Using Amazon Fulfillment to Ship your Kickstarter Product (Part 4)

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

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

Part 3: Listing Your Item On Amazon

Part 4: Getting Your Product to an Amazon Warehouse

In this blog, I will help you create a shipment to deliver your Kickstarted products from the back door of your manufacturer to the front door of an Amazon warehouse.

You won’t need to use this blog until you can answer the following questions:

  1. Who is manufacturing your product?
  2. How many of your product are you making?
  3. Do you have contact with a polite and timely representative of the manufacturer to work out all of the details involved in setting up a huge shipment of your great stuff to Amazon?

Great! Sounds like you have had a successful Kickstarter campaign and your hard work is that much closer to paying off.


Make sure you done the following:

  1. Set up an Amazon account and listed your item (covered in Part 1 of this blog).
  2. Listed your item on the Amazon store (covered in Part 3 of this blog).

Gather the following information from your timely and polite email contact:

  1. The shipped-from address for the manufacturer? (My manufacturer was AdMagic, which is an American company that uses offshore printing plants. They gave me the U.S. address of their HQ as their ship-from address)
  2. Will your item be packed and shipped as individual items or in cases? (Cases are the cardboard boxes that hold more than one of your item.)
  3. How many of your items will be in each case? (Each case will hold the same amount)
Part 4 - Games Shipment Cases

A small portion of my games in cardboard cases on a pallet in the back of my mom’s truck. Aren’t moms the best?

Note: This blog is written with the assumption that your manufacturer already knows how to send stuff to Amazon – the majority of them do. This means that while you still have work to do and information to gather, the manufacturer has experience packing, boxing, stacking, wrapping and labelling pallets in accordance to Amazon’s wishes.

Before We Start -Changing a Shipment Setting

Amazon would prefer that you ship your items to three different Amazon warehouses. This makes sense as they can ship your item from the warehouse located closest to its destination.

However, shipping your products to three warehouses… (hold on, I’m doing some rough estimations)… TRIPLES THE PRICE OF SHIPPING.

You can change this, though. It’s called your Inventory Placement Option.

The default, ship-to-three-warehouses setting is the Distributed Inventory Placement option and the ship-to-one-warehouse Inventory Placement Service option.

Here’s a screenshot from the deepest pits of Amazon’s Seller Help Pages instructing you on how to update this option.

Click the image to be directed to the link in the screenshot.

Click the image to be directed to the link in the screenshot.

As you may have expected, doing this isn’t necessarily free. Let me tell you all I know and have experienced about updating this setting.

Changing your Inventory Placement Option

When you change your Inventory Placement Option from Distributed Inventory Placement to Inventory Placement Service, you should be given a warning about how much this will cost you. Here’s a screenshot of the fees:

Fees associated with sending your products to only 1 Amazon warehouse

Fees associated with sending your products to only one Amazon warehouse

Quick Calculation Time

Part 4 - Shipping Diagram

Calculations at the bottom. I used 40 cents as my per-unit fee, but yours may different. Read more below.

My game weighs 2 pounds and I shipped 1500 games from my manufacturer to Amazon. This puts my Inventory Placement Fee at $600.00.

I don’t know the actual cost of my shipping as it was worked into my per-unit cost by my manufacturer, but I was informed that shipping the units to two additional warehouses was going to cost much more than $600. Considering my games originated offshore, and each shipment would have been 1000 lbs (500 games at 2 lbs each); I had no reason to disagree.

Off the record

For the love of blue skies and pink sunsets, don’t sue me over this, but it is possible that you may not get charged this fee – at least not immediately and not the full cost. Here is my own anecdotal experience mixed with others that I have asked about this subject.

I have still not been charged this fee. I keep waiting for it, but it hasn’t shown up. Another game designer I talked to said that they were charged months after, but not for the complete set of items. He was only charged this fee for the items that were relocated to a new warehouse.

My guess is that Amazon takes note of where your items are being shipped to most often. If your original warehouse is in Atlanta, but your product becomes a hit in LA, I would expect Amazon to ship a set of games to a warehouse on the west coast. At that point, you would be charged the above fees for the items shipped to the new location.

Alright, back to creating your shipment.

Your First Replenish Inventory Order

Let me direct you for a second to the Inventory page. I will do my best to cover any differences between the Old Inventory View and the New Inventory View.

