As a Kickstarter creator, one of the most difficult and expensive parts of the project you will encounter is reward shipping and fulfillment. Do you do it yourself? Do you charge upfront? Do you add it on with some kind of pledge manager? Do you include free shipping? These are a number of questions that come up when trying to put together your project.
HOW IT’S BEEN DONE
In the past most Kickstarter projects have offered free shipping in the US and then charged shipping for international backers. This has seemed to work well for the most part. Of course that “free” shipping is sometimes just added to the price of the reward level so that it looks like free shipping but a backer is really just paying the shipping as part of their reward.
We took this free shipping option one step further with our Stones of Fate Kickstarter, offering free shipping worldwide. In the end we learned this was a mistake. Our shipping costs on the project were almost 30% of the total expenditures. We actually ended up paying out of pocket to cover fulfilling all our rewards.
For Campaign Trail, we decided to explore other options.
HOW OTHERS DO IT
The first thing we looked at was how do common online stores implement their shipping solution. I’ve had my eye on the recently released Dark Moon from Stronghold Games so I decided, why not see how it would look to order it online. I clicked over to Cool Stuff Inc, Amazon, Board Game Warehouse, and a few others to see what would it would look like when I tried to purchase. As I thought, I didn’t even see the additional shipping charge till I was well into the purchasing process. With Cool Stuff Inc, I had to go through 3 screens before I was told my shipping would be $7.74.
The others were much the same:
- Amazon – 4 screens, $6.90 shipping cost
- Boardgame Warehouse – 4 screens, $13.63 shipping cost
- Funagain Games – 3 screens, $12.00 shipping cost
- GameSurplus – 2 screens, $19.64 shipping cost
- Miniature Market – 3 screens, $9.94 shipping cost
Shipping is simply a standard part of online purchasing life, so much so that buyers don’t expect to know the amount upfront. They either wait till checkout for it to be added on, pay a monthly premium for a service like Amazon Prime, or order over a certain threshold for free shipping ($100 for Cool Stuff Inc).
We decided (in order to ensure timely delivery of rewards) that we will be charging our backers the real shipping fee that we will have to pay to ship. We feel that this is the fairest way to approach this situation.
- It allows for backers who would normally pay a lower fee to not have to subsidize higher shipping charges
- It allows us to know up front that we will have the money to get our backers their games
- It allows us to keep accurate accounting records of direct revenue (sale price) and ancillary revenue (shipping)
- It allows our designer to know up front how much sales revenue was generated so he will know his percentage without any hidden information
- It allows us to offer bulk shipping rates for bundled packages at cheaper rates
Even with charging actual shipping prices, we want to keep the price as low as possible for our backers so we looked at a few different options (SendFromChina, directly shipping ourselves via USPS, ShipNaked, and Shipwire). In the end, Shipwire came highly recommended by fellow leaguers, they had competitive prices, and they had a worldwide distribution system. So we have decided to use Shipwire for fulfillment for Campaign Trail. This will set our shipping prices at the following levels:
I would love to hear from our readers. If you are a Kickstarter creator, how do you handle this issue? If you are a backer, what do you expect when it comes to shipping and Kickstarter?