A survey of more than 100 retailers attending the 2012 Industry Summit targeted three key development areas entering the trading card business’ annual conference.
Asked to identify critical improvement areas, more than 100 independent retailers from across the U.S. and Canada focused on three areas: Release schedules, redemptions and in-store promotions. The annual survey, conducted by Summit organizers, serves to prioritize discussions during the Summit’s Las Vegas gathering of more than 350 card and collectible manufacturers, licensors, distributors and retailers. The event opens today.
“In more than 15 years of working with our industry’s retailers, I have never observed such clear consensus on key issues and opportunities,’’ said Kevin Isaacson, Summit host. “Improvement in these areas will almost certainly predicate sales increases throughout the category.’’
A detailed assessment of the retailer survey, conducted online March 16-17:
- “Let me be honest: I don’t promote any new releases, because I can’t trust that it will show up on time. I might do something a few weeks later. I’m sure it costs me sales, but at least I’m not promising something that I can’t deliver.’’
- “If manufacturers are going to change the release date, we should be allowed to change our orders. Just because I can sell four cases on April 10 doesn’t mean I can sell them on June 15! And now I need product to sell to my customers in April!’’
- “A product or the release date might have to change – I get that. But I need better communication from the manufacturers – my customers can’t know about it before I do.’’
- “More products during the regular season, please! Why do the best products come out after the league has stopped playing for the year?’’
Redemptions. Retailers acknowledged the challenges of obtaining autographs (especially on-card), but continue to view redemptions as a huge industry liability, especially when they are not filled within 60 days of release. A sampling of comments:
- “Out of control. I don’t think it’s possible to put a dollar figure on the lost sales from collectors who have left the industry, because they are still waiting for a redemption card from something they bought a year ago.’’
- “We need a way to help our customer right then and there. Waiting until whenever just drives the customer away from our hobby.’’
- “Redemption cards should NOT expire. We pay for the product. The card should still be somewhere in inventory at the manufacturer if it has not been redeemed. Why does the collector not deserve to receive it, regardless of the date? What is the point of stocking older wax in our shops when there are so many redemptions inserted?’’
Category promotions. Citing the success of Panini America’s Black Friday effort the recent launch for Topps Baseball Series I and ongoing successes in the trading-card-game segment, retailers encouraged their industry partners to develop more compelling, well-communicated category promotions – but also acknowledged their own responsibility in creating a consistent sense of community. A sampling of comments:
- “The gaming industry is far advanced in providing retailers greater tools to be successful. There is a huge untapped range of marketing ideas that manufacturers can lend a hand with from promotions, giveaways, Internet tools, timely releases and complete products.’’
- “Increasing the sense of community at the retail level is critical. We’re responsible, and we need to organize in-store events, trading groups and other things, no matter what promotions the leagues and manufacturers are doing. It starts with us.’’
Other issues identified by retailers: Requests for a reduced insertion of jersey/memorabilia cards, potentially replaced by new/varied printing technology; extension of the Panini and Upper Deck hobby programs across the entire manufacturing community; fewer $100-pack products; more pop-culture-focused content; and more transparency in allocation and distribution.