shaking and turning the box around, while closely observing the reaction of your gift-giver, with an insightful Sherlock-worthy attitude.

Subscription boxes bring this kind of joy to people all around the world without needing an occasion! Every month (or day, week, depending on the subscription), customers of sub-box services get their favorite products delivered straight to the door. Though they are gifting themselves, it is still a rather pleasant experience every single time. Now imagine that this box full of goodies has a plain, boring design. Just a brown cardboard surface, with basic information printed on it. What a downer it must be! No matter how amazing the contents may be, are you sure that this is the impression you wish to leave your customers with? Plain, boring, purely informational? We didn’t think so.


Now, the question is – especially if you just entered the jungle of subscription businesses – is what type of package branding should you choose? Should you just place various stickers on the boxes or order custom print? Maybe, something in between? What is branding anyway? Prepare to be enlightened.

Birthday Packaging


Importance of branding

Before we go any further — congratulations! Because if you’re dwelling on how to improve your packaging and make it more beautiful, that means you survived the initial, what-am-I-doing-and-what-is-all-this phase of your subscription box business. If you are at the very beginning of your venture though, read this article first, then come back here to give your packaging the makeup it deserves.

We all know that finding new customers costs more time and resources then to get a current customer to order again (or suggest/recommend your service to someone). In a subscription box business, entrepreneurs have few touch points, aka chances to impress their customers. Gifting your customers with a one-in-a-million packaging experience can certainly strengthen the bond. The goal is to keep the subscribers and cherish them as the fragile, fickle flowers they are.


But, what does packaging have to do with it all? Well, the power that lies in visual presentation is clearly shown in the results of a recent Dotcom Distribution survey. The survey point out that an average of 4 in 10 consumers gladly shared an image of a delivery all across social media, if they found the package interesting and unique. And the biggest element to consider when creating your brand visibility, beyond a website, is the main shipping box.


Options for packaging: Should I stick or should I print?

Which method should I use to beautify my boxes? Should I go for printed labels or stickers or maybe print the design directly onto boxes? Tricky questions for sure, but nothing to worry about; take a sip of coffee and let’s look into these packaging options.

We’ll reveal some more creative solutions further on, because unleashing one’s creativity and adaptability always comes handy in business, especially if you’re tight on cash.

Now, here are your options on how to step-up your packaging game. When choosing, focus on the current state of your subscription box business and pick wisely.

1. Stickers

The simplest and cheapest packaging option, recommended for business newbies. There are different styles of stickers you could use for the same product. It could either be a large one that extends over the box or a smaller sticker that acts as a seal, as an example. You can play around with smaller stickers, so they tailor your packaging outfit and present the changing seasons or ongoing promotions, which is cool. In general, stickers can definitely point out the versatility of your product line, because you can easily combine and change them to fit your vision of boxing excellence (or something close to it). As they are probably the cheapest solution, they might wow your customers when they see the box at their door if you use them in different ways. Were you also a kind of kid who placed colorful stickers on furniture, walls, plates and glasses, even on your family members? Don’t look at me, a friend of mine used to do that… So, maybe if you place the stickers in a creative, out-of-the-box way, that could be a good packaging option for a beginning. This is definitely a good place to start!

Manual Packaging

2. Labels  

Similar to stickers, labels can vary from clear to colored, with an endless variety of sizes and shapes for you to choose from. Fancy, high gloss finishes are also possible in most cases. Labels are also a more temporary solution. Use them until the volume your business increases to a point when you can afford pre-printed boxes. These are not as cheap as stickers, plus, the work needed to apply them is alright if you’re packing approximately 200 boxes per month, but will turn into a headache as your business grows. Printing labels yourself is also an option, but only a temporary one, if your volume is still rather low.

3. Custom Printing

The most expensive option, so don’t rush into it, though it has a lot of advantages. Custom printing, aka print-whatever-you-wish solution. This solution primarily provides confidence in your product and company’s brand. It gives a more professional appearance to the boxes, too.

