Crowdfunding fulfillment occurs when a project is finished and ready for its big debut. It includes manufacturing, freight, and sending rewards to backers.
While the fulfillment process begins at the end of a successful Kickstarter campaign, it’s better to start planning much sooner since it requires careful budgeting and solid communication. Not considering how to handle shipping before launching the campaign is one of the most frequent mistakes Kickstarter creators make. Keep in mind that you need to devote a lot of time to organizing and planning your crowdfunding fulfillment and supply chain if you want to ensure an excellent experience for your backers and deliver all of your products on time. It’s the only tried-and-true way to build long-term trust with your supporters.
This article will discuss all the details regarding Kickstarter fulfillment fundamentals. Follow through to have every question you might have about Kickstarter fulfillment answered.
What is Kickstarter Fulfillment and Why Do You Need It
It’s time to rejoice once you’ve met your Kickstarter campaign goal. Nonetheless, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The project is still far from over. It’s time to start shipping out the rewards.
Completing the project and sending the Kickstarter rewards to backers is known as fulfillment. Although it can be a monumental task, the creators must do their best to deliver the rewards as promised.
An independent analysis of nearly 500.000 Kickstarter backers conducted by the University of Pennsylvania shows that the vast majority of those who backed a failed project will back another Kickstarter project in the future. However, 81% of backers of failed projects said they wouldn’t back another project by the same creator whose project failed. Hence, the project was a success if the backers received their rewards. It’s important to note that the fundamental question of the study was whether the creators delivered the promised rewards, not whether the creative project saw the light of day.
Besides not finding backers for future projects, creators may also face legal action from backers if they fail to deliver completed rewards as promised, provide refunds where possible, or give a clear, honest explanation of why rewards will not be fulfilled.
How Does Kickstarter Fulfillment Work
Kickstarter fulfillment is a vast process, and every fundraiser does it in their way. However, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel each time. There are some standard rules to follow.
Everything starts with research. When deciding on your project and how you will realize it, think about your delivery strategy. Don’t leave it for later. The pre-campaign phase is the ideal time to figure out the fulfillment plan. Consider all the small details. Then get in touch with your suppliers to determine the cost of producing the rewards, the turnaround time, and the shipping charges. Remember that it’s always better to overestimate the weight and size of each object to have wiggle room in case there are some changes during the production phase.
Fulfillment is what determines the long-term success of all the campaigns. So always plan your project around the fulfillment process, spend time on research and decide carefully on your rewards.
And eventually, you have to decide whether to deliver your rewards yourself or outsource this step to a service provider.
Choosing the Right Kickstarter Fulfilment For Your Project
Fulfillment is an essential aspect of the overall campaign. And it isn’t easy to do it right. According to the CNN Money examination of Kickstarter’s top most-funded projects, 84% missed their target delivery dates. So consider all the aspects before defining your crowdfunding fulfillment strategy. But how do you decide whether it’s better to outsource to third-party fulfillment services or do it yourself?
In-house Kickstarter Fulfillment vs. 3rd Party Logistics
If you want to take care of everything yourself, ensure you have enough time, skills, and resources. Preparing and planning supply chain and transportation strategies is not a piece of cake.
Doing Kickstarter fulfillment in-house means being concerned with storage area, storage location, delivery method, customs declaration materials, import and export documentation, and so forth. Besides, if you are going to pack yourself, you will need to consider the packing material and quantity, as well as barcoding and labeling.
Build a clear roadmap of all the steps. However, it’s possible to do it all by yourself, despite how daunting it may seem. Also, you can use some dedicated tools and software. Remember to give yourself the space, time, and means to succeed.
Another important tip from Kickstarter is to consider flat-rate formulas when doing everything by hand. It will allow you to avoid surprises in your shipping costs.
If you want to avoid dealing with the hassles of the Kickstarter fulfillment process, or if you’re shipping more than 500 packages, consider working with a third-party logistics company. More and more creators are contracting out this project component to other companies that handle the entire process on your behalf. They are your fulfillment partner. They put forth all the efforts to ensure the rewards are sent out on time.
Nevertheless, choosing the right partner to help you fulfill your crowdfunding campaign is not something to do lightly. The cost of fulfillment is high, frequently exceeding the cost of production. But the price is one of many aspects to consider when looking for the right third-party logistics partner for your Kickstarter fulfillment.
For instance, you need to determine if they can reach backers in remote and unpopular countries and the shipping options. It’s also essential to ensure they can deal with many orders and promptly handle the shipping. Remember their order management system and the after-sales services. The details that you consider insignificant may cause problems later on. So gather as much information as possible and choose the company that matches your needs.
