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International shipping -- is it as outrageous as it looks?

I'm almost ready to launch my campaign, and doing some research I found that it's going to cost at least $20 to ship my book internationally, according to USPS, UPS, and Fedex websites. Am I missing something? I don't want to be charging backers $20+ shipping for a $20 book when they presumably could get it for much cheaper when the book becomes available from other booksellers, and I certainly can't afford to eat that cost either. Is it normal to ask for this kind of shipping? If so, I suppose I will be OK with asking for that amount of money. Otherwise, I was thinking of limiting shipping to just the US which will largely limit the range of my backers to those in the US. Is this a big no-no?

Jill Lee Asked on
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John Wrot!
8-time creator
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Answered on

Greetings Jill, Melody, John, and everyone else dealing with this issue.

International shipping can certainly be a beast and I feel you on that.  There are a few ways to dance around it.

#1) If you are pre-production, plan a size and shape and weight that ships cheaper.  
Once you get past certain dimensions the shipping rates jump tremendously.  If it's a board game, ensure it fits in a medium flat rate box (there are 2 shapes), or small flat rate if that size.  And don't underestimate the value of a flat rate bubble mailer.  They fit way more than a small flat rate does and ships the same price.  -  First class, not flat-rate, is often your best bet.

#2) (Best option) You can freight ship a fair stack of your product (book, or game, or else) directly into a foreign region, then ship from there.
ie: Freight 3 cases of books directly from your printer (or self) to Germany.  This will cost you a couple hundred dollars ($100-500 depending on size and total weight), but once you divide price by the # of books in the cases it's only a couple bucks each, then you pay only the local in-region shipping per book, and charge the total to the backer.  - Imagine a foreign seller shipping a pallet here, then paying USPS rates... ah, that would only total about $9 per person that way.  -   This only works in bulk.  It won't work very well in small quantities, but UPS's shipping calculator will help you price it out.  Try it.

#3) Understand this: Nothing is "free".  Subsidize the shipping price in your pledge amount.
Got free shipping on Amazon or KS?  Somebody paid for that.  It's subsidized into the price.  It might feel free to the buyer, but somebody paid a cut to the shipper-man.  If you're paying $50 for something sizable on KS with "free shipping", they subsidized at least $X of shipping into that $50.  Can you do the same?  Increase the price of the book $5 and then charge only $15 shipping?

#4) Eat it.  
Charge less than the full amount and eat that percentage (ONLY if still profitable to do so).  Does +$5 make your pledge value seem wrong somehow?  Then #4 might be for you.  But know this: You budget this into the net project before you start, and then it's just part of the net goal.  This is basically #3, but a harsher-way of looking at it, when increasing Tier Price is to be avoided.

(For #2 & #3 - the more you make and will sell will greatly affect your ability to do this.  The more you make, the lower you cost per unit is, so you can pass that savings on, and the more you make the more likely it will become for you to shipp

These are the main ways.  Shipping is real, and it's never free.  You can A) Make it cheaper with great planning early, B) Freight ship directly into the region and ship from within it (a great service to provide for your EU customers who worry about VAT), and/or C) Hide the price of shipping by putting in the pledge amount, and calling shipping free, or D) Eat it (ideally budgeting this plan in in advance.

Finally, yes, if you're doing shipping yourself to reduce costs to backers, use Stamps.com

I have a ton of advice on Freight Shipping (aka Logistics) and Fulfillment (aka shipping stuff) on my blog, and as much on budgeting, and even a how-to for Stamps.com.  Take a look for detailed step-by-step advice for each.

As always, heart this post if it was helpful to you.

Best on your projects!

John Wrot!
-Community Adviser

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Melody and Grace O'Neil
Creator
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Answered on

I'm in the midst of shipping woes myself, trying to decide the best way to go about shipping internationally. I FEEL YOUR PAIN.

My meager knowledge is: 

If you use stamps.com or endicia.com, it saves you both time and money on postage. I haven't used either, so this is a second hand recommendation.

If you ship surface ground international, it should be significantly cheaper but take forever and a day to get to your international backers. It's a trade-off.

Doesn't the US have a special postage rate for shipping books? Am I crazy? I'm Canadian, so possibly. :0P

Otherwise, people in other countries for the most part understand that shipping is super expensive, and those who don't understand would probably be happier (and so would you) if they don't back your project.

Good luck!

