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.
- satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.
- 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)
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.
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.
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!
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