- Very Special Games, a small business in the toy industry, launched on Kickstarter in 2019.
- The company started with one product and now has a portfolio of five products, which it sells on Amazon.com and their own website, as well as to brick-and-mortar stores and wholesale customers.
- With MCF, Very Special Games ships an average of 7K monthly units and has saved up to 40% in fulfillment costs.
Board games are experiencing a surge in popularity across the globe, with the board game industry reaching about US$3 billion in revenue in 2022 and registering compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 8%. Many board game inventors get their big break on Kickstarter, a global crowdfunding website, with tabletop games making up about one third of Kickstarter’s total annual revenue. That’s exactly how co-founders Josh Roberts and Evan Katz launched their business, Very Special Games, in 2019.
Roberts and Katz had the idea for their first game, Charty Party, while working together at a consulting firm. They enjoyed the concept of creating fun, thoughtful games that let players express their own sense of humor, and so they decided to try out Kickstarter.
Users on Kickstarter pledge money to support and help fund a product – essentially preordering it. Once the project is 100% funded, the creators go into production and deliver the product to the backers. For Roberts and Katz, that funding milestone came quickly and unexpectedly when the Facebook ads they were running were successful. The game’s Kickstarter campaign took off and Roberts and Katz were elated.
The two-person operation worked with manufacturers in China to produce the games, and a freight forwarder transported them to the US. Once imported to the US, the Very Special Games inventory was dispersed across warehouses. Handling logistics operations for a new and growing business was challenging, and the team soon realized they needed support from a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to help them manage their inventory and fulfill orders. The company was looking for a 3PL that could provide:
- Fast order fulfillment: To deliver orders quickly and on time for their Kickstarter customers, Very Special Games needed to engage a 3PL with an expansive network and extensive logistics expertise and resources.
- Scalable operations: Very Special Games went from having zero orders to needing to satisfy demand for a large volume of orders in a short amount of time. The company required a 3PL that had the flexibility to manage order spikes and the expertise and operational know-how to get it done efficiently.
- Competitive fulfillment costs: As a new, crowdfunded business, Very Special Games aimed to be cost-effective with every aspect of their operations, including order fulfillment. Having an affordable 3PL provider was crucial to their success.
- Support for any channel: After the initial success of their Kickstarter campaign, the team was exploring other online sales channels they could sell their products on. They sought out a 3PL that could streamline fulfillment across multiple sales channels.
“We were thrilled to launch our business, but we urgently needed support with our operations,” explained Roberts. “Supplying games to all of our backers was a huge undertaking for a team of two, so we were really prioritizing providers that had the expertise to manage our fulfillment. With the right support from a 3PL, we could pursue our dream of being a dominant player in the party game landscape.”
In 2019, Very Special Games started using Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF), a 3PL solution that offers fast, reliable ecommerce fulfillment for orders placed on off-Amazon channels. As of 2023, the company has launched four games, with the most popular product being a game called Ransom Notes, and a fifth game on the way. MCF was an excellent fit for Very Special Games, enabling the game retailer to leverage:
- A single inventory pool: Due to its fast-growing popularity, Very Special Games expanded its business and started selling its products on Amazon.com, its own direct-to-consumer (DTC) website using Shopify, and in small brick-and-mortar retail stores, in addition to supplying wholesale orders. With MCF, the company can consolidate its inventory to satisfy demand from all the channels it is selling through.
- Simple, cost-effective pricing: To use MCF, Very Special Games only pays for one fee fulfillment (inclusive of pick, pack, and ship) and one fee for storage, while enjoying up to 50% discounts on multi-unit orders.
- A world-class fulfillment network: With MCF, the game retailer can access Amazon’s global logistics network, including 200 fulfillment centers and benefit from cutting-edge technologies and a team of experts that can manage the complexities of ecommerce fulfillment.
- Top-notch delivery performance: With a greater than 97% on-time delivery rate and 99.98% undamaged package delivery rate*, MCF ensures Very Special Games can delight its customers with reliable delivery promises. The company’s Kickstarter backers are the backbone of its business, so it was important for Very Special Games to maintain customer trust.
“MCF is the perfect 3PL for our business. Using our Amazon inventory for other channels streamlines our operations, and unlike other 3PLs we’ve tried, MCF uses a flat fulfillment fee. We don’t have to worry about the additional cost calculation and hassle of shipping zones. I simply send my inventory to an Amazon Fulfillment Center and they handle the rest, making sure my products are as close to my customers as possible,” said Roberts.
Very Special Games connected their Shopify website to MCF using ByteStand, which automatically sends Shopify orders to MCF for fulfillment in real-time. Once MCF ships an order, ByteStand alerts Shopify and tracking and confirmation emails are sent to the customer. The company also leverages ByteStand’s virtual bundle feature to offer games with their expansion pack as a package deal for customers.
Katz said, “The integration works seamlessly and was exceptionally easy to set up. We only had to install the app and input our developer keys. Now, we’re able to match our Shopify and Amazon SKUs and set MCF as our fulfillment provider for Shopify.”
*Based on claims data from small- and medium-sized businesses
MCF is a game changer for our business. It’s easy to use and has had a substantial impact on our bottom-line. We’re constantly recommending MCF to other Kickstarter businesses, especially other game makers. MCF makes a world of a difference for a small business like us and we really appreciate all MCF does for us.
From helping Very Special Games get started with its first Kickstarter orders, to now supporting fulfillment for all of its off-Amazon sales channels, MCF has enabled the game retailer to achieve numerous benefits such as:
- Best-in-class delivery: Using MCF, Very Special Games delights customers with the Amazon fulfillment experience, in addition to providing free standard shipping for US orders. The company was able to improve its customer experience with deliveries made 7 days a week, rain or shine.
- Increased growth: Very Special Games saw significant growth, with sales totaling 260K units in 2022 and revenue reaching $10M that year. Having Amazon handling fulfillment (including the picking, packing, and shipping of all their orders) enabled Roberts and Katz to focus on creating exciting new products.
- Reduced operating costs: MCF helped Very Special Games significantly improve its bottom-line by optimizing their inventory management and decreasing its fulfillment costs by up to 40%, with savings totaling about $1M in one year.
- Integrated fulfillment operations: Very Special Games automated its entire order fulfillment process by connecting its back-end systems using the ByteStand integration. Now, Roberts and Katz save time and reduce the risk of manual error when fulfilling their Shopify orders with MCF.
In the future, Roberts and Katz plan to continue having fun creating new games for their growing fanbase with the support of MCF, and even have hopes to expand internationally one day.
“MCF is a game changer for our business. It’s easy to use and has had a substantial impact on our bottom-line. We’re constantly recommending MCF to other Kickstarter businesses, especially other game makers. MCF makes a world of a difference for a small business like us and we really appreciate all MCF does for us.”