First time Board Game publisher

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Board Game Logistics

Madhumita Mani
Switzerland
Dubendorf
Zurich
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publisher
You are finally ready with all your board game copies and want them to reach your doting supporters as soon as possible. The dilemma of smoothly and quickly transporting these board games to your customers now pops up! But guess what? This is exactly what the Logistics phase in the publishing of your board game is for! Although this process might seem quite complex at first, you are going to be hassle-free once all your logistics are in place. And by that, we mean the pricing, packaging, transportation, warehousing, and shipping. These words could look intimidating, but we’ve all been through them. Thus, we are sure to clear your doubts through this blog and help you get through the logistics phase as swiftly as possible! 

As a first-time publisher, the primary thing to keep in mind is that you need to begin thinking about the logistics of your board game as early as possible. It is an elaborate process that requires critical analysis and time. When you know that “Yes! I am ready to publish my board game!”, it is a cue to start scrutinizing the logistics parallelly. This phase usually takes the longest time to figure out as there are a lot of details to check off, and it all requires perfection. To settle on the right approach itself takes some time because your options are endless. If you are not a first-time publisher and have experience with creating your own board games, it is important to re-evaluate all your options by maybe trying out something new if it attracts your eye or doing something that will make the process an absolute cakewalk. Experience is definitely a teacher of all things and thus, you know what is best for you! 

There are different considerations that you need to take care of during the logistics phase. First and foremost is settling the idea of where you want to ship the board game? Which countries would you like to ship to? And secondly, from where do you want to ship? Do you want to ship it from China, Germany, the USA, India, or the country you’re based in? Thus, these two criteria of where you manufacture and where you want to ship to are key. Besides this, you need to decide upon the quantity that you will be making, and depending on that, where would you like to store your inventory? It happens quite often that as first-time publishers, people choose to store their inventory within their home itself as it proves to be a more reasonable option than warehousing if you have unused space. The size of the game box is very important as well as the volumetric weight which we spoke about previously on the Design Blog. Considering the volumetric weight is key to making sure it is perfect for the dimensions of the game box. The components involved in making the prototype will help you judge the actual weight of the game box. Whichever weight is higher, the actual weight or volumetric weight will finally decide your shipping and cost estimates. 

Depending on the size of the game box, you will get an idea about the size of the carton that you need for packing and the packing materials that you require for it. Some people choose to go for a very strong box like a 5 ply so that they do not have to worry about additional packing materials. There are many sustainable and eco-friendly ways of packaging that many are opting for now. If you are not going for a strong box itself, you can go for an alternative carton but protect the game box with either a bubble wrap, some polystyrene packaging, or any sort of cushioning. Going the extra mile and branding your custom-made cartons is also one way to go if you want to spend that extra dollar on a wholesome finished product. 

Now that we are at Logistics, the most crucial point hits us, as to who would provide the logistics services like shipping for our board game? Many companies serve as logistics providers so jotting down their details and comparing them is important to find the best fit. You need to clear out a number of specifics like - will the logistic provider take care of warehousing as well? As a starter, it is always good to go for well-known shipping companies like DHL, FedEx, or UPS, as they are top-notch in the logistics field. Sometimes, you can choose to go for your trustworthy local shipping services like the national post or any new players as well! There are predetermined prices for each company but it is important to negotiate and understand the breakdown of prices so that there are no discrepancies. Make sure you have the right number to give them for your forecasted volume of product so that they can estimate the right prices and give you a rough idea about the same. 

Many publishers have Kickstarter campaigns to abide by, whilst some directly jump into production. Thus, it is key to estimate the shipping costs upfront, keeping in mind the tax rules of the place of production and destination. Most of the exports avoid local VAT for most countries, in which case you would need to consider the import rules, taxes levied, or customs duties, for the arrival of the product into the destination country. With simple mathematics and calculations, you can actually save on the export VAT of xyz% and that can be used to offer reduced shipping costs for your customer. All of this in totality makes your shipping costs a lot more attractive to the eye. Most people offer the actual price, but there are always such interesting ways to play smart if you understand the tax rules inside out. In addition, it is always nice to consider providing further discounts on shipping by reducing your margin.

It is primary to settle on the general terms and conditions for the shipping process. The shipping of your board game is a road with two parties and thus, the customer needs to be aware of the terms you have laid down. He/she is responsible for taking care of the VAT payments on any additional taxes/costs. Every country has its own set of rules which can be quite complicated, so it is better to give a discount upfront so that the customer is not dissatisfied when they have to pay a customs fee or VAT on arrival. Striking this balance with the customer is very important, and the terms and conditions should be available on your website or the source of the sale. 

