Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Store Philosphy and Product Mix

Every store is different. No store has the same product mix, target market or philosophy of business so what works in one store will not work in another.

Take Cards Against Humanity. It is probably the most in-demand game in our industry over the past 3 years. Some stores with which I am familiar view the game as vile and refuse to carry it, saying that to do so would go against their moral beliefs and counter the store’s positioning as “family friendly”.  Other stores say it is the most requested game in their store and that new customers, including families, come into the store daily looking for Cards Against Humanity and only for Cards Against Humanity. These stores have decided satisfying customer demand takes precedence. Each one believes they are right.

Take Yu Gi Oh! Several stores with which I have spoken dropped in store play for Yu Gi Oh due to problems with theft amongst players as well as well as cleaning up after them.  Sales of Yu Gi Oh there weren’t worth the hassle of dealing with in-store play. On the other hand, other stores either are willing to put up with the difficulty of dealing with in-store play or have lowered the “ban-hammer” on players to get them to straighten up (Of course, there are many stores that have no problems with Yu Gi Oh players at all, but as a group, they are the ones stores consistently report having difficulty with).
Take Role Playing Games. Save for the big two, Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, RPGs sell very slowly at most stores. The ones that do well with them put quite a bit of work into the category, making sure the staff is familiar with them, stocking a wide selection, running regular demoes and encouraging in store play. It pays off for them. Other stores, however, look at the amount of work it takes to generate strong sales in the line and prefer to focus their efforts on only product categories. Once again, philosophy of the store influencing product mix and, through that, the target market.

In a mass market or chain store there is one overriding store philosophy directing  the decision(s) to add an item or items to the product mix. If you go into an Fatburger or Barnes & Noble, you will find the same offerings, no matter what store. Due to the diffusion of the retail side of the game industry, not so here.