3 Crowdfunding Fullfillment Shipping Partners in Canada

23 February 2015

IMG_5851_2lowresEver since my experience shipping the Tuscany Collector’s Edition (detailed here), I’ve been looking for fulfillment solutions other than Amazon. While I’m mostly pleased with Amazon, if I’m going to ship a premium product, I want to work with a fulfillment center that properly packs that product. Also, Amazon’s system can be pretty daunting to use, and it doesn’t offer many personalized solutions (like adding items without bar codes to packages).

I’ve corresponded with a company called Starlit Citadel in the past, and more recently I’ve heard great things about Snakes & Lattes from creators such as David Chott and Cody Miller. So I reached out to both of those companies, and both agreed to fill out my shipping comparison spreadsheet for your benefit.

Is finding an effective shipping solution to backers in Canada important? I think so. Consistently across all of my projects, Canadian backers have comprised 9% of all supporters. For those projects, that’s $100,000 in funding–that’s significant.

As with my shipping entries about Europe and Asia/Australia, there are some important caveats you should know if you’re going to use this spreadsheet to calculate pricing on your Kickstarter campaign. Most importantly, treat the spreadsheet as an estimate. Before you list any of these prices, please contact your shipping partner of choice and figure out exactly how much shipment for your product in Canada will cost.

***

The basic idea for these solutions is that instead of sending individual packages to backers from the US (or wherever you’re located), you’ll send them in bulk (or even just a few cartons) directly from your manufacturer to these companies. Then these companies will fulfill individual rewards. (More on this below.)

Here’s the spreadsheet that breaks down the differences between these three companies. Prices listed at the bottom are in USD based on the current conversion rate, and they’re based on shipping to 80% of Canada (my understanding is that the additional 20% has a slightly higher rate). Below is a screenshot of a small portion of the spreadsheet:

2015-02-23_1049

 

STARLIT CITADEL

Location: Canada

Best at: packing products well, fast turnaround, flexible freight shipping (to Canada or to the US), can fulfill in the US too (similar price plus $2.50)

Downside: slightly higher price than Amazon.ca–see Google Doc and/or details here

 

SNAKES & LATTES

Location: Canada

Best at: packing products well, fast turnaround, flexible freight shipping (to Canada or to the US), offers online dashboard for individual orders post-KS, extra copies can be sold by Snakes & Lattes if you want them to, allows customers to pick up games at Snakes & Lattes locations, creators can track shipping progress in real-time on online dashboard

Downside: slightly higher price than Amazon.ca, located on the east side of North America (longer ship times from manufacturers in China), requires multi-line spreadsheets (each order with multiple SKUs must be split across multiple rows of the spreadsheet, which isn’t how the Kickstarter spreadsheet is set up)

 

AMAZON.CA

Location: Canada

Best at: price

Downside: not recommended for shipping premium products that need to be packed well, complicated to set up, , very specific pallet and carton restrictions, no ability to customize

***

A few endnotes:

  • OTX: There are lots of freight shipping companies out there, but I can’t say enough good things about OTX. They are amazing to work with, very communicative, great rates, and they understand the priority on speed for Kickstarter creators. You can get a quote from Justin at jbergeron@jfk.otxusa.com (if you don’t mind, let him know that you heard about OTX from Jam
  • Greater Than Games: If you are a tabletop game creator looking to get your retail games into distribution after backer fulfillment, I’ve really enjoyed working with Paul at Greater Than Games (paul@greaterthangames.com) for their distribution brokerage service.
  • Quantity: I’d like to continue to dispel the idea that these solutions are only for big companies with thousands of orders. It’s kind of a self-defeating prophecy: If you don’t offer Canada-friendly, cost-effective shipping options on your Kickstarter project, you probably aren’t going to get many backers in Canada.
  • Pricing: Please remember that if you offer “free” shipping anywhere (i.e., to backers in the US), what you’re really doing is building $x into the reward price. So when you determine the shipping fee for other backers, you need to deduct $X from that fee because it’s already built into the reward.

