Major update to the Amplifier Platform

We just launched the biggest UI/UX update to the Amplifier® platform ever. We are greatly simplifying your experience and putting the features you use every day front and center. We want to give this head’s up on the five biggest changes.

#1. More Signal, Less Noise

We are making our most popular features – the ones you use daily – more prominent. In logistics, we always ask "How can we reduce touches and travel?"  These same principles drive our latest changes.

For example:

  • Most users live in OrdersYou now log straight into them.  
  • We boosted the most salient data (e.g. Supplies now shows Units). 
  • We reduced noise in list views and eliminated redundant data.
  • Features that aren't used daily have been moved from the main nav.

 

#2. Cancel Orders

It's here friends. It's finally here. 😭  You can now stop orders before they ever hit the floor with Cancel Order

You can cancel any order still in a Processing Shipment state. When you click Cancel, our Platform will automatically attempt to stop the order and remove it from the shipment pool. (Certain orders, like some people, you just can't reach. If they are already being fulfilled we cannot retrieve them.) 

 

#3. Print-on-Demand Samples

You can now easily order samples of new Print-on-Demand products.  Here's how it works.

  • Click Designs
  • Pick the Design to Sample
  • Click the new lightning bolt (⚡️)
  • Fill in the blanks 

The feature drafts a Manual Order with your Shipping Address pre-populated.  Just pick which variants of the design you want, and we will print and ship them to you.

 

#4 - Instant ASN Paperwork

The new Amplifier makes it easier for your Suppliers too. Now after creating an ASN, they can download all the paperwork with just a single click!  

#5 - Campaigns Overhaul

Arguably the biggest upgrade has come to Campaigns.  If your company gives away promotional merch as part of your Marketing initiatives, we hope you find this update a massive improvement.

Configuring Campaigns is now "set it and forget it".  The focus now is properly around your Recipients. (Below) From a single screen, you can Copy Offer CodesResend Email Notifications and Revoke Recipients.  

Amplifier becomes Indiegogo's recommend Fulfillment partner

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Crowdfunding has quickly become one of the most exciting financing trends of the decade. Never before has it been so easy for individuals, businesses, and non-profits to raise funds to launch new creative, entrepreneurial, and cause-related projects.

At Amplifier, we’re helping clients deliver on the promise of crowdfunding, by entering into a partnership with the largest global funding platform, Indiegogo. Together, we’re building an end-to-end solution that allows Crowdfunders to easily manage every stage of a typical project, including;

  • Raising funds for their new project
  • Administering their crowdfunding project online via easy-to-use online tools
  • Producing, packaging and shipping perks, including shirts, hats, mugs, posters and other items used to reward contributors for their financial support
  • Shipping out their finished project to their contributors all across the globe
  • Supporting the ongoing needs of their project contributors

We’ll have more details on what this partnership means for Crowdfunders in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to launch your next crowdfunding project, or produce and deliver perks and products for an existing one, let us hear about it

Introducing “Create Order”

You can now create new orders directly from within My Amplifier.  No more emailing Client Service*.  No more placing orders from your Online Store. Create Orders gives you an easy button to send out simple shipments.

How it Works

You can create your own order in 3 simple steps:

  1. Click the new “+ Order” Button at the top of your ORDERS page
  2. Fill out Sender, Recipient, Order Contents and Shipment Details
  3. Review Your Order Details then Place Your Order.

UsingCreate Orders is simple and straightforward.  But we did want to call out one particular feature for you to be aware of…

Managing Delivery Windows

Orders are often time sensitive.  We built Create Orders with that in mind.   Using our Do Not Ship Until Date, you control when your order is released into our warehouse for shipping.  When combined with a service-level-bound Shipping Method (e.g. “UPS 3 Day”), you’ll be able to make sure you’ve got the right stuff in the right place at the right time.