  1. Go to the Amazon Seller homepage
  2. Click on Inventory at the top of the page
  3. Your item should already be listed (if not, go to Part 3 of this blog)
  4. Select the check box on the left hand side of your item
    1. Old View – Above the list of products select the Actions drop-down button
    2. New View  Above the list to the left select the Action on 1 item drop-down button.
  5. Select send/replenish inventory. 

You should have now been taken to a screen with this box at the top (note that I already added an address, but yours will be blank):

Replenish Inventory Step 1

You are creating a new shipping plan, of course. Add the ship-from address of your manufacturer that you gathered earlier. Change Packing Type to the correct option. It will almost undoubtedly be Case-packed products. When finished, click on the Continue to Shipping Plan button.

Replenish Inventory 1 - Set Quantity

In the Set Quantity step, enter the number of cases you will be sending Amazon and how many of your item will be in each case.

Part 4 - 1 case of games

For my shipment, one case held eight games. Can you guess how excited you will be when you open your first case? You might cry.


Replenish Inventory 2 - Prepare Products

I don’t know too much about fees for Prepping Products because mine didn’t need any prep. I doubt you will either, unless you have something fragile or oversized. Click Here to read more about it on the Amazon Help Pages.


Replenish Inventory 3 - Lebel Products

If your products do not have a UPC symbol, you will need Amazon or your manufacturer to label them for you. (i.e. affix a sticker on your product with your UPC symbol). If at all possible, get your UPC on your item instead of dealing with this. I wrote a Quick UPC guide that can help guide you with this.


Replenish Inventory 4 - Review Shipment

Double check your ship-from address, cases, units per case, total units, and packing type. Contents should be 1 MSKU, which is your 1 product.

If you successfully changed your Inventory Placement Option to Inventory Placement Service, you should see only one Amazon warehouse under Ship To. For now, it is just a code, city and state (for example CHA1, Chattanooga, TN).

Now you can approve the shipment and get started on the next part. After you d0, you’ll notice that Review Shipments has updated to View Shipments in the progress bar above.


Replenish Inventory 5 - View Shipment

Your shipment has now been saved and you can return to it later. Let’s continue, though. Click on the Work On Shipment button to the right.


Replenish Inventory 6 - Prepare Shipment

From here, you can start gathering information your manufacturer needs:

  • Shipping Address of the Amazon Warehouse
  • Amazon Reference ID – Right now it is probably blank, but it will populate in the next couple of hours.
  • ID – Your manufacturer will ask for the shipment’s Bill of Lading. However, you aren’t officially given this until you select Complete Shipment. However, the Bill of Lading will match the ID shown here.

Replenish Inventory 7 - Shipping Service

Above, my selections are shown, though yours may be different. I needed to ship around 1500 games to Amazon which – according to my manufacturer – was about 3 pallets worth, which is less than a truckload (LTL). SPD would be if you hand-mailed a few items to the Amazon Warehouse from your post office.

I chose Other as my manufacturer did not use one of the carriers listed. I don’t know much about shipping with an Amazon-Partnered Carrier, so if you do, feel free to talk about it in the comments and I can update this post.

Replenish Inventory 8 - Printing Labels

As you will not be packing these labels yourself, your manufacturer will ask you to send a PDF file of the box and pallet labels to your manufacturer. Select Print, then save as a PDF, and send away.

All Done! After completing the shipment order and communicating all of the necessary details to your manufacturer – which may take a few days – hit the Complete Shipment button.

Did I miss anything? I wrote this blog from my own research and first-hand experience, but I’m not perfect. Please let me know if you have any questions and/or suggestions for updates I should add to this blog.

What’s next?

Waiting. Lots of it. Especially if your item is being produced overseas. Eventually your items will arrive at Amazon.

Keep an eye on the shipping progress and a couple of weeks before your items arrive, send out your backer survey to get everyone’s address.

Once your items are at the Amazon warehouse and you have everyone’s address, there’s only one thing left to do – ship ’em out.

Last Words

I thought 4 parts would be enough to complete this set of blogs, but it looks like I’ll need one more. Next will be Part 5: Completing Kickstarter Fulfillment using Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment.

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

A Quick Guide to UPCs and EANs for Your Product

Why do I want one of these?

So you can sell your product in stores both online and on shelves. Boom. You already knew that.