Benefits of Using a Professional Fulfillment Service
The advantages of using a professional fulfillment service go beyond simply not having to do it yourself. It takes work to handle every aspect of your project. The fulfillment partners are there to lift the burden off of Kickstarter creators in terms of storage, packaging, and delivery of goods and, in turn, give them more time to focus on managing their projects. So what are those benefits?
- Reduce the costs: Cost-wise, both outsourcing fulfillment and self-fulfillment have trade-offs. The labor hours put into the packaging and shipping is only part of it. Creators frequently need to pay more attention to inventory storage in their estimations of fulfillment costs. Moreover, if you have to rent warehouse space, your expenses will skyrocket. Fulfillment companies have warehouses to store your rewards, employees who will prepare your item for shipping, and delivery service ensuring that your backers receive your tips. What’s more, the fulfillment service providers might have warehouses all over the country and even overseas. By balancing your inventory across this network of warehouses, they ensure your rewards are closer to your backers and also reduce your shipping costs.
- Increase shipping speeds and extend your reach: Many fulfillment service providers have the network to ship and deliver orders to any part of the world. Having multiple locations for their warehouses also results in faster delivery.
- Dealing with a vast number of orders can be challenging. So it’s better to leave the heavy lifting to your Kickstarter fulfillment partner. You can focus on your project: The hours spent organizing the fulfillment process can be reinvested into your project.
- Satisfied backers: The backers have done their part by funding your project. Now it’s your turn to pay them back and deliver their rewards on time. The professional fulfillment service providers will get the job done for you.
Kickstarter Fulfilment Service Providers
Kickstarter fulfillment might be particularly stressful. If you decide to outsource your crowdfunding fulfillment to a third-party logistics company, take your time and do the research. This is a big decision, and you should weigh your options before deciding which partner is best for your campaign. Here is our list of some of the best Kickstarter fulfillment service providers that will take care of your rewards before they are sent to your backers.
ShipBob specializes in picking, storing, packing, and shipping crowdfunding rewards of all shapes and sizes. Their goal is to assist crowdfunding campaigns to offer high-quality service at an affordable price.
ShipBob provides warehouses located in spread-out, key regions, allowing you to ship your rewards closer to your backers. The less distance they travel, the less money you spend on shipping, and the faster your rewards get to your backers. And once the rewards leave the warehouses, you can track them from one central dashboard. The software is updated in real-time, so you to access the most up-to-date information.
Remember the bulk shipping discounts. It’s always good to save some extra money.
Send From China – SFC
If you have Kickstarter rewards manufactured in China, SFC might be the fulfillment service provider you’re looking for. They offer global shipping, accessible storage for 30 days, and strengthened or custom packing.
SFC provides a custom platform to manage Kickstarter fulfillment, where you can store and manage your inventory and monitor real-time tracking. They’ll also send emails with tracking information to your backers.
SFC will pick up your rewards from the factory and pack them. You can choose custom or reinforced packing with bubble wrap and corner protectors.
Another timely and cost-effective Kickstarter fulfillment service provider is ShipMonk. Their proprietary inventory management software will give you complete control of the fulfillment process, including shipping, tracking, notifications, missing inventory, address verification, various shipping options, batching, and more. The best part is that their software integrates automatically with your crowdfunding site so that that setup will be simple and quick.
With ShipMonk, you can choose from the slowest and cheapest to the most reliable and fastest carriers available. Therefore, you’ll have complete control over your shipping costs and peace of mind that your rewards will always be delivered on time.
Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for Kickstarter Fulfilment Phase
As we’ve said, the satisfaction of your backers heavily depends on the fulfillment phase. It will either make them happy as they receive their long-awaited rewards on time or the opposite. So it’s essential to have a complete and thorough plan to avoid unexpected events when fulfilling the orders of your campaign project.
Discuss the aspects you should consider when drafting your Kickstarter fulfillment plan.
First off, decide on your rewards. Try to avoid the complexity of your tips. It’s always better to focus on the core of your project. Remember to factor in the shipping costs of each reward.
Think of the weight, dimension, and packaging of your rewards. Some shipping methods have strict regulations on weight and size, and you surely want to avoid paying extra penalties. If your product is small enough, you can put it in a standard envelope, saving money and preventing problems with custom packaging size. Use bubble wrap or another appropriate packaging if the item is fragile to avoid damage during transit.
