Your campaign was successful. You celebrated, thanked everyone, wait impatiently to receive the money and then for production. All done? No, the hardest part is about to come: Kickstarter fulfillment. Fulfilling a project in the smoothest way possible is crucial for your reputation, and bumps along the line can damage the future of your business. Here what I learnt from my campaign, the mistakes I made, and what you can do to make sure your Kickstarter fulfillment is a success.
Why is Kickstarter fulfillment hard?
The hardest part of the post-campaign, at least for me, was the lack of control. When you design your product and the campaign, and when you run it, you have everything under control – if you are a small creator, you do everything yourself; otherwise, you work with some other people. In any case, you have complete control over the process.
When you fulfill the campaign, you are usually working with an outside company, often large enough to manage several projects at the same time, and they may not be the most responsible to your email. You have little to no control over the timing of delivery. You definitely don’t control shipping delays and customs. Production issues also are not your fault, but they will damage you if they happen.
How to ensure that the Kickstarter fulfillment goes as planned?
There are some things that you can do to make sure that the fulfillment goes the right way.
- Outsource as little as you can, to as few parties as you can. Ideally, you would want to control the entire process, but that could be very hard. For example, if production is in another country, you cannot fulfill the project yourself. Moreover, it would end up being much more expensive. But do make sure that as few companies as possible are involved, to minimize the risk of mistakes.
- Consider producers that fulfill as well. In the world of playing cards, for example, NPCC does that. Here our article on them, in case you want to know more about our experience with NPCC.
- Audit the company you put in charge of fulfilling. How long do they take to answer your email? What do you know about past projects they worked on? Are they able to manage the sheer volume of pledges you’ll need them to ship out? Make sure price is not the only item you care about.
- Add a 1/2 month buffer to your expected delivery date. There are websites and forums keeping track of delays of each creators. Make sure you don’t make it to their blacklists.
- Communicate clearly delays and issues. If there is some problem, be very open with your backers about it. In our project, the US customs stopped our shipment for a month without telling us anything (which is fairly common). Let them know!
- Don’t be afraid to follow up if the fulfiller is not getting back to you. Email dodging is not cool, but it’s their fault, not yours. If they don’t answer within 1-2 working days, write again – you are not being annoying, you are being responsible.
Who are the best fulfillers for playing cards?
Many companies offer their services as fulfillers; many of the new ones charge very low prices, so to be chosen among the bunch. Be very careful: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is not. Here are the three most known and reliable companies that work in playing cards Kickstarter fulfillment:
- GW (Gambler’s Warehouse). Located in Texas, they are the go-to for many creators, as they also do tuck cases. Definitely the first choice to check out.
- AOP (Art Of Play). Also based in the US, they are a huge playing cards company. Their fulfilling is a bit more expensive than GW on small orders, but they remain a very solid choice.
- 52Wonders. Based in Germany, they are the best choice for EU-friendly campaign (here the link to our article about EU-friendly campaigns).
Conclusion: you have to fulfill right.
Kickstarter fulfilling is far from being sexy, and yet it is absolutely crucial if you want to have a shot at making this your job. It is very easy to make mistakes, and most likely something will go wrong. However, some little precautions go a long way at making your project a success until the very end.