Here is what this blog post will cover:

Things you want to do:

  1. Understand what UPCs, EANs, and GTINs are and how they are different
  2. Get one for your product
  3. Put it on your product’s box

Things you don’t want to do:

  1. Spend a lot of money
  2. Be confused anymore

What’s the difference between a UPC, EAN, and GTIN?

I’m just going to summarize what I read here. I’m no expert, but the good thing is that you don’t have to be an expert. 1) It’s easy and 2) What’s the worst that could happen?

No really – what’s the worst that could happen?

The worst thing that can happen is that if some retailer doesn’t accept your game because the UPC is all wrong… you can just stick a new one right on top of it. I’m sure you’ve been shopping in Target or Barnes & Nobles before and noticed a UPC sticker slapped right on top of the original UPC.

Just say to yourself: “If the guy who made this screwed up and still ended up in a major retail store, think of where I’ll end up.”


GTIN (Global Trade Item Number): This is the term that encompasses all references to “Barcodes that Represent Your Product To Computers”. UPCs and EANs are both GTINs.

UPC (Universal Product Code): A 12 digit number that old computers use to represent your product. However, a lot of those old computers still exist.

EAN (European Article Number): An EAN is exactly the same as a UPC, except it has one extra number in front – the country code. Add a 0 if you are in the US.

In short, use a UPC if you plan to sell mainly in the US and Canada – you have to make sure all the retailers with old computers can read your 12 number barcode.

Where do I get one?

If you Google ‘How to buy a UPC’ you will probably end up here at what I have nicknamed ‘The Dubai of Barcodes.’ But don’t go there and don’t pay $300 for your barcodes.

I got mine here for 20 bucks. This was per the suggestion of tabletop gaming and Kickstarter guru James Mathe. I also recommend it.

After you purchase your UPC or EAN, you will be emailed a folder of barcodes in various file formats so that you can integrate it into whichever program you are using to create your product box’s art.

UPC_filesI hope it’s not a bad thing to flash my UPC number around.

Where do I put the Barcode on my Product?

Sounds so terrifying – is so simple. Let’s start with placement: You will probably want it on the back of your box (or book? or binder? or brother? or your neck?).

I do not know if people register for the barcodes that they tattoo on the back of their neck. I’d hope so – what if they ended up wearing the same UPC symbol as Pampers?

As for sizing – this reference guide states that the nominal size for your UPC is it’s actual, 100% size. This is 1.469 inches wide by 1.02 inches tall. That’s the distance from the left-most number to the right-most number.

But that’s just the size of the actual UPC symbol. To ensure that product scanners in stores can pick up the barcodes without issue, add .1 inch white padding around the UPC.

Don’t want to go through the trouble of making this yourself? Here’s a perfectly sized white box that you can drag onto your product’s box. It’s right below this paragraph. Do you believe?


A note: The game manufacturer I work with has all of it’s games printed in China. So they manually updated the barcode on my box to reflect this. It looks like they shrunk the UPC to make room for the ‘Made In China’ text.

Here is the picture progression my game box’s back panel. You may or may not find it noteworthy that I had the UPC size completely wrong when I first added it. You are now coming to the realization that I have built the totem pole of my all-encompassing knowledge on the wooden carvings of my mistakes.


Please forgive the orange hue on the non-white-balanced picture of my game’s final box.

That’s that. 

I hope that I have helped you get your very first UPC. It’s going to be really exciting when you see it on your product. If you have any questions or if I got anything incorrect, don’t hesitate to comment below or email me directly.

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

Using Amazon Fulfillment to Ship your Kickstarter Product (Part 3)

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

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

Part 3: Listing Your Item on Amazon

This blog post will be short and stout and will explain the basic info needed to list your item on Amazon.

“I don’t want to list my product on Amazon. I’m just using them for fulfillment.”

That’s fine – you don’t ever have to put the item live and for sale in the Amazon online store. However, Amazon needs some basic information just to ensure their runners can find your product in their canyon-sized warehouses.

Even your sweet grandmother would ask “What’s in the box?” if you dropped off 60 fishy-looking, sealed cardboard packages for storage in her musty garage.

Your item will not be viewable or searchable on Amazon until it has an image. You can also set the list date to far in the future. Those are two options you can utilize to ensure your item isn’t showing up for random people to stumble upon before it is available.

