18 November 2013
You’ve run your Kickstarter campaign and want to give your product life in retail. What’s the best way to do that?
Before I delve into this topic, please note that I’m specifically talking about the retail version of your product, not the Kickstarter version (in case there is a difference). Your stance on selling Kickstarter versions of your product post-campaign may be different than ours–we only sell the retail version starting on the day after the campaign ends. You can read about that here.
Also, please note that this topic is about how you can personally continue to sell your retail product online. Your brick and mortar distribution strategy will depend on your specific product (these Kickstarter Lessons are about any type of product, not just board games).
So really, there are two overarching strategies: Sell the product on your website, and sell the product on other websites. Let’s explore both of them.
Sell the Product on Your Website
I’ve explored two different ways to let people place pre-orders and orders on our website:
PayPal: There are many services like PayPal (I believe the biggest competitor is Amazon Payments), but PayPal has the most users. At last count, they had over 133 million active user accounts. Plus, it’s handy to have for the rare backer who can’t use Amazon. PayPal charges minimal fees (sometimes no fees) and there’s no monthly charge, so financially it’s a smart choice. However, it falls flat because the widget doesn’t look very good on your website, and if you edit it on PayPal (like if you change the price), it doesn’t automatically update the widget–you have to reenter the code. Overall I had a good experience with PayPal, but I’ve moved away from it to use ShopLocket.
ShopLocket (disclaimer: Unfortunately, Shoplocket is no longer taking new customers, so check out this blog entry for a solution): The above statement is a bit misleading, because I actually use PayPal through ShopLocket (you can also use Stripe). ShopLocket is like a really elegant skin for those payment processing services. You can see what my ShopLocket widget looks like on the image on the right. It has a clean design, and unlike the PayPal widget, if I need to change a word or a price, I only need to change it on the ShopLocket website instead of reentering the code everywhere the widget appears. ShopLocket also has a number of other things going for it:
- The customer service is amazing. I have different shipping prices for a number of different countries, and ShopLocket entered them for me.
- You can limit the number of products available at any given time. This is really helpful for me because I only have a certain number of retail games at my disposal.
- ShopLocket gives you the choice to charge customers now or later. This is great for your particular pre-order strategy. At Stonemaier, we charge people up front–I think we’re able to do that because people trust that we’re going to make and deliver our games on schedule. However, the whole idea of Kickstarter may make potential buyers wary of giving you their money up front, so ShopLocket has an option where it can accept orders but not charge the person until you tell ShopLocket that you’re ready to ship.
Shopify is one other option to consider.
Now, both of these options are great for pre-orders. I’m somewhat on the fence about using them after the games arrive at Amazon fulfillment centers because it takes time to transfer address information over to Amazon when I could just list the product on Amazon and have the order completed automatically. I’ll discuss that below. Most likely I will stick with ShopLocket for regular orders post-Kickstarter (especially since not all buyers are within range of Amazon FBA). Plus, I can add new products onto ShopLocket, and the monthly fee doesn’t change.
Sell the Product on Other Websites
This won’t be a comprehensive list by any means, but here are a few websites worth mentioning. These are places where people browse for interesting products. That’s the whole point of these websites–finding new customers. If your customers already know about you, they’ll just go to your website.
Amazon FBA: The “FBA” stands for “Fulfillment by Amazon.” You’ve probably heard of Cards Against Humanity–they solely use Amazon FBA to sell their games. As long as you have games in stock at Amazon, it’s completely automated. Amazon charges a fee–for example, the total fees for me to sell one copy of Viticulture on Amazon FBA is a little over $4 total. (Even in looking that up for this entry, I was surprised. I thought they took a percentage of the price.)
Note that this is different than Amazon’s multi-channel fulfillment service, which I discuss in detail on this entry. However, the two are complementary–if you will Amazon fulfillment to ship games to your Kickstarter backers, you can send retail versions of your product to Amazon in the same shipment.
Outgrow.me (Alexa rank: 87,097): Outgrow.me reached out to me after Viticulture, and we listed the game on their site after the successful Kickstarter campaign. I think we sold 1 copy through the site. There’s currently no fee to list or sell there, so that’s 1 more copy we wouldn’t have sold otherwise.
Stiqblox (Alexa rank: 131,018): This is a very cool, geeky site that has recently expanded to have a specific section for Kickstarter products. As far as I can tell, there’s no fee to list here. However, it’s not an e-commerce site–you still have to have ShopLocket or PayPal or some other e-commerce platform set up on your website for them to link to.
My recommendation is that you try a few of these to see what works best for your product. Unless I’m missing something, there doesn’t appear to be any cost to using Outgrow.me or Forevergeek, so you might as well see if they’ll list your product.
There are lots of factors to consider when pricing the pre-order price and direct sale price of your product. Our strategy has evolved a bit, so I’ll mention what we do in case it’s helpful.
Euphoria was a $49 game on Kickstarter, with MSRP listed at $70 (really the MSRP was for the retail version of the game, not the Kickstarter version, which doesn’t have an MSRP). I wanted the pre-order price to be higher than that, but I wanted to give people an incentive to subscribe to our e-newsletter, so the pre-order price for Euphoria is $59 (or $54 if you subscribe). That price hasn’t changed and won’t change until all of the pre-orders ship. I’ll upload the pre-orders to Amazon fulfillment at the same time as the Kickstarter orders, so there is an incentive to pre-order. At some point after the game hits the shelves, we’ll adjust the price depending on how other online retailers are pricing the game.
At the very least, make sure you have a page on your website for pre-orders (even if it’s a blank page) before the Kickstarter campaign ends. As we discussed in Kickstarter Lesson #34: The Final Hour, you’ll want to post a link to that page at the top of the project page so people who discover your project in the future will know where to go to order it from you (you can’t edit your Kickstarter project page after the campaign ends).
Also, make sure to share the pre-order link with your backers from time to time. They are your best advocates, so make it easy for them to find and share that link.
This is a pretty broad topic, so if I’ve missed anything, feel free to mention it in the comments. You can also learn more about post-Kickstarter retail sales from the creators of Boss Monster via my interview with them.