UPS Domestic Air Methods (3 Day, 2 Day and NDA) are almost always delivered on time, but if you play your cards right, you can also usually rely on UPS Ground Estimates to get your shipment to where it needs to be at a lower cost.  Here are estimated delivery times for UPS Ground shipments from Amplifier headquarters in Austin.

We want to get you what you need, where you need it, right on time – but please play it safe. Strive to get your Created Order out a little early, to allow for time to react in the event that something goes wrong. Better safe than sorry. 

Behind the Scenes of "This is Also Not a Kickstarter Shirt"

Amplifier recently had the chance to do a t-shirt printing and fulfillment job for Yancey Strickler at Kickstarter. It was an honor to be asked and a blast to do. So we shot a little video while the job was underway, for the backers of the shirt to enjoy.

Thanks, Yancey!

Merch, The Other White Meat

An oldie but a goodie.

In 2011, Amplifier co-founder Joel Bush hosted a SXSW panel entitled “Merch: The Other White Meat of Monetization.” The title nods to the old Pork commercials and (before you go knocking the reference) remember… bacon is pork

Joel brought together a supergroup made up of Rooster Teeth’s Burnie Burns, Busted Tees’ Mikhail Ledvich, LIVESTRONG’s Mona Patel and Despair, Inc’s Justin Sewell.  In this spirited and informative discussion, panelists respond to a series of questions from Joel that seek to reveal “how successful web properties delight fans, earn revenue, and achieve self-sufficiency with a vibrant direct merchandise business.

Reddit Gifts pays a Visit

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Our friends from Reddit Gifts paid us a visit in Austin last week. 

As you can see from this Twitter selfie, much fun was had.  Especially enjoyed take their team our to experience Alamo Drafthouse… After it sank in that he was sitting at the greatest movie experience known to humankind, Reddit Gift’s founder Dan McComas began to lament, “It’s not fair that you get this…”  

It is so not fair Dan. So deliciously, hilariously not fair.  We will pour out a .40 for you next time we see a movie at Alamo.  Some time next week. 

Really enjoyed hanging out and getting to know you, thanks for making the trip!  Hope to return the favor in SLC soon!

(Photo credit, from left to right, Topher Hyink, Dan McComas with Reddit Alien plush, Jessica Moreno, Gary Jense, Ellen Pao and Joel Bush.)

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Zach Weinersmith and his awesome wife Kelly pilgrimaged to Amplifier’s Austin headquarters today to autograph his latest Breadpig-published Kickstarter hit, TRIAL OF THE CLONE 2 - WRATH OF THE PACIFIST.  Pizza was had. Books were signed. And signed.  And signed.

Wrath is the long-awaited sequel to Weinersmith’s previous smash, TRIAL OF THE CLONE.  For those who missed THAT Kickstarter, here’s a flashback to Zach signing the very last of 2,500 books for previous backers.

Zach is on a crowdfunding tear lately. He also recently secured over $7000/month from his fans using the new Patreon platform. Fans can contribute as little as $1 a month to help Zach keep expressing his creativity. 

It’s a privilege for Amplifier to play a small part in the creative efforts of artists like Zach Weinersmith and publishers like Breadpig.  They’re not only exploring this emerging medium, they’re building entirely new business models to boot. 

Viva la crowd!

4 Reasons Why International Shipping DOES Work for a Kickstarter

Deadly Fredly’s post yesterday around Why International Shipping Doesn’t Work For A Kickstarter brought to the forefront some very real growing pains of Kickstarting a business.  As makers, shippers, and general behind-the-scenes logistics sherpas for some wildly successful Kickstarter clients ourselves, we’ve seen many of these issues first hand.

Perspective is everything, though. When you evaluate a single Kickstarter campaign in isolation of the rest of your current and future business, the dollars dwindled away to international shipping premiums can seem enormous, but is that the only way to look at this issue?

To Deadly Fredly’s insights, we would respond:

1. Each member of your backer community delivers lifetime value beyond one campaign.

International shipping costs can eat up some of the revenue of the pledge. This does not render the contribution moot at all.