Step 1: The Starting Point

Just in case this is your first time navigating the Amazon seller site, I’ll drop you off at the entry point.

Here’s a link to the Amazon Seller Account Homepage. If you haven’t signed up for a Seller account already, go ahead and do that. Make sure you get the free Individual Plan, not the Professional Plan.

Next, at the top of your Seller Account, click Inventory and then Add a Product.


You’re now in the Part (1) Classify your product. Find an appropriate product category for your item and then come back when you get to Part (2) Identify.

Step 2: Your Product’s Information


If you see a red asterisk next to a detail, it means that you cannot click the Save and Finish button at the bottom of the page until it has been completed.

Here’s the skinny skeleton, good-enough list of info needed to set up your product:

  1. Your product’s name (i.e. What?!? Oh… The Game of Couples Banter)
  2. Your product’s manufacturer – Note, this is the name of your company, not the company you hired to manufacture your game. I really hope I’m not the only one that got confused by that…)
  3. A UPC or EAN number.

Did you just hit a wall? Symbolically, not violently. If you don’t yet have a UPC or EAN number for your product, don’t fret. It’s way easier than you think.

In fact, I wrote a Quick Guide to Getting a UPC or EAN Number.

After entering your UPC information, go to the next tab over labeled Offer with a red asterisk next to it. Then select the checkbox labeled “Let me skip the offer data and add it later.”

Step 3: Save and Finish

Now click the Save and Finish button at the bottom of the page.

You will now be directed to a list of all inventory you have registered with Amazon – which is just this initial item, of course. On the left hand side under Status it should say Incomplete. This means that the item is not for sale on Amazon and no one can find it while searching the website.

All done.

Your item is now in the Amazon database. In Part 4, I will cover how to get your item to an Amazon warehouse. Hope this helped! Let me know if I messed anything up and I will correct it.

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


Using Amazon Fulfillment to Ship your Kickstarter Product (Part 2)

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

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

“Accurately Estimating” is an oxymoron. Not pursuing an accurate estimation of your shipping costs is moronic. You see – everything is connected.

Estimating the cost of shipping your product is annoying, obscene, and generally swept under the rug. Some would say it’s the number one thing that Kickstarter creators screw up and lose a bunch of money on.


After funding my Kickstarter, I mapped out all of my shipping options and costs on my whiteboard at home. Note that I said “after my Kickstarter.” Don’t be like me.

Since then, I have successfully shipped my games to each of my backers and have gained a much better understanding on how much things cost. In this article, I am going to help you draw out your own cost map and it will be much simpler than mine.

Step 1: Two Starting Points

I’m going to cover two options for fulfillment in this blog post: DIY (shipping from your house) vs Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (shipping from the Amazon warehouse). I haven’t worked with any other 3rd party fulfillment centers and while some of these factors may align, I cannot speak for certain about the various costs and fees of those other services.

I am not going to include the cost of getting the games from your manufacturer to you or to Amazon. Later, make sure to get quotes from your manufacturer to see if there is a difference in shipping from one location to the other. For me, the cost was the same.


Step 2: Calculate the cost to ship one of your items

First things first, get the weight and dimensions of your product – or at least a good guess. Here are my game’s measurements:


Shipping Items Yourself

Let’s narrow down which packaging will work best for you. We will first check out flat-rate USPS boxes and then custom-sized boxes.

USPS Flat-Rate Shipping

In short, flat-rate means that neither your product’s weight nor where you ship it matters; the price will not change. Here’s the selection of USPS flat-rate boxes:


The above dimensions are the inner dimensions, so you can accurately tell if your product fits in the box. (Outer dimensions are 1/8th of an inch longer, just so you know).

Figure out the smallest one that your item fits into and then record the corresponding prices for domestic and international shipping.

For the game makers reading this, it is actually a “thing” to size your game box to fit into one of the above boxes. I’ve seen a number of smart Kickstarter creators size their game to fit right into the small USPS flat-rate box to ensure a great shipping rate. (For example, Slash and Boss Monster)

Additionally, the actual cardboard boxes for these are FREE. You can just pick them up from the Post Office. However, consider this poem.

To avoid stern sighs | and emptying your post office’s supplies | order boxes from the USPS site | which is also free.