Melody

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Earl Brown, Project leader
7
Answered on

Here's a shipping service with some great benefits: It's called FIMS 'FedEx International Mail Service'

http://www.fedex.com/us/international-mail-service

It's a FedEx air shipping service. It delivers packages to local post offices from a FedEx aircraft, which the P.O. then delivers locally.

Cheap, with an added bonus it minimizes duty and custom fees on overseas deliveries.

How cheap? Here's one seller's experience shipping his product via FIMS:

      USPS - $13.75      FIMS - $  4.00

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John Rap
35-time creator
83
Answered on

I need this answer too. I'm trying to do a board game project. I see other board games offering free international shipping. When I check the rates they range from $93 on USPS to over $250 on both FedEx and UPS. Yet I am competing against people shipping boxes of the same size, internationally, for free. How are they doing this?

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Santa Monica
2-time creator
7
Answered on

USPS only. Probably media mail (US), and First Class for foreign. Forget UPS and Fedex.

KS people know it costs for shipping foreign.

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Susan Jones
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Answered on

We're wrestling with the same for a tech product which could be a single item that might fit in a medium box or up to about 50 items. We were going to use Amazon for fulfillment but can't get anyone to answer there to give shipping estimates. Does anyone know how to get to a REAL person there? Thanks. 

SJ

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Hugh Crawford
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Last edited on

The thing that I realized just before I was about to launch is that I can ship an 752 page 11 pound book to backers in the US for between 8 and 13 dollars depending on whether I ship media mail or flat rate. Internationally it ranges from $45 to canada, $67 to south america and $75 to Australia In order to break even. 

With USA customers my goal needs to be $65,000 , but if I just meet that goal with people from Australia at just the book level even if they are paying the full postage, I would be over 40 thousand dollars in the hole. To be safe with the possibility of being a runaway hit with foreign backers , and I have a lot of foreign interest, I would have to set the goal at $140,000 taking fees etc into account to just break even on shipping and the cost of the book So, what I think I have to do is only accept foreign backers at the basic get a book level , after I have hit my goal. Between half and 80 percent of my budget is shipping and if you factor the fees in for foreign delivery, the fees are more than I make from a foreign book only backer. Shipping directly from China or Hong Kong doesn't seem to save anything either.

On the other hand, If i got a handful of big backers my break even point would only be $35,000

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Dynomighty Design
5-time creator
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Answered on

Thanks for all these informative answers! 

I have a slightly different problem - my Mighty Selfie Stick is 28" in package which means it doesn't fit a standard box size category and i have to pay for the dimensions. The prices are outrageous because it's not based on weight. 

My backers are bringing down my comments section with negative feedback on the shipping which I actually am currently taking a loss on to make it only cost $25

How can I assuage the KS community (many people complaining are super backers)? - I'm afraid the negative comments are keeping other backers from joining. 

Thanks 
- Terrence

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Annie Stradley
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Answered on

John, our rewards will be primarily our Horsehair pottery, can you select which pieces you will ship overseas, and some others not? Thanks, this is a very helpful thread...  Annie

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Jill Lee
Creator
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Last edited on

Hi everyone, 

So my campaign was successful and I have shipped all my rewards except for the ebooks which are under development. Out of my 110 backers, 11 backers were overseas backers who chose physical rewards. Ten of those shipments were a little over 1 pound and one was over 3 pounds. Four out of the 11 backers were in Korea (including the 3+ pound package backer), and these packages I gave to a friend going to Korea along with some petty cash (and a complimentary book) so she could send them from the post office there. 

The remaining seven, all 1+ pounds, cost $22.50 or $22.75 to send to Germany, Belgium, Australia, and Sweden via USPS First Class Package. Unfortunately, they did not qualify as First Class Large Envelope since the books are hardcover and rigid, even though they fit the dimensional requirements. Otherwise, I could have saved 6 or 7 dollars per package. Since these are books no country required any VAT or any other charges like that, I believe. 

For my $20 book, I charged $5 shipping domestically and $10 shipping internationally. Fortunately I had a number of backers who donated more than their reward required and some backers backed with no reward, so some of this extra money could be used to pay for the expensive shipping. Also, for a lot of local backers, I hand-delivered the items, so the shipping fee they paid could be used for the international backers' shipping. All in all, out of the over $8000 I fundraised, I guess I used about $160 — $175 for the international shipping. 

Hope this helps with your planning!

Jill Lee

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