You’ve nurtured your product down the crowdfunding pathway, turning an innovative concept into a new product, and now it’s time to fulfill your promise to your backers. So how do you get your product to their front porch or mailbox? From choosing your packaging to picking a shipping company, you have many choices to make after a successful crowdfunding project.
Choose Packing Materials for Your Kickstarter Rewards
There is nothing more frustrating than opening an eagerly-awaited parcel only to find that the product inside has been damaged in transit. An occasional disaster may be impossible to avoid, but you can do your best to ensure a safe arrival. The first step is finding the proper envelope, box, bag or crate and the supplies you’ll need to keep your precious cargo unharmed.
Online listings or print catalogs from packaging suppliers can be a source of vital information in regards to which containers are designed to accommodate different types of merchandise. In addition to dimensions, you should consider weight capacity, inserts and stabilizing or filler materials such as molded foams or packing peanuts.
For products with an unusual shape, some container manufacturers will custom design a shipping system. The catch is that there are often minimum orders, and the services are not free. If you can manage with an off-the-shelf packaging product, your bottom line will thank you.
If your Kickstarter or Indiegogo project rewards are temperature sensitive, you may require insulated containers or cooling packs. When shipping electronics, you may need special bags or wraps that will protect them from static charges. Depending on your audience, you may also want to consider the concerns of recipients who prefer that boxes and fillers be composed of sustainable materials.
Choosing a Shipping Company After a Crowdfunding Project
No matter what online retailers may claim, shipping is not free. You, your backers, or both will pay for it. It’s important to search for the best price you can find.
If you are shipping within the U.S. and your merchandise will fit in an envelope, box or tube, the U.S. Postal Service may be your best deal because the USPS can provide sturdy flat rate boxes. Their online application will allow you to print postage and labels. You can either drop off your parcels or have them picked up, and a calculator on their website will help you to determine shipping prices easily.
For larger packages or transportation across national borders, a company such as United Parcel Service or FedEx may offer you a better solution. Both companies will supply some shipping materials and feature online applications for printing labels. Many drop-off sites are available, as are scheduled pickups. Ground services are cheaper than shipping by air, but may leave your recipients tapping their feet at the door as they wait longer for their rewards.
For crated products or skid-sized orders, a trucking company may be your best choice. Some firms will negotiate prices, and some also offer the option for small businesses to join forces to fill a truck to reduce shipping costs further.
Understanding Shipping Rules, Regulations, Customs and Duties
Specific products such as airbags or ammunition will not be accepted by the USPS or many other shipping services. You will have to determine if your product falls into a regulated category and if so, employ a company with the proper certifications, often issued by the Department of Transportation. The postal service and mainline shipping firms can provide you with a list of prohibited items.
If your Kickstartor or Indiegogo rewards will be shipped internationally, you will encounter extra paperwork and may incur additional costs depending on the nature and value of your products. UPS, FedEx and the USPS can all provide you with customs documents and invoices, but it will be your responsibility to see that they are correctly filled out. You will also need to determine if you will be absorbing the extra costs or if your backers will be paying them.
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