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How to ship games from China

10th May 2022 by Frank West2

When it comes to shipping games we often talk about fulfilment and how to get individual products to customers. This is certainly a critical part of the process but before fulfilment can happen, we must get our games to the fulfilment centres.

Freight shipping is the common name given to the process of moving large shipments of physical goods from one location to another. This can be done via land, air, or sea and when it comes to board games, you’ll typically be using ships and then either trains and/or trucks to move goods from the docks to the fulfilment centre.

There are many different approaches to organising freight shipping and today I’ll talk about 4 common options.

Manufacturer

Many manufacturers (not all) will be able to manage freight shipping for you. When you start working together you can simply ask if this is an option and they will let you know.

In many ways this is the easiest approach when it is an option as you won’t need to do much, I’ve seen several publishers doing this effectively.

The downside is you’ll have no real control of how the shipping is handled, you’re less likely to get updates on the shipping timeline (where the cargo currently is), and if issues arise you’ll be dependant on your manufacturer to resolve them.

It is also common for manufacturers (again not all) to assume you understand the process and have things setup ready to receive shipments, which can leave you in a tricky situation if you’re not familiar with what paperwork is needed.

Conclusion: I don’t recommend this approach to first time creators but if you have some experience with freight, it can be a good option for small (1 or 2 pallet) shipments.

Fulfilment partners

Nearly every fulfilment partner I have worked with offers the service of managing freight for you. This can be very beneficial as it means they will have regular updates of where the shipment is, can prepare to receive it, and will be able to plan their fulfilment start date accordingly.

It is also in their best interest to make sure the process goes smoothly, as they will make money from the fulfilment side of things and can’t do this until your goods have arrived.

Your fulfilment partners will also be used to working with less experienced publishers and can make sure you know what you need to know.

The downside to using fulfilment partners is it can be tricky to get updates on the situation, just like your manufacturers this is a secondary service they are offering, and it adds an extra layer to the communication chain.

Conclusion: If you are nervous about freight and want to reduce the number of things you are responsible for, then this can be a great option.

Do it yourself

Switching to the other side of things you can choose to manage and organise your own freight. You can go to freight marketplaces and take full control of the process.

If you have a lot of experience with freight shipping, you’re comfortable with all the options, and want to save some money, then this is the option for you.

Conclusion: If you’re reading this article then the likelihood is you’re not at a point where you want to organise your own freight just yet!

Freight Brokers

My preferred approach is to use freight brokers and I currently work with Justin ( justin.bergeron@arcglobal.us ) at Arc Global.

The benefit of working with a freight broker is you have a dedicated person whose entire focus is managing your freight. They are very knowledgeable on the process, will be able to help you with paperwork, making sure you have registered with everything in advance, and will keep you updated on the progress of shipments.

I’ve found having direct access to a single person who is managing all of my freight shipments, regardless of the destination has made my life much simpler. It gives me a little more control when things go wrong and makes it easier to time shipments to arrive at similar times.

Conclusion: If you want to be a bit more hands on and have an additional level of control while working with an expert then this is a great option.

Conclusion

There is no right or wrong when it comes to freight shipping, the important thing is you assess the different options and decide which is best for you. I would advise you to get quotes, but more importantly don’t just make the decision based on cost, instead focus on:

  • How much control do you want?
  • How much do you want to learn about the process?
  • Who do you want to be working with if something goes wrong?

Once you’ve thought about those questions, then look at your quotes and see which is best based on how much the service aligns with your needs.

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!


2 comments

  • Wonmin

    11th May 2022 at 4:42 am

    would love to hear any of you expert thoughts on some of the customs related stuff like DDUs or tariffs or whatnot. Lol clearly I am very inexperienced in this because I don’t even know what to ask

    Reply

    • Frank West

      11th May 2022 at 11:07 pm

      Hey Wonmin, I totally understand, it’s a tricky subject! I will make a note of this and try to cover this side of things in a future article as best I can.

      Reply

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