A Crowdfunding Fulfillment Shipping Partner in Mexico

3 July 2017

One of the great benefits of crowdfunding is that it creates an opportunity to optimize shipping for the vast majority of backers. Instead of having a bunch of products in your garage, warehouse, a single fulfillment center in your area, you know exactly how many games to freight ship to fulfillment centers around the world.

When I shipped Scythe, I had 17 backers in Mexico. One of them was a retail backer who ordered a total of 36 different products. Funagain Games (in Portland) shipped those rewards to Mexico, and all of the individual rewards arrived fine (albeit expensively). But the big retail order was stopped by customs and eventually returned to Funagain. We had to ship it again using a different method.

Fortunately, I recently became aware of a Mexico-based company called Aether Tower that specializes in fulfillment within Mexico. Their CEO, William, reached out to me to describe how his service works. While I can’t vouch for it, as I haven’t used it, I think this is an option worth exploring by creators for a few reasons mentioned below.

Please note that I have absolutely no stake in creators using this service or not. As with any fulfillment service, I’d love to get some testimonials from creators who use Aether Tower.

How Does It Work?

Aether Tower specializes in helping creators import cartons and pallets to Mexico. They have a warehouse in Texas where you’ll send the products, and they transfer it to their facility in Mexico City. This method prevents backers in Mexico from being charged a 16% VAT and high shipping fees from the US, making the shipments Mexico-friendly.

When the products arrive in Mexico (transfer time from Texas to Mexico is about 1 week), Aether Tower packs each reward. They’re aware of how games and other products need plenty of padding, and they can piece together multiple SKUs.

Packaging Requirements

When you create your final files, the product box needs to say “Made in China” to reduce complications in Mexican customs. Each item also needs to have a SKU.

Services

This is what I perceive to be the main asset of Aether Tower (right up there with making rewards more cost-effective for backers in Mexico). Aether Tower requires a minimum of 20 units to be shipped to their facility, but they will work with the creator to help them get more backers in Mexico for no extra charge.

As William told me, “It is of our best interest to expand the crowdfunding (and boardgaming) scene in our country and we are aware that many backers don’t pledge because of the high shipping fees and lack of facilities to receive their rewards.” I think this is excellent.

Costs

William provided some hypothetical costs to give you a starting point for comparison. These include handling fees and materials.

  • To ship 20 games in 5 cartons from a US fulfillment center to Texas is about $100.
  • For a pallet with 20 large sized games (25cm x 25cm x 6cm and 1kg each unit), the import fee was $85 USD (already covering customs, VAT, and freight shipping).
  • From there, shipping fees were $6.30-$8.50 USD for backers within the Metropolitan area (Mexico city and surroundings) and $11.50-$13.10 USD for backers in other states. William notes that about 60% of backers fall into the lower-cost tier, so creators may just want to use a flat shipping fee to keep it simple.

In total, this is a cost of about $20 per game. For a heavy game, that’s $10-$15 cheaper per game than shipping it from the US to a backer in Mexico. And along the way you get Aether Tower helping you to get more backers in Mexico, and those backers avoid VAT.

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Everything about Aether Tower sounds great (yet also reasonable–this isn’t “too good to be true” territory). If you give them a try, please let me know. William has added his information to the official shipping spreadsheet, which I asked various companies to update recently.

4 Comments on “A Crowdfunding Fulfillment Shipping Partner in Mexico

  1. I’ve only recently stumbled upon this blog after reading The Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide, and this post is so helpful. In fact the entire blog is probably the best collection of synthesized thoughts on Kickstarter I’ve ever seen.

    I’m an independent game creator and designer, and one of the things I looked for, when i launched my last campaign, was a fulfillment company. I would have never thought to turn to Mexico, and probably would have been shocked by just how great Aether Tower sounds. My “too good to be true” senses would have been tingling and I might have missed a great opportunity. I’m in no position to use them now, but will definitely keep them in mind going forward. These hypothetical costs are so reasonable and the requirements to use the service also seem to be pretty minimal, which is great when Kickstarter creators already have so much on their plate.

    1. Dylan: Thanks so much! I’m glad you’ve been finding this blog to be helpful. Keep in mind that Aether Tower is only a solution for Mexico; in the US I’d recommend Funagain or Fulfillrite.

  2. I will definitely keep that in mind. It’s good to know that there are options out there like Aether Tower when it comes to fulfillment in Mexico. Thank you for the suggestions too. I will definitely check out those other services.

  3. Jamey

    I’m happy to see William and the guys at Aether Tower are reaching out and thriving. I personally know them from our regular gaming group and this makes great news.

    Regardless of them being an acquaintance, it’s great to find out there are options to make Kickstarter deliveries more affordable. Shipping costs are usually high, even to ludicrous levels ($40 USD for game, $60 for shipping) thus supporting a campaign is not always possible.

    I just hope more creators consider options like these in the future coming.

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