Reward Points & the Boxing Day Sale

This is the first time we’re testing out the more advanced features of the rewards point system; specifically using a higher discount for our sale products.  Depending on the success of this, I might extend this discount to games on a regular basis, allowing customers to purchase these games on the cheap using their points.

Right now, the discount works out to be about 10% (100 points is worth $1) in comparison to our normal 1% (1000 points to $1).  That’s  a significant increase; but with many of the discounted games; it’s hard to move them (turn rates of 1 to 0.5).  In the future, we’re likely to lower the discount if we do keep it up, probably to about 5%.

The Boxing Day Sale and it’s high discounts are used for only 1 thing – to move product to ‘free’ up the funds.  At the moment, there are 166 games on sale; ranging from the super-cheap at $10 to more expensive $30-40 games (our cost).  Most of these games we carry 1 or 2 copies at most, so our total ‘sunk’ cost is about $5000 dollars (166 * $20 * 1.5).

Could we sell some of these games at our normal retail? Probably – in a year or two for some of these games.  However, the disadvantage of that is that those games have a ‘cost’ to holding – both in terms of space used in the warehouse, our inventory cost (e.g. counting the games when checking stock) as well as the opportunity cost of not buying more copies of a hot game that might sell out (e.g. if we had increased our pre-order for 7 Wonders because we could use the funds here to pay for the games).

Best Practices : Cashflow is King (5)

Businesses do not go out of business because they are making a loss – they go out of business because they no longer have the cash to meet their obligations.

The main point about this article is to highlight the various variables that affect the amount of cash you have on-hand.  This is not about mitigating your loss; most businesses will make losses in the first year or three.  That’s not an issue, you can easily run a business with losses if, for example, you have a line of credit or loans or sufficient capital to deal with the losses.  The goal however is to never run out of money such that you can’t pay your bills.

When thinking of cashflow, it’s worth thinking in terms of both your cash-on-hand (your start-up capital & any retained earnings and the like) and the total lines of credit available (e.g. your credit card limits, your LOC limits & your loans).  It’s also worth working out how many (average) months of expenses you have using both those figures.  If you have enough cash on hand to manage 2 to 3 months of expenses, you are quite set.  If you’re dipping into your lines of credit with only a month left; you are in a seriously dangerous zone.

The other area to consider when thinking about cash flow is fixed and variable expenses.  Certain expenses (e.g. rent) are pretty fixed while others (e.g. marketing costs) are highly variable.  It’s worth taking a look at your financial sheets regularly (at least annually) to understand which of those expenses are fixed or variable.  When you are down to a month left of  funds, you’ll seriously need to look at what you can cut.

There are also other factors that affect what your cashflow is like.  Here’s some areas that you might not even have considered:

  • Upfront costs

You are going to have quite a few.  Incorporation costs, interior design costs (shelving, desks, etc.) and office equipment all need to be purchased before you begin pulling in revenue.  In this case, it’s rare that you can do much to reduce the outflow of cash but you need to plan to have sufficient capital to deal with these upfront costs.  In our case, we had 4 months of no revenue while the site was being set-up but we continued to incur expenses during that period.

  • Inventory, Suppliers & terms

Depending on your suppliers, you either pay immediately or receive terms (e.g. 5, 15 or 30 days after the invoice).  If at all possible, you will want to receive terms.  (Side note: to reduce cost, it’s cheaper and better to pay by checks since most companies charge a credit card use rider which can range from 1 – 2%).

Terms give you more time to receive and sell your stock without ‘paying’ for it – which can be useful if you are stocking up for high sales periods (e.g. Christmas).  Quite often, when a new game releases a surge in sales will occur and then sales will peter out.  As such, while you might order 6 copies in the beginning, you might only want to have 1 copy in-stock for the rest of the yea.  Terms allow you to order those 6 copies, keep the revenue for the sale of the copies and re-order your 1 ‘permanent’ copy; without touching your working capital.

  • Gateway Processing Times

This affects us an online business the most; but it is something to watch while you’re running a b&m store.  Most businesses take credit cards, which are processed through a merchant gateway.  These merchant gateways can take between 1 – 2 business days to process your funds and send it to you.

PayPal is notoriously bad for this – they don’t send you your funds until you request it; and also charge a fee for amounts less than $150.  In addition, it can take up to 5 days after your request for the funds to be deposited.  So even if you’ve sold a game, you might not receive the money till a week later.

  • Payment methods

Anything paid via cash or Interact is immediately debited.  Payments by check can take up to a week (especially if you’re paying a US supplier) from the moment the check is cashed by the supplier to it clearing on your side.

Credit cards on the other hand can provide up to 44 days of free credit; depending on the closing date of the statement and the charge.  This is almost ‘free’ money; so long as you pay the credit card off completely.

  • Taxes

Again, this can be quite a boon for businesses as taxes are often remitted quarterly or annually.  Before the switch to the HST, PST was collected on a quarterly basis.  As such, we ‘collected’ the PST charges to customers regularly in our bank account and only had to pay it out 4 times a year.

