Launching a new subscription box is filled with many challenges and decisions that may determine the profitability if not the long term viability of your program.
One of the first choices you will have to make is how to best communicate your brand to your consumer/subscribers. You came up with a great, memorable name and you engaged a graphic artist to create a unique eye catching logo for your web site but you may discover your logo is not very “packaging friendly”.
Why is my logo a problem?
We have answered that question many times because most graphic artists today, do almost all of their work for the internet. They create marvelous images for your web page, blog or newsletter but many have virtually no experience creating images for packaging. That is not a fault but it is a reality because not every image created for the web can be duplicated using a flexographic print process which is the process used to print most packaging products.
In addition to potential problems with ink traps (color overlap where two colors meet), flexographic printing requires one print plate for each color. That can be prove very costly if for example, your onetime print plate cost is $500 per color and your graphic artist created a logo with a virtual rainbow of colors. You can see the obvious benefit of keeping it simple. You end up with a better looking product at a lower overall cost.
Am I ready for custom printed packaging?
This is usually the very first question, I encourage people to ask themselves. Sadly, and keep in mind this advice is coming from a guy who sells custom printed packaging for a living, the answer is frequently no. Unless a startup has very deep pockets and/or is absolutely sure about the size and amount of packaging they will need, I typically try to discourage anyone from making the large commitment in print plates and box inventory before they are truly ready.
My suggestion is usually to start out with one of ours or someone else’s stock boxes and accomplish branding with a custom printed label that can be quickly produced on an as needed basis. They can then later make the shift to printed boxes when reaching 300 to 400 subscribers per month because at that point, they have usage history that helps them avoid serious and costly errors. With even minimal history, in terms of size and usage, you can produce packaging able to satisfy your needs for the long haul.
What are the advantages of using labels for your boxes?
The advantages of using custom printed boxes are pretty obvious but labels offer some advantages as well. These include:
- Unlike boxes (flexographic printing process) labels are typically printed with ink jet printers. That means no print plates are necessary, lower minimums and no inventory.
- Ink jet printers can usually reproduce any image you or your graphic artist can come up with. Multiple color combinations are possible at minimal up front cost.
- Label stock can vary from clear to colors and an endless variety of sizes and shapes. High gloss finishes are possible, which is not an option when printing on most corrugated boards with most inks.
In most cases I only suggest labels as a temporary solution until volume increases to a point when the brand owner is able to justify the cost of preprinted boxes. Labels are NOT inexpensive and neither is the labor to apply them so what is possible and makes sense when you are packing 200 boxes per month, will become a major cost and headache when the volume increases to 2,000 subscribers per month.
This is probably a good problem to have but the good news is that there is a solution to every problem at every stage of your business growth. All you have to do is seek the right resource that understands your business and the experience and products to help you accomplish your objectives.
This post was contributed by Dennis Salazar of Salazar Custom Packaging
Dennis Salazar already had over thirty years of packaging industry experience when he and his wife/partner founded Salazar Packaging, Inc.in 2007, a company focused on eco-friendly, branded products. Since then they have helped launch well over one hundred subscription boxes for companies like Harry’s, Warby Parker, Plated, and others including Green Kids and Conscious Box. Dennis is also one of the most prolific writers in the area of sustainable packaging and branding with work appearing in many magazines and various blogs including his own blog, Inside Sustainable Packaging, which has been acclaimed by the green community as well as the packaging industry. We are pleased to have him contributing to SubscriptionSchool.com.