This brings me to a conundrum. Do I take their money (and get a larger cut for myself) or direct them to a local retailer (and build up my company in the marketplace)? One is thinking short-term:
I normally get 40% of retail, if I sell direct to the customer I get 100% of retail, minus 15% tax - that's 45% more for me! Yeay!
The other long-term:
They'll ask for it at their preferred retailer. Either they'll sell it (and possibly re-stock) or they'll ask their distributor for it. Their distributor will either sell it, or order it from me. Since a distributor order is usually 30-70 copies, this will make me more money in the long run (and might even get my games into more shops and/or distributors). Yeay!
If the customer emails me first I'll always suggest looking in a local retailer, but once they've placed an order I'm not so rude as to refund their money and tell them to look elsewhere - that would be a pretty stupid thing to do. Some customers like ordering direct from the publisher, they know I'll make more money that way.
In the long run though, the only way this company is going to work is if tens of distributors sell my games to hundreds of shops who in turn sell my games to thousands of customers. For that to happen several things need to fall into place:
- Distributors want to stock my games, either because I've contacted them and the games sound like they'll sell well, or because their retail customers have contacted them asking for it.
- Retailers want to stock my games, either because they've seen the games on a distributors stocking list or because customers have been asking for it.
- Customers want to buy my games, either because they've seen them in a shop or listed on an online store, or because they've played them and liked them or they've seen some of my advertising/seen them on BGG.
In most cases it's better when the customer asks for a game, as that convinces the stockist that there is a market for it. I can try to convince the distributors/shops that people will buy my games, so they should stock them, but when one of their customers is stood there with a dirty wad of cash they want to spend, that's going to be much more convincing than yet another unknown game company hawking their wares as the 'next big thing'.
As with any game, my games aren't for everyone, but bringing them to more people's attention means bringing them to the attention of more people who will like them. How best to do that? That's the 1,000,000 dollar question. I was considering running a poll on BGG to gauge how many people were aware of my company and my games (thanks for the idea, Pinebars!) but now I'm thinking I'm best off waiting until after the competition has run there. Maybe before and after would be more use?