Making Learning Fun

In my last post, I laid out a detailed comparison of the major U.S shipping options. This blog aims to cover the beast of international shipping!

Assessing how to ship your product is one of the notorious challenges of executing a Kickstarter campaign. But international shipping can be even more intimidating. My intention here is give you all the tools needed to begin your journey.

Below is a record of every detail I’ve collected with respect to shipping a card game internationally – in preparation for shipping my card game – LINKAGEafter our Kickstarter Campaign.

*Disclaimer – The costs described in this post will increase over time and do not apply to all card games, let alone all games. It is imperative for every project creator to perform their own research specific to the details of their own product, in order to ensure all estimates are accurate and that no costs have been overlooked.  

International Shipping in General

First Class Package International Shipping Rates ChartFirst Class Package International Service from USPS is one of the better options for smaller packages internationally. The cost breakdown for this type of international shipping is in quarter pounds or ¼ lbs. increments. (1/4 lb. is equal to 4 oz., since there are 16 oz. in 1 lb.) (Link to chart)

Determining USPS shipping prices for any country in the world is actually quite easy (Well, I say that now that I have spent weeks digging up all the information, charts, graphs and maps shown below!)

USPS’ First Class Package International Service is available as long as the package is less than 4 lbs. (It’s not as reasonable a rate after a couple lbs., but after 4lbs it really gets crazy).

Here’s How it Works:

USPS breaks up essentially the entire world into “Price Groups”  Price Group 1 is Canada, Price Group 2 is Mexico, Price Group 3 is China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia (You can see the entire break down of every country here, or with their World Map, below.)

For First Class Package International Services, these Price Groups are lumped into just FOUR price categories to determine shipping cost: Price Group 1, Price Group 2, Price Group 3-5, and Price Group 6-9. So you don’t have to know every country specifically to get an idea of what shipping will cost. As long as you know the weight of your product (again, this only works for products under 4lbs.) then you can see below the exact cost for shipping to that entire region.

The map below shows how USPS groups these countries into their nine major Price Groups.

USPS First Class International Shipping Price Group World Map

Here is a link to the USPS website where this map can be found.  

A note of caution: This map is from 2009 when Australia was in Price Group 10. It has since been added to Price Group 3, which effectively removed price group 10 from the list. The map was hard to read so I added bigger and bolder font pointing out each price group. Australia is still a different color then China and Japan since I did not change any coloring on this map.

International Shipping – A Single Deck of Cards

Since a single deck of cards inside a bubble mailer envelope weighs roughly 3.88 oz. (3.6 oz. for the card game + 0.28 oz. for the envelope), it will cost $7.65 to ship anywhere within Canada; $8.85 to ship anywhere within Mexico; $9.45 to ship anywhere within Price Groups 3 – 5 (Europe, Australia, China, Japan, Russia Etc.); and $9.15 to ship anywhere within Price Groups 6 – 9 (South America, Africa, Middle East, and the rest of Asia).

Charge for Shipping One Deck Outside the US:

Shipping to Canada ($7.65) costs $5.15 more than the cost to ship a single deck of cards anywhere within the U.S. ($2.50). With this in mind, I am thinking about charging an extra $5.00 to ship one deck to Canada.

Shipping to Groups 2 through 9 is roughly all the same cost ($8.85, $9.45 and $9.15), all around $7.00 more than the cost to ship a single deck of cards anywhere within the U.S. ($2.50). With this in mind, I am thinking about charging an extra $7.00 to ship one deck of cards to the rest of the world. I think I will do this, but here is my word of caution:

A Word of Caution

The cost to ship one deck of cards to Canada is $7.65 and to the rest of the world is about $9.00 ($8.85, $9.45 and $9.15 respectively) as long as the weight of the game with packaging does not exceed 4 oz. My current card game with packaging is very close at 3.88 oz. If I decided to add anything to this game – a bigger box, say, or extra cards from a stretch goal, or even additional padding to cushion those international journeys – doing so will most likely boost this shipping cost an additional $1.15 for Canada and roughly $3.00 for the rest of the world ($2.70, $3.30 and $3.00). These increases are far too high to omit from my overall shipping analysis.