A small tip that we would like to equip you with is to not plan to ship to every country possible, right at the beginning of your board game ventures. We say this as some countries definitely cost much higher than expected due to lack of connectivity. We do not want that to come as a shocker to any first-time board game publisher. Be precise with the number of countries and which countries you would like to ship to. Start small and add on as you go. Have a keen eye on your customer base or target audiences as well, so that you make the right choices on the countries to ship to. Check on the VAT rules of every country before making your shipping decisions as the rules are very volatile and subject to changes at any given moment. Some countries levy additional costs with the customs duties too. Thus, you must ensure that you do a thorough background study of export/import laws for every country. Some places also have reasonably cheaper costs for shipping. Such places are prone to no harm and you should unquestionably consider shipping to them if you have plenty of resources. At times, your shipment is susceptible to getting lost, so create a backup plan with your logistics provider for such unforeseen cases. When it comes to shipping, some companies have this fee where they charge extra for remote locations. For example, the USA is massive and has the best facilities, but some towns do exist that are not well connected to the mainland and its zip code will be marked as a remote location. Such a scenario will carry extra charges so it is important to be wary of each zip code and check the same with your shipping company. You clearly would not know which places qualify as remote areas and thus, this is something salient to factor out before shipping. 

Another aspect to keep in mind is the accounting and billing system, or the medium of sales of the board game. It depends on which e-commerce platform you choose for the sale of your game. The question for us to sort here is how are the billing and accounting done once the order is placed? The website hosting provider would probably offer to generate the bill but you also need to make sure that you have an accounting and billing system in place to track everything. In the end, you need to be able to tally your sales, customer data, vendor invoices, bills, total gains, etc. Thus, find yourself a reasonable way to record all your sales and shipping costs. 

Distribution partners are another option you might want to check out for the shipping of your board game. So instead of sending just one box at a time, you can integrate with a distribution partner who is local to that particular country and provide them with a standard amount of boxes. In this case, you will have to carry out what we call a “B2B- business to business” process where you partner up with another business and they buy XYZ number of games from you. When you sell directly to the customer, it is known as “B2C- business to customer”. You tend to get better rates when it comes to B2B, and thus it is an alternative you can try out if the export systems and costs are going to be cheaper in terms of shipping! 

It is also your job to make the shipping and costs reasonable enough for customers to purchase. You cannot have a 20 dollars game with the cost of shipping as 25 dollars. The shipping costs work out higher than the game itself in such a scenario. Thus, the prices you quote according to your game components and boxing, are very important to make more sales for your game. Optimize wherever possible, so that there is an equilibrium between all the elements.

When it comes to warehousing, as aforementioned, it is as per your convenience. As a first-time publisher, it is your choice if you want to invest in a warehouse or store your inventory someplace else. Warehouses have their own set of costs which might be on the expensive side as it is measured by each cubic foot. For a set number of months, the warehouse company will give you a cost estimation for storage. Some countries have a very expensive warehousing system, whereas countries like China have shipping providers that are reasonable but you need to be sure about the volume you provide them with. Generally, they put up starting offers like three months free and then pay. You need to consider the scenario after those three months. You need to factor out situations like, what happens if you don't sell enough? We personally found warehousing in India to be quite reasonable and thus took up to it but there are definitely other factors that come into play when you use the warehouse. You need to have clear instructions with the warehousing team on how you want to pack your game using the carton. The sequence of the packing process as well needs to be clearly defined upfront. This is all done to protect you from customer complaints about flaws or damages when shipping the game. As mentioned in production, quality checks are key throughout the process of publishing your board game, so that you do not have any setbacks in the future. 

When it comes to sales, the Amazon FBA model has its own warehousing system that you could learn more about. With this option, you will move a certain number of goods to the Amazon warehouse. There are different steps, processes, and long-term storage costs involved around it, which you need to be careful about if you opt for it. You could also use the Fulfilled by Merchant option if your logistics and warehouse provider can offer seamless integration with Amazon or if you ship yourself from home.

At the end of the day, you need to plan out a smooth sail for your board games. Your logistics partner will have to integrate with your warehouse so that there are no broken or missing ties in the process of shipping. The logistics process of your board game needs to be absolutely seamless and leveled out, no matter what path you choose to tread. Whatever you do, remember that there will always be that little something that goes unnoticed, which could lead to bigger consequences. The matter of fact is that logistics is a complex but crucial system while publishing board games, but scrutinizing every aspect of it, can provide you with the most easy-going shipping and delivery process you’ve ever had! And once you inspect and finalize everything, you know that your game is in the right hands and that you can just sit back and wait for your customers to receive your board game and enjoy it with their friends and family! 

Stay tuned to our blogs to check out the next step on this rollercoaster on how to publish your own board game! 
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