How Many Chip Shipments Could Chip Shipment Shippers Ship, if Chip Shippers Could Ship Chip Shipments?
Greetings from the warehouse, Gearlocs!
The comments have been abuzz with all sorts of questions on shipping. Where are you at? What percentage? Why is it taking so long? What about EU? What about Canada? What about EU again? CANADA!?!?! Etc.
This update will cover where we're at, where we've been, and publicly broadcast a few things we've been covering in the comments while we've awaited more details on EU and Canada. So without further ado, let's get into some details on each of these shipping regions.
*Reminder that the information below is the best information we have right now, at this exact present moment. Things are always subject to change because crazy stuff always seems to happen in the world of fulfillment, but at this time we have no reason to think the information below is inaccurate.
Good news, we've been notified that our games have cleared customs in the UK and the container should soon be on its way to Gamesquest! This should only take a few days which means likely it will arrive end of this week or early next week. Gamesquest has told us they'll need about a 4-5 days to receive the container, unload it, and stage their warehouse to fulfill our orders.
This brings us to our second bit of good news. Every fulfillment company plans and schedules their projects, but rarely to they lock them in until product arrives. In the past, our games have run up against some other huge projects in the queue that squeaked their arrival in just before us due to the sloooooow ship we ended up with. However, not so this time! If things proceed as expected, Gamesquest should be shipping packages by the end of next week. Cross your fingers. We have reached the point where we are now waiting to see if Gamesquest can impress us and improve upon past performance. We're watching closely.
The shipment of Canadian products is still waiting to cross the border. There's a full eight pallets of product headed north, which is taking a lot more time to cross the country and pass through customs than was quoted. By request, the games had to be sent to Starlit's US HQ in Washington and then they are sent directly to Vancouver. We have no official tracking on this shipment, just an update now and then that it is still in transit. We wish we had better news on that front, but the last estimate we were told is that Starlit Citadel Canada should be receiving it by early next week. We'll continue to await information and share it as it comes in. Again, Starlit moved crazy fast last time we used them, so once they have things in hand, it shouldn't take long at all (likely the orders will ship about the same time EU shipments start going out).
In the future, our CAN orders are getting to the size that we will have a large enough shipment to send a small container directly to Canada from China. For this to work without incurring extra customs scans, holds, extra fees, and delays, it needs to be only CTG product (we have plenty of horror stories to share when we used to ship our games in mixed crates with other companies products...never again). Sadly, this CAN shipment wasn't enough for its own container. Hence the odd pathing from China to Tacoma to Vancouver to Minnesota (unloading 40' container, build CAN pallets) then back to Washington and back to Vancouver, then to you.
USA/Rest of World Shipping
So, a bunch of things here.
First, yes, we are making progress. Myself (Ghillie) and Melonie (graphic design) have been spending our days back in the warehouse picking, packing, and shipping along with the warehouse team. Josh and Adam have been back there when they're able to as well. Josh and Melonie pulled a night shift last night, and others are scheduled to do the same this week. Point blank, it's still not going quite as quickly as we'd like.
Here is just one example of a contributing factor to the slower output: Remember the game manufacturing/assembly error rate we mentioned, its still high enough that we are still opening quite a few boxes to check, resolve if needed, and reshrink games (yes, we are receiving some compensation for this from our manufacturer). This process slows us down as you can imagine. For those errors we don't catch, we will fix it for you FAST but the last thing we want is someone who's waiting THIS long for their game, to end up getting a box with 2 Duster mats (we've only seen this once but its a good example).
However, as more space opens up in the warehouse, our checking, staging and packing becomes much easier and every day our speed is increasing. We are a little over halfway done - sorry if that shocks you in a bad way. We expect to be done in roughly 3-4 weeks depending on how much additional temp help we can get in the door and how many late shifts we can convince our spouses to let us pull. Yes, the checking of games has slowed us down a bit - but our spirits remain high about the response the game is getting and with just a little more time, everyone will have their order in their hands.
The "secret sauce" to our fulfillment priority is packing in like batches. Then, while a new batch is created and we await the next big stack of packing slips, we fill more complex one-off orders. We're not prioritizing any one state, or country, or backer. World orders are regularly going out to all corners of the earth. US orders are regularly going out to all corners of the country. Whether someone in your state or country has received their order is irrelevant to the current state of your order :-)
We'd also like to reiterate how important it is to pack 10 lb games in giant boxes with care. You pay a lot for these products, and the worst thing that can happen is to have said package arrive all dinged and dented. To pick and pack all this stuff appropriately takes time, care and knowledge. We're not going to say an outside fulfillment company couldn't do it faster, we know they could. But if we had used Quartermaster for instance...they would not be checking games for correct components and I promise you they would be using less bubble wrap! :) Nobody else would be investing the amount of care into these packages that we are.
Along those lines, however, we are genuinely interested in your feedback. We had extensive conversations with Quartermaster at Origins this year and came close to pulling the trigger on switching to them with Undertow, and will have continued conversations with them for Cloudspire.
There's always a tradeoff. It's more expensive to use an outside fulfillment operation, and our shipping rates (for which we charge *actual* shipping, just another reiteration that we are not making money on shipping, we often still lose a bit when you factor in packing materials) are already on the high end. Using a fulfillment company would increase these rates an additional $2-10 depending on the game/complexity of the order. However, you'd likely get your games a few weeks to a month sooner. If paying that extra "tax" for faster fulfillment is worth it for you, we'd be happy to hear it.
I think our main concern here is quality control and the outside chance that even with that higher shipping cost, people could still end up waiting as long as if we did it (even the big fulfillment houses experience delays now and then). Bottom line, we're *always* listening to our backers. Always! If this is something the community is interested in or would prefer, we're certainly open to it so feel free to let us know.
So with all that said, allow us to close as a broken record. Please continue to do your best to be patient with us and this process. We can't emphasize enough how hard we're all plugging away to get you your games as fast as we can. We so appreciate each and every one of you, yes...even those offering criticism and impatience. We wouldn't exist without you, so thank you for hanging with us.
*From JC* Ghillie has been pulled from any further writing of this update and is headed back to the warehouse to tape more boxes now so apologies if comment responses are more sparse than usual. Every time we make him hop back on the computer to answer a "Where's my order?" comment, imagine your package sitting for an extra couple hours as a result... ;-) Unacceptable! Its back to shipping!...and yes, its 12:09 am.
Josh, Adam, and Josh (Ghillie)