Creator Confessions: Prepping For Shipping Problems

by Frank Martin

As a creator, fulfilling a crowdfunding campaign can be stressful during the best of times. These are, of course, not the best of times. Shipping has become increasingly difficult over the past year and months. But creators can’t simply stop doing what they do until this time passes. We have to work through it and find ways to carry on with our business. So it helps to understand what type of shipping challenges you may face and what preparations you can make to tackle them head on.

One issue you may have zero control over is a sudden change to the orders you are fulfilling. Your customers can move. It happens. And you may have to change their address from a printed label before packages go out. Also, orders can change as well. Backers can message you right as you’re doing fulfillment and ask if they can add something to their order. Of course, you never want to tell them no. But their request might throw a wrench in your fulfillment plans. The key is to just be fluid. That’s really no other way around it.

One of the major problems creators face today is the backup at the ports. It is preventing materials from entering the country and simple things, such as boxes and paper, are in short supply. This is leading to increased prices and wait times that might seriously affect your fulfillment. A lot of creators also use overseas printers. This means that, sometimes, thousands of their books are just waiting in a container offshore. Again, a lot of this is out of a creator’s control. But there are ways to alleviate the stress, like ordering early and ordering a lot to stockpile anything you might need. It also helps to calculate the extra costs so that they may be passed on to the customer whenever possible.

These last two problems go hand-in-hand. They are separate issues, but arise because of the same factor: whatever shipping service you choose to use. Packages often arrive at their destination damaged, and sometimes they never arrive at all. No matter what steps you take to try to ensure your package arrives safely, there are no guarantees. Of course it’s frustrating when this happens. But what you can control is your reaction to it. Treat your customers with respect and try to do what is necessary to retain their trust. Unfortunately, sometimes there are bad actors that try to take advantage of you. They might claim an item is damaged when it’s really not or even say that a package never arrived when it obviously did. Again, it’s hard to gauge who’s being honest and who’s not. The only thing you can do as a creator is the same thing you should be doing with every endeavor, which is carry yourself with integrity, treat your customers with respect, and move on to the next problem.

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