4 Shipping Partners for Australia, New Zealand, and Asia

30 November 2014

Shipping Kickstarter rewards to backers in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia has long been a quandary for creators, particularly those in the US. We manufacturer our products in Asia, ship them to the US, unpack them, repack them, then send them back to backers in Asia one by one at a very high cost to them and us. There must be a better way, right?

Last year I discovered a company called 4px, and I thought I had found that better way. However, it turned out that they were comically bad at packaging things in boxes (see photos on this post), so despite their excellent shipping rates, I’ve had to abandon them.

Also, finding a solution for Asia wasn’t a big help to backers in Australia and New Zealand, who–though excellent at arranging group buys due to necessity–are often stuck with high customs fees.

Today, thanks to a company I found in Australia called Good Games, a company Ed Baraf (creator of Life Off!) found called Agility, and a company Cody Miller (Xia) found called Aetherworks, I have some great options to offer to Kickstarter backers.

Before I begin, there are a bunch of caveats and disclaimers. They’re nearly identical to those I posted on the recent article about shipping partners in the EU, so I would highly recommend you go read those disclaimers before digging too deep into the data I present below. The only difference is that I’m using the current exchange rate for AUD (1 AUD = 0.84 USD) and yuan (1 CNY = 0.16 USD) as of today, November 30, 2014.

Also, only one of these companies (Agility) ships to Asia. I’m looking for alternatives to Agility just for some healthy competition, but so far none have answered my questions.

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The basic idea for these three 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.

Here’s the spreadsheet that breaks down the differences between the three companies (also see the EU tab at the bottom). I’ve pasted a screenshot of part of the spreadsheet below, but there’s a lot more info if you click on the link (it goes to a Google spreadsheet). I’ll highlight the key upsides and downsides of each company below.

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GOOD GAMES

Location: Australia

Best at: Good Games is the most cost-effective partner for shipping to backers in Australia

Downside: Pretty expensive to ship to New Zealand

 

AETHERWORKS

Location: Australia

Best at: Aetherworks is the most cost-effective partner for shipping to backers in New Zealand

Downside: Aetherworks is just a tad bit more expensive for shipping in Australia. It’s barely enough to call it a downside, though. I got to meet the Aetherworks folks at Gen Con, and while they seem like good guys, communicating with them has been pretty erratic. I prefer the consistency of Good Games.

 

AGILITY

Location: China

Best at: The best aspect of Agility is the full extent of their reach. They don’t just ship to Asia, Australia, and New Zealand–they ship anywhere in the world, including places that are currently pretty hard to ship to, like non-EU Europe, South America, the Middle East, and Russia. You could even use them to ship to Western Europe if you’re looking for a one-stop solution, but those backers would be charged customs fees. Of course, Agility is extremely cost-effective for shipping to Asia, their core constituency.

Downside: Currently Agility is quite expensive for places like Norway and the Middle East (and I’m guessing South America, though I don’t have hard numbers for those locations yet). They’re currently seeking better rates for those areas. Also, make sure you get phone numbers and addresses in English for all backers in Asia, as well as CPFs (tax IDs) for backers in South America.

 

SHIPHOPPER

Location: China

Best at: Shipping anywhere in Asia (see more pricing details on a separate Google Doc they sent me)

Downside: Untested, $99 monthly fee, untested by anyone I know

 

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So what does this all add up to?

First, let me share a few numbers from Tuscany and the Treasure Chest so you can get an idea of how many backers might pledge to your project from those regions:

Australia/New Zealand: 147 for Tuscany (3.39%) and 92 for the Treasure Chest (2.93%)

Asia: 190 for Tuscany (4.39%) and 146 for the Treasure Chest (4.65%)

Not huge numbers, but I think those numbers will continue to grow if backers in Australia and Asia see that creators are striving to find solutions for them. Also, those numbers are artificially deflated because a number of them are group buys.

Keep in mind that my projects might be considered outliers, so don’t expect the same results. You could get far fewer backers from those regions, or far more! The percentages are more important than the actual number of backers. Also see the disclaimer regarding “quantity” below.

Also, the USPS column on the spreadsheet is pretty important to note for US creators. It actually turns out that USPS is pretty cost-effective at shipping to the Middle East. I’m hoping that Agility offers a competitive price for that region, but for now, just regular USPS is the best way to ship to that region at all package weights.