With taxes, the biggest danger is not setting the appropriate amount aside.  Employee EI & Remuneration is  one of the few things that a director of a corporation is personally responsible for.

Well, outside of sales; but that’s a different article entirely.  The longer (legally) you can keep from paying a charge, the better your cash flow looks.  However, just because you’ve delayed a payment doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay it!

Resident Evil Deck-Building Game Review

Having played a ton of deck-builders, I have to say that the Resident Evil Deck Builder is my least preferred game of that sort.  I have to admit I have only played this game once, but I’m not going to play it again so the review’s going to be a touch shorter than normal.  It also focuses only on the ‘Story mode’ of the game.

Appearance:  Resident Evil the Deck Building Game isn’t a bad looking game at all.  The graphic’s come from the computer game, so artwork is very nice anime artwork.  The rules can be slightly confusing – especially on the cards, but otherwise the cards are pretty good and good stock.  However the rulebook is horrible – it’s confusing and they obviously didn’t check for mistprints since there’s quite a fe.

Rules / Ease of Learning:  If you’ve played a deck builder, you’ll pick up the rules in Resident Evil relatively fast.  There’s a little confusion (thanks to the horrible layout) about what the actions are and when they occur, but once you’ve worked it out, it’s pretty simple.  Ammo is used as the equivalent of Gold for buying cards (and Ammunition for using your weapons); so you’ll be buying a lot of those, weapon cards and action cards.  Like most  deck builders, you have a series of cards that are laid out for use which can be randomised, and like Thunderstone you have a a separate ‘monster’ (aka Mansion) deck for doing battle in to gain points.

Gameplay: It’s in the actual gameplay that I have my major problems with Resident Evil.   A random monster deck sounds interesting; but the problem is that the game penalises you for losing battles to monsters quite heavily.  You lose 10 permanent hit points each time you die – which can mean you can die completely!  So instead of ‘trying your luck’ in the mansion, you instead try to boost your strength by purchasing cards till you feel confident in going in regularly.

However, to get a good ‘deck’; you need higher grade Ammo and Weapon cards.  The Action cards are useful; but can also slow your deck down.  So for the first 30 – 40 minutes; players are just consistently purchasing cards from the pile instead of going into the mansion.

The game sort of gets ‘fun’ in the middle as your deck finally gets going – you generally have enough ammo and weapons to do damage to kill most of the monsters in the Mansion, so players start burning through the deck fast.

And then the end game comes along and it all slows down.  To kill the Boss; you need to do 90 points of damage.  Outside of getting very lucky or having one of the 2 major weapons; it’s nearly impossible to kill him.  So players would draw their hand, look at the total damage and then either buy more cards or pass.  Mostly, they’d pass.  The end game literally took 30 minutes trying to finish the last 4 monsters.  Remember – you didn’t want to go in if you didn’t have enough points since you’d take damage and ‘die’ again.

Worst, all this passing did nothing to ‘fix’ your deck.  Unless you have the card that allows you to ‘discard’ cards from your deck (the one’s available were one use) and there are no rules for discarding cards like Thunderstone.  So you’d have a ton of so-so weapons and ammunition that would clog up the deck.

Sure, some of my characters have special abilities – but they just don’t seem to make that much of a difference in actual gameplay for us.  To activate the abilities, you’d have to kill enough  monsters; but to do that you have to venture into the mansion with all the inherent risks.

Could this be fixed? Sure.  If we had more control of who you fought (e.g. Thunderstone); it’d make the go faster.  If you had no penalties for dieing; you’d be able to go faster.  If you could ‘pass’ and discard a card, it’d go faster.

Conclusion : There’s literally nothing in Resident Evil that another deck builder hasn’t done better in my view.  Want a dungeon crawler – get Thunderstone.  Want something fast and simple to learn – get Ascension.  Want a game with higher interaction – Arctic Scavengers or Heroes of Graxia.  Just want an overall good deck-builder? Dominion.

December 2010 Newsletter

Review Contest Winner

This month’s winner is Maxime L. with his review of the Crow Board Game. In his words “This is not a good game, at best it is an average game.” Of course, Maxime bought our last copy of this game as a gift gag so it worked out well.


On-Going Contest

Don’t forget, this is your last chance at the contest. After December, we’ll no longer be running the contest at all. Lastly, the winner is enterred into the end of the year draw for the Grand Prize of $250 of board games!

Read more about the Contest

Site Updates

Our coupon codes system is now working. Let us know if it gives you any problems, but it shouldn’t.

We’ve created a page of expected release dates for all games. We will update the page as we receive more information on specific releases throughout the month. There’s also a Top 10 XMas Gift List for those looking for some additional ideas.

Lastly, those looking for the Christmas Shipping Deadlines can find it on the homepage.

Read more on our blog

Upcoming Hot Games

Lots of games releasing in December including Command & Colors Napoleonics, Battle Cry, 7 Wonders and Factory Fun.

Note that Mansions of Madness has been pushed back to a release in January due to printing problems.