Using Amazon Fulfillment to Ship your Kickstarter Product (Part 1)

I Kickstarted a card game and decided to use Amazon to handle my fulfillment. Why’d I do it? What problems did I run in to? Would it work for you?

Part 1: The Basics

This blog is for creators like myself that know jack about fulfillment. Hopefully I can butter you through the obvious-to-some, confusing-to-me lessons I learned during my pilgrimage to the fulfillment mecca: Amazon.

ful·fill·ment
fo͝olˈfilmənt
noun
  1. satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.
  2. the performance of a task, duty, or role as required, pledged, or expected. (i.e. packing and mailing a ship-ton of  products to your backers)

Why Amazon?

Nay, why fulfillment? Because you don’t want to spend a week – or more – packing and shipping your product to backers. Well, you might want to. There are surely others like myself that like doing everything on our own, especially if it means saving money. Ah ha! Saving money. Interestingly and fortuitously, using a 3rd party to handle the fulfillment of your games may actually be cheaper that doing it yourself.

How Is That Possible. 

It’s actually simple. These companies ship so many items daily that they have special deals with the USPS. Deals that literally cut the cost of their shipping to 50% or below. That blew my mind.

To give you a concrete example, Amazon fulfilled my Kickstarted game at a rate of $5.75 each. To ship the game myself, it would have cost $6.50 per game or so for states near Georgia and around $11.00 per game to go cross-country to California.

That being said, there are other costs: shipping your product to the fulfillment center is the big one and there are a few more smaller, miscellaneous expenses. If your math works out, using 3rd party fulfillment will save you both time and money. (This math is talked about in detail in Part 2)

So, why Amazon? Three reasons.

After fulfillment was complete, I wanted to sell the leftover copies of my game through Amazon.

“I don’t want our condo filled with 1500 games of What?!? Oh… even if I do enjoy playing it. Also, I love you.” – My fiancée.

I only had one item to ship – the card game. Creators with extra items such as posters, post cards, post-it notes, pistols, pastas, or polaroids will want to look into a different fulfillment option.

Why else?

The golden marvel of Amazon is it’s insanely cheap rate for shipping you back your product. What’s the rate? Fifty cents per item. Need 50 games to shop around to local game stores? 25 bucks. Need 100 games to sell at GenCon? 50 bucks. It’s great.

However, please note that Amazon takes their time when shipping you back your product. Estimates are “one to two weeks for preparation and then another week for delivery”

So you’re saying I should use Fulfillment By Amazon?

Ah – the confusion begins. Fulfillment By Amazon (or FBA) is actually not what you want information on. FBA is the name of the service that specifically refers to when Amazon ships your product after a customer buys your item off of their online store.

You aren’t selling your product on Amazon (yet). You are wanting Amazon to package and ship out all of the games you already sold on Kickstarter. That’s called Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment. And that took me way too long to figure out.

The first steps

Go ahead and create your seller account and start looking around. It’s one of a few different accounts you can open with the same email under Amazon. Others include a normal Amazon account and also your Amazon Payments account that you will need to collect money from Kickstarter.

Edit 7-16-2014: Please note that their are two types of plans for you to choose from when signing up for your Amazon account: The Individual Plan (FREE) and the Professional Plan (39.99).

When I signed up, I was under the assumption that I couldn’t sell on Amazon unless I had the Professional Plan – maybe it was how it was worded?

So, there I was, paying 39.99 a month just because I had to set up my product on Amazon months before it would arrive in the states – otherwise I could not have coordinated the shipment from my manufacturer to the Amazon warehouse.

So, I contacted Amazon support who did two wonderful things: 1) They informed me I didn’t need the Professional Plan – I could use the Individual Plan for both Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment and for selling in the online store and 2) They refunded me all of the months I paid for the service and didn’t use it. AMAZING.

end edit

Start thinking about shipping.

The one large and possibly towering expense that comes with using 3rd party fulfillment is the cost of shipping your product to the fulfillment center. Usually right after the product was shipped to you. But you don’t have to double up your shipping costs.

So, yes, it’s obvious. Just ship the games directly to Amazon. Even if you don’t plan on selling your game on Amazon afterwards, you can use Amazon’s ultra-cheap ‘return product’ rate to get the rest of your products back home.

Working out the shipping details with your manufacturer can be tricky and I will write about my experience with it in Part 3.

The next article in this series will dive into the math behind choosing whether Amazon multi-channel fulfillment will work for you.

Hope this helps anyone who’s reading and please feel free to ask any questions. Also, let me know if this is helpful!

– Chris

You can follow my gaming twitter @WhatOhGame if you are so inclined.

Part 2: Accurately Estimating the Shipping and Fulfillment Costs of Your Kickstarter Project

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36 thoughts on “Using Amazon Fulfillment to Ship your Kickstarter Product (Part 1)

  1. Nice article, what are the costs associated with storage of those extra games? Like, if I ship 1000 copies of my game to Amazon and have 500 left over after fulfillment, will I pay monthly storage fees on the remaining 500?

