Types of Packing Material for Subscription Boxes

Depending on your product offering, you may consider using some type of packing material when shipping your box.

Packing Material for Subscription Boxes

Depending on your product offering, you may consider using some type of packing material when shipping your box.

When deciding, first remember that this comes down to your niche and how you want to present your company. Packing material directly influences the all-important “unboxing experience,” or the experience your subscribers have when first opening and enjoying your service.

There are many different types of packing material available, and most come in forms that are customizable, whether that’s by color or custom printing. Below, we’ll outline four options for packing material and provide some examples of boxes that use these materials.

Subscription Box Packing Material: Bubble Wrap

Irish Taste Club Hello Subscription
Image Credit: Hello Subscription’s review of Irish Taste Club

Pro: Bubble wrap is a great option for ensuring safe delivery of glass and delicate items. There are a number of sizes available, usually ranging from 1/16″, 1/8″, 3/16″, 5/16″ and 1/2″ bubbles.

Con: Can be tedious to measure and cut. If you want it to really protect the product, you need to also tape the bubble wrap down (see example). This can add a few “touches” to the process, impacting packing time, efficiency, and in result, cost. Can be seen as tacky and detract from a ‘luxurious’ product experience.

Cost: Costs vary on roll width/length and bubble size. Generally, you can get a 12″ wide roll at 100′ long for about $15-20. Buying in bulk or in larger bundles can get this cost down.

Tip: When deciding on bubble wrap, try to measure out how much bubble wrap you’ll need per product. If it’s a 12″ wide, 6″ long piece for each glass jar, and you feature 3 in a single box, you would need 3 full 12″by 100′ rolls for 500-600 boxes.

Subscription Box Packing Material: Shredded Kraft Paper or “Crinkle” Paper

Prospurly Sept My Fave Subscription Boxes
Image Credit: September Prospurly My Fave Subscription Boxes

Pro: Shredded kraft paper is easy to drop in the box, tuck around product, and make the box feel ‘full’. Comes in multiple colors and can add to unboxing experience if used correctly.

Con: Can be messy and difficult to get standardized amount for each box. Not the best for protecting glass or delicate items. Depending on your source, there can be a paper fuzz that accumulates in a box.

Cost: Categorized by weight, usually costing $1-2 per pound. Bulk purchasing can lower this. 80 pounds boxes can be purchased for roughly $80-100/box.

Tip: Use for a decorative element, but if you have fragile items considering wrapping in padded paper or in bubble wrap.

Subscription Box Packing Material: Packing Peanuts

Escape Monthly Hello Subscription
Image Credit: Escape Monthly Hello Subscription Review

Pro: Very cost effective when compared to other packing materials. Strong enough material to protect fragile items. Generally, less is more with peanuts due to their larger size, especially when compared to shredded kraft paper. Generally lightweight.

Con: Can be seen as tacky, and they can be a pain to clean up by the customer. Some types not environmentally friendly.

Cost: Generally very cheap. 7′ cubic bags can go for as low as $15/bag.

Tip: Use anti-static and biodegradable peanuts. These have a nicer texture compared to their foam counterparts, have a nicer neutral color, and are easier to dispose of by customers. Cost is only slightly increased $2-5/bag, but the improved experience can be worth it.

Subscription Box Packing Material: Wrapped Products

Hatchery Box - My Subscription Addiction
Image Credit: Hatchery Box by My Subscription Addiction

Pro: With a nice wrapping paper, it can add a unique element to the unboxing experience, allowing customers to experience many more “little surprises” within the box.

Con: Can be time intensive to cut, wrap, and tape the wrapping for each item. Requires use of tape when sealing the wrapping. Adds touches to packing process.

Cost: Varies greatly on the type of paper used. For stronger wraps, considering using a corrugated cardboard wrap (A or B flute) or textured craft paper. For 48″ x 250′, you can get rolls for anywhere between $60-80/roll.

Tip: Like with bubble wrap, try to measure out how much bubble wrap you’ll need per product. Have a cutting station set up for packing and dedicate a session for pre-cutting and sorting the different sizes needed. A custom sticker (as seen in the example) can add an extra special touch too.

Subscription Box Packing Material: Tissue Paper

See Prospurly & Escape Monthly pictures above for examples. Escape Monthly’s example uses custom tissue paper as well. 

Pro: Tissue paper is a cheap & effective way to add a surprise element to your box. Simply laying your tissue down, and wrapping it over the products at the end of the packing can help keep items tight and secured.

Con: If your tissue isn’t pre-cut in correct sizes, it can be tedious to measure and cut proper lengths. Custom printed tissue paper costs can add up quickly.

Cost: Generally very cheap for plain colored tissue. Costs usually organized by ‘ream’ or stack of paper. 2 reams of plain colored tissue, with 480 sheets per ream, can cost roughly $30/package.

Tip: Measure the tissue paper to be laid down on the bottom of the box while having 1/2 of the length sticking out of the top. Once your items are packed, fold the second 1/2 of the tissue paper over the items and tuck it in or sticker it shut. This can be done length or width wise.

Packing Material for Subscription Boxes

Try mixing and matching different packing material inside your box to see what works best for you. A few examples above, as you can see, use two or more types of packing material, be it tissue paper and kraft paper, corrugated wrapping paper and kraft, or packing peanuts and tissue paper. Think of which materials most capture your brands identity, and considering testing it out on your next shipment!

Learn More About Cratejoy’s Custom Box Program!

Check out the standard Cratejoy boxes or design your own custom boxes through the Cratejoy box program! We offer high-quality boxes, fast shipping, and special prices, only for Cratejoy sellers

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About Jesse Richardson

Jesse Richardson is an author, educator and co-founder of several successful subscription businesses. He focuses on building engaging communities and has been described as "insanely customer centric." Find him in the Subscription School group or at his blog.

11 Responses

  1. Tim Maciejewski

    I didn’t see Dyed Excelsior listed here. That has worked well for us. It’s a bit of extra work pulling apart the bales and putting the right amount in each box, but it looks fantastic!

  2. Josh Lynch

    Jesse,

    I am going the cheaper route to start out and doing a simple elegant box with no branding, but I have label/stickers with my brand logo and will stick it on every box to get started.

    I am curious, when getting started and I buy nice boxes bulk, do I need to buy 2 boxes. 1 to ship the “gift box” in? Or do you suggest 1 box that gets the shipping labels slapped on it? Im afraid that this will diminish the product to the consumer or that a shipping label will get applied over top of my sticker/label.

    What is typically done here?

    Thanks,
    Josh

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Hi Josh,

      It’s very much up to you and your budget when it comes to the # of boxes you need. If you’re going for a more luxe feel, I would recommend going with the exterior shipping box so that your sticker/label won’t be jeopardized during shipping. If you do decided to go with the exterior shipper, I’d do a “clam shell” type box (like the exterior shipper that Birchbox uses) in a relatively light flute so that it’s less expensive. On the other side of things, there are a TON of boxes just use one box and do it very successfully. If that’s better for you/your budget, just figure out what shipping label you’ll be using and work backwards from there to figure out where best to include your branding.

      Best,

      Felicity

  3. Sita

    Can you offer resources where boxes can be purchased wholesale? I am interested in a clam shell type box and a presentation type box.
    Thank you

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Sita,

      Check the resources in this group. It’s one of the tabs across the top. I’d recommend lumi.com or boxup.com.

      Best,

      Felicity

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