The last thing that is on your mind when carefully designing and creating your game is shipping and posting. This cannot be overlooked. At some point, once your game has been made (probably in a low cost territory – such as China), it has to be shipped to a distribution centre for onward fulfilment into the hands of your customers. What does all this mean? It is best to think of this as a chain of events:
1 – Manufactured product needs to go somewhere
Your board game has had a production run, let’s say China. But your end customer is, say, in London, UK.
Once produced, you have to organise getting your board games (which will be in pallets or boxes) moved onto a ship. Quite often the factory will do this for you as part of the manufacturing price (called FOB – “free on board”). If not, then you need to organise a shipping agent to help pick up your cargo and move it to the ship.
2 – Shipping agent
You will need a shipping agent to help get your game through export customs (and the relevant paperwork) and onto a container ship that will move your games to the port of your destination country. You will have to pay the shipping agent for his services (including the actual fee for shipping your cargo) and this should be factored into the end price of your game.
There are many shipping agents out there; I would recommend liaising with your factory to see who they often deal with as a starting point. After that, it’s a matter of searching the internet and reaching out to get quotes.
3 – Arriving in the destination country
Once the container ship has docked, your cargo will need to go through what is known as an “Importer of Record”. The IoR will vouch for the game, ensure that it meets entry requirements and relevant taxes/charges and thus pass through customs. You can employ the services of an IoR or, ideally, if you have a connection with a company that imports then you may be able to leverage this and save some money.
You will also need to arrange for the cargo to be picked up from the dock and moved onward to the distribution/fulfilment centre.
Again, any costs that you pick up along the way need to be factored into your final game price!
4 – Distribution and fulfilment
Once the game has cleared customs and been transported to a distribution centre then the fulfilment can begin. Fulfilment just means holding your stock and then posting it out to customers as per your direction.
Therefore, what happens is your board game will sit in a warehouse shelf until you tell the fulfilment company to box and package a unit and post it to a customer. Typically, you pay a fee for storage and labour. The cost of boxing and posting the game is typically passed onto the customer.
5 – Further thoughts
This whole process needs to be mapped out carefully with each one of your partners at each stage. It can be confusing and difficult, but if you plan ahead and start asking questions early you’ll be fine.
The cost of actually getting your game into the customer’s hands can be quite high, perhaps even as much as it costs to produce the game itself. Shipping in large numbers allows you to spread the costs of shipping better, however, postal costs aren’t scalable so bear that in mind when you think about which costs you build into the game price and the postage fee for the customer.