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How do you deal with stale mailing addresses for a physical product?

I've heard that a major issue with pre-order/crowdfunding campaigns for physical products is that people give you addresses and then your product doesn't ship for several months (maybe more) so addresses have changed. Is this a real issue or just a cost of doing business? If it is an issue, what's the best way to deal with it?


5 Replies

Aren Kaser
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Aren Kaser Advisor
Founder and CEO at Igor Institute
Rachel,

Most crowdfunded hardware companies do a good job of staying in frequent contact with their community. One common tool is to send a pre-shipping questionnaire to each backer with the information you have from them on file and request from them any changes in address, etc.
Fred Schechter
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Fred Schechter Advisor
Designer TGiF Design & DS4 Design
Yes this is a VERY difficult part of crowdfunding. The only tool worth it's weight is Backerkit. Please if you're running a campaign use it. We haven't twice (and regretted it twice).

It also let's you do additional presales as well.
Eoin Matthews
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Eoin Matthews Entrepreneur
Cofounder at Point
Just focusing on the "If it is an issue, what's the best way to deal with it?"

There are lots of NCOA list cleaning services that will check the address and replace stale addresses with new addresses IF the recipient has mail-forwarding enabled with USPS. If you're shipping in-house, just do a search for NCOA list cleaning and get 3 or 4 quotes.

If you're using a logistics vendor, they should be able to do this for you.

The cost will run anywhere from $0,10 per address (for tiny lists) down to well below $0,01 per address. Most list cleaners will charge some minimum fee (e.g. I think Experian charges $50). The big vendors are MelissaData, Experian etc. but you should definitely ping lots of small mail shops. Your local direct mail vendor may be willing to do it for very little!
Martin Kessler
1
0
Martin Kessler Entrepreneur
Co-Founder & COO of Shape | Now Equity Crowdfunding On WeFunder!
I'm with Fred on this one. Either use BackerKit, PledgeManger or Celery. These platforms will allow your customers to change their addresses. Tools like Address Doctor also allow you to bulk check your addresses for possible typos and errors.
Taylor Alexander
2
0
Taylor Alexander Entrepreneur
Founder, Flutter Wireless.
I used Backerkit for Flutter. We got it at a flat rate of 1% of our Kickstarter back in late 2013, but I hear they don't do the flat rate anymore. Regardless, it is an absolute life saver and I cannot possibly imagine doing this without them. Their software is great and their customer service is incredible - they even deal with a lot of backers on my behalf on backerkit-related issues (address, credit cards, backer login issues).

As far as stale addresses, I think Backerkit has a "confirm address" button for backers that sends out an e-mail to them to confirm before you ship. I shipped 22 packages last week without backerkit and it was a mess. I was just rushing then but I will definitely use it moving forward. Actually I want to stick with them for customer management forever, so they may need a new name...
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