What is Crowdfunding?
In a nutshell, crowdfunding takes place with a “crowd” or group of people invests in a business, project, or mission. In exchange for the investment, each backer receives either a perk (some sort of reward or “perk” for contributing), a loan, or an equity stake in the enterprise.
What are the Main Crowdfunding Platforms?
Some of the major crowdfunding platforms include:
Kickstarter is popular for helping entrepreneurs fund their creative and tech ideas before getting a loan or raising funds for venture capital. The company began in 2009 and has exploded in growth since then.
Indiegogo is a great platform for creative works, community projects and tech innovation. It has many similarities with Kickstarter, but its fundraising model is exclusively all-or-nothing.
Patreon is great for digital creatives such as podcasters, YouTubers and bloggers. It allows artists to build relationships with their fans and deliver content to their fans as an incentive to continue giving monetary support.
Causes focus on political, cultural, and social issues. The network aims to make a difference by offering a great platform for non-profits that wish to build a donor community without using many funds and resources networking.
Circle Up is a great platform for those building consumer brands. It provides equity, credit financing and a platform where you can network with retailers, experts, and entrepreneurs.
What Happens Once the Campaign is Funded?
Crowdfunding has absolutely exploded in popularity. Well over a half a million campaigns are conducted each month and growing! Fully backed rewards-based campaigns average over 300 backers per campaign, which can be an intimidating amount of work for a small business to complete alongside trying to launch a new business. Furthermore, for startups that utilize crowdfunding campaigns, the campaign itself if just the beginning, with ongoing sales kicking off after the campaign is over.
Whether your perk is a prototype of your product or some other items such as company swag, once your campaign is funded, the significant challenge of shipping begins. Fulfilling those orders is usually the last thing you wish to deal with as you work to build your prototype and business. For that reason, you are likely to turn to crowdfunding fulfillment services.
Below we explore more about crowdfunding fulfillment services, obstacles to overcome throughout the process, and what to look for in a fulfillment provider.
What is Crowdfunding Fulfillment?
Crowdfunding fulfillment services refer to the process of delivering rewards to your backers. During a crowdfunding campaign, shipping and fulfillment may not be among the things that you focus on. However, you should factor these elements into your calculations. Otherwise, your campaign may end up losing funds, starting your business off on the wrong foot.
For example, determining appropriate donor levels for each perk is contingent upon the amount of money you need to devote to ongoing business operations, versus the amount of money needed to procure and deliver the perks to backers.
One of the most undervalued costs in correctly pricing rewards is fulfillment and shipping. It’s easy enough to understand how much your product costs, but correctly factoring for the cost to pick and pack the perk and ship the perk to your backer is a bit trickier. This is where crowdfunding fulfillment companies come in – they can help you understand all the costs involved in crowdfunding fulfillment so that you don’t lose money. Common fulfillment and shipping costs include:
- Receiving the perks into the warehouse
- Storing the perks
- Picking and packing the perks
- Shipping the perks to the backer
Getting your costs right aren’t the only challenge in the fulfillment process – equally important is quickly processing the orders once the perks arrive and shipping them to backers as fast as possible. Shipping a large batch of shipments in a very short time window without making any mistakes is what crowdfunding fulfillment companies help you perform.
The Biggest Challenge for Crowdfunding Fulfillment
Crowdfunding fulfillment has its own unique challenges, unlike traditional retail fulfillment and shipping. It often requires one to pick, pack and ship many products quickly and within a very short time window. Most crowdfunding campaigns overlook storage and reward fulfillment, yet it comprises about 20% of the total cost. Therefore, it is crucial for crowdfunding campaigns to calculate and budget for storage and shipping of rewards when the time comes.
Another challenge in crowdfunding fulfillment includes organizing large batches of orders. You must figure out the items to send to each backer, where to send them, as well as manage the overall process. Such a level of organization for a startup without sophisticated inventory management and order fulfillment systems requires you to create multiple spreadsheets or purchase complicated software to handle bulk orders and ensure you deliver the right amounts of orders to the right people.
But it does not end at getting all the right products to the right donors. Equally important is ensuring that the shipping of orders is both quick and cost effective. Furthermore, many campaigns draw backers from all over the world, which means you’ll have to figure out a way to offer international shipping for backers outside of the country. Doing everything yourself would take months, but a dedicated crowd fulfillment service can guarantee a quick turnaround and ensure the rewards get into the hands of the donors fast.
For most users of crowdfunding platforms, fulfillment logistics is not an expertise. Creators are, therefore, wise in consider the use of a third-party logistics company to manage their Kickstarter fulfillment or Indiegogo fulfillment. Successful incentive distribution requires you to find a partner who can simplify and streamline the fulfillment process.
What to Look for in a Crowdfunding Fulfillment Service?
When choosing a crowdfunding fulfillment service provider, there are several factors you need to consider including.
- Specialization (Types of products the company typically handles)
- Platform integration
- Financial minimums to manage your campaign
- Add-on services the company provides
- Ability to fulfill orders through other channels once the campaign has ended
Other factors you can consider include:
Time to Fill Orders
The time between receiving shipments in the fulfillment warehouse and sending orders to the backers is among the biggest bottlenecks with crowdfunding fulfillment. This “time-to-fill” should be short – ideally less than a week. You need to consider this factor since some fulfillment services take even more than two weeks.
The only assurance that your crowdfunding campaign is on the right track is looking for a provider who communicates efficiently. A lot of complicated questions arise during the packing and shipping of individual orders, which creates room for ambiguity and error. Therefore, you need a company that is prompt to answer you throughout the process.
Furthermore, most fulfillment providers specialize in fulfillment only, rather than offering customer care services. Searching out a crowdfunding fulfillment provider that also offers customer care services not only provides an additional layer of insulation from any potential issues with shipping perks, but also allows you to begin building your brand with a cohesive fulfilment and customer service approach from the beginning of your business.
Experience in Crowdfunding
Fulfillment warehouses face unique challenges when handling crowdfunding campaigns. Creators often do not have experience and have a lot of questions. Besides, orders come in bulk, with some being international that need proper handling of customs and VAT. Therefore, you need a fulfillment company that has experience in handling crowdfunding campaigns, which are distinctively different from traditional fulfillment services.
Why Choose OSW for Your Crowdfunding Campaigns?
Crowdfunding fulfillment services are a popular option among businesses and entrepreneurs for several reasons. They ensure faster shipping and at a lower cost, eliminating the need to lease warehouse equipment and space, and avoid money wasted on errors that can arise with self-fulfillment (in house fulfillment). More importantly, crowd fulfillment services improve supporters’ overall experience and make them more likely to support your crowdfunding projects and ongoing business operations.
But for excellent crowdfunding fulfillment services, you must go for an experienced company such as Our Service Works (OSW). With over three decades of experience in fulfillment, you can rest assured that you are working with a partner who gives the best service and at the best price. Whether you are looking to partner for Kickstarter fulfillment or Indiegogo fulfillment, we plan the processing and shipping of your incentives to ensure your success in the crowdfunding campaign – and we supplement the fulfillment and shipping with our customer care services so that questions can be answered quickly. Contact our team today for help in warehousing, fulfillment, and shipping services.