One of the most complicated parts of planning a project can be calculating the costs of shipping rewards to your backers. It’s crucial not to wait too long in the development process to figure this out. Having a solid plan for shipping is one way to help better manage your backers’ expectations and keep them happy.
Often, first-time creators will rush to launch a project and miscalculate the time and logistics for their shipping strategy. For this reason, it’s important to take into consideration from early on what aspects of your shipping plan you can handle yourself, and what areas will require some extra support from an outside service or vendor.
Making a shipping plan
As you plan the costs of rewards and your budget, consider the following:
- Will your rewards be ready to ship in time for your estimated delivery date?
Expect the unexpected. Build a buffer for manufacturing and shipping costs into your estimates. By under promising you have the opportunity to over deliver, should you be ready to ship ahead of the set estimate.
- Have a rough estimate of the size, dimensions, and weight of your rewards
Shipping rates are generally dependent on the weight and dimensions of the package you’re shipping, and may be subject to change. Some things to consider could include the type of packaging and shipping material you might use, how that might affect the weight and dimensions of the parcel, and how your courier calculates costs for shipping. You also might want to seek out shipping quotes from a number of providers to find the best one for you.
- Have a rough estimate of the size, dimensions, and weight of your add-ons*
If you will be offering add-ons, we recommend gathering estimates for the cost of shipping these items, both individually and when grouped in with other rewards. When setting up your add-ons you will also have the option to add additional shipping for each item, if it needs it. For example, if the main reward tier is a copy of your book with a shipping cost of $5, and one of your add-on items is a poster, research how much more shipping these two items together would be.
- Research international shipping rates
We recommend researching any additional costs or fees involved with shipping items abroad. Take these into account when planning the cost of each reward and shipping it.
- Have you charged your backers the correct amount for shipping?
Will the backer be responsible for covering customs fees associated with shipping their reward abroad? If so, make this clear in the reward description and in your project description.
- Building some flexibility into your shipping budget for the unexpected
Expect surprises. Shipping rates can fluctuate based on season, so you’ll want to make sure to build this into your plan and budget.
- Consider your environmental impact
We encourage all creators to take into account the best practices for sustainable fulfillment and distribution of their rewards. For more, head to our Environmental Resources Center.
Keep in mind that additional fees collected for shipping will be reflected in your funding amount while your project is live.
Learn from the Kickstarter community
One of the best resources for tips about shipping is learning from other Kickstarter creators who have been in your shoes. We encourage you to browse through other successful projects on Kickstarter that might be similar to yours, and see how they calculated shipping for their project. Also, don’t forget to visit our Resources page for more tips on shipping and fulfillment in general.
If the item hasn’t yet been produced or the design hasn’t been finalized, it’ll be a bit more difficult to predict how much it will weigh or what its dimensions will be. Especially if you plan to offer shipping around the world, it can be particularly tricky to anticipate the costs of customs, VAT, and so on. We encourage you to be extra cautious and consider elaborating on this in your Risks & Challenges section of your project.