Vercors Campaign – Memoir ’44

We have received our copies of the promotional Vercors Campaign.  As such, any orders of Memoir ’44 over $100 (before shipping and taxes) will receive a copy of the promotional campaign free.

As every retailer only received 5 copies in total, these promotional copies are going to be highly sought after.  Don’t miss out!  Buy your copies of Memoir ’44 today!

BGG Secret Santa

I doubt anyone’s surprised that I’m not posting as much recently.  With Christmas on us, my ability to update the blog for non-essential posts has been restricted badly.  The only reason I’m posting now is that I’m typing while the site updates stock information.

The BGG Secret Santa program has always done quite well for us  – the first year, it generated nearly a 1/5 of 1 month’s revenue.   Of course, back then we were one of a few retailers and had only been in business for 4 months.  These days, we’re one of 6 major retailers taking part in Canada.

Still, I  enjoy doing BGG Secret Santa, mostly because I get a sneak-peak at what is being sent around.  It’s also a ton of fun and I think, a good cause.   The only problem is that operationally, it’s a bit more of a hassle.

Each order that comes in no has to be double-checked to make sure it’s not a Secret Santa order.  Next, we need to pull the games aside, gift-wrap each game individually and then, if there’s a note (90% of the time there is); decide if we’re going to handwrite it on a card or print it out.  Generally, we handwrite it on the card – printing is reserved for really, really long notes.  After that, we have to pack the boxes and double-check that we don’t add the invoice to the order.

It adds between 5 – 15 minutes (depending on the order and difficulty of wrapping) processing time to each Secret Santa order.  And this is during the busiest time of the year, so I’m generally pulling these orders aside to deal with after I’ve done all ‘normal’ orders.  Sometimes, it means working later than normal in the office to get the orders wrapped and packed for the next day.

In fact, today, due to a customer pick-up that took longer than expected and the gift-wrapping of a game, I missed getting all our orders out.  Canada Post arrived earlier than they usually do and I just wasn’t ready.  So a ton of orders (including 1 BGG Secret Santa order that is now 2 days old) aren’t going out till tomorrow.

Realistically, I just need to update my timelines even more. I guess I’m going to be sleeping less and less 🙂

BoardGameGeek Secret Santa

Looks like BGG Secret Santa’s are receiving their targets so we thought we’d put up a page especially dedicated to explaining what we do for it.

Our BGG Secret Santa Page is targetted at all your Secret Santa’s with a target in Canada.  It’ll explain how to input the gift message information directly in the shopping cart and also what, as a participating retailer, we will do.

Have fun everybody and happy hunting!

The flu and business scalability

So, I’ve been thinking lately a lot about scalability in the business, mostly because I’ve been running a cold (transforming into full blown flu-like symptoms occasionally) for the last 2 and a half months.  I know it’s mostly the weather (my nose hates the cold) and the lack of rest, but it has driven home a point that I need more backups.

Backups in terms of the work getting done on-time.  I’ve mostly been able to make it to work regularly, shipping orders out and updating the site during this period, but it’d have been nice to have a little more leeway.  Sure, I have the wife and Alison; but neither can do shipping well since they both have full-time jobs.

Which means I really should start considering part-time help.  And we are finally at a stage where having part-time help in this area would be quite useful.  It would take the time I spend doing shipping (which is a relatively simple job) and transferring it to revenue generation activities (i.e. marketing).

On the other hand, there are a number of things we need to do before we hire someone – including sorting out payroll, getting a better physical location for shipping (right now I’m squeezing past boxes of packing material to get at games) and  frankly, trusting someone alone with our board games.

However, this is going to have to be the next step to keep up with our growth.  So among other things, I’ll also need to look into documentation to teach the part-time employee(s).  Ah well, better to work and consider this now rather than later when its too late.

Buy buy buy – or ordering board games!

Every week on Tuesday I put through the orders for the week to my distributors.  I picked Tuesday for 2 reasons – orders made then normally arrive at  the depot on Thursday, meaning I can pick it up then.  And since Thursday is the least busy day on the border, I normally  can keep the entire run to about 5 hours.

Normally, when ordering, I pull my full list of games from the site into Excel and go through the games one by one, skipping past the games that are yet to be released and out-of-print and checking on one’s that were out-of-stock.  This normally means I spend between 3-5 hours (depending on previous weeks sales and no. of distributors I have to check) on Tuesday doing this.

