The Washington Post has an interesting article on boxes.  Yes, that’s right boxes.  And guess what, they’re not boring any more.

Online retailers are giving the humble cardboard box an extreme makeover, transforming a four-sided receptacle for delivering goods into the new shopping bag.

Out: brown, plain, boring.

In: neon colors, ornate lettering, glossy surfaces and geometric stenciling that looks like modern art.

By trying to replicate the delight and status jolt of in-person shopping — walking around New York with a Bloomingdale’s bag once signaled affluence — online retailers trying to break through the Amazon juggernaut are turning front doorsteps into new branding canvases.

As one box veteran puts it, “Every box tells a story.”

The real action in box innovation is taking place among online retailers who specialize in monthly subscription services selling, among other things, makeup, jewelry, razors, underwear, socks, dresses, gluten-free snacks, dog snacks, Paleo diet snacks, snacks from Japan, sex toys, stationary and topsoil.

Birchbox, which offers makeup and men’s grooming supplies, ships boxes decorated with flowers, bright neons and abstract designs. Graze, a healthy snack service, uses the underside of the lid for paintings of scrumptious fruits. Loot Crate, which ships a monthly assortment of gaming and pop culture gizmos, has included scannable codes that play video clips on smartphones.

“The box is an ad unit that travels to the customer.”

Read the whole story here.