In my last post, I compared four of the major U.S card game manufacturers.
Shipping is the next major cost I need to evaluate prior to launching my Kickstarter campaign for Linkage – A DNA Card Game.
Estimating and assessing how to ship your product is one of the most notorious challenges of properly executing a Kickstarter campaign. If you make a mistake in your shipping estimations early on, it could cost you drastically in the end. With this in mind, I’ve decided to record every detail I’ve collected with respect to shipping a card game.
I’ll start with this chart that summarizes the three shipping options I will be using:
*Disclaimer – The costs described in this post will increase over time and do not apply to all card games, let alone all game. It is imperative for every project creator to perform their own research specific to the details of their own product, in order to ensure you do not overlook any costs.
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Shipping One Deck of Cards for my Kickstarter Campaign
If your package weighs 13 oz. or less then the First Class Mail Parcel from USPS is the best option. A package weighing 3 oz. or less costs exactly $2.32 to ship anywhere in the U.S. (including its territories and possessions). This price increases incrementally up to $4.12 for a package weighing 13 oz.
Here is a cost breakdown of each ounce increment:
A single deck of cards weighs approximately 3.6 oz. and I will be shipping the deck inside a Kraft #000 4”x7” bubble mailer which weighs 0.28 oz. This puts me at 3.88 oz. (just under 4 oz.) so it will cost me $2.50 to ship this package using First-Class Mail Parcel.
I wanted to verify this price prior to launching our Kickstarter Campaign, so I sent out a few decks of cards using first class parcel using this bubble mailer and they cost exactly $2.50 each to ship to multiple locations. That is not too shabby a shipping price!
The cost for bubble mailers is $66.11 ($61.09 + $5.02 tax) for a pack of 500 from Staples.com, which comes out to $0.132 or 13 cents per envelope. (Also, shipping from Staples is free for all orders over $19.99.)
You can also order them in smaller quantities for a higher cost per envelope comparison. A pack of 25 Kraft #000 4”x7” bubble mailers costs $6.70 which comes out to $0.268 or 27 cents. Because I do not know how many games I will need to ship it is wise to use the most conservative estimate at this point.
My estimated cost to ship one deck of cards: $2.77 ($2.50 + $0.27)
And remember, economy of scale will change this number shipping cost. Every package will cost the same $2.50 base cost from USPS and these cost will add up quick.
Shipping Two Decks of Cards for my Kickstarter Campaign
If I can ship two games in a single package, the weight will be around 7.2 oz. for the cards and 0.61 oz. for a Kraft #0 sized 6”x 9” bubble mailer for a grand total of 7.81 oz. Using the First Class Mail Parcel from the USPS this will cost $3.22.
The cost for this size bubble mailer is $20.54 ($18.99 + $1.56) for a pack of 25 from Staples.com, which comes out to $0.82 or 82 cents per envelope. You can also order these in larger quantities but it may not be necessary. For the record, a pack of 250 costs $97.38 including tax ($89.99 + $7.39 tax) which comes out to $0.39 or 39 cents per envelope.
My estimated cost to ship two decks of cards to a single address: $4.04 ($3.22 + $0.82), which comes out to $2.02 per game.
This is a savings of $1.52 to ship a package of two or a savings of $0.76 per game. Not a terribly large amount in itself, perhaps, but every bit helps when dealing with large quantities!
Why two games? – The decision to ship two games in a single package reflects a reward tier we will be using in the Kickstarter campaign, which further reflects the specific mechanics of the game (two decks allow for up to seven or even eight players) and not so much any major saving in shipping. That’s where the eight game package comes into play.
Shipping Eight Decks of Cards for my Kickstarter Campaign
I can fit up to eight games in a single Priority Mail – Small Flat Rate Box and ship it anywhere within the U.S. for only $5.80. This is incredible and would allow for a serious reduction in the cost of this pledge level.
I could also ship this same box anywhere in the world for $24.75 and to Canada for only $16.55. This means shipping anywhere in the world wouldn’t cost much more than shipping eight individual games anywhere within the U.S. so international backers can have a cheap shipping option if they pooled their money. More about this in my post on International Shipping.
The Image below show the Small Flat Rate box with a few decks of classic Bicycle cards for perspective.
Since I am shipping the card games in the Small Flat Rate Box, I won’t have to worry about the weight. This sized flat rate box has interior dimensions 8-5/8” x 5-3/8” x 1-5/8” – and the boxes themselves are free.
An additional benefit to using the flat rate boxes is that they automatically come with tracking (normally an additional $1.05) and $50 of insurance (normally an additional $2.10) and USPS pickup is free!
My estimated cost to ship eight decks of cards to one address: $5.80, which comes out to $0.73 per game.
This is a savings of $16.36 to ship a package of eight or a savings of $2.05 per game. This is actually a substantial savings which should allow for an exceptional discount reward level.
Packages Over 13 OZ. (USPS Priority Flat Rate Boxes)
Flat rate boxes from USPS are called “Priority Mail Flat Rate”. These are incredible options for games bigger than just a couple decks of cards. The benefit to these boxes is that you can put up to 70 lbs. of stuff inside for the same cost.
They also come (as I explained above) with tracking (normally an additional $1.05) and $50 of insurance (normally an additional $2.10), they are delivered in 1 to 3 days within the U.S. and pickup is free!
Here is a chart showing the cost for each flat rate box and the INTERIOR dimensions of each box:
USPS Online Prices
You can also save just under 10% on these flat rate prices by paying for everything online and scheduling a pickup. You need to open up an account with USPS (which is free and easy – I did it in a few minutes). You can also print the labels for these packages from your home computer. Here are a number of services that allow you to do this: https://www.usps.com/business/online-postage.htm
Details on printing labels fall outside the scope of this blog post, but I will write an entire blog entry about how to do this later.
UPS and Fedex
Some of you may be wondering, ‘Why not consider UPS and FedEx for shipping?’ The answer is very simple.
First, FedEx adds $2.90 to every residential delivery. This is more than the total cost to ship using USPS First Class Parcel.
Also, the rates for these services are dependent upon the distances shipped. This makes calculating general estimates quite unhelpful. As you may have gathered from my catalogue of details above, this is something I am NOT willing leave undetermined ahead of time.
If we were shipping larger packages shipping services outside the USPS would be investigated, however, USPS maintains the best prices for smaller sized packages like these.
Planning for Success – Fulfillment
I have been challenged recently (Thanks Jamey!) to think about how my plan would change if the project was highly successful and I had to ship 1,000 or 2,000 or more games. This is very optimistic and, though I don’t believe the project will yield this type of success, I think it would be prudent for me to have a plan in mind. I am in the process on comparing a few of the common and major fulfillment companies and I will post my results here as soon as I have something worth writing about. Thanks for your patience.
Great Advice from Jamey Stegmaier and James Mathe
Please Take a Second to Comment
Have you used any of these options for shipping your game (or any other Kickstarter product)? What would you recommend? Any other questions about shipping domestically?
I’ll write a blog about international shipping soon!