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Kickstarter Lessons: It pays to work with multiple fulfilment partners

Last week’s article was all about the costs associated with your Kickstarter project and how to be prepared for those things that will cost you more than expected. In today’s article, we’ll look at one way you can save some money, by working with the right fulfilment partners. Specifically, we’ll look at the pros and cons of working with one vs. multiple fulfilment partners for delivering games to your backers.

But first, what is fulfilment?

Essentially, fulfilment is delivering what you promised to your customers. So, in the case of your Kickstarter campaign, it’s all about getting your game into the hands of your backers.

There are plenty of fulfilment companies that will ship games worldwide, but the rates can vary drastically.

Here is just a partial list of fulfilment companies, including their primary region(s) of focus (I have bolded the fulfilment partners I am working with to deliver my game, Relics of Rajavihara):

You also have the option to freight ship your games to partners via ocean freighter, which takes much longer but is way less costly, or by air, which is fast but quite pricey. So, ocean freight is definitely recommended.

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of partnering with one fulfilment partner for worldwide fulfilment vs. choosing different regional fulfilment partners.

Working with One Fulfilment Partner

If you choose to work with just one fulfilment partner to cover all deliveries worldwide, it could save you some time, as they will make all the arrangements for that shipment to arrive in their warehouse or multiple warehouses they own worldwide.

However, would it make sense to send all your games from China to the US, and then send those destined for Australia back across the Pacific? This would cause your backers in the Oceania region to have to wait a long time for their game, as well as cost them quite a bit in shipping charges. Depending on the company you work with, this might be exactly how they do things.

But at the same time, it is a lot less work to make arrangements with one company and provide them with an entire list of your backers rather than doing this multiple times for different regions.

Advantages:

  • One point of contact
  • One backer list to provide

Disadvantages:

  • Rates may be very high in certain regions
  • May not be as knowledgeable of shipping practices in all regions

Working with Multiple Fulfillment Partners

While it can be a bit more work coordinating with multiple fulfilment partners in different regions, it can still be worth your while. Backers from more regions could support your project since shipping rates to their country would become more digestible.

I was quoted a rate of $62-72 for “rest of the world” (everything outside of the US, Canada, EU, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Asia) from one company. This was WAY more than the cost of the game itself, so there was no way any backer from outside these regions would even consider backing my game at that price.

By using a different partner for “rest of the world”, I was able to bring this down to under $30, and I further reduced this for backers by subsidizing some of the shipping costs.

You could argue that the regions listed above would probably encompass around 95% of your sales though, so you’d only be leaving out a small number of people. Still, you want to give anyone who wants to back your game the opportunity to do so.

Advantages:

  • Best shipping price for all backers
  • Backers around the world can still get in on your project

Disadvantages:

  • More points of contact
  • Multiple backer lists must be created and submitted to your partners

Final Thoughts

While it may be more convenient to partner with just one fulfilment company for worldwide delivery of your games, the advantages of being able to provide the best shipping price for your backers and extend the reach of your game to more regions is enough of a reason to at least look into multiple fulfilment partners. Then, if you choose to do so, you can select the best ones to work with for each region.

It goes without saying that you also want to choose a partner or partners that are reliable and trustworthy. You’re going to be handing over thousands of dollars worth of your games to them, so you want to ensure anyone you work with is reputable.

Which method would you lean towards – one fulfilment partner or many?

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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    ShipQuest in the UK (and I believe with an EU solution also) have been super supportive whenever I’ve interacted with them, especially through the EU and UK VAT changes.

    I’m partway doing the fulfilment myself for Micro Dojo and it has been an awful lot of work. Though it wasn’t cost effective to use a fulfilment partner because of the low game price I don’t underestimate the work that a fulfilment partner does and really value them.

    Another great recommendation. Thanks, Ben!

    You’re doing a great job with your game. I can’t wait for my copy of Micro Dojo!

    A good recommendation, Ben. I’ll have to keep them in mind, too. You definitely noted something important. If a project has numerous small items requiring plenty of picks it won’t be cost effective to use a fulfillment center in some cases. For example, with my custom dice, I was getting very high quotes and each die was a separate pick, except for my dice sets, so the final fee would have been through the roof as it turns out anyway, so I fulfilled them all myself, and saved piles of money. But for many projects that won’t be an issue because the factory will take care of packing into the game box. Congrats, btw, on Micro Dojo. Great job!!! I sound like I’m anti fulfillment partner, but I’m definitely not! Under the right circumstances they are just what is needed!

    Interesting thoughts and much to think on. Thanks for the post, Joe! I do have one potential Con to add to using multiple fulfillment partners that popped up in the middle of my 2020 Overkill Custom Dice Kickstarter. It funded at 1100%, but I had a big scare when QML in the middle of my campaign decided not to honor their price quote, saying that the upper management had just announced they were adding an additional fee to all Kickstarter campaigns fulfilled through them that did not give them at least 500 backers. It was a way of weeding out the little guys. So, after giving me a quote and I agreed to it, they said I’d have to give them 500+ backers to fulfill or they would add an extra $1,250 to the costs. Of course, I couldn’t prepare for that ahead of time so it would be out of pocket, and while I did get more than 500 backers, I didn’t go with them out of principle alone at that point. (They were being too unprofessional to do that mid-campaign!) I know many others have had success with them, so I’m not saying they won’t give good service under normal circumstances, but unless they later got a lot of blowback from others and dumped that extra charge, if you don’t send enough backers their way, that would be a big Con to splitting up the backers. Significant to me, anyway. I know some of these campaigns get several thousand backers, but it is a consideration (again, unless QML backpeddled after that. They burned their bridge with me, so I haven’t checked back.) I’m not sure if anyone else has minimums like that. Anyway, several good points!

    Good points, Bob! If you’ve got a small campaign or individual specialty items, it may be worth looking into fulfilling your game yourself. Fulfilment partners can often save you a lot of time, as well as money due to the volume of packages they send, but there are times that doing things yourself make sense.

    I’m sorry your experience was negative.

    My negative experiences don’t lessen the value of your post, Joe. I indeed see the benefits you outlined and I’m sure I’ll be using at least one fulfillment partner when I publish one of my board games. I appreciate your taking the time to go over the options! Have a great rest of the week, my friend. Cheers!

    All good, Bob! It’s always great to hear other perspectives and think about things in other ways. Have a great week!

    You missed one, and our favorite: Gamerati! They handle all fulfillment for Crafty Games, and work with a few of the outfits you mention so we only have to work with one set of people to get everything done worldwide. We cannot recommend Gamerati highly enough, and urge anyone interested in their services to reach out to them at ephealy@gamerati.com.