Posted on October 1, 2014 by Michael Boik

So You Want to Launch a Subscription Box Program?

Several versions of stock 9x6x2 mailerSubscription programs are an excellent way to develop and grow an E-commerce business. They vary greatly from snack foods to DIY programs for home based fashion designers as well as for kids. What they all have in common is that they are attempting to establish a long term, reoccurring relationship with a consumer that buys the products the subscription company offers. The business model is well proven and it can be profitable quickly, if you follow some fairly simple advice.

One of the first things potential shippers look at is the possibility of utilizing custom printed, branded packaging which is an area that we specialize in. After dozens and dozens of successful launches, we are eager to help you navigate through the process.

Are you ready for custom printed packaging?

Certainly if anyone knows the value of great looking packaging, we do. However, people are often surprised when after a quick review of their situation, our response is “you’re not there yet”. That is a selfless response designed to protect the new company from making a premature investment and commitment.

One of the key factors is order quantity. Even with our low minimum of 1,000 boxes for any custom printed mailer, that is a lot of boxes when you are first getting started. Our advice is usually to wait until you get to at least 200, ideally 300 or 400 subscribers per month before making the possible investment in a cutting die and experiencing the certain costs of print plates, shipping and storage space.

A plain/unprinted stock box alternative

We often suggest beginning with an unprinted stock mailer box from our green packaging store. The boxes we sell there are the same high quality, 100% recycled content Globe Guard® boxes we offer for custom print applications, but they are unprinted and available quickly in minimal quantities of 25 or 50 boxes, which is usually more than enough to do some preliminary sampling and test marketing. Branding can be accomplished with an attractive label that can be self-produced or at your local corner print shop.

The other thing that makes this a great way to get started is that it makes the transition to branded packaging easier when your volume increases. If it is a stock size from our store, we already have a cutting die which saves you around $800 and we can create print plates at minimal cost and delay.

On subscription boxes, size REALLY matters.

Whether you are ready for a custom printed box or plan to initially utilize an unprinted stock box, one of the very first things you will have to decide is how large of a box you really need, or as we prefer to look at it, how SMALL of a box will work for you and your program.

We will usually suggest to resist the temptation of using a larger box than necessary because you will have to fill it or your subscribers are not going to be pleased about receiving “a half empty” box. Using a larger box than is necessary will also of course cost more per box while adding additional expenses of inbound shipping cost, storage costs and outbound mailing/shipping costs.

If it is a new launch, with little available history of products being shipped, customer needs, etc., a premature move into custom branded boxes can prove very costly if you later decide to increase or decrease the size of the box.

I often tell people about our own “re-branding” after only six months of operation. Business plans are designed to be flexible so we usually suggest NOT locking yourself into a long-term cost and decision before you really have to. Clients are disappointed to find out the $800 print plates they recently bought cannot be adjusted to accommodate a change of box size.

Creating your own subscription box program can be quite rewarding in many ways and we are always happy to spend some time discussing (confidentially) your concept or program. We are usually not able to give you exact costs until you finalize your box style, size, and printing requirements, but we can typically give you a ball park idea of the costs you can expect.

Feel free to contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 for a no cost, no obligation review of your application. We have also listed several additional blog post links below that other subscription box owners have found very helpful. Also, please check out the new gallery on our web site where we show some of the boxes we have helped customers create.

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