That said, I am wondering whether I ought to increase international shipping for Canada to $6.00 and everywhere else to $10.00. What do you think?

International Shipping – Two Decks of Cards

Two decks of cards inside a bubble mailer envelope for shipping weighs roughly 7.81 oz. (3.6 oz. x 2 for two decks + 0.61 oz. for the envelope), which will cost $8.80 to ship anywhere within Canada; $11.55 to ship anywhere within Mexico; $12.75 to ship anywhere within Price Groups 3 – 5 (Europe, Australia, China, Japan, Russia Etc.); and $12.15 to ship anywhere within Price Groups 6 – 9 (South America, Africa, Middle East, and the rest of Asia).

Charge for Shipping Two Decks Outside the US:

Since the cost to ship two decks of cards from basically anywhere within the U.S. to Canada ($8.80) is roughly $5.58 more than the cost to ship two decks of cards anywhere within the U.S. ($3.22) I am thinking about also charging an extra $5.00 to ship two decks to Canada.

Shipping to Groups 2 through 9 has roughly the same cost ($11.55, $12.75 and $12.15) all around $9.00 more than the cost to ship two decks of cards anywhere within the U.S. ($3.22). Currently I am thinking about charging an extra $9.00 to ship two decks of cards to the rest of the world. Again, here is my word of caution:

Another Word of Caution

The cost to ship two decks of cards above is only valid as long as the weight of the game with packaging does not exceed 8 oz. (or ½ lbs.) My current card game with packaging is very close to that at 7.81 oz. If I decide to add anything to this game, even just extra padding for international shipping, then shipping costs will likely jump to the next price bracket. This would be an additional $0.75 for Canada ($9.55) and roughly $2.00 ($1.95, $1.85 and $2.15) for the rest of the world ($13.50, $14.90, $14.30). Again, I cannot afford to skim over these increases when plotting my shipping plan! And again, I am deciding whether to increase international shipping for two decks of cards to Canada to $6.00 and everywhere else to $11.00.

International Shipping – Eight Decks of Cards

Here I need to estimate a cost comparison between First Class Package International AND Priority Flat Rate International (small box). Below is a chart showing the cost of shipping internationally using the latter.

USPS Priority International Flat Rate Shipping Prices and Dimensions - Chart

Eight decks of cards packaged inside a small box weighs roughly 31.3 oz. (28.8 oz. for the cards –  3.6 oz. x 8 decks – and 2.5 oz. for the box).

Using First Class Package International this will cost $17.95 to ship anywhere within Canada; $22.80 to ship anywhere within Mexico; $26.00 to ship anywhere within Price Groups 3 – 5 (Europe, Australia, China, Japan, Russia Etc.); and $26.00 to ship anywhere within Price Groups 6 – 9 (South America, Africa, Middle East, and the rest of Asia).

Using Priority Flat Rate International (small box) this same package will cost $20.55 to ship to Canada and $24.75 to ship anywhere else in the world. The flat rate option costs a little more ($2.60 and $1.95 more, respectively) to ship to Canada and Mexico but a little less ($1.25 less) to ship to the rest of the world using the first class shipping option.

For the purposes of greatly simplifying things, I think it makes since to ship these using Priority Flat Rate International (even though is it a little more expensive to ship to Canada and Mexico) for two reasons:

(1)    The Expediency Reason – I will already packing sets of eight in these same boxes for domestic shipping. It would save a lot of time and effort to be able to use the same packaging material and boxes.

(2)    The Economic Reason – Canada is more expensive but it’s also only one country. The rest of the world will most likely supply more backers. (For example, among backers of Euphoria from Stonemaier Games, Canadian backers represented 9% while international backers represented 30% of the total pool)

How Much to Charge for Shipping:

Using Priority Flat Rate International to ship eight decks of cards in a small flat rate box to anywhere in Canada ($20.55) is roughly $14.75 more than the cost to ship eight decks of cards anywhere within the U.S. ($5.80) using the Priority Small Flat Rate box. So, I will most likely charge $15 extra to ship this package to Canada.