Storm Trooper
On the other hand, as it is not an easy process to set up, resources such as Packlane can help simplify the design and ordering process, especially if you’re going for larger quantities. This and similar resources let you start with just 10 custom printed boxes and move on from there (which makes our planning fairy very happy, by the way). Another one, ThePaperWorker is also a supplier worth considering. Bear in mind that there are many ways you can use printing for your subscription-based business. Do not be afraid to let your creativity run wild and to explore various shapes, colors and visual messages on your boxes.

Crisp Packaging

Somewhere in between are:

4. Custom stickers

If you’re not ready for custom packaging yet, there are certain middle-ground solutions. Search for companies that can create some custom stickers for your business – yup, it’s a sticker, so not as costly as print solutions, but it’s custom, which gives you creative freedom, not to mention a second chance to revive that putting-stickers-on-everything habit from your childhood. Your task here is to come up with a nice design, which should always include your website address. Bonus idea: you can include more stickers inside your package, so your customers can spread your business name with their friends, family, and fairies (not giving up on fairies here, sorry).

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5. Custom stamps

Similar thing, but great if you’re not into stickers, printing nor labels. What are custom stamps and how can you use them? The easiest option is to get a large one, with your logo and website address. Stamp these lovelies on each of your boxes before shipping for a cost-effective solution if you’re business is just warming up. Later on, when you’re ready, invest in more advanced bulk solutions we already mentioned.

Kermit & Pink Panther Packaging

6. Transparent labels on transparent film

So simple, yet this style might look really well if used with taste and clear intent. You could also make transparent stickers (go crazy) and play with the design at a lower cost than the one of custom printing.

7. Pre-designed colored boxes

Sometimes a nice colored box with an eye-catching logo on top can make the box look just great. Colored boxes come with sweet minimum orders and prices (even at little as $2.50 per box for 50 boxes). Take a look at this website for more information. You could also search AliExpress and similar websites, where similar boxes coloured boxes can be bought for as little as .39 cents per unit, with free shipping to most countries. Coloured boxes are a great solution if you already have a particular colour for your company’s brand.

Keep it real and simple, business-wise

Smart people invest big at the beginning no matter the circumstances because they believe that everything one does should be done right, nailing the process every step of the way. Smarter people get into the action with whatever they have, start smaller and then build from that, when they actually have enough subscribers and revenue to improve their business. The smartest people do the same as smarter people, they just add a clear, specific strategy to it all, with an insane amount of education, research and stealing ideas (I call it borrowing for the greater good, sounds much nicer). The latter group also has a reliable system to support, follow and nurture everything.

So the question you should ask yourself now is – do I have enough money to invest in custom design yet (either full printing or any custom option we listed above)? Well, unless your pockets are rather deep and you have complete clarity of your brand, message and the amount of packaging you need, the answer will be no. It is recommended to keep things simple until you reach about 300 or 400 subscribers per month in order to avoid costly errors. And because it makes the investment fairy giggle in joy, of course.

Smart Is Hot



Smart and entertaining packaging design gives you an opportunity to:

  • make your customers happy as a 10-year-old celebrating their birthday or an even happier one, if your customer actually is celebrating their 10th birthday
  • spread the word (and image) of your brand, because that box you sent will be visible on various places – outside someone’s house or an apartment, inside their home, pictured on social media (people love posting what they received) and in many more crazy situations you can’t even imagine
  • further improve the relationship with your subscribers, keeping them safely in your base (loyal customers – stable and growing revenue)

Never underestimate the power of visual presentation – if you do not have a clear branding for your subscription business, we encourage you to tackle that challenge. When your brand is created, pick one of the packaging beautifying options – sticker, labels, custom printing or maybe stamps. While choosing the right option for your business, keep your budget and the overall strategy in mind, in order to go through it all painlessly. And don’t forget to have a lot of fun in the process!

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By Una
Сontent creator at Subbly