Category Archives: New business

Kickstarter Backer Shipping

What we’ve been doing lately as a side-project is to provide Kickstarter Backer Shipping.  We’ve helped a number of project creators get their products across the border and into the hands of their backers, with currently having completed 3 projects.  We’re scheduled to do at least 1 more in the next year, all in the board gaming industry.

However, we thought it might be worthwhile to open this up to anyone who needs to bring a product across the border and ship their final items to backers.

Fulfillment to backers in Canada (prices in Canadian Dollars)

 

Service Fee Description
Import $5.00 Customs Fee + $3.50/parcel If stock is sent to our US receiving address, we can import it into Canada along with our weekly restock shipments for a small fee. If we are charged sales tax/duty on the items being imported, you will be assessed this amount as well.
Receiving $20.00/hour Unpacking of a game shipment, and inspection of received product for damage or defects. Average processing time is roughly 100 items/hour. This fee can be waived if you do not want us to inspect your shipment for accuracy/damages.
Order Handling $3.00/shipment + $0.50 per item over 1st item Packing of individual orders for shipping to backers. Includes boxes and packing material, and cost of re-shipping lost or damaged orders.
Shipping Varies Sending each parcel Canada Post Expedited Parcel service. See table below for pricing estimates.
Storage $1.75/ square foot If you need us to store additional copies of stock, or if stock needs to be kept at our warehouse for more than 2 business days prior to shipment, storage fees will apply. Most shipments are sent out immediately after being received.

Estimated Minimum Shipping Cost (Canada)

 

All costs listed are estimates only. We will provide you with a precise quote based on the dimensions and weight of your item. Please note that availability of specialized services, such as Lettermail, is subject to change.

 

<0.2kg 0.5kg 1.0kg 1.5kg 2.0kg 3.0kg 5.0kg
Cost/Parcel $3.50* $9.00 $11.00 $12.00 $12.50 $14.50 $17.00

 

*This price applies to Lettermail service only, which is available for items no larger than 8”x10”x0.5”. Please note that this service is not trackable.

Online Competition

If you are starting an online business now, you’ll realise that you aren’t gong to find it that easy to build traffic. Nevermind getting your message out there; you’ll also need to deal with competitors.  It’s easy and cheap to start up an online business; and the real costs don’t really start factoring in till later.

Need a website? Sure – pay $50 and you can host a website.  Oh? Your server is having issues? I guess you’ll need shared hosting.  We start at a small price of $100 a month…

Oh look, you need a credit card processor.  PayPal works right? Sure, if you don’t mind losing customers and 0.3 – 0.5% of each transaction.  Bah, that’s not much! Except it is when you are processing $50,000 a month.

And on, and on.  You can’t work out your garage anymore, you need a storage space.  You can’t just walk-in and drop the packages off, but Canada Post isn’t picking up from a storage lot so you need a warehouse.  Oh look, you need at least 1000 sq ft for a warehouse.

On the other hand, your competitors are starting up small.  They don’t have to worry about paying themselves a salary yet or the higher cost; so they can be lean machines.  There’s an inflection point there where it goes from a hobby to a business and some never pass it, but till they hit it they’re your competitors nibbling at your heels.

Remember, hold tight to what you know and what you are.  Build it right, it’ll get there eventually.

New Site, New Venture

As some of you might have realised, I haven’t updated this site in ages.  That’s because things have been extremely busy.  We took some short-term consulting work as a favor for a friend, which ate much of my free time / special project time.  Most of the consulting work deal with onsite SEO and content creation for their site with some additional marketing / usability critique.  Quite a  bit of fun, though not very prosperous as it was a favour.

After that, we launched a new website for PDB Sales Inc (Fortress Geek).  It’s our venture into a broader marketplace, though pickup in sales and interest has been slower.  One of those things – you need more money and more stock if you are tackling a larger marketplace.  Things are going sow, with the stock coming in waves from our various distributors.  Still, launching a new site is always a challenge and it’s one that I need to focus on.

Launching new businesses

So we’re in the midst of launching a new business, which not surprisingly takes a lot of time. It’s amazing what you need to get done to get a new business up. Here’s the various areas that need work just to get going:

  • Business name
  • Domain name
  • Business logo
  • Dedicated IP address & Server
  • SSL Key
  • Merchant account
  • Sourcing of distributors
  • Website with Shopping Cart
  • Site Design
  • Upload of product information including description & images

And that’s just to get the site launched without any optimisation.  We get to skip a few steps too like Canada Post / Shipping options because we’ve got an existing ecommerce business.

 

Starting out online

Over the last few months, we’ve talked to quite a few business owners looking to sell online.  Some are just starting out, others have an existing business that aren’t supported by their existing shopping cart software.   There’s basically 3 ways to sell an item online:

  • an online marketplace like eBay, etsy or Amazon
  • using a SaaS shopping cart (e.g. Volusion, Magento Go, Shopify)
  • using a self-hosted shopping cart (osCommerce, Zencart, Magento Community/Enterprise)

Deciding which of these three options works for you best depends on:

  • the number of products / skus
  • the  present revenue generated
  • expected future revenue from the cart
  • your personal HTML / CSS / Graphic Design ability
  • and of course, your budget

It’s the balance of these three that I think pushes many smaller businesses towards the first two options, and truthfully isn’t such a bad idea.   The trick is of course reviewing your options with full knowledge of what the pro’s and con’s really are.

New Plans

So. Once an entrepreneur, always one. I have a rather bad tendency to get involved in multiple projects at once, which be detrimental to making sure any of them get the right kind of focus they need to be successful.

Currently, working on a site called Trails Today which is a hiking / trails website. Been working on it for a few years, problem is focusing and getting the code finally right and the developers focused on it. Ah well, here’s hoping it gets up within the next few months!