Posted on September 23, 2015 by Michael Boik

Subscription Boxes: Cost Estimates versus Quotes

XXL 3d render of a cartoon character thinking about a solution.

Most of the e-commerce and subscription box start-ups who call or email us are understandably interested in finding out what their packaging is going to cost them. In an effort to provide help and guidance, we have written much on the topic as you can see by the related posts below. One of the most common areas of confusion is the distinction between an estimate and a quote.

Subscription Box Cost Estimates

These are typically preliminary numbers that we can provide with minimal information. With years of experience, and hundreds of e-commerce and subscription boxes successfully launched, the figures we offer tend to prove out fairly accurate but they are only as good as the information we have to work with. In many cases the client’s graphic design is a work in progress and likely to change as it is finalized, however the estimated cost we give you should hold up unless there are significant changes to the art design. For example, adding inside print, deciding on white board rather than brown, printing three colors instead of one are examples of changes that MAY have double digit impact on pricing.

We can provide a fairly accurate quote if the client is able to give us five basic pieces of information:

  1. What type/style and size is the box?
  2. Is the box being printed inside and/or outside?
  3. What color board is preferred? White or brown?
  4. How many ink colors does the graphic design require, inside and/or outside?
  5. Last but not least – how many boxes are needed at this time?

An estimate is usually provided in email form because it is the most efficient way of handling a preliminary inquiry at the lowest possible cost for us and ultimately for you.

Delivering your brand with a side of WOWSubscription Box Quotes

A formal quotation is usually provided after we have seen artwork or a fairly detailed drawing or rendering showing full color(s) and design. FYI, a copy of your logo is not the same as providing artwork, since in most cases the logo is just one component in a graphic design. Being able to review your complete art is how we can determine cost factors such as ink coverage, screened images in the design, etc.

The end result is a hard number you can literally “take to the bank” or use for your business plan as you project your packaging costs. Please note the same five pieces of information listed above are still also needed but when combined with the artwork, it enables us to get a complete picture of what you want us to print for you so we can create a “hard” quote.

Packaging Cost’s Impact on a Subscription Program

Even though in terms of percentage, the cost of the shipping box is usually fairly small, compared to other costs such as labor and especially shipping costs; it is the most visible part of your business to your customers.

My advice is usually – don’t skimp. Not that long ago we were a start-up as well so we are quite sensitive to a start-up budget when there is more cash flowing out than there is flowing in. However, if you are new and cannot afford the box you want, it may be best for you to wait. You can utilize a printed label to buy some time until your volume increases and your cash flow is positive.

We are experts and stretching your packaging dollar and providing you with maximum WOW factor at minimal cost. We are also able to grow with our customers, adding box sizes and even adding inside prints at a future date. (see link below)

Please contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 to discuss your branding or re-branding project. I am confident we can help you achieve the look you want at the price you need.


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