If there are any questions I can help with, please let me know in the comments below. Otherwise I’d recommend contacting the companies directly as listed on the spreadsheet to get quotes for your specific product.

19 Comments on “3 Crowdfunding Fullfillment Shipping Partners in Canada

  1. Great to see Starlit Citadel get some recognition! Although I’m surprised Canada was only 9%… I was expecting us to be at least a little higher than that. Although it may drop even more, with our current exchange rate we’re looking at paying 26% more than Americans for the same product :(

  2. How does this net out in comparison with US -> US shipping?

    I assume that those $10-$15 prices would be on top of the freight charges to get boxes to SC or S&L, so there would be more than US -> US, but probably not the $25+ that is often listed to cover the difference in USPS pricing.

  3. Nice research – thanks, Jamey! It’s great that smaller, more personal businesses are offering this service. A couple questions: 1) I don’t know much about duties, but I assume it’s more cost effective (and quicker) to ship Canada-bound games from China directly to Canada rather than via the US…? 2) It sounds like Starlit Citadel and Snakes & Lattes both have warehouses in the US and provide fulfillment there as well. If so, might it be worth considering them vs. Amazon.com? Thanks! (Perhaps someone from Starlit and/or Snakes is following along and could chime in…?)

    1. eddybox:

      1. It really depends. If your freight shipping company does it correctly, you won’t have to pay customs twice. It might save you money to consolidate the US and Canada shipments onto one shipping container and then split them at port…or it may not. Your freight provider will know.

      2. They do have warehouses here, but I think that’s just for customs. I don’t think they do US fulfillment. I’ll ask.

  4. Two things that are interesting to me about the Canadian services listed in the spreadsheet is that the price per item gets better compared to Amazon.ca as the weight goes up for both of the smaller ones, and the flip between whether Starlit Citadel or Snakes & Lattes is cheaper per item at the 2-3.99kg level.

    Two things I’d note about potentially improving the spreadsheet for non-US based creators in the future (Though bear in mind that this is from a non-creator, so, I may be talking out of my arse here) – A US tab would potentially be useful (and if you don’t want to do it by hand, which… No-one should want to do it by hand, that part might help US creators as well), and both of the companies listed information assuming that the primary delivery location from manufacturing would be the US, with the recommendation of using US warehouses for both. While I understand that this is for international fulfillment partners, to UK based creators… The US is international.

  5. Jamey, this was incredibly helpful. Snakes&Lattes looks like they are really a great solution, in particular because they make the logistics simpler. I’m definitely going to investigate them further.

  6. Hi Jamey, just a question about one of the end notes:
    Pricing: Please remember that if you offer “free” shipping anywhere (i.e., to backers in the US), what you’re really doing is building $x into the reward price. So when you determine the shipping fee for other backers, you need to deduct $X from that fee because it’s already built into the reward.

    Could you clarify this for me a little bit further? Say my base pledge is $49 and I’m building $10 into that reward price for shipping, who do I deduct $10 from because it’s already built into the reward?

    1. Corey: Sure, I’ll use your example to illustrate this point.

      Your base pledge is $49, and the cost for you to ship to a US backer is $10. You build that cost into your base pledge, so the base pledge is really $39 + $10 (the backer sees $49).

      Your shipping cost to Western EU is $17. The fee you charge to Western EU backers, however, should not be $17, because you’ve already accounted for $10 of that in the pledge price. Your fee to Western EU backers when they pledge to the $49 level should be $7.

  7. Hey there – was wondering if you have any information on paying duties when you import the games to Canada. I found info online about importing a single game, but couldn’t figure out if that cost goes down if you are sending a bunch of games to a warehouse. Any insight would be appreciated!

    1. I’ve found that when sending games in bulk to a warehouse in Canada, I pay a minimal import tax (I don’t know the exact rate). Conversely, the few times that I’ve had to send packages to customers in Canada from the US, those customers have incurred a significant fee upon receiving their game (which we’ve then reimbursed).

Leave a Comment

© 2017 Stonemaier Games