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How to find board game fulfillment partners and keep your shipping costs down

When I was doing my research and looking for fulfillment partners for Relics of Rajavihara prior to my campaign, I discovered something that changed the way I looked at shipping.

Originally, I was thinking of using one fulfillment partner to ship to all my backers worldwide. But what I noticed was that some countries had really high shipping rates, sometimes well over 50% of what I would be charging for the game.

Some early previewers of my Kickstarter campaign page also noticed this and spoke up about it. And I’m glad they did. It made me investigate other options and look into multiple regional partners, which brough the shipping prices down considerably.

Almost all the comments were very positive about the game and the layout of the page, but the shipping prices were the one sticking point for some.

This is one of the many benefits of putting together your preview page and sharing it with others to get feedback. You have the opportunity to make your game and your page even more appealing to potential backers before you even launch.

So, let’s take a closer look at fulfillment and how to get this right.

First, understand what’s involved in fulfillment

In a nutshell, when it comes to Kickstarter, fulfillment basically means getting your game into the hands of your backers.

Once your game has been manufactured, it will need to be shipped to a destination. Most games are made in China and then shipped to one or more fulfillment centres around the world.

If you are using one fulfillment partner for worldwide fulfillment or you have limited your campaign to one region, you will be shipping these games to that partner. But you might decide to use various partners for different regions, which we’ll get into in a moment.

This part of the process may be referred to as “freight” or “freight forwarding” and usually happens via ocean shipping. It often takes about 4-6 weeks to have your games shipped from China to North America or Europe, so you’ll want to plan this time into your projections when you are figuring out your campaign delivery date (plus some extra time, just in case).

The other option is to have your games shipped directly from China via airmail. This is a much faster option, as your backers could have their games on their doorstep within 1-2 weeks, and sometimes in just a matter of days.

But, with this speed comes a cost. A big cost. Airmail is generally much more expensive than shipping by boat.

One company I spoke to that can arrange shipping your game by air was Easyship. I didn’t ultimately end up going with them, because the rates for shipping by air were just too high in relation to my game.

Looking into regional solutions to bring shipping costs down

As I mentioned, I was initially looking at working with one company to cover worldwide fulfillment, but I found that some regions were a bit pricey. Many companies offer rates for sending packages pretty much anywhere around the world, but you can often get better prices by partnering regionally.

I ultimately decided to go with the following model:

Each of these companies came highly recommended by other creators and they all had great communication, advice, and rates.

I already knew Tyler from D6, and he was very helpful in showing me all the options I had available, as well as their distribution model to get your game to retailers after your campaign is over.

Spiral Galaxy had amazing rates for the UK, since they are based there, which drew in a lot of UK backers, and their prices for Europe and the rest of the world were very competitive. They were also quick to reply to any questions I had and guided me to where I needed to look to set things up for VAT (value-added tax) so that my customers wouldn’t get any surprises when the game arrived.

VFI and Aetherworks provided handy calculators and information to make it easy to figure out shipping costs for the game. They also work closely together to cover Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. So, it was an easy choice for me.

Some other fulfillment companies to consider include:

How it all works

Once my games are manufactured, I’m going to have my printing company split the shipments by region, with some pallets being shipped to the US for D6 to receive, some going to VFI and Aetherworks to cover Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, and the rest being shipped to Spiral Galaxy in the UK.

This is much faster, more efficient, and less expensive than shipping all your games to one location, then shipping segments to other regions.

From there, my fulfillment partners will send the games out to individual backers to ensure they receive them within a couple of weeks from arrival at their warehouses.

For your game, it will likely work very similar to this.

I will also ensure all my fulfillment partners receive extra copies to cover any lost or damaged games.

Next week we’ll look at how to find the right reviewers and influencers to get more eyeballs on your game.

Do you have any questions about fulfillment?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Want to know how to launch your game on Kickstarter and keep your campaign running smoothly? Download my free Kickstarter Checklist now!

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    Great information Joe. Thank you for sharing not only is this info helpful, but I intend to similarly share my experience and try to help future creators/designers walk the path of crowdfunding.

    So once again thank you

    My pleasure, Lan! I look forward to hearing about your experiences as well.