Finally, draw up a list of shipping countries from the outset. International postage might need to be clarified for beginners, so it might be better to stick to your own country or pick one or two others based on the profiles of your backers. Consider also digital reward. They are an excellent way to attract backers from around the world.
So how come so many Kickstarter projects blow their deadlines? It doesn’t seem very complicated. The CNN Money examination of the top 50 most-funded projects on Kickstarter found that sometimes ambitious but inexperienced creators launch a project and expect to attract only a few hundred backers. But ultimately, they raised vastly more money than anticipated, affecting the original production plans and timeline. Hence, you need to prepare not only for the worst but also for the best.
Common Problems With Kickstarter Fulfillment and How to Solve Them
While crowdfunding is a risk-free way to raise capital for the first iteration of your product, it still comes with many responsibilities. Be ready that some fulfillment problems may arise when satisfying your backers. And while honest communication can help you get through those problems, handling issues the wrong way will undoubtedly harm your reputation as a creator. We’ve put together a list of some of the most common problems with Kickstarter fulfillment, so you can plan ways to avoid them.
Dealing With Backers Who Have Questions or Problems
By the time you prepare to ship your rewards to all of your eager backers, be ready for them to have more questions than ever as they anticipate the delivery of your product. Therefore, keeping your backers as informed and up-to-date as possible is vital, especially during this time. Also, be prepared to deal with some negative comments on your page if you encounter unexpected manufacturing delays. There are better options than deleting the comments immediately or leaving them without a response.
Remember that these backers usually want to feel like their voice is heard. So your simple response can ease their frustration and show that you care. Just respond quickly and tell them you understand where they’re coming from. If you’re facing crowdfunding fulfillment issues, apologize and tell your backers that you are doing your best to fix them. Don’t be defensive, and keep a polite attitude no matter what. And if, eventually, something gets out of control, and if someone keeps spamming your comments with inappropriate content, you can permanently delete or hide their comments or report them to Kickstarter.
Tracking Down Backers Who Haven’t Claimed Their Rewards
There will always be some backers who never return to claim their rewards. And while you can’t do much about it, still it’s on you to do the footwork to track them down. Consider mentioning on your Kickstarter that if the backers fill in the surveys before the deadline, their pledges will be fulfilled. Also, remind your backers to check their account settings to see if the email they used to register their Kickstarter account is the same email they use daily.
Handling Customs Forms and Taxes
Customs and taxes may seem very complicated. However, with a bit of planning, you can handle it easily. You have three options, and your decision should be based on the size of your campaign. Your first option is not to do anything. You’re not obliged to create a customs-friendly campaign. Usually, international backers are used to paying for customs and taxes for Kickstarter campaigns that they receive.
Another option is to split your inventory between countries and manage multiple warehouses. On the one hand, your backers will receive their rewards quickly after shipping since the warehouse is in their country. Moreover, they won’t pay Kickstarter-related customs or taxes. On the other hand, working with different warehouses might be challenging.
Finally, you can store all your rewards in a single warehouse and pay the customs and taxes on behalf of your backers. Even though paying customs fees and international shipping might be expensive, it’s still cheaper than splitting the freight shipment.
Preparing and Shipping Out International Rewards
Like every step of a successful Kickstarter project, shipping requires thorough research and advanced planning, so the shipping costs and geographic limitations are clear from the start. Remember that as a creator, you can add shipping rates for each country or charges for specific regions, but it should be planned accordingly before the launch of your project.
Start roughly estimating the size, dimensions, and weight of your rewards. Also, think of the type of packaging and shipping material you will use and how that might affect the weight and dimensions of the parcel. Consider seeking shipping quotes from several providers to find the best one. Remember to research international shipping rates and consider them when planning each reward’s cost. Finally, decide who will be responsible for covering customs fees. And most importantly, stay flexible and leave some room for the unexpected.
Troubleshooting Any Issues That May Arise During Fulfillment
Most backers support the projects because they want to participate and see something come to pass. And they typically understand creators who are truthful and open with them. In the event of issues, you should publish an update outlining the circumstances and telling the whole story with all the bumps.
If the problems are severe enough that you can’t fulfill your project, you’ll need to find a resolution. Providing refunds, detailing how funds were used, and other measures to satisfy backers are some actions that can be taken.
To run a successful Kickstarter campaign, you must meet your backers’ needs and expectations. When it comes to crowdfunding fulfillment, those expectations are high. Delayed, missing, or incorrect shipments are all surefire ways to alienate your backers — which is why it’s crucial to get Kickstarter fulfillment right.