  • First, this isn’t a zero-sum game. Backers whose contributions end up closer to breakeven, particularly if you are able to limit these to minority tiers, are still extremely cheap customers to acquire. You may not profit from them on this particular campaign, but they are now customers. You can market to them in the future!
  • Second, Kickstarter is a powerful, still-evolving social layer unto itself. For example, it enables people automatically to learn about projects backed by their friends. Its template, targets, stretch goals, backer updates, and other tools produce network effects that can help you build your community and grow your project and business. Involving international backers expands the possible community who can participate, and such networks become more valuable as each person joins.
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2. Kickstarter is not simply a transaction engine. Patronage is also at work here.

Passionate people who are invested in your community and your success will pay a bit more for shipping to get something of high perceived value to them. How much more? More than you might think. International customers are used to paying higher shipping rates across the board.

You can also reward international backers with special freebies. If you choose to charge significantly more for international shipments, what about offering those backers an exclusive (but cheap to produce) incentive?  A cool bookmark? A badge?  Something that might add <$1 in cost to you can still add a ton in perceived recognition and value to the international customer.  In the end, no one backing a crowdfunded campaign is expecting Walmart-level pricing on products. They’re often already paying MORE for the chance to be a patron.  So why not recognize their heroism in a low cost but meaningful (high reward) way?

There is also a lot more to fulfilling a Kickstarter campaign than just the reward items. Backer updates and other open communication are a big part of the value to the backer and have no shipping costs at all.

3. Kickstarter Creators should take a broader view of margin.

Fred advocated analyzing margin (pledge dollars minus product and shipping costs) at each tier. Amen. Understanding the numbers is fundamental and critical.

  • Rather than seeking the same percentage margin goal for all tiers, allow margin goals to vary by tier and/or for domestic versus international backers.
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Your Margins May Vary.  And that’s a GOOD thing.

    For example, movie theaters don’t make as much on tickets as they do on concessions.  Distributors may make more money off the same product selling to one customer than they do to another.  It’s common practice, and while it doesn’t mean that you should get into the practice of dismissing international tiers as loss leaders, it does mean you should feel free to consider international tiers a product that will likely yield lower margins. That’s perfectly normal.

    Look for creative ways to offset international expenses. If you feel your international shipping rates are far too high to be fair, consider looking at your domestic tiers, to see if an across-the-board price lift might offset the international premiums. What if you had even $0.25 or $0.50 cents extra for each domestic backer? And if you offer a digital download anywhere in the mix, those backers bring zero shipping costs. (For example, Zach Braff’s Kickstarter captured $386,670 for purely digital rewards, which represents more than 10% of the $3,105,473 he raised.)   

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$91,330… for a PDF!  Nice.

Lastly, also appreciate volume discounts for production. While international backers may bring additional shipping expense, they also bring unit demand that could help you achieve deeper volume discounts in production, which benefits the economics of domestic and international backers alike. Bonus!

4. An expert partner can add tremendous value.

Several times, Deadly Fredly talked about weighing the monetary cost of every decision vs. the impact it will have on his time. For example, he stated that only launching one international tier priced at $150.00 would yield the best margin return, but would cost him in time responding to the hundreds of complaints for offering so few international options.

In the comments, he even addressed the potential value of using a third-party vendor to handle customer service and fulfillment, but quickly dismissed the idea due to his hesitation to work with an unproven vendor. He’s completely correct on this one: never trust your brand, your products, and your reputation to a company or consultant that has not earned that right.

There are companies who deserve your consideration, though, our own being among them. If Kickstarter is a big part of your business model and your campaigns are wildly successful, you need a strategic partner to free your time and maximize your return on contributions.