Using the same service and box it will cost ($24.75) to ship anywhere in the world, which is roughly $18.95 more than the cost to ship eight decks of cards anywhere within the U.S. ($5.80) using the Priority small flat rate box. So, I will most likely charge $20 extra to ship this package anywhere the U.S. and Canada.

A Comparison to my Cost Basis:

My cost basis is the cost of shipping one game to one address in the U.S. This is my cost basis because it is the cost used to determine how to price each reward level. Since it would cost $22.16 to ship eight decks to eight different addresses within the U.S. (the basis for my original per game cost estimations), shipping eight games in one flat rate box to a single address in Canada ($20.25) represents a shipping saving of $1.91, while shipping eight games in one flat rate box anywhere else in the world ($24.75) represents a shipping expense of $2.59. This is not too bad. But we assume we will have many more shipments to the rest of the world than we will to Canada, so this $2.59 should be made up for somehow – in my case, it will likely be made up for by the extra shipping charge added to each pledge.

Here’s my Final Word of Caution

The cost to ship eight deck of cards in the small flat rate box holds true as long as all eight can fit (we don’t have to worry about weight since it’s a flat rate box!). They can fit, as long as the decks are housed in a standard tuck box and any card expansion packs are not more roughly 10 cards …and ten may even be pushing it a little bit.

If I make a pledge level for eight decks and for some reason they do not fit (because we upgraded the box with a stretch goal, or added a few cards with a stretch goal) then the cost for shipping will jump drastically!

To ship a medium sized flat rate box to Canada the cost is $42.15 (an additional $22 – that’s a kick in the pants!) while shipping to anywhere else in the world will cost $61.75 (an additional $37 – that’s a HUGE kick in the pants!)

If this were to happen, I would most likely abandon the Flat Rate shipping altogether, and use the First Class Package International Services which is based upon weight instead of volume. Jumping up even two weight brackets (from the 32.8 oz. used above to a 40 oz. maximum) will only increase the International shipping to the entire world by about $4 per package of eight decks. This is much more reasonable!

Cost of My Time and Using Fulfillment Services

I want to point out a major consideration here – all of the logistics (organizing rewards, packaging, printing shipping labels, etc…) will have to be done by myself, over many hours! So even though I have assessed every conceivable cost, my actual time has not been included in this estimation. Should it be?

Well some would say yes, others would argue no. I will not be including my time into this estimation. And here is why:

I have spent thousands of hours (I am not kidding or exaggerating at all) doing research, designing my games and campaign, planning out all of the logistics, etc. And the amount of hours it will take to package the games will be almost negligible compared to this.

I am not hoping to be reimbursed for this work; it is a passion project for me. But I do gain something from this! I am doing all of this work in order to gain credibility so people will trust me as a game designer and a Kickstarter project creator and so they will continue to support my projects for years to come.

Here’s Jamey’s Word of Caution to Me

If by some chance or divine causation I manage to get 1,000 backers, or 2,000 backers, or even more, I need to have a contingency plan. Touché, this is true. Consequently, I will spend some time researching fulfillment services. Using a fulfillment service would greatly reduce the man-hours needed to ship each of these decks – however it’s obviously at a cost.

Jamey Stegmaier has already done a lot of research on how to provide free shipping to pretty much the entire world, and has written quite extensively on his use of Amazon fulfillment services. So I would recommend you read his material until I can finish my research and have something useful to add to that conversation here!

Cost of Customs

Apparently, if any country charge for customs, these charges are relayed to the package recipient and not paid at the time of the shipment. I need to ship a couple packages internationally to verify this. Here is where I found the statement directly from the USPS:

“No provision is made for prepayment of customs duty on mail addressed for delivery in foreign countries. If duties or taxes are assessed, most countries will collect from the recipient a customs clearance and delivery fee, in addition to the duties and taxes. This fee is authorized by international postal agreements to reimburse the delivery service for the costs it incurs in clearing the items through customs and collecting duties at the time of delivery. The duties, taxes, and fee, if applicable, are not included in the postage paid by the mailer.”

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 internationally?