If you take a look at my stockists page on my website, you'll notice that there are almost as many UK stockists of my games (that I know about) as there are American. America however is a much bigger market (I know of 600-odd games stores in the US and Alliance service 2,500 game and comic shops.
So why is my market penetration so much better in the UK despite several US distributors? There are several reasons:
- UK shops like to carry UK publishers' games: they're local
- It's easier for me to contact UK shops by phone and in person
- It's easier for me to organise events in UK shops
- My games are cheaper in the UK (less shipping)
So what can I do to improve the number of shops in the US (and Canada, Germany and the rest of Europe for that matter) that carry my games?
The first thing I did was to email all the shops I could find an email address (or web form) for, introducing my games and asking them to consider stocking them. That seemed to go pretty well, but several of the shops wanted demo copies of the games, either to see them before deciding whether or not to stock them or to allow demos of store-owned copies to help them sell the stock they have.
It costs me at least £21 to send a set of all three games to the US so it would be a very expensive effort was I to supply copies to all those who wanted them from the UK. However, my US distributors have stock on hand in the US, and can fold demo copies in with the rest of their stocking order to the shop in question, so the shipping is effectively free. So I'm trying to set up a promotion where one of my distributors allows shops in the US they service to buy my games at a reduced price. Apparently some big US publishers offer shops the chance to buy demo copies at 25% of the full retail price - so that's the deal I'm trying to set up.
One of my US distributors currently have my games on consignment: they have a decent amount of stock of all three games, and they just let me know how many they've sold each month and then I invoice them for those sales. Since they haven't already paid me for the stock they've got on hand, it's going to be easier to set up a promotion with them than someone who has already paid me full wholesale price for the stock they are offering at a reduced price.
Obviously the price I've negotiated with the distributors for the ordinary copies is based on them selling the copies at the ordinary price, so I've got to negotiate a new price for each game when sold through the promotion. Also, I don't want each shop to stock up on cheap copies - I want it limited to one copy per game per store, purely for demo purposes. Fortunately, this is something the distributor can organise.
I've gone around the houses a bit trying to find the right person at the distributor to talk to about this, but hopefully it's going to be sorted pretty quickly, now that I'm talking to the right guy. Things are also being slowed down by the time difference - it usually takes 24 hours to get an answer to my questions :(.