The "race before the race" - Shipping Your Gear!
(*Disclaimer - we are not shipping experts or consultants. If you are looking for expert shipping advice or fulfillment quotes/service, we recommend that you contact your timer or a professional fulfillment company.)
Shipping Timelines: Virtual runners want to know when they will receive their gear. You should view virtual races as e-commerce - when you buy something, you want to know when you will receive it. If the shipping timelines are not clear for a virtual race, you will find a significant increase in customer service questions from runners wanting to know when their items will ship. You can include shipping information on the race page and in the confirmation email. For efficient comunication, use a Giveaway Description with details about your shipping plan.
- BATCH SHIPPING: If you are shipping in batches, make it clear to your registrants when they should expect to receive their gear.
- MASS SHIPPING: If you are shipping everything in one large batch, make it clear when everything will ship out.
Fulfillment Process: You would be surprised how often we hear "I have 500 virtual runners, but I have no idea how to ship 500 packages." If you have never completed a large mass-mailing before, you will want to come up with a plan before you commit to putting on a virtual race. Here are some tips and tricks.
- SHIPPING NOTES: When you are planning out what to include in your virtual package and building your budget, it's important to keep weights, sizes, and shipping costs in mind.
- WEIGHT: A cheap/fast/efficient way to do bulk mailing is through the United States Postal Service by first class mail. Depending on the weight, the average postage cost will be in the range of $3-5. However, if you go over 13oz, the price increases by quite a bit and/or you will need to ship by Priority Mail.
- SHAPE: This one is pretty obvious, but mailing a t-shirt is a completely different process/cost/packaging then mailing a wine glass or a 3-foot poster.
- ZONES: In January 2018, the USPS switched to having 8 shipping zones. This means it costs more to mail a package from San Diego to San Francisco than it does to mail a package from San Diego to New York. If you don't want to spend hours in the post office trying to mail hundreds of packages, shipping software can automate the calculation and label printing process for you.
- INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING: The prices of international shipping are 5-6x the cost of domestic shipping. Something to keep in mind when you are marketing your race and planning for fulfillment.
- DIY SHIPPING: Shipping software like Shipstation or ShipEasy is really great and can help you automate your shipping process and postage calculations.
- CONTACT YOUR TIMER: We work with many race timers that offer shipping/fulfillment services as part of their business model. If you are a physical race that converted to virtual, check if your timer is able to help you out.
- FULFILLMENT COMPANIES: There are also fulfillment companies who specialize in shipping fulfillment. We have a list of vendors here.