Kudos to you! You are finally through with producing a fantastic and multi-talented product for your backers that you promised in the campaign. With that comes the next bigger challenge – Safe dispatch and timely delivery.
Usually, campaign owners hire a five-star fulfillment partner and outsource the responsibility of distribution to them. Getting an expert on board is a good thing to do; however more often than not, as campaigners, we forget that it is us who the backers have trusted and we can't call it a deal done unless each of the supporters has duly received their respective packages.
Hence, to make the whole distribution process work resourcefully, you must work in tandem with your Fulfillment and Shipping partners; as a team! Here you go with a couple of pro-tips on how to do that efficiently and seamlessly:
#1 Strategically design the fulfillment and shipping timeline
Crowdfunding brings to you backers from across the world. Therefore, to make sure you are able to do the delivery on time or before it, chalk out a shipping timeline that is practical and economical.
You can schedule the dispatch of batches country wise. A bigger bulk going to a particular destination will earn you economies of scale, making the shipping and fulfillment charge lighter on your pocket.
Also, choose to dispatch the batches to farthest of locations first, as you will have plenty of time in hand before the deadline. Also, keep a few extra days on hand to cover for any contingencies happening en-route.
#2 Good Communication timing
Your fulfillment and shipping partner will issue a tracking number to each of your packages the moment you hand it over to them. However, sending the tracking number to your customer right away is a big NO.
Instead, wait for your fulfillment partner to communicate with you on how soon the product will be on its way to the final destination. It is recommended to send the tracking number to backers only after you are notified by your fulfillment partner that the product is shipped already. Understand that delivery of a product to a backer who lives on the other side of the world will not happen magically, in a spur of the moment. It takes time. Sometimes, more time than the expected.
Therefore, if you inform too early about the status of the package-in-transit to your backers, you will do nothing but spark impatience in them and irk them to the core; which will eventually convert into numerous unwanted enquiry calls and emails.
#3 Clarify with your backers about the taxes involved if any
Each country has different laws concerning the tax impositions and exemption. Tax when applicable will obviously add up to the final cost of the product. For example in the US threshold is 800 USD, anything below that is not taxable. However, there could be another country where the limit stands at 200USD only.
Apparently, when an item costs 700 USD as the product cost, the total cost including the shipping and fulfillment charges can be more than 2x the price. More often than not, campaigners have no idea about it, and it is the backers that have to pay extra. Such substantial additional cost levied, later on, leaves the supporters bitter at times.
Hence, it is advisable to educate the backers about the threshold amount and applicable taxes after that on the imports in their country. That will help in avoiding any confusion and chaos happening at a later stage.
#4 Be ready with the necessary permissions and documentations
One of the key things campaigners must give attention to is acquainting themselves with all the government regulations and permissions required for shipping their kind of product and getting the papers ready before in hand.
Lack of all the required documentation may lead to unwanted delays in the shipment when the package is moving out of the country. Besides, getting the documentation done at a later time will mean that box stays in the warehouse for longer, further escalating the total cost of shipment. All the more, when you fail to manage expectation, the delay makes your backers unhappy.
#5 Packaging in line with product dimension
Packaging should be two things – just the right size and lighter. Packages are usually charged as per their weight and size, and not per unit. Besides, a tight packing keeps the inside stuff safer, which is the most significant thing.
The material used for packing should be appropriate and also light weight. The box used for packing should be of the correct size and not too big.
Campaigners should take the effort to discuss their packaging expectations with their fulfilment partners and carefully scan the final packaging to ensure that they are packed fittingly for the journey ahead.
#6 Communicate effectively with backer about package-in-transit
Once your product is ready, and you have revealed it to them, your supporters would be eager to get a touch of it and make the actual use of it. This eagerness can lead to impatience. Therefore, it is essential to keep them abreast with each development that is happening around post the production. That includes, transfer to the warehouse, final quality check, kitting, shipping, arrival, and final dispatch. Educating your backers about the lead time will help them understand the complex structure of supply chain.
Managing your backers' expectations is one of the vital things with crowdfunding. Communicating effectively helps you with that. Understand that you are dealing with people, who trusted you with their money through an online portal without even meeting you.
Therefore you will need to be extra careful, strategic yet very transparent to avoid any miscommunication. Some of the fundamental modes of effective communication in the real-time with the backers would be your crowdfunding page, email updates, FB page and Twitter handle.
A skilled and experienced fulfillment partner will take care that the products reach the end user safe and on time.
However, a hands-on partnership between the campaigner and the Fulfillment company would ensure that the whole dispatch and delivery process stays seamless and an excellent experience for all the parties involved. That includes your backers who trusted your innovation, the fulfillment and shipping company which is working dedicatedly to make your campaign end beautifully, and of course you, the enthusiastic campaigner who might be already up with another innovation in the pipeline.