Kickstarter Shipping Confidential

Were you ever about to pledge for an awesome new game on Kickstarter, just to be deterred by a prohibitively high shipping price? Were you irritated by better shipping deal residents of other countries got? If it happened to you – or if you’re a Kickstarter project creator about to set up a campaign – this article is definitely for you.

Although I fall under a general category of a “Kickstarter creator”, I also maintain a private account to be a fan and supporter whenever I find a project worth a pledge, so I have been on both sides of the fence – and I have felt the sting of irritation upon seeing insane shipping costs. I know where some of them come from, but I also know when they are simply too high.

Now, if you’re a project creator, here’s the part you should really pay attention to (unless you already know this) – and if you’re a backer, here’s the part with a dirty little secret:

Shipping must be subsidized.

It’s really that simple, and now (with postal services getting more expensive recently) it’s even more of a must than ever. Any experienced project creator – or any one that has really done their homework – knows that some of the shipping costs should remain “hidden” from the backers.

There’s nothing nefarious in the process of concealing some of the shipping costs. In fact, it’s a matter of simplicity, which – with the number of active Kickstarter projects steadily rising – becomes one of the most important features of any successful project. Simply put, you need to communicate what’s important about your Kickstarter effectively and clearly, lest be left in the dust by a backer on the go.

How much do project creators spend on shipping?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you how NSKN Games (and a few other friendly publishers) arrive at the level of shipping subsidy. We look at the best deal we can get on shipping, and simply subtract that amount from any other shipping costs. This way everybody gets the same deal – which more often than not turns out to be the best deal for backers from North America.

If you’re a non-American backer, you’re probably getting irritated yet again. Not only did you encounter this injustice in the past, your suspicions have just been validated. Before you pass judgement, however, there’s one thing you should consider: the US backers make for 40% to 60% of all project backers, with the average being well over 50%.*

Almost all projects are supported by more Americans than any other single nation, and an overwhelming majority actually has more US backers then backers from other countries put together. What this means is that while negotiating with shipping companies (or planning a more complex, hands on shipping), you always know that the biggest number of parcels will end up in the United States of America. And as with pretty much anything else, when buying bulk, you get a better price.

So, if you’re a project creator, be sure to smartly subsidize the shipping costs of your pledges – and if you’re a backer, take the above into consideration, before you curse the project creator for high shipping costs to your region. Hopefully, now you have a bit more knowledge that will help you properly assess if the creator is really treating you unfavourably – or if you’re giving your backers a deal that is both reasonable, and fair.

If you’re still feeling a bit iffy, I recommend contacting a company that you can consult as a prospective Kickstarter creator. There are multiple on the market right now, but for obvious reasons I will recommend our own Strawberry Kickstarter agency, where – based on experiences of a string of our own successful campaigns – we run a tight ship ready to take you on a journey into crowdfunding success.

* If you’re wondering if this data is available only to project creators – it’s not, and you can have instant access to it within a minute. Simply go to any Kickstarter project page and click the “Community” button, to get a breakdown of countries most pledges came from. Go on, I know you’re curious.

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