Types of Packing Material for Subscription Boxes

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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 a monthly box to enjoy your service.

There are many different types of packing material available, and many 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.

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 other delicate, breakable items. There are a number of sizes available, usually ranging from 1/16″, 1/8″, 3/16″, 5/16″ and 1/2″ bubbles. Some manufacturers also offer wrap with perforated lines, allowing you to tear off predetermined lengths to pack.

Con: This can be tedious to measure and cut, if it’s not perforated. In either case, if you want to really protect the product, you also need to tape the bubble wrap down. This can add a few steps to the fulfillment process, which affects packing time, efficiency, and as a result, your cost. Additionally, some customers may view bubble wrap as “tacky” –– it could remind them of warehouse fulfillment rather than the specialized, curated experience you want them to think about –– and detract from the “luxurious” feel of what you offer.

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

Our recommendation: 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 jars in a single box, you would need 3 full 12″ by 100′ rolls for 500-600 boxes.

Shredded Kraft (or “Crinkle”) Paper

Prospurly Sept My Fave Subscription Boxes
Image Credit: September review of Prospurly at My Fave Subscription Boxes

Pro: Shredded kraft paper is easy to drop in the box, tuck around products, and make the box feel fuller. Because it’s cut and crinkled in a unique way, it may feel more “artisanal” (and luxurious) than traditional bubble wrap or tissue paper. This comes in multiple colors and can add to your unboxing experience if used correctly.

Con: It can be messy and difficult to get a standardized amount of kraft paper for each box. Because it consists of small pieces rather than a uniform wrap size, it’s not as suitable for protecting glass or delicate items. And depending on your fulfillment source, paper fuzz may accumulate in your 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.

Our recommendation: Use for a decorative element, but if you have fragile items, consider wrapping those separately in padded paper or bubble wrap.

Packing Peanuts

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

Pro: Packing peanuts are extremely cost-effective when compared to other packing materials, and 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. Also, they’re generally lightweight, so this won’t add to your shipping costs.

Con: They can be seen as tacky, and could be a pain to clean up by the customer. You’ll want to research your options, too, as some types (like the traditional Styrofoam) are not environmentally friendly –– something that could be viewed by a customer as wasteful.

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

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

Wrapped Products

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

Pro: Using a nice wrapping paper can add a unique element to the unboxing experience, allowing customers to discover and experience many more “little surprises” within the box. Think of it as a holiday in a box!

Con: It can be time-intensive to cut, wrap, and tape the wrapping for each item, which impacts your efficiency during the packing process. Since it adds a few steps, you’ll need to factor in extra time for your fulfillment.

Cost: This varies greatly on the type of paper used. For stronger wraps, considering using a corrugated cardboard wrap (in A or B flute) or textured craft paper. For 48″ by 250 feet, you can get rolls between $60-80 a pop.

Our recomendation: 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.

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. It comes in many colors, which can help create a mood –– of energy, cheerfulness, or relaxation –– as your customer unboxes. Furthermore, the packing process is simple: simply laying your tissue down and wrapping it over the products at the end of packing will keep items tight and secure.

Con: If the tissue isn’t pre-cut to correct sizes, it can be tedious to measure and cut the lengths you need. Additionally, if you want to print custom tissue paper with your branding, the costs can add up quickly.

Cost: Generally very low for plain-colored tissue paper. Costs are usually organized by ream (the stack of paper). 2 reams of plain-colored tissue, with 480 sheets per ream, can cost roughly $30/package.

Our recommendation: Measure the tissue paper to lay down on the bottom of the box (lengthwise or widthwise) so that half the length sticks out of the top. Once you’re done packing products, fold the second half of the tissue paper over the items and tuck in (or sticker it!) shut. This can make you box look well put-together.

Packing Material for Subscription Boxes

Try mixing and matching different packing materials inside your box to see what works best for you. As you can see, some of the examples above use two or more types of packing material –– whether tissue paper and kraft paper, corrugated wrapping paper and kraft, or packing peanuts and tissue paper. Think of which materials best capture your brand’s identity, and consider 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 Cratejoy’s partnership with BoxUp! We offer high-quality boxes, fast shipping, and special prices, only for Cratejoy sellers. For new customers, BoxUp offers 15% off, and all sellers receive 5% off!

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