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A few endnotes:

  • Fumigation: Australia has pretty strict guidelines on imported wood, so make sure your manufacturer meets their fumigation guidelines.
  • Dimerco: There are lots of freight shipping companies out there, but I can’t say enough good things about Dimerco. 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 Justin_Bergeron@dimerco.com (if you don’t mind, let him know that you heard about Dimerco from Jamey).
  • 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 Pacific-friendly, cost-effective shipping options on your Kickstarter project, you probably aren’t going to get many backers in the Pacific.
  • 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.

21 Comments on “4 Shipping Partners for Australia, New Zealand, and Asia

  1. Those amounts look low enough to make shipping a game to Australia actually seem feasible (you had decent amounts for Tuscany, but these look much more reasonable). There’s been a heap of games that look great, but when the game costs $30 and the shipping is $65… well, there’s a little discrepancy there that will stop me backing :)

    Thanks for doing all this work for those of us in Oz, it’s very much appreciated!

    1. RodeoClown: Yeah, the key with Tuscany is that the Collector’s Edition weights 4.9 kg, so even with the way we priced Australia/NZ there, we still will lose a little bit per unit. The weight makes a big difference!

  2. Thank you Jamey.
    The analysis & presentation results show well who to choose & when.
    With regards to the costs are they fixed per weight group or they are the maximum cost, i.e. $14 for 0-.99kg for Good Games, what would be the cost of a .5kg package?

    All the Best.

    1. Konrad: I believe the price is the same for 0.99 kg as it is for 0.5 kg, but I’d recommend contacting these partners to make sure. Keep in mind that very few games actually weigh that little, because the packaging counts as part of the shipping weight.

  3. Hi Jamey,

    I am not clear about shipping prices. If I am not mistaken, you manufactured in China and then shipped to fulfillment centers in various areas: US, CA, EU etc.

    Do the prices you describe include the shipping from China to let’s say the US or EU?

    Again – many thanks for your amazing blog!
    Roy

    1. Hi Roy,

      That’s correct, the product is manufactured in China and shipped in bulk to different fulfillment centers around the world. The detailed description of our shipping methods are found here: https://stonemaiergames.com/shipping-and-fulfillment/

      The prices on this spreadsheet are for the labor, postage, and packaging of individual reward fulfillment–they don’t include the freight shipping, which you should calculate separately based on the weight of your product and how many fit onto a pallet.

  4. This in so very useful. A big thank you for sharing your experience on so many of the questions that I’m wrestling with right now. I’m hoping to launch in October and have found posts like this absolute gold. Cheers.

  5. Hi Jamey, Did you make another entry for a review of Agility?
    I am looking for an asian fulfillment company for my project but I am afraid about scamming. Also I wondered why you prefer to work with Agility when on your spreadsheet Shipshopper is globbaly cheaper than Agility?

    Thanks for the great job you made with this blog, I have read most if not all of your post!

  6. And if you ever get the time I think it would be a good idea to put the website of the fulfillment companies on the spreadsheet to make it even more accessible :)

    1. Pierre: All of the websites are on the spreadsheet–see row 3. Agility is also on the spreadsheet (column E). Are you sure you’re looking at the spreadsheet? It’s here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bx2h-oZ-ZcNdKw-yyAUfl-BbWOjmqP6tYu9jTKPxfnI/edit#gid=1771288518

      I use Agility instead of Shiphopper because I’ve used Agility successfully in the past and have confidence in them. Shiphopper is untested by me or anyone I know. They might provide a great service (and I’d welcome you to test them and report back here), but I don’t know that for sure.

  7. Yes I was looking at the same spreadsheet but I downloaded it on my computer and I just noticed a few rows were hidden in the process. I’ll be sure to let you know if I do work with them, thank you for your help!

  8. Hi Jamey, I’ve received a few games that have been fulfilled by The Games Capital (notably Empires: Age of Discovery by Eagle-Gryphon, which was a massive box) and I noted that Rule & Make are handling fulfillment for Spirits of the Rice Paddy. I wonder how they stack up on that spreadsheet.

    Also, I’ll note that the AUD is going pretty weak against the USD at the moment, so depending on when you do your conversions/payments you may get a better deal with an Australian company.

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