Consider just a few of the ways a proven vendor could help you:

  • Reliability at scale. Domestic and international fulfillment can be significantly faster when you work with an expert in warehouse and order management who can ship tens of thousands of shipments in a shift.
  • Dedicated customer service to you and your backers. Can’t handle all the questions, order-status inquiries, etc.? We can, following guidelines you set. Amplifier does this around the clock for some really amazing companies who are very serious about their communities.
  • Integrated production. We also make many items popular as Kickstarter rewards. Having production handled inside the fulfillment warehouse saves significant time.
  • More time for your community. With a reliable operation powering your making, fulfilling, and support, you can focus more time on backer updates and communication, which will help this project and beyond.
  • The knowledge and infrastructure behind some of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns and for what comes next.  The right partner can help you deliver on a Kickstarter success and also as you move into the future. Leading Kickstarter consultants and massive Internet communities such as Reddit, Breadpig, MailChimp, Glennz Tees, Rooster Teeth Productions, and Achewood utilize Amplifier as the merchandise-logistics backend for some of their enormously successful Kickstarter campaigns, ecommerce shops, and more.

Thanks again to Deadly Fredly for the thought-provoking post.  We pay close attention to the unique challenges that professional Kickstarters encounter, and we relentlessly chip away at them one by one.

Stay tuned, and please hit us up with your campaigns, questions, and general Kickstarter rabblerousing.

Join our clients Rooster Teeth & LIVESTRONG this Wednesday

Rooster Teeth’s Gavin Free (left) & Burnie Burns (right.) 

We just learned that – in addition to Alexis Ohanian – two other Amplifier clients will be speaking Wednesday.  Rooster Teeth’s Burnie Burns and Gavin Free along with LIVESTRONG CFO Greg Lee will speak about the “Alternative Business Models” powering their respective businesses. If that weren’t enough synchronicity, Goodwill’s Michael Willard will be joining them. Goodwill honored Amplifier with their Business Partner of the Year award an event last week.

In the words of The Alternative event organizers:

This event will focus on alternative business models companies use to run their business. There will be guest speakers from a variety of different businesses and organizations present at the event to talk about what methods and strategies they use to run their company. These strategies are some that are not normally seen in the business world and are thus harder to study in an average classroom.

EVENT DETAILS:

Who: Rooster Teeth, Livestrong, Goodwill and more.

When: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 6PM

Where: Welch Shell Auditorium (WEL 3.502) at the University of Texas at Austin

More information here.

Trust us, the only excuse you have for missing THIS event is that you’re attending Alexis’ talk (and/or vice versa!)

Amplifier Client & REDDIT founder Alexis Ohanian in Austin Wednesday, Come Hear Him!

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We ran into Alexis (right) two weeks ago @ JFK Airport

Alexis Ohanian has done more before 30 than most people do in a lifetime.  In addition to co-founding powerhouse community Reddit, he’s created a thriving not-for-profit called Breadpig, acted as an angel investor to the likes of Hipmunk, Hubspot, Crowdtilt and helped stop antipiracy legislation on Capitol Hill.  Alexis’ most amazing achievement may be that despite his success, he remains one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Alexis and his epic tour bus rolls in Austin this week. This Wednesday, he’ll be speaking at the University of Texas about his new book WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION. 

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If you live in Central Texas and care about entrepreneurship, the future of the Internet or making the world suck less, then don’t miss your chance to hear Alexis speak.  Here are the details.

EVENT DETAILS:

Who: Alexis Ohanian

When: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 from 7-9:00 PM

Where: Burdine Hall Room #108 • 110 Inner Campus Dr Austin, TX 78712

Get Your Free Tickets Now

Alexis is no stranger to Austin. While this Brooklyn diehard isn’t quite shopping for houses, he did recently tell an interviewer another primary motivation for his stop in Austin.

“Austin is a hub for tech. There’s a tremendous tech community there and it’s nice to come without South By Southwest going on all around me. It’s also one of the largest universities in the nation so to reach such a large chunk of students is a great opportunity. I’m also coming for the tacos. I should make that clear.

He ain’t lying, he loves him some breakfast tacos!  Now sign up and get ready to listen to someone drop some science.