Custom-Sized Shipping

Here’s a link to ULINE, a website that specializes in custom box sizes. Scroll towards the bottom of this page to where you can ‘search by size.’ Find a box that fits the size of your product the best.

Record the per-box cost of, say, 500 boxes. It was about .35 cents per box for me.

You may be wondering why I made you do that extra work for such a small cost. One, because every dollar counts and two, to make sure you know how easy it is to order custom-sized boxes. I shipped out around 30 of my games in ~$12 flat rate boxes before I realized that it would cost much less to ship in custom-sized boxes.

Now check this USPS site to calculate shipping for your package. To get a nice estimate, you’ll want to check two zip codes: the first one should be very close to you and the second should be very far. I live in Atlanta, so I chose another Atlanta zip code for my first choice and a California zip code for my second. (In my opinion, you shouldn’t worry about Alaska and Hawaii).

After putting in a destination zip-code and shipping weight (shipping date shouldn’t matter), select ‘Package’ in the second row of shipping choices and then hit ‘Continue’. On the next page, select Priority Mail Options and then look at Priority Mail 2-Day. That should be your cheapest option. I’ve highlighted it below:


Small rant: You’ll notice that there is a ‘Price’ and an ‘Online Price.’ I tried my damnedest to use USPS online shipping. I downloaded tools, tried the online website, but it just wouldn’t work. I think I shipped / printed labels for 5 packages before it would no longer accept my credit card. After researching more, it seems that very many people were having the same issues and they have not been fixed yet. I encourage you to try it yourself as you may have better luck, but for this post I will assume you are not shipping with the USPS online prices.

Average the cost of shipping to both zip codes. Add the ULINE cost-per-box to that price and write it down. Now do all of that again with calculations for shipping your product to Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Having fun yet?

This is just a hint of the work needed to make your Kickstarter campaign successful. It’s all worth it to make your dream come true.

You now have the DIY price for flat-rate shipping vs custom-sized box shipping! Go ahead and circle the one that costs less.

Note: Even if the custom boxes are cheaper, you may still use flat-rate boxes for backers that ordered more than one product from you or had a bunch of add-ons.

Here’s my chart so far:


Now for Amazon

First, I will go over how Amazon classifies your product. Each tier has a different fulfillment price.

To make things confusing, Amazon references many tiers in their documentation. They are various combinations of ‘small, standard, oversized, media, and non-media’. However, for multi-channel fulfillment, only these 3 price tiers are used:

  • Standard-Size Media
  • Standard-Size Non-Media
  • Oversized Media and Non-Media

My first question was “What counts as media?” I really had to know since the prices were so much better. Alas, card games were not included.

This counts as Media:

  • Books
  • Music
  • Video Games
  • DVDs
  • Software

Next: Sizing. Here’s a chart straight from Amazon that will let you know if your product is Standard-Size or Oversize:


Note: If your product is Oversized you will not be able to use Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment for international orders.

You should now know which of the three price tiers your product falls into. Choose the corresponding chart below to complete your per-unit calculation. If you have an Amazon Seller Account, you can view these charts here.

Standard-Size Media


Standard-Size Non-Media


Oversize Media and Non-Media


As you can see, there is a basic handling, packing, and weight fee. The weight fee is per pound. Oh yea – unless your backers are really unhappy with how late your project is, you should only pay attention to Standard shipping prices.

Amazon International Fulfillment

International Multi-Channel Fulfillment is actually called FBA Export. And no matter how much it says in the documentation otherwise, you CANNOT use multi-channel fulfillment for your orders unless they are considered media.

I repeat: you cannot use Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment for non-media items. It’s a huge bummer. Also, your media item must be standard-size, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

If your product is considered Standard-Size Media (see the chart above), then you can skip ahead. I’m going to quickly cover two alternatives.

1) You can just ship the international items from your house. I sent all of my games to Amazon and then used the cheap ‘return-product’ option to send me all of the games that I needed to ship out of the country. To calculate this, add the .50 per unit fee to the international DIY rates you already calculated above.

2) Read Jamey Stegmaier’s blog on using Amazon to ship items all over the world. It’s great stuff. To summarize, you will ship a big stack of your games to Amazon warehouses on different continents, sign up for Amazon accounts in different countries ( and for example), and then pay “domestic” shipping prices for those countries.

It’s hard, but it could save you more money than shipping it from home, especially if you have a decent number of international backers.

