How to Build Your Own Subscription Box

Creating a prototype box is the first tangible step towards building your subscription box business. It’s an exercise that will help inform the type of products to offer, the kind of packaging you’ll need, and the price point of the box.

In this piece, we’ll cover those topics and more, as well as provide in depth resources for for some of the more complex decisions you’ll have to make as a subscription box owner.

Pricing

If you plan to sell a box in a $25-30 price range, the price of your products should be $9-12 or less. This might seem low, but there’s a number of costs associated with sourcing the box itself and running the business. If you’re looking for more guidance around pricing and cost of goods, experiment with the pricing calculator to figure out what makes sense for your box.

Pricing calculator.
Pricing calculator.

Size and Weight

Choosing the right box size is something that merchants agonize over. Small boxes are cheaper to ship, but limit the size of products that can be included. Larger boxes have plenty of space, but can be difficult to fill each month.

Start by getting an idea of shipping rates. Cratejoy has a calculator that helps estimate the price of shipping with different box sizes and weights. If you would like to keep shipping costs under $10 per box, you’ll need to be careful about the weights and dimensions of your products.

One of the least expensive options for shipping your products is to use Cratejoy boxes. They’re specially designed to stay within tier 1 and tier 2 cubic shipping rates for USPS which means you’ll have a guaranteed flat rate based on the size of the box.

Here’s some more information about the different shipping carriers:

Products

Unless you’re starting a box business that ships your own goods each month, you’ll need to figure out a strategy for curating products. This includes deciding what you’ll put in your box and who will put it together.

Box Fillers + Inserts

This element of box building is both experiential and practical. Even if your box isn’t packed with fragile items, filler paper can make your box feel more full while still protecting the contents inside. Similarly, Inserts can expand on the products in your box while adding the experiential element of further branding your monthly theme.

Box Design and Branding

Packaging design.
Packaging design.

Branding is defined as the process of establishing a significant and differentiated presence in the market. For most businesses, that can mean choosing a meaningful color palette, a strong name, good design, and powerful imagery. Your box should combine these elements and use them repeatedly across your products, advertising, and social platforms.

As you put together your prototype box, start thinking about the overall branding message you want to deliver. Here’s some resources to get you started:

Box Manufacturing and Packaging

Once you’ve determined the products, box sizing, and branding- you’ll need to research box manufacturing and custom printing. The box design and type of materials will have a huge impact on your customer’s perception of the products.

If you’re not ready to invest in a lot of custom design and bulk order of boxes, consider using stickers, labels, or stamps to brand the outside.

Here are a few resources about custom packaging for subscription boxes:

Get Feedback

Feedback from friends and family will help your refine your box before launch. Do people like the products? Is it something they would consider buying? Is the pricing right?

You can also post images of your box and products to forums like the Subscription School Facebook group to get feedback from other entrepreneurs.

Photography

Photography from Lilly Post subscription box.
Photography from Lillypost subscription box.

When you have a finished box and products, make sure to get quality photography to use on your website, ads, and marketplace listings. Customers are more likely to trust the quality of your box and products if there’s great images.

To further distinguish your brand, show the box in actual environments (kids playing with a new science box, couple cooking with a new baking box, etc) as well as close-ups of the box and products. If possible, hire a professional to help with your shoot- they will have the right equipment (lenses, light tents, and editing software) as well as the expertise to make your box stand out.

Start Selling

After your box is finished, you’re ready for a prelaunch campaign. Sign up with Cratejoy to use our prelaunch template, and then publish the website when you’re ready to start taking sales.

You might also be interested in our other guides Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Subscription Box Business and our more complete overview, How to Start a Subscription Box Business.

Cratejoy is an all in one subscription commerce platform that includes everything you need to start your own subscription commerce business online. Try it free for 14 days.