I've been writing a series of posts about creating a product. And for the most part I've been sharing things I've been learning and things “I've done right”. Today I wanted to share something that didn't break in my favor.
Mistakes Were Made
Months ago when I was planning the financials for the Kickstarter campaign I did some initial research into shipping. And I figured out that if I ship very thin wallet sized games I could use a padded envelope. Shipping would cost about $5.00 per game which is a pretty reasonable cost.
And that's what I've kept in my Kickstarter spreadsheet for months. And since the shipping field was filled in I kind of forgot about.
That's fine unless you change the packaging which is exactly what I did. By the end of September after seeing what I could do with a larger box, some yellow fry pieces, and some plate cards I saw my game come to life and I pivoted to the larger box.
Unfortunately I never went back and updated my spreadsheet. All of my models assumed I'd spend $5 in shipping. But the new box dimensions are 3.5 x 5.5 x 2 inches. That still seems pretty small right? See if you can see where I made a mistake.
This is the small flat rate box which actually costs similar to the small padded envelope. I can ship it for close to $5.00 from a fulfillment center for $7.00 if I walk into a USPS store.
But because my game box is too tall I need to upgrade to the medium sized flat rate box. The takes my cost from $7.00 to $12.00. An extra $5 per box! And because the box is so huge I need to pack it full of packaging which is wasteful and will cost a little more.
Fix The Mistake
In a few weeks I'll receive my review copies. There's no stopping that train unless I wanted to delay the Kickstarter. So I'll have to send out 20+ copies with this very inefficient shipping setup.
Luckily I realized this mistake early. So I can share with the reviewers that the final box will be smaller. And I can get new quotes from manufacturers and fix the mistake. In the end the final shipping cost will be similar to what I estimated.
All things considered this is only a $100 mistake. I don't love losing $100 but it's much better to catch issues like this early than later.
And I now have the opportunity to optimize my game for shipping. I could squeeze everything into a 1″ tall box but the small flat rate box is 1.75″ tall. So if I make my game 1.5″ tall that means there's less bouncing around in the box. I can use less packaging and protect my game.
Respect The Process
I'm happy that I experimented with larger boxes & nicer components because that's the route I want to take. You should test different sizes, qualities, and features in your product. But when you do and you decide on a new path forward don't forget how that decision touches a hundred other things in your business.
From time to time go back over your fundamentals and see if they've changed. I went back through my manufacturer quotes and noticed one of them somehow had a typo and had the wrong size game box. So I corrected that mistake and probably saved myself a lot of confusion or a terrible product down the road.
Making physical products is a waterfall process. You need to make a detailed plan and follow it to the letter. If you want to change things upstream you need to go through all of the related decisions and update them.
There's hundreds of failed Kickstarter projects that successfully funded but the creator didn't fully understand the process and they messed up a critical calculation. That's worse than not funding at all. So make sure as you go through product development you track the details and don't waste $100 like I did.