So you have Standard-Size Media to ship internationally?

Here is the price table, which you can find here on Amazon.


Alrighty. Calculate your FBA Export prices to various exotic locales and write them down.

You should now have a very good idea of how your DIY and Amazon costs compare. Here’s my final chart, highlighting which option is cheaper for me. Note that I added $.50 to each of my international DIY costs.


This should actually give you a great idea of how much *more* to charge for international shipping. If I had done this ahead of time, I would have added $10 to shipping to Canada and ~$19 to the rest of the world. Instead, I charged a flat $9 international shipping rate. Don’t be like me.

Now for the payoff

Let’s do a quick calculation of what it would cost to ship 100, 500, or 1000 items to backers here in the US. As the numbers get bigger, the savings becomes more apparent.


 Keep in mind the above price differences as you read through the next section.

Step 3: More costs, fees, pros, cons, and things to keep in mind

Amazon Fees

1) Monthly storage fee. If you plan to keep your items in an Amazon warehouse after delivering to backers (so that they can continue to fulfill your online orders) you will pay a monthly, per-cubic-foot fee. Amazon actually has a GREAT fee calculator for this. Here’s the screenshot in case you haven’t signed up for your sellers account yet:


For example, my 4 x 4 x 9 game is 0.083 cubic feet or 4 cents a unit each month. All together, I pay roughly $40 a month in storage fees.

2) Long term storage fee. This took me a bit to understand, so I’ll break it down for you. You only pay the long term storage fee if your product is in an Amazon warehouse for a full year. The cost is 22.50 per cubic foot.

Sounds scary, right? My plan is to sell as much as I can in my year and then if I still have a lot of units unsold, I’ll use Amazon’s ultra-cheap 50-cents-per-unit to send them home. Or, I’ll suck it up and pay the roughly $1.80 per unit to keep it in storage.

3) The Amazon move-your-product-around fee. OK, this is a big deal and I feel bad that I haven’t brought this up yet. It’s tough because it might not even matter in the end, but you have to know about it.

Without getting into the details, I’ll say that when you ship your product to Amazon, they will want you to ship it to three separate warehouses. That’s ridiculous and expensive. You can decline this and ship it to just one warehouse, but there is a fee. However, you may never get charged this fee.

It works like this: If people start buying your product in a region that is pretty far away from where your product is stored, Amazon will ship a portion of your products to a warehouse closer to that region to save money on shipping them. If this happens, you will be charged a per-unit fee based on the chart below.


I have not had the blessing of selling enough games for this fee to manifest itself. I’m just getting started though, so who knows?

In any case, this blog post is about Multi-Channel Fulfillment, not what comes afterwards. I fulfilled ~300 games with Amazon and there has been no moving my product around yet.

DIY costs

1) Time. It’s going to take you a while to organize, print, label, pack and ship your products to all of your backers. Do you love your family? No? Ignore this, then.

2) Packaging. You already calculated the per-cardboard-box cost for your product. Now add the cost of packing tape, labels, packing filler (I suggest paper, not peanuts), pens and/or printer ink, and gas money to drive back and forth to Office Depot and the Post Office.

3) Space. Some people don’t mind having 1500 items crowding their garage, guest room, attic, den, or kitchen. Just keep in mind that they might all end up fitting in the fireplace if the person you live with feels differently.

“Roaches love cardboard.” – my fiancee.

Final Calculations

I want to address a special case where you have chosen to use Amazon to fulfill your product, yet one or more of the items you have offered to backers cannot be fulfilled by Amazon. For example: an autographed copy of your item.

What do you do then? I think you should ship your items to Amazon first and then use Amazon’s cheap return-your-product option to send the items you need to your house. I promise it will be way less expensive than shipping from your place to Amazon.

Closing Notes

I have done my best to offer accurate advice and I hope that I have made things much easier for you by compiling my research into this guide. However, you should never trust people on the internet. Please double check my work in regards to your product.

Additionally, the Amazon fulfillment prices change every once and a while, so it may be different by the time you are reading this.

Let me know if I missed something or if you have any questions.

The next blog, Part 3, will explain how to setup your Amazon product online, how to get your product to an Amazon warehouse, and then how to make a fulfillment order.

– Chris

You can follow my gaming Twitter @whatohgame if you are so inclined.

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.

  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