Why and How We Designed Our Boxes From Scratch

When we decided to introduce a line of printable boxes at Lumi, we faced an interesting challenge. Unlike other shipping products like tape and paper mailers, boxes do not come in industry standard sizes, materials, or styles. If you say “shipping box” to a handful of people, you’ll conjure completely different ideas of what that product is.

 Why and How We Designed Our Boxes From Scratch

Very early on, we knew that we were going to have to make some decisions about what Lumi’s mailer box was going to be. Based on conversations with some of our customers, we knew that these were the most important attributes to our potential box users:

  • All-over printing
  • High quality
  • Affordability
  • Easy assembly and fulfillment 

Brands have high expectations for boxes — as they should —and we were up for the challenge. So, like any good product company, we embarked on a product development journey to find the sweet spot between your needs and manufacturing capabilities.

The first decision we had to make was choosing a box style that we’d use as the base design of our boxes. Primarily, we wanted to offer our customers a really nice box that would work for a variety of use cases, and with a lot of Lumi’s customers being lifestyle ecommerce brands, the overwhelming preference was for a clamshell-style box. We knew that the specific style that would work best would be what the box industry calls a “cherry lock mailer box with dust flaps”. Nice and succinct, right?

This is a very nice looking, folding box that is popular among many ecommerce brands looking to wow their customers. The overall construction of this box makes an immediate impression on the recipient. When you receive one of these, it really feels special. That was the impact our customers wanted, so that’s the style we chose to build from.

 Why and How We Designed Our Boxes From Scratch  Why and How We Designed Our Boxes From Scratch

We have a little confession — we’re pretty obsessed with well designed boxes here at Lumi. Often times it’s the mundane little boxes that showcase clever bits of design, and we hold on to a lot of them as inspiration. “No one throw this box away” is a common phrase around the office. 

Also not uncommon is a butchered box that has been dissected to see how all of the pieces fit together so smoothly. With a history of box swooning, we knew we wanted to sweat the details on our boxes. And sweat those details we did! Here are a few of our favorites:

Dust Flaps

You’ll notice that some high-end boxes have flaps that tuck into the sides of the box as you close the lid. The industry term for them is “dust flaps.” We decided to add them to our boxes as they offer many benefits: protection from outside elements, a more rigid structure, and a classier unboxing experience — just to name a few.

Cherry Locks

We also incorporated what the industry calls “cherry locks.” These are the little tabs that tuck into the front of the box as you close it, and they help our boxes stay more securely closed.

Together, cherry locks and dust flaps make for fulfillment magic — you just need one piece of tape. With these two features, you can simply tape the bottom front edge of your box, and it is impenetrable. This saves on fulfillment time and tape costs. *Magic.*

Rounded Edges

Another small detail we insisted upon was rounding the edges of certain parts of the box. Adding a subtle curve to elements like the dust flaps and cherry locks makes everything slide into place more smoothly. When you spend all day packing and fulfilling shipments, you really come to appreciate a little detail like this. And when your box is the first thing your customer touches from you brand, you don’t want them to have to struggle their way in.

 Why and How We Designed Our Boxes From Scratch

The wonderful thing about most of these design details is that they don’t really cost anyone more money. Creating the cutting dies costs the same amount, the boxes don't use any more materials, and the end result costs the same to our customers. To make truly extraordinary boxes, all we needed to do was give them some corrugated love, care, and attention to detail. We were happy to put in that effort knowing our customers would forever benefit from it.

The final step in the design process was to work with a seasoned industry expert to finalize our dielines and make some physical mockups of the boxes. In this case our expert was Al (seen above) who has produced dies at a specialty finishing shop here in LA for over 40 years. Al knows boxes, and not to brag, but Al loves our boxes. 

With samples of our boxes bearing the fruits of our design labor, and with the blessing of our new box best friend Al, we knew we had made a really special box. The next challenge was to create an initial group of box sizes that would meet our customers' needs without being overwhelming. We wanted to offer a group of boxes ranging from small to extra large and we landed on 13 unique sizes that we feel cover a lot of ground. To see our final sizes in all their glory, see our previous post all about sizes.

Additionally, we created the foundation to make completely custom box sizes. We are not currently offering that functionality on Lumi.com but if are looking for a custom size, please shoot us a note and we’ll help you out. We’re more than happy to build you a meticulously designed box that fits just right.

 Why and How We Designed Our Boxes From Scratch  Why and How We Designed Our Boxes From Scratch

“The wonderful thing about most of these design details is that they don’t really cost anyone more money.”

The final piece of the puzzle was figuring out how to best enable you to design your boxes. We knew our boxes had to be as brandable as possible. Printing a box can actually be quite challenging due to their sheer size when unfolded, so after testing various printing and finishing processes, we settled on Rotogravure printing. Roto printing offers many advantages over other printing processes: low ink usage, good quality image reproduction, and great overall value.

This means that you can actually do a lot with your box design. Our standard, on-site offering is a single-color print on the box’s top panel, with multiple color options to flood coat the entire box for a more standout look. But we can actually do much more. With the ability to print up to five colors on each side, you can get pretty creative with these boxes. To create a design that goes beyond what’s currently possible in our editor, download the dieline for any box size on our Dielines page. Whether you want a simple one-color logo on the top or a bold design on all surfaces, our boxes will serve you well.

We've had a lot of fun making our own line of custom boxes and we can't wait for you to put them to good use. To learn more about their packaging potential, head over to our box pageplay around in our editor, or reach out to us with your crazy box ideas.

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