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How to Choose the Right Subscription Box Shipping Partner

  • Rob Glover, Vice President of Sales, OSM Worldwide
  • Apr 5, 2023
  • 5 minute read
  • OSM Worldwide

Thinking about making a switch or enhancing your current strategy? Contact OSM Worldwide to learn how we can support and help grow your subscription service with expertise at every step of the shipping process.

Here’s great news for subscription e-commerce box companies: The market reached a 26.92-billion-dollar valuation in 2022. However, that means the industry is as competitive as ever, and you can only separate your brand from others through efficiency and an incredible customer experience.

From the moment your subscriber places an order to when they see it on their front porch and open it, everything should feel as seamless as possible if you want a lifelong customer — especially the shipping process. 

In 2022, a majority of consumers revealed that they would go to another brand if they experienced issues with the delivery of their order (timeliness, damages, etc.) 

Major players such as Amazon, followed by popular subscription brands such as HelloFresh, Chewy, and others have set a high bar for fast, reliable, low-cost delivery. That’s why shipping partners are key to subscription success. The right partner can help subscription businesses of all sizes keep customers happy and committed while also managing business costs. 

Before bringing on a new shipping partner, consider these factors: 

Packaging Consultation

Your packaging choices can have a dramatic impact on the speed of your delivery — and the integrity of the product when it shows up at the customer’s door. 


For example, certain materials or large package types can increase rates and contribute to packaging waste. Reducing the weight of packing materials from 16.01 oz. down to 15.99 oz can reduce shipping costs through USPS as it falls under a lighter tier. Lightweight cardboard, bubble mailer, a poly mailer bag or packaging with slightly less insulation are additional ways to reduce packaging weight.

Consider if the overall size of the package is able to be reduced by even a small amount. Dimensional weights (DIM) are often used by shippers rather than the actual weight. DIMs are calculated by multiplying the package’s length by width by height and then dividing by a specified divisor.


While customers want their products well packed, they may be concerned about the environmental impact and trying to minimize waste. Nearly 80% of consumers say they wish to live a sustainable lifestyle, according to a recent study

Reliable Delivery Timeframes

A reliable, predictable delivery window is the heart of subscription box success. 

Customers always expect hassle-free, fast delivery — especially if they’re relying on a subscription for recurring daily needs or the convenience it offers. 

In fact, women who use beauty subscription boxes cite their top reasons for doing so as “no need to go to a store” and “receiving high quality products at a decent price.”

Ask potential shipping partners about the delivery timeframes they offer and how they help ensure packages arrive in this window. Look for fast, clear timeframes as well as label production, staged delivery, and multiple same-day pickups. 


Carrier Hub Locations

Location, location, location — it’s a truism that also applies to subscription shipping. 

Always consider your shipping partner’s carrier hub locations in relation to its fulfillment or distribution centers. Carrier hubs are critical to getting boxes to customers fast because longer distances between pick-up locations ultimately lead to longer delivery times and potentially higher costs. Longer distances involve more time and fuel, but there are many other factors contribute to the overall cost, like the number of packages, package weight, and pick-up and drop-off locations. 

For example, OSM Worldwide has carrier hubs conveniently and strategically located in Chicago, IL; York, PA; Atlanta, GA; Las Vegas, NV; and Dallas, TX to ensure timely domestic package delivery. 

Smart Tracking and Transfer

Choosing a shipping carrier is much like choosing a new business partner; there should be a shared commitment to success and utilizing business intelligence tools and data to help improve operations.

They should be capable of providing you with the data and tools you need to make informed decisions and drive continuous improvement. This includes real-time tracking and reporting, performance analytics and customized dashboards that allow you to monitor key metrics and track progress over time.

Responsive Customer Support

How large is your shipping partner’s customer support team? Are there dedicated account representatives? Does support hinge on how long you’ve been a customer?

These are critical questions to ask yourself as you search for a shipping partner. By choosing a shipper with a dedicated account representative, you can quickly and easily get in touch with someone who knows your business and its unique needs, helping to streamline the shipping process and reduce the likelihood of errors or miscommunications.

Volume and Service Flexibility 

The subscription-based business model is hardly immune to fluctuations in volume and sales. Like other businesses, sales are affected by seasons, economic cycles, and, of course churn — the rate of attrition or cancellation. 

In fact, subscription box churn can range widely from 5-12% or reach as high as 20%. So when considering a shipping partner, be sure to choose one that offers flexibility and is willing to adjust as needed. Some shippers vary volume shipments for subscription companies that ship a minimum of 500 packages per pickup. 

Look for a company that takes a consultative approach, helping you manage all the peaks and valleys to ensure lower total operating costs over time.

Multi-Carrier Shipping Strategy

When considering shipping choices, your best route may be to simply add a shipper to your suite of carriers. Relying on a single carrier offers the benefit of simplicity, but it comes with greater risk. 

For example, if limited to one set of rates, businesses can lose the ability to control costs or negotiate for specific packages and routes. Additionally, if your single carrier experiences any interruption in service (as often seen during the pandemic), your customers’ experience — and ultimately, your sales — could be compromised. Adding additional carriers diversifies your strategy and ensures your shipping can remain reliable and efficient. 

Looking for more ways to enhance the visuals of your subscription services? Attend SubSummit for more tips like these to expand your brand!