  2. Thanks for the post. I was curious about the note about the Professional Plan: “They informed me I didn’t need the Professional Plan – I could use the Individual Plan for both Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment and for selling in the online store.” As I outlined here (http://stonemaiergames.com/how-to-provide-free-shipping-worldwide-on-kickstarter-a-comprehensive-guide/), I’ve been using the Professional Plan at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, and Amazon.co.uk for a while now, so I was curious if I had been overpaying.
    I got off the phone with Amazon seller support a few minutes ago, and I have my answer. It turns out, as you discovered, that you don’t need a Professional Plan to use multi-channel fulfillment or Amazon FBA. However–this is really important–if you don’t have a seller account, you can’t upload orders in bulk. So if you have a spreadsheet with 1000 backers on it, you would have to copy and paste their information into Amazon’s fulfillment form one by one and submit them one by one. The other difference is that if you’re using Amazon FBA to sell products through Amazon’s website, you’ll get charged an additional $1 per item sold if you don’t have a Professional Account. So if you think you’ll sell more than 40 items per month, you’ll want the Professional Plan.
    The good news, though, is that leading up to order fulfillment, you don’t need the Professional Plan. When the time comes to bulk upload those orders, you can upgrade to the Pro Plan, upload the spreadsheet (I describe this process in detail in the blog post I linked to above), and then downgrade your plan before the end of the month. That way you only pay the $39 once instead of on an ongoing basis.
    I hope that helps!

    • Hey Jamey! Thanks for reading over the blog and offering your insight.

      In regards to uploading a spreadsheet to order items in bulk – I am able to do this even though I am not signed up for the Professional Plan. When shipping to my Kickstarter backers, I only used this feature for domestic orders (I double confused myself about something and ended up shipping international orders myself), but I can see that the bulk upload option is there for those as well.

      That being said, I am only on amazon.com. Maybe the international Amazon sites (.ca, .de, .uk, etc) are different?

      • That’s very good to know! Now I have to figure out how to track down the seller support representative to let her know that what she said isn’t entirely accurate. 🙂 I would guess that it’s the same on any Amazon platform.

  3. Thanks for the article Chris, extremely useful and really looking forward to Part 2!
    Can i ask how you fulfilled rewards for international backers?

  4. Thanks for sharing your insightful experience Jamey! Your series of postings are kind and full of details.
    I am on the verge of launching kickstarter project, and i have a question about fulfillment by amazon.
    When you mention fulfillment cost in your posting, does it include shipping(domestic/international) cost too?
    If it is not, how can i estimate shipping cost?

  5. Hi. Thank you for this useful information. It has gave me insightful experience. I am also planning to launch my project very soon. Before that I am wondering how should I promote it? What is the best way to let people know about my project? Any advice on this will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

  6. “Creators with extra items such as posters, post cards, post-it notes, pistols, pastas, or polaroids will want to look into a different fulfillment option.” Why is that? Just wondering if Amazon will be able to place multiple items in one box shipped to the same destination?

    • The reason this would be impossible is because Amazon will only fulfill items that you are selling in their store. So if you have a t-shirt reward that you plan on sending with your product, that would only work if you were also selling that t shirt on Amazon. Does that help answer your question?

      • Just to clarify here, Amazon FBA (selling stuff on Amazon’s store) is different than Amazon multi-channel fulfillment (having Amazon ship stuff for you that you keep in their warehouse, but you don’t necessarily sell it through them).

      • That’s correct. Like, say you have 80 games to send to Kickstarter backers in the US. You send 100 games to Amazon’s warehouse for multi-channel fulfillment, and you upload a spreadsheet of those backer addresses. Amazon will ship those items to your customers. But then you have 20 games leftover, so you can list those games on Amazon’s website (Amazon FBA) for Amazon to sell and ship. Or you can sell those games on your website and continue to submit individual orders for Amazon multi-channel fulfillment to fulfill.

        The caveat to all this is that Amazon’s system is quite complex. It’s not easy to set up. I wrote an article last year about why I’ve stopped using Amazon altogether.

      • Yes – I do understand how to ship your main product. The question is if you offered other rewards like a branded t-shirt or a poster, can you also send those to Amazon and have them pack multiple items in with your main product – especially if those bonus products were never meant to be sold on Amazon.

      • Sure, definitely, as long as those products have a bar code on them (even then, I think there’s a way that you can put the bar code on the carton as long as there is only one type of item in each carton).

  7. Hello, I am new to BG manufacturing and am trying to get a shipping quote from the manufacturer. He asked for the exact address for the Amazon Warehouse in Atlanta where he’d ship the games to but I don’t yet have an LLC, and hence haven’t been able to fully register with Amazon, hence unable to get the exact address. Could you (or anyone else reading this) help me out with the warehouse address? Thanks.

    • There are many possible Amazon warehouses that you may be directed to ship to. You won’t know which one until you’ve gone through the initial steps of setting up your first shipment to Amazon, even though you won’t ship immediately.

  8. Hi there, this was really interesting…
    The next logical step (unless it already exists), would be for Amazon to partner with crowdfudning sites…
    I’m about to release a book, which will be published and posted by Amazon.
    Ideally, anyone who has that book published and posted by Amazon, should count as an Amazon sale and be able to leave a review. This would mean that you can help really kickstart a product launch on Amazon and help it gain traffic and momentum.
    Do we know if there’s currently a facility to this?
    Thanks.

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