Kickstarter’s Unrealistic Shipping Fees

Posted on 04. Nov, 2014 by in Technology

Crowd-funding has quickly become the way entrepreneurs to secure funding for their project, without giving up equity. Kickstarter is one of the largest, and most popular, crowd-funding sites on the web. While having faced criticism for both their policies and treatment of controversial projects, there is by no means a lack of willing backers for the projects they host.

While there have been numerous projects that I have seen, and been interested in backing, I have chosen not to in each case because the shipping costs are just too high.

As with many online companies, kickstarter their userbase is mainly in the US, with the majority of their projects originating in, and being backed by those in the US. The unfortunate reality is that as a result of project starters either forgetting about Canada, or not taking international shipping into account when they price out their products, Canadians are placed in the same shipping category as the rest of the world. As such, international shipping to Canadians is often done using Fedex or DHL, that while possibly having better shipping times for the rest of the world, means that even Canadians are having to pay  outrageous shipping and brokerage fees. Another possible reason is thatby making the recipient pay the brokerage fees the sender can save on shipping, and pay a more consistent rate across the board. All this means for Canadians who back these projects is that they have to pledge often $10-20 more than their American neighbours for the same product. Not only is paying 25% more than the cost of the project in extra shipping, or having to pay customs brokerage fees an added cost, but it is extremely disheartening to think that people living less than two hours south of you are getting their shipping included in the standard cost. This looks even more unfair when you consider that of the few projects originating in Canada, the majority of them offer shipping to both Canada and the US for free.

non-camera This problem seems like a challenge that Kickstarter themselves could easily solve. With thousands of projects currently in the process of looking for backing, and thousands more looking to get started, there is a huge opportunity for Kickstarter to use their size, and economies of scale, to negotiate shipping deals. With their ability to negotiate on behalf all their projects they could offer a flat rate shipping package to their projects at a marginal cost per unit. This would allow projects to easily ship to all corners of the globe without making it more costly for people who happen to live further away from the creator. They could offer this service as a completely integrated shipping tool, including labelling, logistics, and shipping information gathering. With shipping logistics out of the way, projects could focus their efforts on finishing the design and production of the product their backers are looking for instead of having to work out shipping issues.

Until this happens, I am going to find it extremely tough to motivate myself to back a project on Kickstarter and have to pay extra for shipping on a product where Americans are getting the same item at no extra cost .

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