Turing Tumble Progress Update #16: Fulfillment is in Full Swing
I'm happy to report that we did NOT have any catastrophic maritime tragedies. The shipping boats did what they were supposed to do and 45 metric tons of Turing Tumble were carried to five fulfillment centers around the world.
There were some delays. The ship to the UK, for instance, was much slower than expected. Alyssa bit her nails to stubs while she watched its slow, torturous voyage. It seemed like that ship had to stop at every possible port along the way. Kind of like when we try to drive somewhere with our kids. The US shipment was also slowed by a rail line switch in Chicago. The shipping containers sat for several days waiting to be put on a train bound for Louisville.
But they all made it! Now they're all in fulfillment centers (or already in some of your hands). So here's the fulfillment update:
Board Game Bliss did a remarkably good job of shipping everything out quickly and accurately. Almost everyone in Canada has their game.
Let's Play Games also did a wonderful job shipping out games. They've started arriving a peoples' houses now. :)
EasyPost is in the process of shipping out orders as I write. At their current pace, they should have them all shipped within a week or so. Some people even messaged me to say that they already got their game!
One little kink, here, is that I didn't realize our US fulfillment center doesn't send out emails with tracking numbers as they ship. Instead, they use webhooks that let you integrate with other systems that send out those emails. So I'm trying to set up something quickly that will email your tracking information, but just to warn you, I might not get it done before you get your package.
You probably already got an email from Spiral Galaxy Games verifying your mailing address one final time before they ship. They give a week for responses and then they'll begin the shipping process early next week.
VFI has done an excellent job shipping out of China. They have a complicated system set up there. They bundle orders and sometimes ship to other fulfillment centers. Some of you have already gotten your order and some are still waiting. Rest assured, your package is on its way!
Some (thankfully small) issues
After putting together and testing about 40 games ourselves, and after feedback from backers that already received the game, we discovered a couple small flaws:
1. The back, bottom-left corner of the puzzle book might be bent.
We didn't see this problem in any of the production samples, probably because air shipping is gentler, but it appears to be fairly common in the main shipments. The bag that holds the gears and gear bits sits under the book. It turns out that the bag is a little too small, so it doesn't allow the parts to spread out flat in the tray. Instead, they push up on the book, making the book stick up out of its slot. Then, during shipping, the book slips out of its slot, bending the corner of the book in the process.
Most books that are bent are only slightly bent, but once in a while, the corner is bent more than that. If yours is one of those, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll send you a new one.
2. One of the levers doesn't push down all the way when a ball lands on it.
This is a rare problem, but I ran across a couple games where the lever wouldn't push down all the way on its own. If you have this problem, take the long connector off the back and look in the holes on each end. My bet is that you'll find a little extra plastic in one of the holes.
Fortunately, this problem is easy to fix. You can either clear it out with a knife or shove a ball point pen in there and push the extra plastic aside.
I thought you might be interested in where things are now that orders are finally being fulfilled. We've learned an awful lot over the last year. I can't fit it all in here, but I thought I'd give you some highlights.
First off, besides being a shipping wizard, I discovered that Alyssa is shockingly good at business. She's sort of taken on the role of CEO. She's great at foreseeing how various choices will play out, she's strategic, and she's great at building relationships. She's done a wonderful job building the business in preparation for when we actually have the product in hand.
We've learned that there are many, many different ways you can try to sell toys/games. You can sell directly to customers, like we do on our website, but it's hard to drive traffic there. Instead, most companies try to take advantage of a range of sales channels where there are already customers. But which ones do you pursue? There are sales reps, distributors, Amazon, specialty toy stores, mass market stores, online re-sellers, snail mail catalogs, and a million other options. Each one has trade-offs to consider, and bad choices early on can have severe consequences. Other manufacturers have been generous to share their business advice with us, helping us steer clear of bad decisions.
Small companies often have limited options for sales channels, but we were lucky enough to have a successful Kickstarter behind us and the product turned out great. We were also fortunate enough to get a Parents' Choice Gold Award and more recently, a Dice Tower Seal of Excellence. Those opened some doors for us. At Toy Fair, Turing Tumble was also accepted into the The Good Toy Group's holiday catalog, which is a pretty big deal. We're also about to ship to Fat Brain Toys and the Museum of Modern Art, both of which will carry Turing Tumble. And a couple weeks ago, we attended the American Specialty Toy Retailer Association meeting in New Orleans where many brave toy store owners were the first to buy Turing Tumble to stock in their stores.
We've been thrilled to see schools getting Turing Tumble, too. And libraries! Several months ago, we started working with The Library Corporation as our distributor to libraries in the US. They've been everything you'd hope for in a distributor.
We're still putting together the puzzle of how to sell internationally. Let's Play Games, the folks who fulfilled our Kickstarter orders in Australia, have also become our distributor there. In Canada, Board Game Bliss will continue to sell Turing Tumble as well. The EU is still a bit of a question mark, though.
Anyway, things are going well. We can't wait for the rest of you to get your copy and to read what you think of it! If you have a moment, we'd LOVE it if you'd take a picture of you using it and email us or post it on social media.
Paul and Alyssa