KS Topics | Shipping.

Hey readers! Today I am starting a new series called "KS Topics" where my aim is to start conversations on trends I see in crowdfunding, specific to Kickstarter (KS). This very well could expand to other platforms as I get to know them until then I will again be speaking from the perspective of a KS user both as a backer and a creator. To start things off I want to talk about shipping. Shipping, for the most part, sucks and in a world where major companies (not naming names) offers free shipping on so many products, it gets harder and harder to exist as a small company. That free shipping is a result of taxpayer dollars being thrown at those large businesses in the form of corporate subsidies. Small businesses DO NOT get these perks and so must ask for shipping from the consumer.

Many businesses want to seem like they can compete, so they will inflate the costs of their products, cut overhead, and look for other ways to tell potential customers that there is "free" shipping. As my father has always told me... there is no such thing as "free". Someone is paying for that "free" shipping somewhere. Recently, Eduardo Baraf, another game designer, whom I have interviewed posted his thoughts about shipping on projects and that shipping being applied after the fact.

Please note, dear readers, that I have backed this creators work. I have the utmost respect for this guy and all the other people I meet who are designing games. This is a hard business to be in, but it is a lot of fun. We should as independent creators be uplifting, even in our disagreements. The big game companies are fine with us fighting over small scraps.

I agree 100% about the initial reaction to the added charge (who likes to pay more money?). I have seen some KS projects go so far to just telling you the cost of the product and that shipping will be figured out with the pledge manager later. It is going to suck no matter how you dice it. Shipping and distribution are so difficult because so many things can impact the numbers AND so many backers have started to create appropriate price levels with certain games.

I am making a card game that has no more than 200 cards. There are currently no special pieces to the game although I have been looking at one or two as a potential stretch goal. If the stretch goals aren't met... then the market will tell me that my game should be $20 - $25 dollars. Add to that most American buyers will expect free shipping on such a light product. I know this may not be a fair assumption... but I have seen this discussion too much to not at least assume this. If my game fits into a flat rate small box with USPS... that will be $5 a game. I haven't done the research yet, but assume that if I send out 1000 units in the States and USPS cuts my rate to $3 a game... I am still eating $3000.

Let's say after manufacturing and the distribution to my house (read apartment) I will have spent $8 a game with a minimum order of 1500 units. I will have dropped $12,000 - and let's say that I ask for $15,000 to announce my KS project to be fully funded. I will need 750 - 600 backers (depending again on the price point I go with) on my actual KS to fund. That successfully funded project would grant me $3000 which just got eaten by shipping. This is all in the states again... when you look at international shipping things get crazier. So with that example in mind, I can only assume the best way to handle all this is stating up front that shipping will be decided after the project is funded.

KS backer expectations (which is not at 100% fault with the amazing backers out there... but IMO associated with larger companies utilizing KS as a marketing tool) force a lot of creators to stay within select price points. I could ask for $30 a game... thus giving myself a buffer... but then I have to account for the lack of backers at that price point. There is also something to be said about that, again, KS is not a store. KS is a crowdfunding service that invites people to invest in a dream. Once they invest, then they are gifted (rewarded) the game and possibly other things decided by the creator. That to also say, KS is a constantly evolving platform, and one day there may be openings for backers to obtain ownership of a product. This though can be difficult as it then opens KS and the creators to further regulation.

This is going to be an ongoing conversation, as I start to understand more in terms of worldwide distribution and shipping costs within the various countries. I want to hear from you though readers! The more I hear from consumers, the better prepared I will be at launch. What have been your expectations regarding shipping? Have you had an experience where you were unhappy with the shipping? Do you have expectations of price for various products you back on KS? Let me know in the comments!

Stay Foolish!