While your campaign is live on Kickstarter the focus is almost entirely on reaching the goal. Soon after the campaign has ended however, reality starts to set in. Now you have to make hundreds of widgets and somehow make sure that every backer gets the appropriate reward. Going into Kickstarter you should have a clear plan for how you are going to ship the rewards, what to charge for international shipping, and what the cost for domestic shipping (including all packaging will be). Unfortunately it is difficult to know the answers to all of these questions especially when you don’t know how many rewards you are shipping and to where.
It is certainly possible to handle all the rewards yourself but that isn’t a very sustainable option for growing your business. It takes time away from value added activities and greatly limits your ability to quickly reach customers in a cost effective manner. Below is how we dealt with shipping for our Kickstarter. After I have some more expereince using Fulfillment by Amazon I plan on writing a post about our experience with the service as well as how to set it up for your business.
- Problem: Shipping is a problem that all product based Kickstarters deal with, and most likely the more experienced projects get it right from the beginning. We definitely didn’t. We hand packed and shipped each reward through USPS. The costs of packaging and postage added up very quickly. Beyond that, trying to make sure every package had the right contents and right recipient was a huge headache on top of also keeping track of what rewards had been shipped and what hadn’t. Also, international shipping costs are difficult to predict, vary widely by destination, and add up quickly.
- Solution: Self-fulfilling our shipments was definitely not going to fly if we wanted to turn this into a business. It takes away so much time away from value adding activities, and it is way more expensive to do yourself. So I evaluated all of the different fulfillment service options and decided to go with Fulfillment By Amazon. It takes a little bit to figure out all of the rules/requirements, but it is definitely worth it. You get access to their negotiated rates with UPS (we’ll end up paying about what we paid just for packaging on the entire fulfillment process for one order). Beyond cost, they automate everything and integrate with our ecommerce provider so that when a customer places an order on our site it is automatically received and processed at their warehouse and will be on the customer’s doorstep within two days.