If you've ever played Cards Against Humanity, at some point you had to have to figure out that the Chicago creators are not exactly your regular business people. They've shared their story with numerous publications, developed one of the most popular, and raunchiest, party games in the world, and most of the creators still hold their regular day jobs, even after selling millions of copies of the game.
Now, how does this have anything to do with ecommerce?
Well, Cards Against Humanity is a business just like yours, and the creators have seen some rather interesting things when it comes to the whole process.
One of the qualms they had with ecommerce is that creatives have such a hard time shipping products for affordable rates. Since most creative people develop just a few products or ideas, they don't receive all the bulk pricing a company like Amazon or Walmart would get with shippers.
Therefore, most of these costs either have to be taken out of the creative's pocket or get passed down to the consumer, neither of which sound that great.
However, the Cards Against Humanity team developed an alternative solution; one that brings together creative people and minimizes the cost of shipping for all.
This service is called Blackbox.cool.
Here's the Scoop
In a sense, Blackbox.cool serves as a type of fulfillment tool, cutting down on a little bit of the work that comes with shipping, while keeping costs low.
However, since individual inventors and creatives can't get the deals you would expect from a big-box retailer, the guys at Blackbox.cool decided it would be best to mobilize the troops and form a co-op.
Therefore, Blackbox.cool provides a community of people who all go in together, pooling their funds to almost make it seem like they're all one organization.
Because of this, all of the members receive the following:
- Affordable shipping
- The fastest shipping possible
- Excellent customer service
It's a bummer that individuals have to mobilize to get noticed by shippers, but that's just the way it is.
What's more is that all sales tax is paid for by the Blackbox.cool company, cutting down your costs even further. The other huge benefits come in the form of packaging and inserts. Each member of the Blackbox.cool co-op gets to customize the packaging and inserts, generating a fruitful branding experience, which comes in huge for competing with so many other companies today.
In short, Blackbox.cool cuts out the need for middlemen, publishers and expensive shipment packages that only destroy your margins in the long run.
Another thing to consider is what gets handled by Blackbox.cool. Here's what we found out:
- Customer service is provided.
- You receive a Blackbox.cool Buy button, sending all of your orders to the company for processing.
- Your customers don't have to leave your website to checkout.
- If you contact Blackbox.cool before you start funding for your Kickstarter campaign, they can help you out with the entire fulfillment process.
- Blackbox.cool stores your products in “warehouses all over the world” as the company puts it.
- After partnering with Blackbox.cool, you are not required to only sell through them. In fact, they don't care at all if you go and sell on other marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon.
Overall, Blackbox.cool looks exactly like a fulfillment company, expect they have a niche focus. All of your warehousing goes through Blackbox.cool, you don't have to worry about packaging and stamps, and you can even run your payment processing through the company. It's a pretty cool development for the more creative world, since most creative people should be working on their next project instead of worrying about shipping.
Steps You Have to Go Through
Membership with the Blackbox.cool company is on a case by base basis. The company was recently launched, and it's not designed to give every business in the world membership. Blackbox.cool offers hope for those small entrepreneurs and business people who make random products and weird items. Although you can try to apply regardless, I have a feeling they're not looking for random ecommerce stores that sell clothing, or something generic like that.
Anyway, to apply for membership with Blackbox.cool, go to the company's homepage, and fill out the Ship With Blackbox form.
The form asks for you to specify your name, email address, product name and business website. That's it. After that, all you can do is wait, since we're not entirely sure what the selection process looks like.
Where is Blackbox.cool Available?
As of right now, it seems like the majority of the business is available to independent artists in the United States. Since so many Kickstarter campaigns are from all over the world, we see this potentially changing in the future. However, the new Blackbox.cool team resides in Chicago, so it makes sense that you may not be able to work with them outside of the country. At least not yet.
What's the Pricing Like for Blackbox.cool?
Postage, warehouse space and packaging costs get eliminated or at least minimized with Blackbox.cool. Although the pricing changes depending on the products shipped and the pricing of those products, the folks at Blackbox.cool have specified that you should generally follow this rule of thumb:
If you're trying to ship one item that weighs around one pound, expect to pay around $5 plus 5% of the retail price with Blackbox.cool.
Who Should Consider Signing Up for the Blackbox.cool Co-op?
Clearly, large businesses are out of the conversation. The same seems to go for medium and some small businesses. Blackbox.cool seems to be focusing on creative individuals who consider themselves independent artists or contractors. I would argue that anyone who has a business model similar to Cards Against Humanity would be a solid candidate.
Therefore, if you're planning on funding a product through Kickstarter, and you're not exactly flush with cash, the Blackbox.cool co-op might be the perfect place for you.
If you have any questions about Blackbox.cool, or would like like to express your own thoughts about the organization, please let us know in the comments section below.