I’ve recently begun wondering if I am going aroud this the wrong way.  I could much more easily pull the list of all games sold since last Tuesday and then just re-order those games.   All pre-orders are e-mailed direct to the distributors anyway, so those get added on by the distributor  when they come in, so I never really have to worry about them (beyond adding to the pre-orders as those come in from customers).  It would certainly be faster to go through 100-200 individual games that have been ordered rather than 1,300.

However, this does mean that games that were previously out-of-stock would not be added to my list (though I could just tell the distributors to add the out-of-stock games to the pre-order list for when the games come in).  However, that does mean that if distributor A gets in the game before distributor B and my pre-order is with distributor B, I’ll still be waiting for distributor B and never even know that distributor A had stock.

Also, sometimes stock quantities are wrong on the distributor site.  So I might order “Dominion” with one distributor, but they’d not ship it because they didn’t have the game.  Now, normally I’d catch that in two ways – during unpacking and when I reorder (as I’d see that Dominion is still out-of-stock).  Now, I’m reduced to catching it when I’m unpacking.

Lastly, sometimes for one reason or another, I over-order on games.  This generally happens for popular games, but unless I make particular note of it, I might keep re-ordering to a much higher than desirable level.

So is saving 2-3 hours worth losing all this?  Obviously, I’m also relying on my distributors a bit more as well.  I’m just not sure – this particular process has been working well for about a year now.   But as we keep growing in size, the re-ordering time is going to keep getting larger.

Ubrarose on Fortress Ameritrash made some great suggestions on how to get to a nice middle ground by using the ‘low stock quantity’ field in the database. Unfortunately, it still means I have to update all my products, then each week specifically create a report and download it from the FTP site instead of using the simple excel downloadable ‘product stock quantity’ sheet. Either way, I’m going to need to test it out for a few weeks before I’m comfortable with it.

November Newsletter

Contest Winner Announcement

For our Small Publisher Contest, Dave C.’s choice of War of the Roses has won. As mentioned by Chad “That’s something I’d love to tackle, and I think it would fit very well with the system”. Once again, we’d like to thank Chad for his contribution to the contest.

For our review contest, we had an astounding 40 entries this month. The winner is Emily L. with her review of Ticket to Ride.

Ongoing Contests
The monthly review contest is continuing this month and the winner of each monthly review contest will receive a $20 gift certificate and be enterred into the final; end of the year draw for the Grand Prize of $250 of board games! So start writing your reviews now, since every review is an individual entry into the monthly grand prize.

Small Publisher Contest
In addition, our Small Publisher Contest this month is Lock’n Load Publishing. The new contest winnner will be announced in the December newsletter and the winner will receive a copy of A Band of Heroes.

To enter, just comment on the blog.

Site Updates
Lots of minor changes on the site this month. Among them include

Upcoming Games
We have a series of upcoming board games arriving from Essen 2009 soon including Dungeon Lords, Agricola : Farmers on the Moor, Carson City, Tumblin’ Dice, Mecanisburgo, Ergo, Fits, Pony Express and A Brief History of the World .

Small Publisher Contest : Lock’n Load Publishing

A new month, a new small publisher contest. This month, we’re highlighting our first wargame publisher Lock’n Load Publishing who, through their Lock’n Load squad level tactical game system have won numerous awards. This month, we’re giving away a copy of Band of Heroes (2nd Edition); shipped anywhere in Canada for free for the contest winner. If the contest winner is outside of Canada, an equivalent amount reduction in cost of shipping will be provided.

In addition, as always, if the contest winner has purchased the games before from us; we will substitute a coupon of equivalent product value.

For the contest, we’d like you to suggest the next modern battle that needs to have a scenario written for it using the Lock’n Load system.

Please post your submissions here for the contest. The winner will be announced in the December newsletter.

We are looking forward to reading some great submissions.

Bestsellers for October 2009

Following are Starlit Citadel’s bestsellers from the month of October 2009.

Dominion1. Dominion

2. Warhammer: Invasion LCG Core Set

3. Bohnanza

4. Dominion : Seaside

5. Pandemic : On the Brink

6. Ticket to Ride Europe

7. Arkham Horror

8. Carcassonne : Big Box 2

9. Citadels Card Game

10. Pandemic

In addition, here are the bestselling board games that were released in 2009 for the month of October.

Warhammer: Invasion LCG Core Set

1. Warhammer: Invasion LCG Core Set

2. Dominion : Seaside

3. Pandemic : On the Brink

4. Carcassonne Big Box 2

5. Ra the Dice Game

6. Arcana

7. Dominion : Intrigue

8. Small World

9. Battlestar Galactica : Pegasus Expansion

10. Space Alert