My current approach to Kickstarter fulfillment

27th January 2022 by Frank West2

Since 2018 I have shipped over 30,000 pledges to backers from 80 different countries and learned a lot about the process. Everyone has different ways of doing it and today I’ll be sharing my current approach with you.

When to plan fulfillment

The best time to plan fulfillment for a Kickstarter is 2-3 months prior to the Kickstarter launching. While this may seem early, fulfillment can be the most expensive part of any project and it is also the stage where a lot of expensive mistakes can happen.

As an example, the fulfillment bill for my latest crowdfunding campaign was approximately £350,000 ($470,000), and with 15,000 shipments a mistake of just £2 per person could have added another £30,000 to the bill!

How to plan fulfillment

The first thing to do is put together a list of:

  • All the different products (games, expansions, accessories etc)
  • The outer dimensions (box size) of each product
  • The weight of each product

If you do not know the weights, you can ask your factory for an estimate or you can make your own. For my first project I took similar components from other games and made a fake version of my game using those so I could weigh it for an estimate. If you do this, always add a bit extra just in case!

With the data in hand, it is time to pick fulfillment partners.

A list of fulfillment partners

There are many potential fulfillment partners and I currently work with (and recommend):

Other fulfillment partners include:

While I do not currently work with the companies on the second list, I know of campaigns that have been fulfilled by them successfully.

I would recommend you research each company, reach out to each of them and request their latest pricing documents.

In your email you should provide them with a brief introduction of who you are, the rough timeline on your project, the size/weights of each product (attach a spreadsheet with your products, dimensions, and weights) and an estimate of how many backers you may be dealing with. This will help them provide you with the best information possible.

At which point, use the standard measurements of response quality, prices, and who you feel best matches your work style.

Calculating my prices

With the latest price information at hand, I create a spreadsheet. I’ll create a row for each country I ship to, columns for each Kickstarter reward, and then start plugging in the numbers from each partner.

This gives me everything I need to work out my shipping prices for my campaign.

As prices will increase annually, I always add some contingency into these numbers to make sure I have included potential increases in my calculations.

Frequent communication

At this point everything is planned and good to go, all that is left is to provide my chosen fulfillment partners with frequent updates.

I typically email each of my partners:

  • 2-3 months before a campaign to get the latest prices.
  • The day a campaign goes live as they often will be happy to look and spread the word, it’s now in their interest if you succeed!
  • When production starts at the factory.
  • When production finishes, from which point I’ll speak with them very regularly to manage the fulfillment process.

Remember, if you have questions about fulfillment and how something works, speak to your fulfillment partner and they will be more than happy to help.

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

  • Sam

    2nd May 2022 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks for making this article Frank, it was really useful! This was an area of the process that was the most daunting to me, but this has shed a lot of light on it. Do you multiple fulfilment companies for a single campaign in order to ship to multiple countries?

    Reply

    • Frank West

      3rd May 2022 at 11:58 am

      Hi Sam, I’m glad it has been helpful!

      For each campaign I work with a different fulfillment center in each region, so the 4 that are listed as my current partners will be involved in every Kickstarter fulfillment. This helps to keep the prices down and provide customs friendly shipping to a wider range of backers.

      Reply

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