Sponsored Post: eFulfillment Service
If you’ve ever run a Kickstarter campaign, you know how much time and effort can go into it before you even launch. And with so much to do, it’s no surprise that order fulfillment and shipping is often an afterthought.
Unfortunately, that mindset can be quite costly for Kickstarters and other crowdfunders. After all, it’s not easy or cheap to get all your rewards out, especially when you have thousands of backers across the globe.
At eFulfillment Service, we work with Kickstarters and Indiegogos to ship their orders all over the world and wanted to share a few tips to keep your project running smoothly, even after your campaign has ended.
1. Ship methods and costs can dictate what your rewards and pledges should be
I know, sounds a bit odd, right….letting shipping costs dictate what your rewards and pledges will be?
I consult with Kickstarters and other online sellers every day and I honestly can say that, when it comes to the products that merchants choose to sell, or the rewards that crowdfunders choose to offer, it is very rarely the case that shipping costs are considered….but they need to be.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you launched a Kickstarter project to fund a cool new piece of luggage that collapses and expands, has some neat built-in features like a charger and is all around awesome.
The box that your suitcase ships in measures 30 in. x 20 in. x 12 in. The actual weight of the suitcase is just over 11 lbs. When you add the shipping box and dunnage, the ship weight is 13 lbs.
So with your Kickstarter rewards you had planned on this ship weight and determined that FedEx would be your best option. The pledge amounts you’re asking for factored in the average cost to ship a 13 lb. package to your U.S. backers, and you charged more for international.
It seems like you did a great job. You took into consideration the shipping costs for a 13 lb. package, and you made sure that your pledge amounts covered your expenses. But here’s the problem….your suitcases are actually going to ship at more than triple that weight!
With the new dimensional weight rules going into effect next year, the weight that you’d actually be charged for shipping would be 44 lbs. This is because FedEx would have multiplied the dimensions of your package (30 x 20 x 12) to come up with 7,200 cubic inches, and then divided that by 166 to get the “dimensional weight” of your package, which is 43.4 lbs. So since the dimensional weight is greater than the actual weight, FedEx would have got the best of you.
If you hadn’t considered this ahead of time, your pledges might have been a little short, seriously cutting into your net campaign.
This is one in a series of many other instances in which crowdfunders could and should save money by doing their homework.
At eFulfillment Service, we consult with sellers to help the best ways to ship products and charge their customers, keeping in mind a range of factors, including their SKU mix, competition, product value and size, as well as of course international customers.
2. Keep your rewards simple…..and maybe cut out the t-shirts
I think it’s safe to say we are all trying to reduce the stress in our lives. And when you allow your Kickstarter rewards to get out of control, it only adds to the stress.
One of the most common things I see is that crowdfunders offer too many reward options. Aside from the product the Kickstarter created and the one everybody actually wants, they include rewards like t-shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, thank you cards, etc.
The reason for this is fairly obvious….these crowdfunders want to offer lower pledge options, but their product is too expensive to give it away for $1 or $5, and they feel they need to give away something.
But when you add t-shirts then you have to deal with sizes….and they’re never all always going to fit right. With mugs, they break. Thank you cards you actually have to write and send those…for what? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice gesture…but probably not worth the time you put in. More importantly, it’s a pledge the funder was probably happy to give without the card.
Offering low pledge amounts is a great strategy, just don’t feel you need to send your customers something they probably don’t even want. Instead come up with something creative, like adding the backer’s name to your website as a “thank you,” or even some type of digital content you can share that doesn’t require shipping. Or for a $1, you could simply offer to keep them in the loop on progress of the campaign and the product…probably all they want anyways.
More options means more complexity and it almost always adds to the total time and cost of reward fulfillment.
3. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver
With crowdfunding campaigns there are almost always delays.
The launch of your campaign may be late, delays responding to backers throughout the campaign and there’s almost always something with manufacturing..all this before we even arrive at shipping.
Plan in advance to give yourself some padding. If your production crew says your Kickstarter video will be ready in three days, plan for five. When manufacturing says two weeks, plan for three. If shipping guarantees five days…that’s probably your minimum.
From start to finish, crowdfunders rely on quite a few people and vendors to make it happen. Giving yourself some leeway makes it easier all around. Nobody likes it when you over-promise and under-deliver. Plan ahead, make everyone happy.
4. The party doesn’t have to stop once your Kickstarter campaign has ended
More and more, we find ourselves handling order fulfillment for pre-orders that extend beyond the Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns.
With most crowdfunding campaigns, there’s an interim period between when the campaign finishes and when the rewards are actually shipped. Don’t let that stop you! You probably still have tons of people that want to pre-order your product and you don’t want to miss out on those orders.
Plan to accept pre-orders once your campaign has ended. You can do this by setting up your own website(Shopify’s great for easy ecommerce setup) that allows you to take orders and credit card numbers, but not charge until you actually ship the product.
There are also other platforms designed to allow sellers to take pre-orders once their campaigns have ended. In fact, even if Kickstarters don’t reach their goals, they can use these platforms to generate sales from the people that did back their campaigns, as well as others. THIS IS HUGE!
Before your Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign ends, start getting the word out that you plan to accept pre-orders after the campaign. Once the show ends be sure to add an enormous picture link to your campaign sending late arrivals to the after party. Capitalize completely.
Order fulfillment isn’t always easy but for any crowdfunded campaign that needs to ship products, it is a crucial to the overall success of that campaign. With the right strategy, crowdfunders can avoid unnecessary headaches, ensure that orders get to backers on time, and also make sure they’re not wasting valuable funds by not preparing in advance.
Steve Bulger is the Sales & Marketing Manager at eFulfillment Service, which provides order fulfillment services to Kickstarters, Indiegogos and other crowdfunders. You can find him on Google+ and LinkedIn, or contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.